The FIA Formula 2 campaign returns for Round 4 at Silverstone in Great Britain, but what should you be watching out for this weekend?
WE COULD SEE A HOME WINNER
It hasn’t been a bad start to the season for the British drivers on the grid, but Callum Ilott is by far and away the standout so far. The British driver has made considerable progress from what was considered to be a solid debut in the highest tier of junior motorsport.
In the seven months that have passed since the conclusion of the 2019 campaign, he has transitioned from a strong midfield contender, to a regular at the front of the grid and a potential champion, sitting second to Robert Shwartzman in the standings.
It’s for this reason that the UNI-Virtuosi racer is the most likely candidate for a home victory heading into the Silverstone double-header, having already taken one win, one pole and a further podium.
He isn’t running alone though. Dan Ticktum has enjoyed a strong debut season himself, taking two podiums in the opening three rounds. This has been marred with a tad of inconsistency at times though, and he was one of those to struggle with his tyres in Budapest. He’ll need to find a little bit extra in Silverstone if he is going to take a maiden F2 victory.
Jack Aitken mustn’t be forgotten either. The Campos driver has endured a frustrating start to the year, taking just seven points, but he will take confidence from his Sprint Race win in Britain last year.
UNI-VIRTOUSI ARE THE QUALIFYING KINGS
PREMA may be leading the Championship, but it’s UNI-Virtuosi who have been the hottest around one lap. The British outfit’s drivers are yet to finish outside of the top three in Qualifying, taking a pole a piece between Ilott and Guanyu Zhou.
The problem so far has been converting this pace into race wins. Despite sitting second in the standings, it still feels like they are yet to truly hit full throttle this season.
Ilott started both the Feature and the Sprint race on pole in Budapest, but was unable to convert either into a victory, due to a mixture of tyre degradation and strategy. Zhou, meanwhile is still awaiting his first F2 race win for similar reasons.
The team will hope to unlock their full potential at Silverstone and convert their qualifying pace, into unbeatable race pace.
CAN HITECH CONTINUE TO IMPROVE AT THEIR HOME TRACK?
Some might say that Hitech Grand Prix understandably struggled at the start of their first ever F2 campaign, failing to take any points from the opening four races. Luca Ghiotto and Nikita Mazepin both discussed their frustrations at this, but backed the team to get it right sooner rather than later.
Quite how soon may have even surprised them. Ghiotto finished second only to Ilott in Qualifying in Round 3, and then claimed fourth and first in the two races, due to a mixture of precise tyre management, strong pace, and some clever strategic calls from those sat on the pitwall.
It was Mazepin who surprised the most. The Russian started the Feature Race from 16th, but went on to finish second for his first ever podium in the Championship. Fifth place in the Sprint Race wasn’t too shabby either.
They’ll be hoping the familiar surroundings of Silverstone, where the team are based, will aid their continual improvement.
Silverstone certainly isn’t the worst place to be hosting two races, and the circuit has a number of fans on the F2 grid with overtaking opportunities a plenty. Ghiotto has spoken out on why the track is amongst his favourite on the calendar, while we already know how much Aitken loves it from last season.
The track’s width, and the competitiveness of the F2 field, will see overtakes take place throughout the circuit. The first turn at Abbey always provides enthralling race starts, and plenty of moves throughout the races.
Another key section will be the combination of turns leading towards Hanger Straight, which should favour the likes of UNI-Virtuosi and PREMA, who have been the fastest on the grid so far this season.