The 2020 FIA Formula 2 Championship is set to be a very important year, with new waves of talent entering the series and many who are aiming for a seat within the 2021 F1 Season. With plenty at stake, who will take top honours in 2020?
What happened last year
The 2019 FIA Formula 2 Season marked the championship’s third year as its current format. The season started and ended in the Middle East with the opening round in Bahrain and finishing in Abu Dhabi. The season started with Nicholas Latifi collecting three wins in the opening three rounds. The Canadian led the championship until France, where ART Grand Prix’s Nyck de Vries went on a strong consistent run and snatched the lead away. The Dutchman led the series come to the summer break, with Latifi, Luca Ghiotto, Sergio Sette Camara and Jack Aitken all in the fight.
When the series returned in Belgium, the round was cancelled following the death of Anthoine Hubert in the feature race that took place. The series united together in memory of the Frenchman and raced on in Monza. de Vries wrapped up the championship in Russia, eventually departing the championship to race in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship with Mercedes-Benz. Latifi finished in second and was promoted to Formula 1 with Williams, whilst Luca Ghiotto ended the year in third.
The 2020 calendar originally featured 12 rounds that will support the 2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been altered. Instead of a 12-round championship, the series will run an eight-round series in Europe, with plans to run races elsewhere to be decided at a later date.
The series will start with a double-header at the Red Bull Ring, Austria, before heading to Hungary. Another double-header will follow, this time at Silverstone for two weeks. Barcelona will be next venue before the F2 drivers head to Belgium and Italy for the final leg of the European rounds. More rounds are expected to be announced over the coming months, with potential locations such as Russia, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi to host races in 2020.
The 2020 FIA Formula 2 Championship will feature 22 drivers and 11 teams, all aiming to become champion and join the likes of Leclerc, Russell & de Vries as F2 Champions. Charouz Racing System returns to F2 after a year spent as Sauber Junior Team by Charouz, whilst BWT Arden is re-branded to BWT HWA Racelab. Hitech Grand Prix enters the championship as a new entry, taking the total of teams in F2 up to 11.
Only four drivers stay with their respected teams from 2019 to 2020. Anglo-Korean driver Jack Aitken stays with Campos Racing, although under Williams’ umbrella compared to Renault last year. Guanyu Zhou remains at UNI-Virtuosi Racing for a second season, whilst Mick Schumacher aims to have a better year with PREMA Racing in 2020. Artem Markelov, who raced with Arden for the last two rounds of 2019, stays on board with the team as they race under as HWA Racelab.
The series will welcome seven drivers who graduated from the FIA Formula 3 Championship: Robert Shwartzman, Marcus Armstrong, Jehad Daruvala, Christian Lundgaard, Yuki Tsunoda, Felipe Drugovich and Pedro Piquet.
DAMS: #1 Sean Gelael & #2 Dan Ticktum
DAMS clinched the teams’ championship thanks to the consistency of both Nicholas Latifi and Sergio Sette Camara, who both finished inside the Top 4 of the drivers’ championship. Six wins from the French squad earned them their first teams’ championship since 2014 in GP2 and beat newcomers UNI-Virtuosi Racing. This year will see a new line-up with a mixture of experience and youth, with Indonesia’s Sean Gelael and Britain’s Dan Ticktum joining for the 2020 Season.
Sean Gelael has been around the F2 block for many years now. Entering now his sixth season within F2/GP2, Gelael now enters his fifth team in the series: DAMS. In 2019, Gelael suffered a difficult year all round and only scored on five races, contributing to 15 points in PREMA’s 68 points total in 2019. The Indonesian driver made multiple errors and errors over the course of the year, including taking out teammate Mick Schumacher at the start in France, withdrawing from Silverstone after complications with a penalty, and driving when marshals were pushing his car off the track. In 2020, Gelael will hope that this will be the year that he can turn and corner with the support of the current champions.
