Man in blue racing suit (left), man in black racing suit (middle), and man in white racing suit (right) all stand on podium with trophies.

Double podiums and some old faces: 4 takeaways from FIA F2 Round 11 at Spa

A week on from Round 11 at Spa-Franchorchamps, modern Formula 2 is making its debut in the Netherlands as the second part of a triple-header. With that in mind, let’s take a look back and remind ourselves of the highlights and implications from last weekend’s action in Belgium with four key takeaways.

By Tyler Foster

Drugovich extends his lead following third pole of the season

Felipe Drugovich has to be considered as a class above the rest of the field in Formula 2 for the majority of this season. His qualifying has been consistent and his ability to convert those strong grid positions into points has been the key to his dominant championship lead. However, a tough round in Hungary for the Brazilian allowed title rival Théo Pourchaire to close the gap to just 21 points going into Spa.

At 22 years of age, Drugovich has the experience to deal with the pressure and responded in the only way he knows how: with his third pole position of the season. It wasn’t just a pole either, as he was almost four tenths ahead of his nearest rival Enzo Fittipaldi. Once again, this showed just how strong Drugovich is at this point in his career. Meanwhile, with Pourchaire only qualifying eighth, the Frenchman had a tough weekend. Pourchaire would go on to score three points (P6) in the Sprint Race before retiring through no fault of his own in the Feature Race.

This allowed Drugovich the opportunity to extend his championship lead and the Brazilian did just that. P4 in the Sprint was followed up by an eighth podium of the season with his second-place finish on Sunday. Despite not converting pole into a race win, the lead is now back up to 43 points with three rounds remaining. It seems only a matter of time before Drugovich is crowned champion for 2022. The only question remains: what’s next for the MP Motorsport driver?

Doohan earns his maiden F2 Feature Race win

Jack Doohan has been a headline Formula 2 driver all year long. He has had rounds where he’s gone missing but for the most part the Aussie consistently qualifies towards the front row and fights aggressively throughout the races. This combination has led to some spectacular racing but a lot of disappointing results. To score pole in the first round as a rookie is a testament to his immense talent, but Doohan has struggled to take advantage of this raw pace. 

Coming into Spa, the Alpine junior had two poles and two Sprint Race wins to his name in 2022 but was still looking for that illusive Feature Race victory, an accomplishment that became his main goal for the rest of the season. Qualifying fourth, Doohan showed his teeth in the Sprint Race once again, rising from seventh on the grid to secure a P2 finish.

In the Feature Race, Doohan started fast and moved up to second by turn one. It was now a battle between Doohan and Drugovich for the win. Earlier in the season in Spain with Doohan on pole, the pair were engaged in the same fight for the Feature Race win, when Drugovich made the call to overcut the Australian and was able to pass him on the way to victory. However, it was now the turn of the Virtuosi driver to get his revenge. Through the use of the undercut, Doohan took the lead and fought through backmarkers to take his maiden F2 win on a Sunday and a big 25-point haul.

Man in black, white, and blue racing suit with red and blue helmet holds both ands up with index fingers in the air celebrating his first place.
Doohan celebrates his first Feature Race win of the season | Credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Combined with his points from Saturday, Doohan now sits happily at fourth in the standings.

Lawson scores big after his F1 appearance

Helmut Marko has supposedly been disappointed with the progress made by certain Red Bull Juniors in F2 this year. With Lawson, Vips and Daruvala all in at least their second campaign at this level, it is surprising that only one of them is currently in the top five. However, it was Liam Lawson who finally capitalised on the pace shown all year long and scored his second double-podium finish of the season, previously achieving this feat in the first round in Bahrain.

The Kiwi had a tough mid-season, with a couple of podiums interspersing otherwise poor results. Similar to Doohan, Lawson and the Carlin package was clearly quick, as illustrated by his rookie teammate Logan Sargeant. However, unlike Doohan, Lawson had not been able to make the most of it in qualifying. In Spa, there was an improvement as he qualified sixth. Along with the F2 on the Friday, he also made his F1 debut with an FP1 appearance for AlphaTauri.

Starting fifth on Saturday, Lawson took to the grass in his Carlin to pass reverse-grid polesitter Ralph Boschung on the way to his third Sprint Race victory of the season. On Sunday, Lawson showed more of the same and rose from sixth to the bottom step of the podium. As a result, the Red Bull Junior is now fifth in the standings and looking at finishing within the top three.

The return of some old faces

It was a first Formula 2 appearance for Tatiana Calderón since her rookie season back in 2019, as she replaced Cem Bölükbaşı who failed to come to an agreement over his contract with the Czech team for the end of the season. It was an emotional return to Spa for the 29-year-old Colombian, as she was the teammate of the late Anthoine Hubert who lost his life three years ago at the same circuit. Since then, Calderón has taken part in multiple series including Super Formula in Japan and IndyCar in the US. She was unable to score any points for Charouz. She will compete for Charouz for the remainder of the season and still remains the only female driver to have competed in Formula 2.

Recently, David Beckmann has been a replacement driver for Jake Hughes (who contracted COVID) in the Van Amersfoort team (VAR), but following the announcement that Hughes would be focusing on his Formula E commitments, Beckmann was quickly made permanent for VAR. With Spa being the German’s third consecutive round with the Dutch team, it was clear that he had gotten up to speed and qualified fifth, before finishing in the points in both races. He could have a strong end to the season given the pace VAR have shown at times this year.

Finally, there was one final replacement as a result of the one-weekend suspension for Olli Caldwell as a result of accruing too many penalty points. The Campos driver missed out on Spa altogether and was replaced by Lirim Zendeli. Despite Campos’ Ralph Boschung returning and scoring a miraculous podium, Zendeli was unable to add any further points to the team’s points total. Olli Caldwell will return for Campos for this weekend in Zandvoort.

Header Photo Credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd

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