The three F2 title candidates on their season: ‘This has been my best year in racing’

This year’s Formula 2 season has lasted as longer than ever; starting in late March (Bahrain), it finishes this weekend in Abu Dhabi only a stone’s throw away from where the first round was held. Over the seven rounds so far, we have had ten different winners and four pole-sitters.

By Tyler Foster

With three races remaining, Prema have already sealed the Teams’ Championship and are 140 points ahead of their nearest competitor, Carlin. This is due to the dominance of their two drivers: Oscar Piastri and Robert Shwartzman, who are 1st and 2nd in the championship respectively. Piastri has almost sealed the Drivers’ Championship and is 51.5 points ahead of teammate Shwartzman. The only driver to graduate from this year’s F2 to next year’s F1, China’s Guanyu Zhou, is currently sitting 3rd  and is 13 points behind Shwartzman. 

With the final round at the newly renovated Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi looming this weekend, F1 Feeder Series had the chance to speak to the top three drivers so far about their progress over the course of 2021 and how they felt going into next year. 

Robert Shwartzman

“It’s not always easy to improve with the big steps and also it’s quite easy sometimes to go in the wrong direction, so at some point you think you are improving but  at the end, you come to the conclusion that it maybe was not the right path. We are human beings, we don’t know what is right and what is wrong at the end of the day.”

“Some mistakes, I realised, cost me some good points I needed for the Championship title fight. They could have helped me out now to have a proper close fight with Oscar [PIastri] for the title, but it’s been done, it has passed.”

“Most of those things that I realised the issue with: I improved it, I feel like I’m stronger than I was at the beginning of the season. That is, I think, the important part. Overall, the result matters but also it matters to me and I think to people around me who work with me to see that I am improving and I’m willing to learn and evolve every time.”

“It doesn’t always go your way. I had a very clean and easy season in Formula 3 in 2019 and it seemed like everything was perfect, but then in F2 I realised that life is not that easy and so nice. You have to be ready and prepared for any challenges that are coming up to you. It made me stronger as a driver and as a person to realise and understand that. Not just in the sport or in racing but also in life. You need to be mentally strong to find the reason for the problem and to solve it.”

Shwartzman will be looking to seal at least second in the drivers’ championship in what will be his final weekend in Formula 2 after the Russian stated that he will be moving on next year. He said that even he is unclear what he will be competing in next year.

Guanyu Zhou

“From last year I realised how tough it can be. I need to have the speed or the results don’t really come together. The most important thing as a driver is to feel you are improving and with the people around you in motorsport let them see your progress. This season, we maximised the potential we had but still it’s not good enough. I wanted to be closer to Oscar [Piastri] but there were a few mistakes by myself or together with the team and that cost us a little bit. I’m happy that I’m still a contender of a great finish to the season we’ve had. The target this weekend is to finish on a high. For my overall racing career, I have to just always focus on my weak point and achieve better in the next year.”

Guanyu Zhou is partnering Valtteri Bottas for Alfa Romeo next year in Formula One. Zhou will remain a part of the Alpine Academy. While he is still mathematically in contention for the title this year in F2, Zhou will be focusing on trying to finish second in the Drivers’ Championship ahead of Shwartzman.

Oscar Piastri

“I think this year has been my best year in racing. It’s been a bit of a culmination of the last two years. In Formula Renault, I felt like I had good speed that year but was maybe lacking a bit with experience under pressure and the mental side of things, whereas in Formula 3 I’m happy to admit that I didn’t really have the outright pace all the time, especially in qualifying I made life difficult for myself. I really built upon my racecraft and it was a very intense title battle last year so I was very happy with all the other things from last year minus my actual speed.”

“This year it feels like I’ve put it all together. I made a couple of small mistakes at the beginning of the year but I’ve still made less mistakes than everyone else. I think that’s shown in the championship picture. That’s definitely not to say that I can’t keep improving because there’s been a couple of races such as race one in Jeddah where I didn’t feel like I performed to my potential. On the whole, I’ve been very happy with how this year’s gone.”

Piastri may not even have to score any points this weekend to be crowned Drivers’ Champion. His dominant performances this season may not have landed him a drive in Formula One but he is certain to remain a firm candidate for any seats in the future. He will become the Alpine F1 Team Reserve Driver for the 2022 season. 

Qualifying starts at 2:30pm GMT (3:30pm CET) on Friday afternoon.

Sprint Race 1 starts at 8:20am GMT (9:20am CET) on Saturday morning.

Sprint Race 2 starts at 2:45pm GMT (3:45pm CET) on Saturday afternoon.

Feature Race starts at 9:00am GMT (10:00am CET) on Sunday morning.

Header photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

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