It has been a season of surprises for David Beckmann. The German driver had no expectations of racing in Formula 2 this year but has become a critical component in Van Amersfoort Racing’s maiden season as a team in the Championship.
His contributions to the Dutch outfit have been impressive for a driver parachuted into the car mid-season, and that’s after an earlier outing for Charouz Racing System back in Imola.
“I would say it’s been very surprising, because I knew last year, I would probably not be driving in Formula 2 in 2022,” he admitted. “Charouz got me in for Imola which was a really good race, but I thought there wouldn’t be another chance to drive. Then some weeks later, I got to drive for Van Amersfoort.
“I helped the team a lot at Silverstone, made some improvements and they gave me a chance to continue the season and for that I was really glad and thankful. It’s a bit weird, last year I didn’t finish the season, this year I didn’t start the season but will finish it, so I guess I have one full year completed of F2.”
His half campaign in 2022 has been a solid one too. A slow start to life at VAR has given way to points-scoring weekends at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza, well deserved rewards according to Beckmann.
He and the team have been working hard to identify what works for the car and what doesn’t during a tricky maiden campaign, but the work is finally starting to bear fruit.
“We’ve had many ups and downs, but that’s normal. We’ve tried a lot of stuff as a new team, so we need to get that experience and you only get the experience when you try things. It can go right or it can go wrong. We’ve had some good races like at Monza for example, so I think we’re heading in the right direction but it’s normal that we don’t have the results sometimes. We’ve made good progress though.”
Adapting to a Championship he thought he wouldn’t even be racing in has been tough, but to do it at a team finding its own way has made things even more interesting. By the same token though, it has allowed Beckmann and VAR to go about their business without the weight of expectation a title-contending outfit would be under.
That has been a huge positive according to the driver, who believes that his experience of F2 has proven valuable as the team has built on its strengths and minimised its weaknesses as the season has unfolded.
“The team has been really nice. I know many of the guys from working with them in the past. The atmosphere with the engineers is very good. What’s good is that when you’re a new team there’s less pressure. As a driver, you’re not fighting for a Championship and the team isn’t right now, but you can drive calmly which is good.
“On the other hand, it’s nice to see the improvements and see that all of your feedback will be used to improve. Sometimes on other teams, your feedback is disregarded because they think they know how to do a good car. You play a big role in making the car good. We did a really good step on that side. I think I’ve helped a lot with the feedback and explained things in detail, taking a lot of time in the debriefs, it’s very important to improve the car.”
While the results were slow to materialise, the signs were there of a decent platform on which VAR has built upon. Beckmann identified Le Castellet as a positive round for the team and a step in the right direction, despite missing out on points in both the Sprint and Feature Races.
Points-paying results have arrived in the races since then, and the team has made strides forward in pace, particularly around low-downforce circuits according to the German driver. While the P8 and P6 finishes at Spa were welcome rewards for a team generating forward momentum, Beckmann believes there is more pace in the car to unlock before year is out.
“In Paul Ricard, we had a decent car, but I had a really bad cold and had some bad luck in the races. So, we could’ve already had a P10 result there and P8 in the Feature Race. Budapest was very difficult, the balance was not good and then we went to Spa-Francorchamps, and the car was great, especially in Qualifying. P5 wasn’t the maximum, I had a massive traffic jam on my first push lap, I was purple in sector two so if I’d have closed the lap, I might have been P2.
“We had a few more problems in the race but I feel like the tracks where we have lower downforce and a bigger top speed, we’re a bit faster. When we went to Zandvoort it was a bit more difficult for us, but still okay. In Monza it was great again, finishing P5 after having a puncture. To finish in the top five was very nice.
One round remains and VAR along with Beckmann will be hoping 2022 ends on a high note. His last visit to the Yas Marina Circuit was back during his GP3 days in 2018. He secured a podium finish of P2 in Race 1 back then, a result he would more than welcome next November in F2.
With just six points separating Van Amersfoort and Campos in the Teams’ Standings, every position will count in Abu Dhabi. The German driver will be learning the track along with his team though. He is yet to drive on the new layout introduced last year but is hopeful the changes and higher average speeds will suit the VAR machine.
“It’s interesting to see just how up and down things are in F2 but the first good result in Spa gave us confidence and pushed us on as a team. We can do a good job in Abu Dhabi and overtake Campos Racing in the Teams’ Championship so that’s something to target.
“I’ve not driven the new Abu Dhabi layout like a few of the other drivers. I know the old one from GP3 and I like the old layout a lot. I think we should be okay. The new long left-hander on the back straight will be another high-speed section that could suit the car. It should be a decent race and I think we can get two points finishes in the bag.
“I still hope for a podium but for that we need to do a good Qualifying, so that’s the main focus so we can start in the top 10 and then focus on a podium. To get a podium, that’s the goal.”