There’s never been a driver entering F2 with more spotlight and latest controversy than Dan Ticktum, who officially makes his full-season debut in the series in 2020. Many know Ticktum’s history over the last few years with his comments in Super Formula – which lost him his drive and his placement within Red Bull’s academy. But the British driver was handed another lifeline when Williams signed him as their development driver, and in return would join F2 with DAMS. Ticktum has raced in F2 before back in the final round of the 2018 Season with BWT Arden, called in whilst Maxmilian Gunther left to join ABB FIA Formula E. In his only weekend, he finished 11th and retired. This will be a very important year for Ticktum if he wants to prove to everyone that he is a serious talent and worthy of a shot in Formula 1 after the calamities of 2019.
UNI-Virtuosi Racing: #3 Guanyu Zhou & #4 Callum Ilott
In their first season as UNI-Virtuosi Racing, the British squad nearly won the teams’ championship in their first crack, thanks to the superb seasons from Luca Ghiotto and then- rookie Guanyu Zhou. Ghiotto clinched the teams’ only wins in 2019, taking the top step in Bahrain, Silverstone, Russia and in Abu Dhabi towards a third-place finish in the drivers’ championship. Meanwhile, Zhou was enjoying a stellar rookie season that saw him end the championship in seventh place. For 2020, they hope to go one better with Zhou staying on board for year two, and welcoming Ferrari Academy driver Callum Ilott – forging one of the series’ most exciting line-ups in 2020.
Prior to the beginning of 2019, questions were raised about Guanyu Zhou’s appointment within Renault’s Academy and whether he was worthy of an F2 seat after a mediocre period in FIA European Formula 3. But the Chinese driver put those doubts to bed after an excellent rookie season with UNI-Virtuosi Racing, contributing to the team’s second-place finish and winning Rookie of the Year (named the Anthoine Hubert Award). Zhou’s five podiums and one pole position showcased the abilities he could do behind the wheel and was often in contention for race wins in both races. In 2020, he will hope to break the duck and claim a win, as well as a sniff for a championship with the stakes at Renault very high for a potential F1 seat.
Britain’s Callum Ilott had a season of progression – a year where he started off on the back foot, before getting up to speed and delivering excellent results. His ‘rookie’ season, despite taken part in one weekend back in 2017, was decent and showed signs of improvement in the second half of the year. Two podium finishes and one pole position helped him finish eleventh in the standings in a very close battle between four fellow drivers. His performance in Monaco Qualifying was a breakout performance, only to lose the front row when his car failed before the start. This year, Ilott will hope to go guns blazing as he joins Virtuosi, and hopes to tackle more podiums, grab some wins and be top dog against his fellow Ferrari Academy drivers.
ART Grand Prix: #5 Marcus Armstrong & #6 Christian Lundgaard
ART Grand Prix clinched the drivers’ championship thanks to the consistency and dominance of Nyck de Vries, who clinched four wins and a total of twelve podiums to take the title. The French squad who tasted much success in their history in F2 and GP2, slipped on the team’s standings, with de Vries picking up the majority of points over teammate Nikita Mazepin. This year, ART will field a brand-new line-up consist of drivers from both Ferrari and Renault’s academies. FIA Formula 3 runner-up Marcus Armstrong joins the squad to partner alongside Denmark’s Christian Lundgaard.
Marcus Armstrong delivered a solid 2019 season in FIA Formula 3 with PREMA Racing, despite losing out to rival Robert Shwartzman in the race for the title. The New Zealander came alive in the second half of the season, capturing three wins in Hungary, Belgium and Russia to push him up the standings. His rewards for his efforts was a seat with the reigning drivers’ champions: ART Grand Prix. Armstrong should be in a comfortable position for a strong rookie season, partnering alongside one of the series’ most successful teams and been home to drivers like Nyck de Vries and George Russell. His goal would be to be the best Ferrari Academy driver in F2, which would mean beating rival Shwartzman for the first time in his career – a rivalry which was one of the talking points in 2019.
Denmark’s next superstar joins Formula 2 and hopes to earn his shot within F1. Christian Lundgaard enjoyed a decent FIA Formula 3 season with ART, seeing himself claim one win in Hungary and finish sixth overall. Unlike his fellow F3 graduates in 2020, Lundgaard has driven and raced within F2, after taking part in the final round of the 2019 Season with Trident. The Dane finished 14th and 12th in the weekend. Lundgaard is part of Renault’s Academy and is within a potential shot for a seat in F1 in 2021 alongside Guanyu Zhou. 2020 for Lundgaard has already started out in complication as the Dane was quarantined in Tenerife during pre-season testing due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This meant Lundgaard missed out on testing and getting to try with the 18-inch tyres. Sergey Sirotkin took his place for the test.
