The 2021 FIA Formula 2 Championship gets underway this weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir for Round 1.

WHEN TO WATCH All times local (GMT +3)

Friday Free Practice: 13:05 – 13:50 Qualifying: 16:30 – 17:00 Press conference: 17:30

Saturday Sprint Race 1: 13:25 (23 laps) Press conference: 14:35 Sprint Race 2: 19:40 (23 laps) Press conference: 20:50

Sunday Sprint race: 13:50 (32 laps) Press conference: 15:15


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Round 1 of the 2021 FIA Formula 2 Championship officially gets underway this weekend at Sakhir, Bahrain. This year marks the fifth exciting season for the category, which returns to screens with an exciting new weekend format and a dynamic eight-round calendar.

It has been a mere three months since Mick Schumacher clinched the 2020 Championship title in a dramatic closing round at the Bahrain International Circuit and joined Nyck de Vries, George Russell and Charles Leclerc in the F2 Hall of Fame. Since then, three F2 graduates have made the move to Formula 1, making way for a whole host of exciting new faces in the 2021 paddock who continue their journey on the Road to F1.

The start of the year brought about an array of driver announcements, with all 11 teams in the paddock making changes to their line-up for 2021. An astounding six teams will start the season with all new driver line-ups, with many returning favourites switching outfits and ten rookies lining-up on the starting grid in Bahrain. The build-up to the season also saw several teams reveal their dazzling new 2021 liveries. No fewer than eight teams incorporated blue to their revitalised designs, a colour that has never before appeared on a championship-winning car.

Pre-season testing earlier this month saw Pirelli’s updated hard compounds get their first track-time. The re-designed compound has been introduced to reduce degradation and mark a bigger step between Hard and Medium tyres. A new updated medium compound has also been created for the 2021 season and has been designed to improve resistance.


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With a roster of 22 drivers all determined to show they have what it takes to make it at the top level of junior motorsport and a thrilling new three-race weekend format, the fifth year of the FIA Formula 2 Championship has the potential to be the most exciting yet. Just eight rounds stand between one driver and the crown, but with an all-new sprint race added to the schedule, there is no doubt that a season of non-stop action lies ahead.

This year’s line-up merges experience with youth, as a new cohort of rookies makes the step-up from Formula 3 joining returning faces from the 2020 F2 campaign. Almost half of the 2021 grid have links to F1 teams, including Robert Shwartzman, the highest placed driver returning from 2020. This year’s line-up also features two F1 Test Drivers, Guanyu Zhou and Roy Nissany, who will continue their duties for Alpine and Williams throughout 2021.

The rookies also stood out at pre-season testing, with F3 race winner Bent Viscaal finishing second overall just 0.331s behind title contender Christian Lundgaard. Meanwhile, Red Bull Junior Driver and F3 graduate Liam Lawson consistently finished in the top five, and 2020 F3 Champion Oscar Piastri made the top ten in all but one session.


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“I think the new weekend format should be exciting! Qualifying in the top ten is now even more important than it was previously to make sure you are in the reverse grid for the first Sprint Race. Qualifying towards the back of the top ten probably isn’t such a bad thing anymore because you will hopefully stay out of the mess in Sprint Race 1. The format could potentially see some people who do well in Qualifying have some tough rounds because they get caught in incidents in the first Sprint Race, but it will be exciting, nonetheless.

“Tyre management will be crucial. We’ve seen in the past that Bahrain is very tough on tyres, particularly the rear ones because of all of the traction zones. PREMA were the first team to master the pit stop in the sprint race, but I still think that managing the tyres will be a massively important part of the race.

“The key action zone is Turn 1; it is the longest straight on the track into a very tight hairpin so that is where I think most overtaking will happen. However, with the amount of tyre degradation especially towards the ends of stints when people’s tyres are dropping off, there could be overtaking almost anywhere on the track.

“If we could end all three races in the points, it would be a pretty good start to the season. The first objective is going to be to qualify in the top ten. It depends on how we perform as a team, but we looked strong in pre-season testing so it is definitely within our capability to get points in all three races and hopefully challenge for a podium as well.”


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“The new three-race format for the weekend means that each car now has six sets of slick tyres available for the weekend rather than five: four sets of the harder compound and two sets of the softer compound. For Bahrain, this is the P Zero White hard and P Zero Red soft: well-suited to the changing conditions expected in Formula 2, with races held both during the heat of the day and after dark. This nomination is different to last year, where the hard and the medium was chosen for this track, now adding an extra tactical variable at the start of this radical new season. The hard F2 tyre is different in 2021, with a new construction and stiffer compound, which should open up the already considerable performance gap to the soft.”


  • In 2020, Formula 2 raced at the Bahrain International Circuit for the two closing rounds of the season. For Round 11, the grid raced on the traditional ‘Grand Prix’ circuit, while Round 12 featured the ‘Outer Track’ circuit configuration.
  • Robert Shwartzman is the highest-placed driver returning from last year’s championship having finished fourth in the standings in 2020.
  • 10 rookies will start the 2021 campaign, including nine FIA Formula 3 graduates.
  • Just two drivers have completed two full seasons in F2: Guanyu Zhou and Ralph Boschung.
  • The 2021 grid features six F2 race winners, collectively they have won a total of 12 races.
  • The F2 race lap record at the Bahrain International Circuit is 1:38.907, set by Charles Leclerc with PREMA Racing in 2017.
  • At 5.412 KM long, the circuit is the 2nd shortest track on the 2021 calendar, surpassed only by Monte Carlo which is just 3.337 KM long.
  • Just one Feature Race and one Sprint Race have been won by the polesitter at the track since the beginning of the modern era of FIA Formula 2.
  • Felipe Drugovich and Schwartzman were both race winners at the Bahrain International Circuit in 2020 and are the only two drivers on the current grid to have stood on the podium at this track under the traditional circuit configuration.