CEO Bruno Michel looks back at an eventful final round of the 2020 season and picks out his key topics from Sakhir.
Michel discusses the late battle for the title, picks his breakout star of 2020 and thanks everyone for their support and hard work this season.
Ever since he joined the Formula 2 grid, Mick Schumacher has been under huge pressure to perform well in front of the Formula 1 paddock, the media, and the fans. Everyone wanted him to do well so that another successful chapter of the Schumacher family could be written. His first F2 season was more difficult, except for a maiden victory in the Budapest Sprint Race. Funnily enough, it was again in Hungary this year that Mick’s 2020 season really kicked off, with two third places. After that, he became the most consistent driver of the field. He sustained the pressure and lived up to the expectations. He arrived in Bahrain with a comfortable points advantage in the standings and took the 2020 F2 title which he greatly deserved. I now wish him a successful career in Formula 1!
CALLUM DID NOT GO DOWN WITHOUT A FIGHT
When Callum Ilott took second place in the Feature Race of Round 11 in Bahrain, I went to the parc fermé as I always do and told him “good job”. He replied: “I won’t go down without a fight!” It’s true that his fighting spirit shone throughout this season, from Round 1 all the way to the final race. Callum had a fantastic year with a notable five pole positions. His natural speed combined with his racing craft made him a worthy title contender and Vice Champion. His future is yet to be decided but he has proved that he is a complete driver who is a true asset to a team.
THE BREAKOUT STAR OF 2020
Yuki Tsunoda graduated to F2 after one season in F3 where he finished P9 overall. Some people judged the step up to F2 a bit premature, but he proved them wrong in the most brilliant way. His 2020 season was inconsistent at first, but you could already see the potential he had. When he put everything together, he looked more and more like a title rival to Mick and Callum. In the final round he grabbed pole position followed by a win, another podium finish in the Sprint race, and the fastest lap to complete his best performance in a race weekend - scoring a dizzying 43 points. That’s the most points scored over a race weekend by a driver this year. He finished third overall, only one point behind Ilott! He was also rewarded with two prestigious trophies: the Pirelli trophy after he was voted by a college of F1 and F2 media as the driver who made the best use of his tyres this season, and the Anthoine Hubert Award for Best Rookie of the Season. He clearly has a bright future ahead of him.
Following their triumph in Formula 3, PREMA Racing clinched the F2 Teams’ crown ahead of UNI-Virtuosi. The battle between the two teams has kept us on the edge of our seats, but eventually, the Italian squad came out on top and took both the Teams’ and the Drivers’ titles. While you focused on that rivalry, you may have missed Carlin’s final charge up the standings. Talking to their team principle, Trevor, I understand that they were convinced that third place was not reachable. However, that was before their duo of Tsunoda and Jehan Daruvala performed superbly in the last round and wrapped up the season with a 1-2 result for the team. They overtook Hitech Grand Prix, but the latter can still be proud of their debut season in F2.
Reflecting on the 2020 season, I think it is safe to say that this season was particularly intense, both in terms of calendar, but also in terms of the show on track. Every single race, if not almost every session, was action-packed and quite unpredictable. The introduction of the 18’’ Pirelli tyres levelled the field and gave the drivers and the teams a bit of extra work. It spiced up the strategies too. 2020 truly is a season to remember.
We also end this year with the satisfaction of having managed to keep the show going in very challenging conditions. Once again, I would like to thank F1 and the FIA for their support and for putting in place a strict but highly efficient protocol. Everyone – from our staff to the teams, the drivers and our partners and suppliers – have perfectly played their part to be able to race in the safest conditions. Bravo and thank you.
WHAT’S COMING NEXT?
2021 is right around the corner… The teams are testing this week in Bahrain to prepare for the season to come. We can see some familiar faces mixed with some fresh ones, but the latter are not unknown to us as they were racing in F3 this year. Four drivers have already been confirmed for next year’s grid, including 2020 F3 Champion Oscar Piastri who will race alongside 2019 F3 Champion Robert Shwartzman at PREMA. Felipe Drugovich moves to UNI-Virtuosi whilst Ralph Boschung returns to F2 with Campos. It will be interesting to see who the teams will confirm next.
As announced previously, we keep the same eleven teams for our next three-year cycle and we will introduce a new race format for 2021 with three races per weekend. There is a lot to look forward to, but first, I would like to wish everyone involved in F2 and our fans happy holidays!