Carlin: #7 Yuki Tsunoda & #8 Jehan Daruvala
After winning the teams’ championship in 2018, 2019 was a year of disappointment as they slipped to fourth in the standings but doubled their winnings with two courtesy of Nobuharu Matsushita. The Japanese driver picked up Carlin’s two wins in Austria and Italy, whilst Louis Deletraz came close on several occasions to clinch that first win in the series. In 2020, Carlin recruits two Red Bull Junior drivers from the F3 series, with race winners Yuki Tsunoda and Jehan Daruvala, forming an all-Red Bull Junior Carlin team.
For the second year in a row, Carlin hires a Japanese and Honda-backed driver for Formula 2. Yuki Tsunoda graduates from FIA Formula 3 after a decent season which he claimed one win in Monza, impressing Honda and Red Bull, who sent him into F2 for 2020. Finishing ninth overall in F3, Tsunoda links up with Carlin for the 2020 Season, hoping to continue his development and prepare for any potential call-up with Red Bull and Honda in their F1 programmes. In his first crack at European racing, Tsunoda grew at every round, and will be one to keep an eye out on throughout the season.
After finishing third overall in Formula 3 with PREMA, as well as collecting two wins and seven podiums, India’s Jehad Daruvala joins Red Bull’s junior team and Carlin in Formula 2 for the 2020 Season. Daruvala was in a shout for the championship in an all-dominant PREMA championship in F3 last year. But Daruvala lost out to teammates Robert Shwartzman and Marcus Armstrong in the race for the title. Despite this, Daruvala did enough to earn the late call-up in F2 with Carlin, joining a team hoping to push back into championship contention after an off-year. The question will be whether Daruvala will be in a shout of becoming Red Bull’s next big signing in F1 as he contests with teammate Tsunoda and the highly rated Juri Vips, who’ll race in Super Formula for 2020.
Campos Racing: #9 Jack Aitken & #10 Guilherme Samaia
Campos Racing enjoyed a year back fighting for race wins thanks to the excellent performance of Jack Aitken, who collected three wins in Azerbaijan, Silverstone and Italy, as well as sniffing in the championship race. Dorian Boccolacci, Arjun Maini and Marino Sato all shared duties in the Number 14 car throughout the year in 2019, but none really impressed compared to Aitken. Aitken returns to the team for 2020, partnering alongside him is Brazil’s Guilherme Samaia, who enters his first year of F2 after racing in the Euroformula Open cup in 2019.
2018 was a challenging rookie season for Jack Aitken with ART whilst his teammate George Russell won the championship. In 2019, Aitken made the gamble move to Campos, which turned out to be outstanding as the Anglo-Korean driver collected three wins and a fifth place in the drivers’ championship. The once-Renault reserve driver impressed in year two, enough to earn him a second shot in F2 with Campos. Aitken left Renault to join Williams as the team’s reverse driver for 2020, where he’ll take part in one Free Practice 1 Session. Aitken is the highest placed driver in F2, who competed in 2019 and will hope that in year three, he can repeat what Nyck de Vries did: win the championship.
Brazilian driver Guilherme Samaia joins Formula 2 after multiple seasons competing in the Euroformula Open championship. The 23-year old driver lands himself with Campos and in testing, has shown decent performances within the wheel of an F2 car and using the 18-inch tyres. The 2017 Formula 3 Brazil champion will hope to stand out in his rookie season, in a field filled with well-known drivers. With the experience of Aitken and winning pedigree of Campos, Samaia will hope to get up to speed in F2 and deliver some decent results in 2020.
Charouz Racing System: #11 Louis Deletraz & #12 Pedro Piquet
Last year, Charouz raced under the name Sauber Junior Team by Charouz, as part of a partnership deal with the Swiss Formula 1 team. Both Callum Ilott and Juan Manuel Correa collected podiums for the Czech team and concluded a successful season. Correa, however, was sidelined after Belgium having been involved in the accident with Hubert. Whilst Correa recovered, Russian WEC driver Matevos Isaakyan took over for the final two rounds of the year whilst Ilott performed strongly towards the end of the season. In 2020, Louis Deletraz returns to the outfit he raced with for 2018, partnering alongside Brazilian rookie and son of three-time F1 champion Nelson Piquet, Pedro Piquet.
