In 2018, Ralph Boschung was announced as a Formula 2 driver on March 5. In 2019, the news came as late as March 11. But in the past two years he’s been confirmed as a member of the grid before the new year, with the latest announcement coming on Tuesday - it isn’t even December yet…
So, it’s no wonder the Swiss driver feels like he’s had a career restart. For the first time in F2, he’s been racing without his future on the line, with stability and continuity, and he feels like he’s been reborn.
“Usually, I am the guy who makes a deal at the last minute before the Championship starts and is in a rush,” says Boschung. “It feels really good, and I honestly couldn't be happier at the moment. It is a very new feeling, a little bit odd, but it’s a relief.”
After nearly quitting racing altogether on the back of a sabbatical in 2020, Boschung is now enjoying his strongest season to date, already 23 points better off than his previous best, which was in 2018 with MP Motorsport.
Twelfth in the standings with 40 points, Boschung has six top 10 finishes with Campos Racing this season and the Spanish team have now secured his services for at least another year, with both driver and team eager to build on the progress they’ve made over the past 11 months.
“I am not going to lie, we had several different offers in F2,” he says. “It was quite a challenge to try and take the best possible option for both myself and my sponsor, but we discussed things in detail with Campos and I just feel at home here.
“With the progress we’ve been making, it makes no sense to change. If something is going well, why would you change? It has been a bit like a career restart after what has happened in the past. When things really went downhill in 2020, I said to myself that I would give it one more try and if it didn’t work out, then I would call it a day.
“With what I have put in place now, it has kind of been a fresh start, although as I see online, I am an ‘old man' and it’s my '20th year in F2' but that is alright, I'll take that. I’m a bit like a reborn Ralph.”
So why exactly has he opted for another season of F2?
“I made the decision after Sochi,” he continues. “I had the option to do something completely different with a business partner, still in the motorsport world, but it would have seen me completely stop racing and go on the other side of the fence, but when I thought about everything, I still had the backing to continue and F2 is probably the best platform to sell my sponsor.
“I can say publicly that I will never be doing any sort of GT's of LMP's, I have made that decision. I still feel that there are some things that I am able to do that I haven't shown yet, together with Campos. I hope that we can do that in the last six races (of 2021) and next season.”
Technically in his fifth season at this level, Boschung has never actually completed a full campaign. In 2020, he only ran in the final two races. In 2019, he missed out on five rounds. In 2018 and 2017, he missed out on three altogether.
My personal goal is to be in a position to get a super license, because I still have a vision, even if it is very difficult
For all of the ‘old man’ jokes, he’s also only 24, and retains ambitions that he believes F2 can help him to meet.
“My personal goal is to be in a position to get a super license, because I still have a vision, even if it is very difficult,” he explains. “If I can end up in the first five or six in the championship next year then I think it would be a really big achievement, but I am also not going to put too much expectation on that because as we know in this championship, things can go very quickly downwards or upwards.
“For sure, I think it should be better than this season. This year, I was just looking at the season, I didn't have any guarantees for next season. I just knew that I had a budget for this year. I have some ideas of what I want to do long-term, I am already working on something that is quite interesting, which I would be very happy to do if I stopped racing at the end of next year.
“An aim is to try and have a foot in Formula 1. I am not here to say that I am going to have a seat in Formula 1, but I think if I am able to have a decent year next year and maybe get a role in a Formula 1 team, I would be very happy with that. Another series I have always liked is IndyCar.”
But before any of that, Boschung has some more immediate objectives. He’s hoping to add a podium or pole to his list of racing achievements before the year is out.
Neither aim will define his season, though. Given his situation a little over 12 months ago, he’s already come a long way. And as a team, they’ve exceeded expectations.
“Between 12th and 15th in the standings would have been decent for me this year, so I think that we have surpassed expectations,” he says. “We’re now fighting for top 10 in the Championship.
“A lot of credit has to go to the team. They managed to adapt the race car to my driving style, which is something that teams do not always do. They might have a number on their laptop and just said ‘well this is the best way to go,’ but we kind of did it half and half.
“I am calmer, and I have more confidence knowing that I have got the whole season. In the past, I would be scared to brake a bit too late or lunge into a corner to overtake because if I broke the front wing, that could be a lot to cover and I could not do that if I was already on the edge. I have this ability now to be a bit more like the others and race normally. I believe I can still get into the top 10 if I have a good last two rounds.”
I am calmer, and I have more confidence knowing that I have got the whole season
Speaking in between simulator stints at Campos’ Spanish base, Boschung certainly appears relaxed. He’s spent the morning getting to grips with Jeddah Corniche Circuit, which will host Round 7 of the season. Like the rest of the grid, he’s never driven it in person, but he says he loved every second of the 6.174km street track on the simulator.
Eager to get out onto the real thing, Boschung has nothing to lose in the final two rounds and believes that he can take advantage of those who do.
“We are going to do something a bit different, strategy and driving wise,” he reveals. “We’re willing to take a few more risks because we don't have much to lose in a way. If I am able to qualify within the first five or six, then I would potentially be fighting with the Championship contenders.
“That would put me in a good position because they would rather finish fourth than having a DNF, so I can take more risks to overtake. A podium would be great, I think that we deserve it.
“In Qualifying, I think that we’ve been on the edge with potentially getting a pole. It is just on the second set we've always been a little bit off. If I am able to get a pole, that would be super cool, and a podium.”