Round 8 of the 2020 FIA Formula 2 Championship kicks off back-to-back events in Italy, beginning with the historic circuit at Monza.

WHEN TO WATCH All times local (GMT +2)

Friday Free Practice: 12:55 – 13:40 Qualifying: 17:00 – 17:30 Press conference: 18:15

Saturday Feature race: 16:45 (30 laps) Press conference: 18:05

Sunday Sprint race: 11:10 (21 laps) Press conference: 12:15

THE STORY SO FAR

The Ardennes forest gave us more of the drama and excitement we’ve come to expect from the 2020 FIA Formula 2 Championship, as well as a touching moment of unity and remembrance in honour of Anthoine Hubert. Yuki Tsunoda dedicated his Feature Race victory to the late Frenchman, before Robert Shwartzman won the Sprint Race to snatch the lead of the Drivers’ Championship.

Shwartzman had pipped Tsunoda by two tenths to top Free Practice on Friday morning, but it was the Carlin racer who sealed his second pole position of the campaign in the afternoon’s Qualifying session.

Tsunoda started smartly on Saturday to lead Nikita Mazepin into Turn 1, before steadily increasing the gap. The pair began on Pirelli’s soft compound tyre, and it was Mazepin who boxed first to attempt the undercut. Tsunoda immediately responded, but a slow stop cost him track position. The intense duel at the front continued until the very last corner, with Mazepin ahead as Tsunoda urgently tried to get by. The Russian crossed the line first but received a 5s penalty for forcing Tsunoda off the road. The Japanese racer was promoted to first, with Mazepin finishing second ahead of Mick Schumacher.

There was more drama between the leading pair in Sunday’s action, as reverse pole-sitter Roy Nissany and Dan Ticktum collided at Les Combes, allowing Shwartzman to fire into the lead from third. The Russian didn’t look back, heading home a PREMA one-two with Schumacher, ahead of Guanyu Zhou in third.

THE CHALLENGERS

Shwartzman (132 pts) leaps to the top of the Drivers’ Championship with his 29-point haul from Spa, while a solitary point gained for Callum Ilott (122) sees him slip to second. Tsunoda (111) climbs to third place, 11 points behind, with Schumacher (106) also moving up into fourth. Mazepin (101) is five points further back in fifth.

Good results from both drivers see PREMA Racing (238 pts) take the lead in the Teams’ Championship by 24 points. UNI-Virtuosi (214) drop to second, with Hitech Grand Prix (152) climbing to third. Carlin (129) move up into fourth, with ART Grand Prix (123) falling two positions to fifth place.

Pirelli’s medium and soft compound tyres will be used once again when the paddock visits the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. With flat-out straights and a host of historic corners, Monza is known for it’s high-speeds - but who will be quickest in the race for the title?

FROM THE GRID – CALLUM ILOTT (UNI-VIRTUOSI)

“Monza is close to my home here in Italy. It's the fastest circuit I think I've visited, and the most 'full throttle' that you’re likely to be at a circuit unless it’s an oval. There are some very good overtaking zones, but also with some complex corners where a good exit is important. There’s lots of opportunities to make a mistake, which makes it difficult to get right, especially in Qualifying.

“My first pole position in Formula 2 last year was a very good memory. I think I had a win here back in 2017 too, so it would be nice to get back. This was one of my batter races last year, so I'm looking forward to it.

“It was a decent circuit last year for tyre management, with nothing too ridiculous, but it's still one you have to be prepared for. Good strategy and good racecraft are something that is very important at Monza. You also have to try and put yourself into a good position in Qualifying and try not to get disturbed too much. As I found out last year, braking when the tyres are almost close to having nothing left gets a bit difficult.

“I think most of the action will probably be at the two chicanes. A big slipstream out of Parabolica makes for a good overtaking zone into the first corner, but you've got to be careful because they can sometimes get you back into the second chicane.

“I had a very good race weekend here last year, so I imagine that I should start off quite well and then see how we do. Last year, the conditions were a bit mixed for the first half of the weekend, but hopefully I think I should be in for a good result this weekend.”

TYRE TALK – MARIO ISOLA (PIRELLI’S HEAD OF F1 AND CAR RACING)

“Monza is our home circuit and part of a unique Italian double-header with Mugello this season. It’s always a special event, partly because of the circuit characteristics that make Monza the quickest track on the calendar. This creates a compromise for the teams and drivers, who need to get the grip that they want while keeping downforce to a minimum.

At the same time, they also need to preserve the tyres from the work-out they receive under traction, braking, and through the chicanes especially. Hitting the high kerbs in Monza with the 18-inch tyres will be quite different from the past with the 13-inch tyres, so the F2 drivers will probably have to slightly modify their racing lines, to avoid unbalancing the car.”

STAT PACK

  • The F2 race lap record at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza is 1:32.921, set by Jordan King with MP Motorsport in 2017.
  • Yuki Tsunoda’s pole position last weekend was Carlin’s fifth pole since they began in FIA Formula 2 in 2018.
  • Tsunoda became the fourth double winner of the season after his victory in the Belgian Feature Race.
  • Robert Shwartzman's Sprint Race win in Belgium means that the Russian driver is the only driver so far this season to have taken three victories.
  • ART Grand Prix, DAMS and PREMA Racing are now all tied on 15 F2 wins, the highest number of team wins in the modern era of FIA Formula 2.
  • Mick Schumacher earned his second double-podium finish of the season last weekend, and now has more podium finishes than anyone so far this season with six.
  • Jehan Daruvala, Louis Delétraz, Felipe Drugovich and Nikita Mazepin are the only drivers to have completed every racing lap so far this season.
  • Championship contender Callum Ilott took his maiden FIA Formula 2 pole position at Monza last year.
  • Both of last year's Monza race winners are on the grid this weekend. Nobuharu Matsushita won 2019’s Feature Race, while Jack Aitken won Sprint Race.
  • A Japanese driver has won the Feature Race at Monza for the last two consecutive years. Matsushita in 2019, and before that Tadasuke Makino in 2018.