CEO Bruno Michel looks back at an eventful third round of the 2021 season and picks out his key topics from Baku.
Michel discusses Formula 2’s 100th race, looks at the resurgence of Jüri Vips and Robert Shwartzman and highlights the teams that shone in Azerbaijan.
FOR THE HUNDREDTH TIME
F2 celebrated its 100th race last Saturday, at the Baku City Circuit. It’s amazing to think that we’ve already completed 100 races – one hundred and one to be exact, if we count Sunday’s Feature Race!
So much has happened since our first event in Bahrain, mid-April in 2017. In the span of the past four and a half years, we’ve had 31 one different race winners, 41 distinct podium finishers, on 15 different tracks. I am proud of what we have accomplished so far, and of our F2 Champions and our F1 graduates.
I am also thankful to F1 and to the FIA for their continued support, as well as our partners and suppliers. I want to thank our teams and the drivers for the quality of the show they have provided the fans with for the past four seasons, and I am really looking forward to seeing what the next 99 races will hold!
VIPS ON A CHARGE
Jüri Vips enjoyed a remarkable race weekend in Azerbaijan. He became our first F2 double race winner in a single round. He was particularly impressive in the Feature Race, where he dominated the rest of the pack from lights to flag. It had been a difficult start to his 2021 campaign, but he definitely made an impression in Baku and has now moved up to foruth in the Championship, just 15 points behind the leader Guanyu Zhou.
THE TITLE BATTLE INTENSIFIES
Speaking of Zhou, the Chinese driver’s weekend in Baku was his least successful since the start of this season. He was unable to score in the second and third races. This means that he has lost some ground in the Championship. Meanwhile, his closest rival, Oscar Piastri was able to regain a position thanks to a good qualifying and another podium finish in the Feature Race. The top two are separated by five points only.
Behind the duo, Robert Shwartzman finally had a strong weekend and grabbed a first victory in 2021. Having scored big points in all three races, the Russian ace currently lies third ahead of Vips and Dan Ticktum.
18 points cover the Top five, and 28 points cover the Top eight, with 15 races to go…
MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM ROUND 3
The rookies were once again impressive, starting with Liam Lawson who grabbed a maiden F2 pole position. Unfortunately, he was unable to convert it into another win, but so far, his pace has enabled him to consistently fight at the front.
I was very pleased to see David Beckmann back on the podium in Sprint Race 2, but I was also happy for Bent Viscaal, who scored his first F2 points. I know he was left extremely frustrated after he finished P4, having started from reverse grid pole, but it was still a nice reward for his and Trident’s hard work since the start of the season.
Another highlight of the weekend was another good weekend for Ralph Boschung and Campos Racing. They seem to have found the way to successfully mix the Swiss driver’s natural speed and experience with the team’s knowhow.
Still buzzing from his incredible results in Monaco, Théo Pourchaire was quick to learn the challenging Baku layout and qualified in P4. He made an incredible recovery in Sprint Race 1 to take fifth and the bonus points for fastest lap. I was sorry to see him get injured on Sunday. I’m wishing him a speedy recovery ahead of Silverstone.
BATTLE OF THE TITANS
Three teams dominated the rest of the field last weekend, starting with reigning Champions PREMA Racing, who left Baku with a win in Sprint Race 1 and a double podium finish in the Feature Race. They scored a total of 57 points and now lead UNI-Virtuosi by 20 points in the Teams’ Standings.
Hitech Grand Prix have jumped from fifth to third in the Championship thanks to a mammoth 55 points scored in Round 3, including a pole position and two wins. Their pace around the Baku City Circuit was incredible. This means that Carlin have dropped from third to fourth in the Standings, but the British squad still pulled off a very strong weekend, taking 46 points overall.
Those three teams were the only ones to have scored in all three races. The rest of the field now have a bit of time to regroup, analyse data and prepare for Silverstone, where I expect more outfits to join in the title fight.