Update: All of F2’s 2021 drivers are now known. Thanks to MP Motorsport for making us wait ;). You can find our full 2021 Formula 2 grid guide here.
Original article (Jan 27th 2021): Formula 2 has passed its halfway point in terms of driver announcements for 2021. We now know the names of fourteen of the twenty-two drivers that will compete in this season’s championship.
The process is a little bit of a bingo game with many positions awaiting a rubber stamping. Red Bull and their en-masse press release earlier this month answered several positions, of course. But they were late to the show compared to the oh-so-generous Campos and UNI-Virtuosi driver unveilings from 2020.
Here are the drivers we know will race in Formula 2 in 2021.
Prema 2021 Drivers
Announced on 1st December 2020 – Oscar Piastri will join Prema after impressing them last season by, y’know, winning the F3 title. The Australian showed the importance of consistent point scoring in Formula 3. Aside from two DNF’s, Piastri only had a single point-less race. Even then, it was P11 at Mugello, after a grid penalty punted Oscar down to 16th.
Announced on 7th December 2020 – Robert Shwartzman is going to stick at Prema for 2021. Although he couldn’t match his champion teammate, Schumacher, Shwartzman’s debut F2 season was impressive. Prema goes into 2021 with the only two FIA Formula 3 champions to date as it’s driver line-up. A pairing that may prove to be the most potent on the grid.
UNI-Virtuosi 2021 Drivers
Announced on 7th December 2020 – Felipe Drugovich made the switch from MP Motorsport to UNI-Virtuosi as soon as the 2020 season wrapped up. Of course, this suggests that the Brazilian knew he’d be joining the British team much sooner. It’s a sign that Virtuosi see potential in Drugovich to snap him up before anyone else. With Virtuosi taking the runners-up spot for the two-seasons since their rebrand, Drugovich might be a title contender. His three Formula 2 wins last season show his capabilities. His second F2 season could be career-defining.
No news yet for the second driver. Guanyu Zhou and Clement Novalak piloted the Virtuosi around Bahrain for the Formula 2 end of year test. The suspicion is Alpine/Renault will want to announce their “new” Academy with Zhou remaining. If so, then it’s Renault as the bottleneck for that news coming out.
Carlin 2021 Drivers
Announced on 15th January 2021 – Jehan Daruvala will remain with Carlin as a Red Bull Junior Team member. Daruvala will hope to continue his late 2020 fortune for his second Formula 2 season in 2021. The Indian driver’s engine change at Monza made his final ten races rather more enjoyable than the first fourteen. The crowning glory, of course, coming with that first victory at the season finale. With Lando Norris and Yuki Tsunoda as recent F1 graduates from Carlin, Daruvala must be keeping one eye on the goings-on at AlphaTauri with 2022 in mind…
Announced on 27th January 2021 – Dan Ticktum jumps from DAMS to Carlin for 2021 after testing with the team at Bahrain. Much of the Formula 2 world had already thought this as fact well before the late January confirmation. Ticktum had alluded to a move up in his post-race interview after his P3 at Sakhir’s sprint race. With his time in the car in the subsequent week, a Carlin announcement looked likely. Why it took so long is anyone’s guess. With Ticktum’s links to the Williams Driver Academy, we can safely assume the Red Bull livery will not feature on the 2021 Carlin F2 car.
Hitech 2021 Drivers
Announced on 15th January 2021 – Juri Vips will join Hitech for his first full Formula 2 season in 2021. With a mixed-up 2020 for the Estonian, some stability will be welcome in 2021. Vips will be hoping to add to his F2 podium collection with Hitech. His 2020 outings weren’t exceptional, but he was getting used to the F2 car, of course. Hitech had a solid season last year. Should that continue in 2021, Vips could nab a few wins with Hitech, just as he did in his 2019 F3 campaign.
Announced on 15th January 2021 – Liam Lawson gets a Hitech promotion for 2021. After improving over his two Formula 3 seasons, Lawson will be hoping for the same in Formula 2. He ended 2020 on a high when the New Zealander won the season’s final race at Mugello (incidentally, where new teammate, Vips scored his F2 podium). That was Lawson’s third win of his 2020 campaign that could’ve been a title challenger if not for two mechanical failures at Hungary. The strong Mazepin/Ghiotto duo may be gone at Hitech, but Vips and Lawson are an exciting replacement.
ART 2021 Drivers
Announced on 25th January 2021 – Theo Pourchaire, vice-champion of F3 jumps straight to F2. After a single season of racing at the international level, the Sauber-backed driver looks on the fast-track to F1. Pourchaire spent the two Bahrain GP weekends racing in Formula 2 for HWA last season. Alesi’s late-season move to MP looks to have helped the Frenchman’s bedding-in period with F2 machinery. He joined Lundgaard in the ART for the post-season test to get some extra running, too. With neither Raikkonen nor Giovinazzi certain for 2022, could a sensational 2021 season in Formula 2 earn him an F1 seat?
ART tested Christian Lundgaard after Sakhir giving some suggestion he’ll remain with the French outfit in 2021. Nothing concrete has come yet, but the Dane gave ART their only F2 wins of 2020. Lundgaard was also responsible for scoring almost three-quarters of their points tally. With few seats moving “up” in F2 available, another year at ART would suit both parties well.
