FIA Formula 2 CEO Bruno Michel looks back over another weekend of excellent racing and picks out his key topics from Round 1 in Spielberg. He discusses the early title contenders, the impressive cluster of rookies, and looks ahead to Round 2, where he expects a reaction from the more experienced drivers on the grid.
RETURN TO RACING
I am extremely pleased that we were able to return to racing after such an extended break. Everybody had missed seeing the cars out on track. But of course, our number one priority was to ensure that it would be absolutely safe to do so. We put in place extensive safety measures in order to protect everyone in the paddock, and I was pleased to see everyone following the new rules to the finest of detail.
Obviously, it is a shame to not have the fans with us for the time being, but hopefully we can welcome them back in the not so distant future.
It was great to see nine rookies make the step to Formula 2 in 2020, seven of whom graduated from F3. I think that it is testament to the strength of F3 that all of them performed well in their first weekend.
F3 champion Robert Shwartzman was fighting at the front all weekend, and currently sits second in the standings. Meanwhile, vice-champion Marcus Armstrong earned himself a podium and may have had another were it not for some bad luck on the Sunday.
My biggest mention must go to Felipe Drugovich though, with the Brazilian surpassing everybody’s expectations of him to win the Sprint Race. He clearly has the confidence and the pace to succeed at this level and I am excited to watch him develop over the next few months.
THE FERRARI DRIVER ACADEMY AT THE TOP
There are five talented Ferrari Academy drivers on the grid this season, so we knew they were likely to fight against one another for podiums, but to have the Feature Race front three made up entirely of them, proved just how strong they are.
We also saw impressive performances from the other F1 academy drivers on the grid. Guanyu Zhou looked set for his first win before suffering from mechanical gremlins, while Christian Lundgaard took two top five finishes on his debut weekend. Finally, Williams F1 protégé Dan Ticktum took points in both races, including a podium finish in the Sprint Race.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM ROUND 2
Ilott will want to extend his lead at the top of the Championship, although you suspect that Zhou will be gunning for revenge in Round 2, as will Mick Schumacher, who missed out on a podium in R1, following a late mistake.
Louis Delétraz was another who enjoyed a successful opening weekend with a podium. I would also expect to see a reaction from both Giuliano Alesi and Nikita Mazepin, who suffered tough opening weekends, but showed flashes of pace.
Then there is the experience of Nobuharu Matsushita, Artem Markelov, Jack Aitken, Luca Ghiotto and Sean Gelael, all of whom will have title aspirations. Things may not have gone smoothly for them in the opening weekend, but they have the resilience to move on from that and react.
Looking at the standings, more than half of the grid has scored points in the first race weekend. Knowing that the drivers mentioned above are more than capable of joining the point scorers’ list, Round 2 promises a lot of surprises and that’s how we like it!
TAKING MATTERS INTO HANDS
We’ve experienced some reliability issues last weekend which need our full attention. They can be explained in part by the fact that the cars have not been running since our pre-season testing in early March. We take the matter extremely seriously and had to react quickly. Therefore, we have organised a shakedown this Wednesday with all 22 cars at the Red Bull Ring in order for the teams to check their machines ahead of Round 2. There will be no laptimes taken over the short session. We just want to ensure that the problems are understood and resolved before racing resumes.