After the 2021 edition of the Formula 2 Championship was the lengthiest in its history, we are officially back for the start of what promises to be another exciting season of the most competitive junior series in motorsport. With the return of Formula 2, we have a number of changes: driver line-ups, a new team, a reformed season calendar and a return to a previous weekend schedule. All of this and more will be covered right here in a guide to bring you right up to speed for the new Formula 2 season.
By Tyler Foster
Of the 22 drivers on the Formula 2 grid for 2022, half of them are part of a F1 driver academy and therefore have an opportunity to graduate to the pinnacle of motorsport. The road to F1 is certainly viable for several drivers in this year’s F2 paddock.
Red Bull have the most, with five of their juniors being in F2 this year: Hauger, Daruvala, Lawson, Vips and Iwasa. Alpine have two drivers: Doohan and Caldwell. Williams have two drivers: Sargeant and Nissany. Sauber (Alfa Romeo) have one with Pourchaire and finally, Mercedes have one with Frederik Vesti.
The favourite coming into the season is certainly Prema, who have won both the Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships for two consecutive years. The experienced head of Jehan Daruvala will have the opportunity he has wanted, and be able to fully compete for the title. His young rookie teammate, Dennis Hauger, will be a difficult partner to shake and will be a contender.
Outside of the dominant Prema team, Carlin and Hitech may have the best chance to upset the odds. Liam Lawson has raw speed to burn, while the Hitech pair of Vips and Armstrong may prove formidable. ART’s Théo Pourchaire is among the most talented on the grid but it may still be too early for him to dominate.
With one less sprint race, qualifying will be extremely pivotal to helping drivers gain an advantage over their rivals for the feature race on Sundays. Most likely, the driver with the most consistent performances in qualifying will become champion.
The rookie field is exceptional, with nearly half the grid being in their first Formula 2 campaign. It is very likely that the champion could come from this year’s rookie class.
Watch our Formula 2 2022 preview with commentator Alex Jacques and F3 rookie driver Pepe Marti, or continue reading below the video.
Teams & Drivers
The Italian outfit have been dominant over the last two years in F2, winning the Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships in both seasons. However, for the first time in four years, neither of their drivers from the previous season have stayed. F2 Champion Oscar Piastri, has moved on to the role of Alpine F1 Reserve Driver, while Robert Shwartzman is now the Test Driver for Ferrari. Prema Team Principal, René Rosin, has brought in the Red Bull Junior duo of F2 veteran Jehan Daruvala from Carlin and the 2021 F3 Champion Dennis Hauger. The expectation of Prema is ultimately to repeat last year and win a third consecutive Drivers’ and Teams’ Championship.
This 18-year-old Danish Red Bull Junior comes into F2 as a rookie off the back of an excellent 2021 Formula 3 season, in which he was a step ahead of the rest of the grid and won the Drivers’ Championship. Staying with Prema, he certainly starts the season off as a possible title favourite. Could he follow in the footsteps of Schumacher and Piastri and become the third Prema driver to win the F2 Title in a row? One important thing to note is that he didn’t win the F3 Championship as a rookie, but in his second year. It may take him a while to get up to speed, and like Mick Schumacher, Hauger may be one to dominate F2 in 2023.
After two decent years with Carlin, India’s best current hope for F1 makes the move to the Prema winning machine. Despite winning two races last year, Daruvala is still yet to win a feature race in F2. He will need to crush that stat if he has any hope of achieving a dream move to F1. With this being his third year in F2, he may be the title favourite coming into 2022, as a result of both his experience and joining Prema. A strong start to the year from the 23-year-old Indian Red Bull Junior may precipitate a Drivers’ Title.
Since entering Formula 2 in 2019, Virtuosi have experienced success, finishing second in the Teams’ Championship for three consecutive years. Like Prema, they have an all new driver line-up. F1’s newest graduate Guanyu Zhou has left Virtuosi after three strong years with the team. Meanwhile, Brazil’s Felipe Drugovich has moved to MP Motorsport for 2022. Instead, Virtuosi have hired F3 Vice-Champion and Alpine Academy driver Jack Doohan and Japanese F2 veteran Marino Sato for the new campaign. This might be a slightly more difficult season for the British outfit; with a weaker driver line-up, they will not be expected to battle for the Teams’ Championship.
