After the 2020 Season: Formula 2’s post-season round-up

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Formula 2 post season Callum Ilott Alfa Romeo Young Driver Test 2020
Image: Alfa Romeo F1

If you were an F2 fan looking forward to a nice relaxing December away from F2 news, you were fresh out of luck in 2020.  Before an onslaught of driver announcements for 2021, let’s take a refresher on the news from the week of the Formula 2 finale at Sakhir and into the post season.

Formula 2’s frantic 2020 finale

The month was just a day old and the worst kept secret in motorsport 2020 edition was finally confirmed.  Mick Schumacher was unveiled as a 2021 F1 driver for the Haas team.  He will race with fellow F1 rookie, Nikita Mazepin next season.

Just three days later and the cars were on track once again for qualifying for the final F2 round of the season. Yuki Tsunoda enjoyed a brilliant Feature Race win on Saturday at the shorter layout of the Bahrain circuit.  Then Yuki’s Carlin teammate, Jehan Daruvala, sent his Indian fans into rapture with a maiden win in the Sprint Race on Sunday.

Mick Schumacher dominated the headlines as he completed what felt like his destiny by winning the F2 title. His fans and admirers were forced to sit through an agonising final race for the young German.  Callum Ilott’s tyres falling away and preventing him from winning ensured what had felt like a sure thing in the preceding days.

Tsunoda finished third in the championship and was awarded Driver of the Season plus the Anthoine Hubert Trophy for best rookie.  No arguments from us at GP Grandstand on that count.

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Ticktum ticked off?

Dan Ticktum meanwhile seemed to have been given a bag of lemons before his post-Sakhir interview with Natalie Pinkham. Bear in mind that this was a driver who had just finished the race in 3rd and had driven the season for DAMS.

Natalie Pinkham: “Well, I mean, we all need to take a collective sigh of relief.  That season was incredible and you fought right to the bitter end there, how are you?”

Dan Ticktum: “Um, I’m not very happy with the overall season, to be honest. There’s no two ways about it.  I’m not happy.  I think that race sort of summed it up really you know.  I get myself into a good position at the start and then a combination of things just let me down I’m afraid.  So its been a tough year for all of us so at the beginning of the season we started out of the window and I don’t think we’ve ever got into it anywhere really apart from Mugello in qualifying.  So I mean that race was just a scrap, you know, I defended for my life.”

At this point, Ticktum was interrupted by loud cheers from the Prema team celebrating Schumacher’s title and said: “I think that’s the more important show right now.”

Pinkham: “Tell us about the future, what options have you got?”

Ticktum: “So I will be doing F2 next year, not allowed to say with whom yet.  I’m sure it will be released soon.  It’s with a good team though let’s say that.”

Pinkham: “That’s great news”

Ticktum: “So it’s not all bad.  But I mean you start on pole, you lead the majority of the race and then go backwards you are never, ever going to be happy.  I’m putting on a very, very strong face at the moment.”

Pinkham: “There is a smile under that mask I’m sure.”

Ticktum: “There is a smile but I don’t know what I’m smiling at.”

Sheesh, Natalie let the man go and cry in a corner somewhere!  Let’s just remind ourselves of DAMS’s record in F3000, GP2 and F2.  6 Drivers’ Championships and 7 Teams’ Championships including the 2019 Teams’ championship.  Yeah Dan, definitely not a good team.

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F2’s Testing times

Felipe Drugovich was announced at UNI-Virtuosi for 2021.  The impressive Brazilian should be a title contender with his new team.

The F2 circus stayed at the Bahrain circuit as F1 left for Abu Dhabi.  Daruvala was on fine form over the whole test, topping the times on day one and two, and posting the second quickest time on the final day.

Louis Deletraz was the driver to deny Daruvala the clean sweep. Robert Shwartzman was already confirmed to be staying at Prema for 2021 and he was near the top of the timesheets across the test.

Following F1’s annual end of season parade around Yas Marina, otherwise known as the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, it was time for the F1 Young Driver Test.  A whole host of 2020 F2 drivers were on duty plus some blasts from the past in the form of 2019 champion Nyck de Vries and 2015 GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne.  Appropriately both were driving for the F1 champions, Mercedes. Another old school GP2 driver, Antonio Fuoco, was on duty for Ferrari.

Driving for Red Bull was Juri Vips who drove in F2 for the injured Sean Gelael while Japanese duo Yuki Tsunoda and Marino Sato were in the hot seat at AlphaTauri.

Ferrari Academy Drivers Schumacher and Ilott were driving in the Ferrari powered Haas and Alfa Romeo respectively.  Ferrari used the same day to also announce Ilott as it’s test and reserve driver.  A soft-ish landing after Ilott confirmed he won’t be racing in Formula 2 in 2021.

Williams had Roy Nissany and Jack Aitken driving the FW43 and Guanyu Zhou was in the Renault.  Zhou tested alongside hotly-tipped youngster, 39-year-old Fernando Alonso.

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Formula 2’s 2021 driver changes

December 16th finally saw the news break that we at GP Grandstand had been hoping for and expecting.  Yuki Tsunoda was confirmed as an AlphaTauri F1 driver for 2021.  Fingers crossed that the Japanese fans are allowed through the gates of Suzuka and we get to see Yukimania explode!

Also getting an early Christmas present was Lirim Zendeli who was signed by MP Motorsport for the 2021 F2 season.  As it stands at the time of writing, Formula 2’s 2021 line up has:

Shwartzman retained, and Piastri promoted at Prema. Drugovich swapping MP Motorsport for UNi Virtuosi. Boschung making a 2021 comeback at Campos after standing in for Aitken at the final F2 round. And Zendeli joining MP Motorsport.

After the long lull after Sochi, December was quite the exciting month of F2 news and action.  An enthralling season finale, and a torrent of post-season news.  Just two months and two weeks to go until racing gets underway!

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