Exclusive: Armstrong on departure from Ferrari: ‘We knew it was a dead end’

Formula 2 driver Marcus Armstrong has had a very frustrating last two years of racing. The start to 2022 wasn’t much better for the Kiwi, when he announced on January 11 that he would be parting ways with the Ferrari Driver Academy after four years with the prancing horse. Speaking to F1 Feeder Series in an exclusive interview, Armstrong told us about his exit from Ferrari, his hopes for F2 in 2022 and his goals for the future. This is the first part of two articles based on our interview with Armstrong.

By Tyler Foster

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New Zealander Marcus Armstrong is now 21 years old and is entering his third consecutive season of Formula 2. The talented Kiwi has fallen off the radar in the eyes of many after two rather mediocre seasons in the premier feeder series, finishing thirteenth in both years. It seems almost a forgotten reality that this young man was considered a prodigy after finishing as runner-up in Formula 3 in 2019.

Since then he has raced for two different teams in F2, ART and DAMS, struggling to find consistency at both. Despite showing glimpses of the talent that he illustrated in F3, he hasn’t done enough for Ferrari to keep him on as a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA).

“It wasn’t sudden, it was one of those things that where it was quite evident that there was no real Formula 1 future there seeing as they have those seats fairly tied up at the moment,” Armstrong says when asked about his departure from the FDA. “It’s similar to Callum [Ilott], we were living together and discussing it on a daily basis so we sort of knew that it was a dead end. It wasn’t really a surprise, if anything we knew it was going to happen. It’s quite a good thing going forward because it’s a new chapter and a new mindset not having any external pressure. It’s a positive thing.” 

Third year in F2

Not only has Armstrong left the FDA, he has also switched teams in F2 for the third consecutive year by moving to Hitech GP, partnering Jüri Vips. He believes that this double change is a positive thing: “I think the environment is very important. Especially being with people that I know”.

The move to a different team, after DAMS struggled pace-wise last year, will come as a confidence booster to Armstrong, with Hitech GP finishing fourth in their first two seasons in F2. More importantly, it acts as a fresh start for him, hopefully allowing him to regain some momentum.

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Credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd

“Certainly, I think it’s the right move for me and I feel it has come at the right time, obviously with the passing with Ferrari. All in all, I feel as if I have something to prove and feel that a lot of people do doubt me. I think Hitech offers the right environment and car for me to show what I can do.”

Now that he’s no longer part of an F1 family, with no clear route to the top, many drivers would perhaps panic as their chance of becoming an F1 driver diminishes with every passing day. But Armstrong is not one of those drivers. 

Formula 1

Despite having to deal with the tough breakup from Ferrari, his immense level of self-confidence and belief in himself keeps him going and drives him forward to the point where he says he still thinks he can make Formula 1 in the near future.

“Yes absolutely. I think people in motorsport generally have a short memory and fortunately for me I can turn things around. It’s all up to me.”

Being removed from an F1 driver academy is always tough, but for Ferrari to cut ties would usually completely affect a driver’s plans and goals for the future. If anything though, Armstrong seems to have gained some clarity from this situation and finds himself at a crossroads, where this year could be make or break for his motorsport future.

“It’s definitely one step at a time. I’ve sort of been in the F1 Ferrari circle for five years now and I understand how a big team like that operates. I know what they’re looking for and what they want out of us so I’m not in a rush to sign contracts anywhere else. I’m just interested in performing as well as I can.”

While the disappointing news of departing with Ferrari is certainly the largest setback of Armstrong’s career, he has found a level of positivity from it all and with a good first half of the season, surely the Kiwi will change opinions and return to the forefront of motorsport fans’ and bosses’ minds. 

“I do believe that if we do what we intend to do, the opportunities will arrive naturally.”

Stay tuned for part two of our exclusive interview with Marcus Armstrong, where he discusses his goals with Hitech GP in F2 and the mental challenge of now being one of the older guys on the grid.

Header photo credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd

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