The 19-year-old 2021 F3 Vice-Champion started off the year by switching allegiances from Red Bull to Alpine. With his hopes being clearly set on F1, Doohan will want to follow in the footsteps of his compatriot Oscar Piastri. It took Doohan a while last year to get up to speed but two victories at Spa catapulted him into title contention. Ultimately, he lost out to the more consistent Hauger. It will be interesting to see how the Aussie gets on this year with Virtuosi compared to the other rookies he competed against last year in F3. He does however, have some experience in F2 after competing in the final two rounds for MP Motorsport.
Watch our podcast where we talk in-depth with Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri, or continue reading below the video.
The 22-year-old Japanese driver made the difficult jump from Euroformula to F2 back in 2020. It hasn’t quite worked for him, with just two points finishes in two seasons for Trident. Despite this, Sato will be back and racing for Virtuosi in 2022. This will most likely be his final year in F2, unless he is able to improve. Joining Virtuosi will certainly help as they finished as runners-up in F2 last year.
This historic British junior team have had an inconsistent last few seasons after winning the Teams’ Championship in 2018. They have finished third in the standings for two consecutive years and will be looking to return to the top with an all new driver line-up. After last year’s strong duo of Dan Ticktum and Jehan Daruvala, they have switched to a younger line-up of Williams Academy driver Logan Sargeant and Red Bull Junior Liam Lawson. They had a strong testing week and will be a team to watch for sure.
The 20-year-old Kiwi had a frustrating 2021. He won the first F2 race of the season as a rookie and scored a further podium in the feature race, but only managed one more podium over the rest of the campaign. He did show clear pace and talent throughout, peaking with an exceptional Pole Position in Baku. Along with finishing ninth in F2, he was exceptional for Red Bull in DTM and only a controversial final race stopped him from winning the title as a rookie. For 2022, Lawson has moved to Carlin and will be a title favourite from the start. He remains a Red Bull Junior driver and could be just one strong season away from F1.
There was a time where the 21-year-old American was as highly rated as Oscar Piastri. Since their F3 title battle in 2020, it almost looked as if Sargeant’s chance to race in F2 had vanished as a result of a lack of finances. However, a strong 2021 with Charouz was enough for Carlin to take a chance on him for F2. He made a brief appearance for HWA last year in F2 but will be a rookie for this year and may be a surprise to a lot of people. With Sargeant now as a Williams Academy driver, he will have the support to be a future F1 driver.
Hitech Grand Prix
This British team has been in hot water recently due to their sponsorship connection to the Mazepin family business, Uralkali. Despite this, Hitech Team Principal, Oliver Oakes, will be expecting a strong season after finishing fourth last year. They kept their prized Estonian Red Bull Junior, Jüri Vips, but lost Liam Lawson to Carlin. Instead, Kiwi Marcus Armstrong will step into the team after moving from DAMS. Vips looked quick in testing, and if Armstrong can keep up with his teammate, Hitech will be an outsider for the Teams’ Title.
The 21-year-old Kiwi started off his 2022 by departing from the Ferrari Driver Academy. He is now coming into his third year in F2, but if anything, he is further away from F1 than he was when he entered the series back in 2020. A maiden F2 win last year didn’t hide what was a disappointing campaign for Armstrong. Once again, Armstrong has switched team and will be with Hitech for a decisive year in his career. If he is unable to compete for the title, Armstrong understands that he will have missed his chance at this level.
The 21-year-old Estonian Red Bull Junior had a very strong rookie F2 campaign after switching from DAMS to Hitech. Two victories at Baku, including a Feature Race win, were the highlights of his season. A further four podiums saw Vips finish sixth in the championship. Vips is certainly in the running for the title this year, and may see some running in an F1 car for Red Bull or AlphaTauri at some point if he is able to perform well in F2.
