Launched back in 2017 as the ultimate proving ground for the greatest junior drivers on the planet, Formula 2 enjoyed its milestone 100th race with the second sprint in Baku. But just how successful has the second tier been?
We take a look at some of the key numbers…
EIGHT FORMULA 1 DRIVERS
The simplest way to define the success of Formula 1’s official feeder championship is by how many drivers it's fed to F1. And in that regard, Formula 2 passes with flying colours.
No fewer than eight drivers have risen through the second tier since its formation in 2017, and seven of them still have full-time drives. The other, Alex Albon, remains a reserve and development driver for Red Bull. That number increases to nine if you include Williams’ stand-in Jack Aitken, who debuted in the Sakhir Grand Prix last year.
In fact, since the first full season of F2, no driver has debuted in F1 and competed in more than one Grand Prix without passing through the Formula 2 Championship.
Between those eight F1 graduates, they’ve scored a combined total of 845 points, 17 podiums, eight poles and two wins. Granted the vast majority of those numbers come from Charles Leclerc’s remarkable success with Ferrari, but the likes of Lando Norris and George Russell have both impressed immeasurably, with the former of those two currently (insert position) in the F1 Championship.
Albon’s success with Toro Rosso, which earned him a drive at Red Bull, also shouldn’t be discounted. It’s still too early to judge the latest trio of graduates, but they have plenty of time to impress.
F2 played a role in the development of each and every one of them.
31 RACE WINNERS
Formula 2 is arguably one of the most competitive single-seater championships in the world. In just 100 races, the revamped second tier has had 31 different victors - a remarkable number.
That’s even more impressive when you consider serial winners Charles Leclerc and George Russell both took seven wins on their way through – the most in a single season. While Nyck de Vries and Artem Markelov took eight a-piece during their stints in the second tier – the highest total tally.
Pitting 22 drivers against one another in identical cars, the second tier relies purely on the skill of the driver, a factor that has borne out in some intense title battles. Mick Schumacher won by a whisker in 2020, overcoming Callum Ilott in the final round by just 14 points. Russell beat Lando Norris by 68 points in 2018, but only after title challenger Alex Albon suffered a disastrous final round, finishing 14th and eighth.
The 2019 and 2017 campaigns may not have looked quite as tight on paper, but Nyck de Vries’ 2019 win required astonishing consistency, with the Dutchman taking more than a podium-a-round. And Charles Leclerc’s 2017 campaign was simply very special.
Of those F2 Champions, all bar De Vries have stepped up directly to Formula 1. Whereas the final three GP2 winners, Jolyon Palmer, Stoffel Vandoorne and Pierre Gasly, all had to spend a year on the sidelines, performing reserve duties, before being given a chance in F1.
F2 is producing talent ready-made for F1, and teams aren’t afraid to give them a chance.
10 CURRENT ACADEMY DRIVERS
Formula 1 academy drivers have always been a feature of the second-tier grid, but the number of them has increased since Formula 2 began in 2017, such is the strength of the field now.
Back in the final season of GP2, there were plenty of drivers to enjoy testing and simulator minutes with F1 teams, but just three official academy drivers on the grid, with Oliver Rowland at Renault, Nobuharu Matsushita at McLaren and Pierre Gasly at Red Bull.
That number has more than doubled in the four years of F2 and now stands at 11. Evidence of not just how competitive the field is, but also how strongly F1 teams trust the process of the official Road to F1.
KEY NUMBERS FROM F2'S 100 RACES