2019 was a season filled with hope for Louis Deletraz, as he hoped a move to Carlin would see him claim his first win and potentially a championship chance, having been named as an early title favourite. But the wait still continues for the Swiss driver as multiple occasions he missed out on the win. Despite the lack of wins, Deletraz delivered his best year in the series with three podium finishes. After 2019, Deletraz made the call to return to Charouz Racing System – the team he raced within F2 for 2018. Deletraz was quickest in the post-season test in Abu Dhabi and resumed the pace in pre-season testing in Abu Dhabi. 2020 will have to be the year he wins a race – feature or sprint. This must be the year the Swiss driver needs to take home a winners’ trophy and impress his affiliations with the Haas F1 Team.
The Piquet name is notorious for being a successful name within Motorsport. Nelson Piquet winning three Formula 1 world championship in the 1980s and son, Nelson Piquet Jr. winning in the inaugural Formula E championship, there are high expectations for Pedro Piquet in the future. After two years in the GP3 Series, then becoming FIA Formula 3, Piquet claimed a collection of wins and finished 2019 fifth overall. He was given the call to join Charouz for F2 in 2020, partnering alongside series’ veteran Louis Deletraz. After the opening day of pre-season testing, both Charouz drivers were quickest, showcasing the potential in both Deletraz and Piquet.
MP Motorsport: #14 Nobuharu Matsushita & #15 Felipe Drugovich
MP Motorsport suffered an unusual year in 2019, where the team was gaining decent results, but picking up headlines for the wrong reasons. F2 veteran Jordan King collected two podiums in his return to the series and even finished in the Top 10 of the championship with ninth place. But it was his teammate Mahaveer Raghunathan who created the most attention for his misconduct on the racetrack and the infamous race ban he picked up after France. Patricio O’Ward replaced him in Austria before the Indian driver returned to end the year – before getting a second ban, which he couldn’t serve. For 2020, the team recruit another mixture of experience and youth, with the highly rated Nobuharu Matsushita partnering with Brazil’s Felipe Drugovich.
Nobuharu Matsushita made a return to Formula 2 in 2019 with Carlin after a year out and impressed when he was up to speed and clinched two wins in his year back. The Japanese driver captured two wins and five podiums, but consistent points finishes saw him finish in sixth place behind Jack Aitken. Matsushita is notorious for his excellent management with tyres, which proved to be vital in his two wins in Austria and Italy, as well as his final podium in Abu Dhabi. It looked like Matsushita was set for a return into Super Formula, but he surprised everyone when he announced that he would join the Dutch squad in MP Motorsport.
Joining the Japanese veteran is Brazilian rookie, Felipe Drugovich, who graduates from FIA Formula 3. Drugovich raced with Carlin in the series, scoring only in one race in Race 1 in Hungary, scoring eight points and finishing 16th overall out of 34 drivers that entered that season. Despite the results, the Brazilain moves up the ladder, partnering with Matsushita and MP Motorsport having tested with the team in the post-season test at Abu Dhabi. He will be the third Brazilian driver on the grid, joining alongside fellow countrymen Pedro Piquet and Guilherme Samaia.
BWT HWA Racelab: #16 Artem Markelov & #17 Giuliano Alesi
HWA entered the F2 scene with a collaboration deal with BWT Arden for 2019, supporting the Brackley based team with engineers for their F2 team. Last year was Arden’s most successful, and most challenging year in F2, with Anthoine Hubert picking up two wins in Monaco and France but was tragically killed in the Spa-Francorchamps feature race. The team ended the year with Tatiana Calderon and F2 veteran Artem Markelov returning to field the second Arden once piloted by Hubert. Arden in their final season finished eighth overall in the team’s standings as the starts a new life as HWA. The team continues to run under the pink livery, courtesy of their title sponsor BWT.