ART Grand Prix
This French team has not won an F2 Championship since the days of GP2 in 2015. They may have a shot at finally winning a title this year after holding onto French phenom and Sauber Academy driver Théo Pourchaire. The youngest F2 winner in history will partner a Danish driver for the second consecutive year, but it won’t be his 2021 teammate Christian Lundgaard who instead makes the jump across the pond to IndyCar. For 2022, Mercedes Junior, Frederik Vesti, graduates from F3 to join ART.
The 20-year-old Danish Mercedes Junior completed his second season in F3, finishing fourth once again. He graduates to F2 for 2022, remaining with ART. With only one race win last year, Vesti remains a slight unknown in terms of his potential. A strong rookie season will make him a title favourite for 2023, while also cementing his role in the Mercedes Junior Team. His younger teammate Théo Pourchaire will be an interesting comparison for Vesti.
On this podcast we went through the Formula 2 grid with YouTuber Josh Revell. Watch it here or continue reading below the video.
One of the brightest young talents in the motorsport world will return to ART for his second year in F2. The 18-year-old became the youngest F2 race-winner last year with a dominant Feature Race win in Monaco. A second victory at Monza pushed him to fifth in the standings. Consistency was a key weapon in Pourchaire’s arsenal and will be crucial to the Frenchman this year if he has any hope of winning the title. He is the highest-placed returning driver from 2021 and is one of the quickest on the grid. As a member of the Sauber Junior Team, Pourchaire will hope that a strong season will catapult him into F1 for 2023.
This Dutch outfit has always been a midfield team in Formula 2, since joining in 2017, with a highest finish of sixth which they managed last year. They suffered from instability due to driver changes midway through last season, with both Richard Verschoor and Lirim Zendeli leaving due to financial reasons. F3 drivers Jack Doohan and Clément Novalak took over for the final two rounds. MP have kept Novalak after an impressive F3 campaign last year and partnered him with ex-Virtuosi driver Felipe Drugovich. With a stronger driver line-up, MP Motorsport may have their best F2 season to date.
The 21-year-old Brazilian was underwhelming in his second F2 season and struggled at UNI-Virtuosi compared to his teammate Guanyu Zhou. After a winless campaign, Drugovich returns to Dutch team MP Motorsport with the hope of reviving his career. This is a pivotal season for Drugovich, who similar to Marcus Armstrong may need a championship year. However, moving away from Virtuosi will certainly not help the Brazilian.
The 21-year-old Frenchman will be entering as a rookie in F2 after finishing third in his second year in F3. Novalak has gained the nickname ‘Mr Consistent’ after his performances last year despite being winless. He joins MP Motorsport and will be one-to-watch for 2022. Novalak isn’t young for a rookie but has risen amongst his peers over the last twelve months. His stock only seems to improve over time; therefore, it will be very exciting to see how he compares to the other rookies at this level.
After team founder, Adrián Campos, passed away last January, they have been led by his son Adrián Jr. They experienced a mediocre 2021, with driver instability being an issue. Swiss driver Ralph Boschung scored his first F2 podium in his fourth year. He will return with Campos for 2022 after a decent year. Meanwhile, he had four different teammates throughout last campaign. The final teammate, new Alpine Academy member Olli Caldwell, has joined Campos permanently this year.
The 19-year-old Brit joined the Alpine Academy alongside Jack Doohan at the start of 2022. After two years in F3, he graduates to F2 with Campos Racing. Caldwell improved in his second year in F3, after moving to Prema, and finished eighth with one win and four podiums. Caldwell seems to be slowly making a name for himself but remains behind in comparison to his fellow rookies. Expectations for the young Brit are difficult to pinpoint but he may be able to challenge for podiums by the end of the year.
The 24-year-old Swiss driver is entering his fifth season of Formula 2 and his third with Campos, and will return to the team he raced with last year. The F2 veteran achieved his best season-to-date in 2021, finally scoring his maiden F2 podium. Boschung finished tenth in the standings, with a second podium coming in the final round. This may be his final season at this level but he will come into this season with confidence.
Oscar Piastri tells us who he thinks will be Formula 2 champion in 2022. Watch the video here or continue reading below the video.
