Felipe Drugovich may be chucking himself in at the deep end when the Formula 2 season finally commences in Spielberg at the start of July, but with the introduction of the new 18-inch tyres set to level out the field, he believes there was no better time to make the step up.
The former Spanish F3 and Euroformula Open champion may not be quite as far along in his development as fellow rookies Robert Shwartzman and Marcus Armstrong, but is eyeing a season of progression. His primary focus will not be on challenging for the title, but improving himself, and preparing for a shot at the crown in years to come.
“It is more or less starting from zero for everybody - more or less.” Drugovich said on the difference that the new tyres will make. “That’s one of the reasons why we chose to move to F2 this year, because it kind of levels everybody out, so it is a good year to start.
“I am still getting to know the team and the car, even more so with the new tyres, but it has been so far so good. I know that I still need to improve in many areas, but I have been taking my time.”
The 19-year-old was the highest finisher of his Carlin Buzz teammates in Formula 3 last season, finishing 16th with eight points, and impressing in a car which he felt didn’t completely play to his strengths as a driver.
Having completed two lots of testing stints in the F2 machine, the Brazilian is already of the opinion the car is a better fit to his particular style, while revelling in the added pace and power.
He explained: “The driving style in F2, I think maybe suits me a little bit more. I was really comfortable with the team and the car right from the first test - I think I finished in the top ten there.
“You have a lot more downforce for the weight of the car. Normally, I am not the guy who brakes late, but the guy who carries speed into the corners, so I think that is helping me quite a bit. I think the downforce in F2 suits me much better than in F3 as well, which was, I’d say, looser? I don't think the car suited me as well as this one does.”
The driving style in F2, I think maybe suits me a little bit more. I was really comfortable with the team and the car right from the first test.
The Brazilian joins an MP Motorsport outfit who made clear progression in 2019. The Dutch side finished in seventh - one place higher than in the previous season – with 96 points – 35 more than in 2018.
Lining up alongside 2019 frontrunner Nobuharu Matsushita, Drugovich will be able to pick the brains of the Japanese driver, and learn from his experience at this level.
“I am really liking the way that MP are working, for sure,” he continued. “There are some new people in the team, who have been brought in, and they have chosen good people. So far, it is really working well, we are improving a lot.
“Nobu is also helping a lot in the team. It is good for me to learn from him and it is good for the team to learn from him. I think that it’s a pretty good package from MP.”