With his experience and racecraft, making him one of the most exciting drivers to watch in Formula 2, Markelov will return to the series to compete in his seventh season. Markelov initially left F2 in 2018 to start a new chapter in Japan in Super Formula but was called back into F2 as a stand-in driver for MP Motorsport. Markelov impressed in his return and would race in the series again with Arden to round off the season. The twenty-five-year-old Russian was the first driver to confirm his seat for F2 in 2020. Markelov will hope to lead the new HWA squad and use his experience to bring home points, podiums and potentially wins. Markelov’s best championship finish was second in 2017 but was with a Russian Time team who were largely consistent and in an older car. Whether we will see the old Markelov return in 2020 all depends on the pace of the pink HWA.
Giuliano Alesi suffered a challenging rookie season with Trident, unable to fully display his potential and speed which saw him clinch multiple wins in the GP3 Series. His second half of 2019 was mighty, clinching 19 points out of his 20 points to finish in the top 15 in the drivers’ table. The Ferrari Academy driver has been granted a second season, this time with HWA Racelab and will hope a second year within F2 machinery will turn out better. Whilst Alesi did finish highest out of his Trident teammates in 2019, he struggled at the beginning of the year with numerous mistakes and incidents impacting his rookie year. But Alesi started to shine in the latter half of the year, even earning reverse grid pole for the final race of the season. The son of F1 legend Jean Alesi will hope to have a more attractive year alongside his new team.
PREMA Racing: #20 Mick Schumacher & #21 Robert Shwartzman
Once kings of GP2 and F2, PREMA Racing’s 2019 season was a fall from grace from the Italian team. Little success was achieved in a year that was looking to be exciting, with Mick Schumacher joining the squad in his rookie following his title success in FIA European Formula 3. Schumacher clinched the team’s only win in 2019 – winning the sprint race in Hungary. His teammate Sean Gelael had a disappointing year, ending the year 17th overall in the championship. In 2020, Schumacher stays on and partners alongside fellow Ferrari Academy driver, 2019 FIA Formula 3 champion and highly rated Russian driver, Robert Shwartzman.
One of the drivers to watch going into 2019 was Mick Schumacher – the son of seven-time Formula 1 world champion, Michael Schumacher. With Mick joining the grid after his title- winning season in FIA European Formula 3 in 2018, expectations were high for the German. But Schumacher’s rookie season was a challenge and with PREMA’s lack of pace, results weren’t common. His only highlight would be his race win in Budapest, where he won the hearts of fans. 2020 will have to be the year to prove to everyone that he has the skills. With a potential 2021 F1 seat in the making, this will have to be the year he stands out from the crowd.
Last year’s FIA Formula 3 champion, Robert Shwartzman makes the step up to Formula 2 with the same team he won the championship with. The Russian driver, part of Ferrari’s academy dominated the series as he collected three wins and ten podiums to clinch the title ahead of teammates Marcus Armstrong and Jehan Daruvala. Now becoming one of F2’s hot shots for the title this year, the Russian hopes to resume his success from F3 into F2 and be within a shot of stepping up to Formula 1 in 2021. The Russian will have tough competition in his rookie season against fellow Ferrari members, including ex-teammate Armstrong and current teammate Schumacher.
Trident: #22 Roy Nissany & #23 Marino Sato
The past few years have been challenging for Trident, ending in the tenth and last place in all FIA Formula 2 campaigns. The team saw multiple driver changes in 2019 with Ralph Boschung, Ryan Tveter, Dorian Boccolacci and Christian Lundgaard all driving one car throughout 2019, partnering alongside French driver Giuliano Alesi. Only 23 points were scored in 2019 but hope 2020 will bring a change of fortune for the Italian squad. A new line- up for 2020 with Israeli driver Roy Nissany returning to F2 after a year away, joining Japanese driver and 2019 Euroformula Open champion Marino Sato. Both Nissany and Sato will hope to bring the Italian team back into the midfield.
After a year away from F2, Roy Nissany makes a comeback with Trident and the helping hands of Williams Racing. The Israeli driver took part in the 2018 Season with Campos Racing, although he only managed one point in the ten rounds, he competed in. Since then, Nissany has been quiet until he made a surprise appearance with Williams for the post-season Abu Dhabi test. At the beginning of 2020, the team confirmed Nissany as their development driver.