This historic French team has struggled significantly over their last two seasons, finishing eighth both times. Their pairing of Williams’ Test Driver Roy Nissany and ex-FDA member Marcus Armstrong, managed just three podiums in a disappointing year. Armstrong has left DAMS for Hitech, however Nissany remains for his fourth F2 season. It will be Japanese driver and 2021 F3 race-winner Ayumu Iwasa that partners the Israeli driver. DAMS won the Teams’ Championship just three years ago, but they have fallen away since and need to improve this year.
The 27-year-old experienced Israeli will be entering his fourth campaign in the series. Nissany has been part of the Williams Driver Academy since 2020 and was the Williams Test Driver for two years. He will remain at DAMS for a second year after his best season-to-date in 2021. A podium at Monaco was his first in F2 and the highlight of his year. After partaking in three FP1 sessions for Williams last year, there may be further opportunity for Nissany this year in an F1 car, however the Williams Driver Academy has since grown and may provide more competition for future FP1 runs.
The 20-year-old Japanese Red Bull Junior driver had a strong F3 rookie season in 2021. One race win and a further podium with Hitech saw him finish twelfth in the standings. This was rewarded with a post-season test in F2 with DAMS. He has since joined the team and will partner the experienced Nissany for 2022. Iwasa is one of five Red Bull backed drivers currently on the F2 grid, but the Japanese driver is the least experienced of the lot, and so will be using this rookie year as a big learning step for next year.
The Italian team shocked F3 last year by winning the Teams’ Title ahead of Prema and ART but have struggled in F2, with last season’s ninth place finish being a record high for them. They have an all new line-up for this year, with Bent Viscaal dropping out of F2 and Marino Sato moving to Virtuosi. Richard Verschoor will take one of the vacant seats after a race-winning campaign last time out. The other seat will be taken by Australian rookie Calan Williams who steps up from F3.
The 21-year-old Dutchman had an impressive rookie season last year in F2, with a race win at Silverstone being his only trip to the podium. He started the season with MP Motorsport, but a lack of finances stopped him from completing the final two rounds with the team. He competed in Abu Dhabi with Charouz following the injury Enzo Fittipaldi sustained in the previous round at Jeddah. For 2022, Verschoor will be racing for Italian team Trident and looking to build upon what he achieved in 2021.
The 21-year-old Australian made the surprise jump to F2 after a mediocre season in F3 last year. He finished his second season in F3 with Jenzer Motorsport; nineteenth in the standings after three points finishes, one being a podium at Paul Ricard.
Charouz Racing System
The Czech outfit had a disappointing 2021 with their worst finish in their F2 history, tenth. David Beckmann left midway through the year due to finances, despite scoring two podiums; meanwhile Guilherme Samaia has quit racing altogether. Taking over from Beckmann last year was Enzo Fittipaldi. He will drive permanently for Charouz this year and will be partnered by Turkish fan-favourite and ex-F1 eSports racer Cem Bölükbaşı who makes the giant leap from Euroformula Open. While this team may not be scoring podiums, they will certainly be interesting to watch.
The 20-year-old Brazilian is the grandson of two-time Formula 1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi. He made his debut in F2 last year for Charouz, replacing David Beckmann, after competing for the Czech team in two seasons of F3. A podium in F3 at the Hungaroring was the highlight of the year. Fittipaldi was competitive in F2, but suffered a horrendous accident at Jeddah which left him hospitalised with a fractured ankle. He has since returned to Charouz for pre-season testing in Bahrain and will once again compete with the team for the 2022 F2 season.
The 24-year-old Turk is the most exciting addition to the Formula 2 grid this year. The popular ex-eSports star has always been a racer but joined the single-seater scene relatively late. Despite this, Bölükbaşı competed in Euroformula for the second-half of last year and seriously impressed for Van Amersfoort Racing, winning on his debut. He ultimately finished fifth, winning a second race after getting Pole in Barcelona. He will be making the humongous step up to F2 and will certainly be an interesting watch for 2022, despite expectations being low.
Van Amersfoort Racing
With HWA Racelab leaving the F2 Championship, it is Dutch regional junior team and F3 veterans, Van Amersfoort Racing that step in as the eleventh team in this year’s F2 series. The team founded in 1975, will have a mix of experience and youth in their first campaign at this level, partnering 27-year-old Jake Hughes with Belgian rookie Amaury Cordeel. VAR are not expected to be competitive in their first season but will be looking to progress as the year goes on.
