The FIA Formula 2 2021 season kicked off at the weekend, and I started thinking about how insane this year will be (evidence was right there in the three races we have already witnessed!) There are some fantastic drivers in contention for the championship this year and I really think it might boil down to the very last race in Abu Dhabi. Title aside, I think there are five drivers that should definitely be on your list to watch this year.
Robert Shwartzman is into his second year in Formula 2 racing with Prema, after a 1 point advantage clinched him a championship win in the 2019 FIA Formula 3 season with the team. Shwartzman’s rookie year in Formula 2 was anything but easy, with a quick fire 2020 calendar, and the loss of his father due to COVID-19 in April – physically and mentally the season would be tough for the 21 year old. However, he took the season by storm – within 3 weeks of the season starting, the rookie had achieved two wins and a podium. He finished third on his Formula 2 Debut at the Red Bull Ring, but that wasn’t enough for the Russian driver. Just 7 days later, he then went on to win the feature race at Austria, dedicating the win to his late father. Round 3, the third back to back race this season, Formula 2 returned to the Hungaroring where strategy played into the hands of Robert as he climbed through the field from 11th and claimed his second consecutive feature race victory. Throughout the rest of the season, Shwartzmans results were a little up and down, but he still managed to end the season with 2 more wins and another podium – finishing the championship in fourth place in his rookie year. I don’t think I need to say much else on why he is definitely one to watch this year, I truly believe he’s a future Formula 1 star and that’s that.
Christian Lundgaard is another hot favourite for the title this season. The Dane started his single-seater career in 2017 when he entered and won the SMP F4 and Spanish F4 Championships with MP Motorsport. After his rookie year in Formula Renault was such a success, in January 2019 it was announced that Lundgaard would drive for ART in the FIA Formula 3 Championship. He took his first podium on his F3 Debut in Barcelona after winning on track, although a 5 second time penalty knocked him down to second. He won his first F3 race later that year in Hungary. Lundgaard made the step up to FIA Formula 2 for the 2020 season, racing with ART Grand Prix, a total of six podiums including two wins helped him finish 7th in the championship. However, there is a question mark surrounding Christians consistency, leaving himself point-less throughout half of the races in both F3 and F2. There is no doubting Lundgaards speed, if he uses it to deliver more consistent results this year, the Alpine Academy driver could be given an F1 seat for 2022.
Oscar Piastri – where do I begin? Two championship titles within 2 years. The 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup champion, stepping up to Formula 3 racing with Prema for the 2020 season and taking it by storm. Two wins, six podiums and ridiculously consistent – with only one race finishing outside of the top 10. Piastri’s deadly overtakes are something to sit back and admire, charging through the field on several occasions last year. In December 2020, Piastri announced that he would continue with Prema into the FIA Formula 2 season for 2021, replacing reigning champion Mick Schumacher. Oscar and Robert are teammates for this year – with similar junior careers in terms of coming up quickly through the ranks. It will be interesting to see them battle it out this season.
17 years old. Imagine what you were doing at seventeen. Théo Pourchaire however? Racing in Formula 2 for his first full season, after graduating FIA Formula 3 with an astounding racing record – he missed out on the championship by just three points. Since his single seater career began in 2018, he has won both the French F4 Junior Championship and the ADAC Formula 4. Jumping into the FIA Formula 3 Championship, Pourchaire took his first victory at the second sprint race at the Red Bull Ring, followed by his first feature race win at the Hungaroring the week after. He finished the season with a total of eight podiums, but that aside – he only finished outside of the points three times! For such a young driver I was ridiculously impressed with his consistent performance. Pourchaire made his FIA Formula 2 debut at the final two rounds of the 2020 season in Bahrain for HWA Racelab to replace Jake Hughes. The back to back race weekend didn’t go as smoothly as Theo had hoped for, with one retirement and three results not worth noting. Pourchaire drove for ART Grand Prix at the post season test in December, and the following month it was announced he would join the team for the 2021 season. Theo is also a part of the Sauber Junior Team – could we be seeing him in Formula 1? Absolutely. He’s a name to remember for sure.
Dan Ticktum. Please don’t leave. Hear me out. A two time winner of the Macau Grand Prix, but yet to be a championship title holder. A guy with, it’s probably fair to say – a slightly complicated past after being banned from racing in 2015. However, he is talented behind the wheel of a car when he’s able to keep level headed. At the end of 2019, he was named in the line-up of the Williams Driver Academy where he was given the role of a Development Driver, after parting ways with the Red Bull Junior Team. Alongside this, it was announced that Ticktum would drive in the FIA Formula 2 championship with DAMS. It was here, where we started to see him unleash that talent. Three podiums including a race win in the Silverstone Sprint race and relatively consistent results throughout the season landed him 11th in the championship, being the fourth highest rookie in the standings. For 2021, Dan is racing with Carlin – a team with just a few notable drivers. Could this be his ticket into Formula 1 for 2022?
It was really difficult to pick just five drivers to look out for from this year’s championship, I could’ve written about another 4 at least. The grid is ridiculously strong and if you don’t already watch Formula 2 – take this as your sign to get watching.