Joining Trident for a full season in 2020 will be Japan’s Marino Sato. The Japanese driver has experience with Formula 2 having competed in the series for four rounds in 2019, driving for Campos. Alongside his F2 commitments, Sato raced in the Euroformula Open Championship and won in dominant fashion, so the 21-year old has some skill in his pocket. Sato will hope for a stable year with the Italian team and points, something the Japanese driver missed out on in his rookie season with Campos last year.
Hitech Grand Prix: #24 Nikita Mazepin & #25 Luca Ghiotto
Entering the FIA Formula 2 championship for the first time, Hitech Grand Prix will hope to make an impression with a strong history within the junior formulas. The British team based at Silverstone become F2’s 11th team in 2020, expanding an already strong team that saw them finish second overall in the inaugural FIA Formula 3 championship in 2019 – finishing only behind champions PREMA. For their rookie year, the team hired Russian driver Nikita Mazepin and Luca Ghiotto, who returns to F2 after initially calling his time in the series at the end of the 2019 season.
Entering his second year in the series, Nikita Mazepin will hope for a better outing with Hitech Grand Prix than he did with ART last year. In his rookie season, he was largely outmatched by the experienced Nyck de Vries, having entered the championship finishing runner-up in the 2018 GP3 Series. Mazepin finished in the points five times, with the best result coming in the feature race at Baku and the sprint race in Monaco. But Mazepin will be remembered for causing a huge crash with Jack Aitken and Nobuharu Matsushita during the sprint race at Russia. Mazepin failed to obey the rules when returning to the track at Turn 2, hitting Aitken and collecting Matsushita. The Russian was handed a 15-place grid drop for Abu Dhabi. The Russian will hope 2020 will be the year he can return to form likewise to his GP3 days.
After initially bowing out of Formula 2 in 2019, Luca Ghiotto is back in the series with Hitech. The Italian, who will enter his fifth season in the series, will partner with the new British team and hopes to resume where he left off last year. Ghiotto, racing with UNI- Virtuosi Racing in 2019, was one of the title contenders throughout the season. With an excellent win at the sprint race at Bahrain and dominant race wins at Silverstone, Sochi and Abu Dhabi, Ghiotto established himself as a master within the F2 series and a prospect for future series. He planned to leave the championship in 2019, after securing a sportscar drive with R-Motorsport. But a surprising call up with Hitech puts Ghiotto back in the F2 cockpit and one of the favourites to win the 2020 series.
Early title favourites
Pre-season testing took place in Bahrain and ran for three days. All 22 drivers and 11 teams took part in the tests, driving the F2 machinery and getting to grips with the new 18-inch Pirelli tyres. In two out of the six sessions, Nikita Mazepin was quickest but produced his times in the morning sessions. Carlin’s Jehan Daruvala was the fastest in the afternoon session of Day 2. Both Charouz drivers of Louis Deletraz and Pedro Piquet produced the fastest times in Day 1, whilst Luca Ghiotto ended the test fastest in the afternoon of Day 3.
You can only take away much from pre-season testing as everyone is running on different programmes, strategies, fuel load, tyres etc. But the times indicate that the field will be very close. In the final session of pre-season testing, the top twelve drivers were within a second of each other around the night sky in Bahrain. Early predictions would indicate the experience of Jack Aitken, Luca Ghiotto and Mick Schumacher have a shot in a potential title battle this year. But with rookie drivers such as Jehan Daruvala, Marcus Armstrong, Robert Shwartzman and Dan Ticktum placing decent laps and times in testing, it’s very tough to pick a bunch, let alone three.
With the COVID-19 situation putting the F2 season on pause, everyone will be using that vital Practice and Qualifying session at Austria in order to get up to speed and shake off any cobwebs from the extended break. Some drivers might use this as an advantage whilst others might take them time to get them back up to speed behind the wheel. The first opening rounds will be crucial for all the drivers if they want to mount a serious charge this year.
Where can I watch Formula 2 this season?
UK viewers with Sky Sports F1 can watch every round of the 2020 FIA Formula 2 season on their channel, with qualifying and all races available for viewing. F1 TV users will also have access to Formula 2 on the app, with every session available throughout the year.