The 27-year-old Brit is the oldest driver on the F2 grid this year and will be using his experience at this level to help Van Amersfoort Racing in their first year in F2. Hughes partially competed in F2 for HWA Racelab last year, managing a best of fourth-place at Sochi; this was the teams’ best result of the entire season. Hughes is not primarily in the team for his pace but his expert knowledge.
Finally, the 19-year-old Belgian graduates from F3 to race for VAR in F2. He failed to score a point with Campos Racing in F3 last year but nonetheless will be making the jump up.
Also interested in Formula 3? This is the season preview we did with Francesco Pizzi. Watch the video or continue reading the Formula 2 preview below.
The 2022 Formula 2 calendar is the largest yet, with 14 rounds, six more than last year. The series is once again in line with the F1 calendar and will also coincide with all eight rounds of the F3 calendar.
Pre-season testing took place in Bahrain at the start of March. There is one mid-season test which will take place between round two and three at Barcelona on April 12th – 14th.
The first race runs alongside the F1 opener in Bahrain, with the first sprint race being on Saturday 19th March. In order, the races following on from Bahrain are as follows: Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Imola, Barcelona, Monaco, Baku (Azerbaijan), Silverstone, Spielberg (Austria), Budapest (Hungary), Spa, Zandvoort, Monza and Abu Dhabi. The season will conclude in Abu Dhabi on the 20th November.
Sochi was supposed to be the penultimate round of the F2 Championship; however, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to its removal from all FIA series as a host track. Subsequently, much has been said about the possibility of replacing Sochi with another circuit to accommodate for the original schedule. Two tracks have been at the forefront of this speculation: Istanbul Park and Portimao. Whichever track ultimately gets to replace Sochi will most likely also feature in the updated F2 schedule.
The gaps in between rounds are much shorter now, with only one gap being longer than a month. This will allow the season to flow much better and therefore the championship battle to be more exciting.
Formula 2 will compete at Imola and Zandvoort for the first time in its’ history. The Dutch circuit featured in the F3 calendar last year and was certainly a fan and driver favourite. Meanwhile, four circuits have returned to the calendar for this year: Barcelona, Spielberg, Budapest and Spa.
Rules and regulations
For those new to the series, Formula 2 is a spec-series which means that all teams and drivers compete with the same type of chassis, powertrain, tyres, brakes, and fuel. This allows for fairer competition, allowing drivers with more talent to separate themselves more clearly.
This year’s Formula 2 calendar has been reformed. Last year’s calendar was heavily criticised for having too large gaps in between rounds, as well as having two sprint races. Both of these issues have been sorted, with the FIA returning the weekend schedule to the previous system used in both F2 and F3. To combat the gaps between rounds, the FIA have extended the calendar with more rounds for F2, but to decrease the stress on teams they have cut down the number of races per weekend. Instead of the two sprint races, there is now just one again.
One thing staying the same this year are the cars. The Dallara F2 2018 chassis will remain in use for at least the next two seasons, with the cars continuing to run on the same 18-inch Pirelli’s that are now featuring in F1 for the first time.
The race weekend will start on Friday with a 45-minute Practice session, followed by a 30-minute Qualifying session which will set the grid for the Feature Race on Sunday, with 2 points available to the Pole Sitter.
On Saturday, the Sprint Race reverses the top 10 drivers from qualifying to set the grid. Points are awarded to drivers that finish in the top-8, with the winner getting 10 points, all the way down to 1 point for the eighth-place finisher.
On Sunday, the Feature Race offers the biggest load of points to drivers. It uses the same points system as F1, with the race winner receiving 25 points and it trickling down to just 1 point for the tenth-place finisher.
Finally, a fastest lap in either race whilst being inside the top ten at the finish will award you 1 point.
Where to watch
All of the 2022 Formula 2 sessions will be available to watch live on F1TV for those with a subscription. Also, the live timings for all sessions are free to view on the Official Formula 2 Website. For those in certain countries, Formula 2 may be packaged with F1 to be viewed on selected pay television channels.
Header photo credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd
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