With just three drivers returning to their permanent seats from 2019, Formula 2 fans will be treated to a whole host of new intrateam battles in 2020.
Who will best handle the balancing act of remaining harmonious in the garage, while battling tooth and nail on the track? We’ve delved through the varying different partnerships, taking experience, youth, and the influence of Formula 1 driver academies into consideration to select three of the most interesting potential battles.
Guanyu Zhou vs Callum Ilott
It’s a Ferrari vs Renault battle at UNI-Virtuosi next season, who have paired the first and third highest finishing rookies from 2019 in their race-winning machinery. The British outfit were the runners’ up in last season’s Teams’ Championship and on their day possess one of the fastest and most reliable cars on the grid.
The duo are firm friends off track from their time in karting, and with PREMA in European F3, and a budding bromance between the two already appears to be formulating in the background. But, make no mistake, they’re utterly ruthless. Once the visors go down, there will be no love lost between the pair as they dice for the title.
Renault prodigy Guanyu Zhou was the rookie champion last season, taking five podiums from the 12-round season, but it was his consistency which stood out most. The Chinese racer finished outside of the points just twice all year, with just two further retirements.
Callum Ilott may not have enjoyed the same consistency as his new teammate, but his pace shone through in a season of highs and lows for the Ferrari junior. Two podiums and a pole position don’t tell the whole story.
He suffered several near misses and would likely have had a victory were it not for mechanical gremlins and a few self-confessed mistakes. Tyre management will be key for the Briton in 2020 – if he can nail that, then he’ll be right in the mix.
Schumacher vs Robert Shwartzman
The current FIA Formula 3 champion, vs the final European F3 Champion. Robert Shwartzman and Mick Schumacher could just be the battle of the season.
The PREMA duo are two of the five Ferrari proteges set to fight it out in Formula 2 next season, as they look to emulate 2017 champion Charles Leclerc to become the next superstar at the Prancing Horse.
Statistically, the two stack up enormously well against one another, they were giants of their fields in their respective title winning campaigns, with Shwartzman scoring three wins and 10 podiums from 16 races in FIA F3, while Schumacher stormed to eight wins and 14 podiums from 30 races, in European F3.
Schumacher’s debut season in F2 was a little trickier than he’d have hoped, but there were glimpses of his immense potential, with a race win in Budapest, and a storming drive from 18th to fourth in Austria – which coincidentally, is where we are set to begin the season with.
Shwartzman will require a more powerful impact in his maiden campaign if he is to beat his German rival, who is sure to improve in his second season. Though, if you were to bet on anyone to do so, it would be the Champion. Especially, given the shake-up of machinery, with the new 18-inch Pirelli rims.
Yuki Tsunoda vs Jehan Daruvala
An honourable mention goes to the ART Grand Prix battle between Christian Lundgaard and Marcus Armstrong, but the all-Red Bull junior team line-up at Carlin was just too tantalising a prospect to not make the list.
Yuki Tsunoda and Jehan Daruvala were arguably the surprise packages in F3 last season, with the latter taking Shwartzman to the wire in the battle for the title. Winning two of the first four races, Daruvala quickly established himself as a frontrunner, with a pertinent mixture of speed and maturity.
While he would eventually finish third behind Armstrong, he had shown more than enough throughout the season to earn a seat at Carlin, and, a spot in the prestigious Red Bull Driver Academy.
Tsunoda was already well-known to Red Bull ahead of the 2019 season, but having never raced in Europe before, little was expected of the Japanese driver in his debut campaign.
However, his progress was rapid and by the second half of the season the 20-year-old was regularly challenging for podiums and wins. This included an incredible run of three podiums in a row between Spa and Monza, with second place, third place and victory in the Italian Sprint Race.
Should either of them make the same type of progress in 2020, then Red Bull could quickly be eying them up to follow in the footsteps of Alex Albon in making the jump from F2.