MP Motorsport 2021 Drivers
Announced on 16th December 2020 – Lirim Zendeli moves up to Formula 2 for 2021. After helping Trident score P2 in 2020’s F3 teams’ championship, the German driver will race his debut F2 season with MP Motorsport. His second season in F3 saw regular points-scoring races, and his first win, at Spa. Lirim certainly isn’t lacking in speed with his two pole positions in 2020. Still, he fell short of teammate and compatriot David Beckmann last year, although comfortably beat Caldwell in the other Trident. With Drugovich and Matsushita both winning with MP last year, Zendeli will be looking to emulate those results, too.
The Zendeli news followed a little while after Drugovich’s switch out to UNI Virtuosi. But there’s not a peep about a long-term replacement for Matsushita, after his sudden budget departure from F2 last year. Rumours suggest Louis Deletraz is a dead-cert for MP in 2021. The Swiss driver did join them for the post-season test, but there’s nothing public, yet.
Charouz 2021 Drivers
Charouz are one of two teams yet to declare their 2021 drivers. Their F3 drivers have either signed elsewhere, as is the case with Fraga and Stanek, or are too inexperienced in the case of Belov. So we need to look at their runners from the post-season test to make our best guesses. Alongside Virtuosi and Trident, Charouz raced with three drivers; Ilott, Beckmann, and Samaia. We know Ilott isn’t racing F2 this year so that leaves Beckmann and Samaia as the likely pairing. Time will tell.
DAMS 2021 Drivers
Announced on 22nd January 2021 – Marcus Armstrong will move to DAMS for 2021 after a year at ART. Armstrong’s debut Formula 2 season was inconsistent, despite early silverware. Lundgaard in the sister ART comfortably outscored him, so Armstrong will need to bounce back in 2021. It is known that ART tend to favour one driver over the other and Armstrong was perhaps unable to make his presence felt against Lundgaard. With Shwartzman looking to be one of the favourites for the title, Armstrong’s FDA future could be at stake this year. DAMS will want to return to the front of the pack after the disaster that was 2020. Seems fair to say that both driver and team have something to prove.
Announced on 22nd January 2021 – Roy Nissany will join DAMS for 2021. Nissany partnered Armstrong in the post-season test and we know Nissany is extending his partnership with Williams for 2021. It would seem unlikely that the Israeli will favour a handful of F1 test/practice outings with no racing. DAMS hosted fellow Williams Driver Academy member, Ticktum, in 2020. Should Nissany prove to be Armstrong’s stablemate, Marcus cannot afford to finish second-best at DAMS. Nissany is competing in the F3 Asia championship prior to the season along with Zhou and Daruvala. Competing in a championship two rungs below F2 smacks of Super Licence points farming but shows the ambition of these drivers.
Campos 2021 Drivers
Announced on 1st December 2020 – Ralph Boschung makes his return to Campos after a year out of Formula 2. The Swiss driver had a double dose of good news with his 2021 Formula 2 return, too. A Rube Goldberg of driver moves, starting with none other than Lewis Hamilton, had Boschung racing at the Sakhir Grand Prix. Boschung began his F2 days at Campos back in 2017. He and Adrian Campos seemed all smiles at the reunion. Ralph will be happy to be racing again, with Adrian no doubt relieved that Boschung is able to fund an entire season.
Logan Sargeant joined Boschung for the test at Bahrain so is a contender for the full drive. The American clinched third in F3 last year so will be looking for any F2 drive available. Alex Peroni, the driver who gave Campos their only F3 podiums in 2020, is off to Indy Lights. There is no news regarding Jack Aitken’s 2021 seat after his F1 weekend away from Campos. The Brit is discussing his options with Williams but will surely only want a top seat if he’s to return for a fourth year in Formula 2 in 2021.
The Campos team will be starting the season in some disarray following the sudden and tragic death of team founder Adrian Campos. Our condolences go to the whole of the Campos team and Adrian’s family.
HWA 2021 Formula 2 Drivers
Announced on 22nd January 2021 – Matteo Nannini will race for HWA in both Formula 2 and Formula 3 in 2021. It’s a bold move from the Italian driver who has only one year of FIA F3 behind him. His FREC season in 2019 was as anonymous as his 2020 F3 year. The 45 races he will participate in this year will be gruelling. Perhaps he’s looking to make up for his lack of car time in 2021 with the double-championship. Nannini began racing single-seaters just two years ago…
Announced on 22nd January 2021 – Alessio Deledda makes the move up to Formula 2 with HWA following two woeful years in F3. Throughout his three years of single-seaters, Deledda has scored 27 points in total. That’s over five championships. It looks likely to be a meagre 2021 in Formula 2 for HWA.
Trident 2021 Drivers
Like Charouz, there is nothing yet from Trident for 2021. The Italians raced with Marino Sato at the end of season test. That’s either for some consistency to compare other drivers against, or for a 2021 seat. If it’s the former, the two most likely men are Clement Novalak and Bent Viscaal. Novalak won British F3 in 2019 before moving to FIA F3 last year. Viscaal, on the other hand, has more experience. He raced Spanish F3 and Euroformula in 2018 (finishing second in both) and has spent the last two seasons in FIA F3, claiming his first win from the reverse-grid pole at Silverstone. A Sato-Viscaal partnership is what we expect from the Italians for 2021.
Eight seats still to fill before the season gets underway! Like an extended advent calendar, we take pleasure in opening each press release to fill in the gaps….