Round 12 and the final round of the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship takes us to the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, for the last round of what has been a thrilling season. Both drivers’ and teams’ title are still up for grabs, but it is George Russell who leads the way with a 37 point gap ahead of DAMS‘ Alexander Albon. Who will pick up the awards at the end of the season? Here is what to expect ahead of the final round in the United Arab Emirates.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME IN ABU DHABI?
Oliver Rowland initially won the Feature race around the Yas Marina Circuit ahead of Artem Markelov and Antonio Fuoco. But after the race, both Rowland and Fuoco were disqualified for breaching technical regulations on their cars. The Brit was found to have a worn skid block under his car whilst Fuoco was found to have run front tyres below the minimum specific tyre pressure. Their disqualifications allowed Markelov to claim victory with Charles Leclerc and Luca Ghiotto promoted onto the podium.
In the final race of the 2017 season, the last lap saw a titanic battle for the win between Albon and Leclerc. Albon in the ART Grand Prix car led the way throughout the race before an ambitious dive bomb by Leclerc at the hairpin for the lead of the race, making contact with Albon causing damage to Leclerc’s front wing. But the Monegasque managed to pass Albon down the long straight to claim his final win of the series ahead of Albon and Nicholas Latifi.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LAST ROUND IN RUSSIA?
At the last round at the Sochi Autodrom, it was the two main title contenders who claimed victory in the Feature and Sprint races. Alexander Albon won in a dramatic feature race, with Carlin Motorsport‘s Lando Norris forced to retire after his wheel was not secured during the pit stop. His retirement meant that he was out of the championship hunt. Albon led a DAMS one-two with team-mate Latifi finishing in second with Nyck de Vries rounding off the podium.
In the sprint race, the Russian circuit started the race out dry before rain arrived towards the end of the race, enough for some drivers to take on a set of intermediate tyres. Russell controlled the race and took victory to give himself a strong points advantage in the title race going into the final round. Sérgio Sette Câmara claiming second with Albon finishing in third place, keeping his championship status alive for Abu Dhabi.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR THIS YEAR?
The main focus heading into the final race will be all about the championship fight between Russell and Albon. Both drivers will be racing elsewhere next year and both will want to take home a title going into 2019. Russell in the ART currently leads the way with 248 points, 37 more than Albon’s points tally of 211. Russell can clinch the title as early as the feature race, if the results falls into his favour. He can become the champion if Albon fails to finish on of the podium. Albon will need to get a podium finish in race one and hope he can clinch a fastest lap, pole position or both to add more points on the board and hopes bad luck falls into Russell’s way in order for his championship aspirations to remain alive in the sprint race.
The teams’ championship still remains undecided between Carlin and ART. The British based team lead the way with 361 points compare to ART’s 310. Carlin have consistently scored points from Norris and Sette Câmara over the course of the year compare to ART, where Russell’s team-mate Jack Aitken didn’t score during the mid-stage of the season. If Carlin can keep up their momentum, they can win the teams’ title in their first season back. DAMS are eight points away from ART going into final race in Abu Dhabi, so there could be a chance for them to surpass their fellow French competitors. Elsewhere in the championship, the battle for fourth place between Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing and Russian Time becomes intense as the two teams are separated by one point.
The final round will see a driver make his debut in the F2 series with BWT Arden. Dan Ticktum will race in Abu Dhabi this weekend, replacing Maximilian Günther who will move to the ABB FIA Formula E series next year with Dragon Racing. The Brit, who recently won the Macau Grand Prix for the second time in two years, is no stranger to racing around the Abu Dhabi circuit. Ticktum competed in the final stages of the GP3 Series with DAMS last year, grabbing a best result of third place around Abu Dhabi in the sprint race.
This weekend will be Artem Markelov’s last race in the series as he is set to take on new adventures in Motorsport. The Russian has competed in Formula 2/GP2 Series for five years, developing from a rookie to a consistent race winner. Markelov quickly became a fan favourite thanks to his incredible overtakes over the last few years, but the Russian never got to take home a championship having come close to winning it last year.
WHAT IS THE SCHEDULE FOR THIS WEEKEND?
FRIDAY 23RD NOVEMBER
Practice: 7:30AM (UK Time)/11:30AM (Abu Dhabi Time)
Qualifying: 3:00PM (UK Time)/7:00PM (Abu Dhabi Time)
SATURDAY 24TH NOVEMBER
Feature Race: 2:40PM (UK Time)/6:40PM (Abu Dhabi Time)
SUNDAY 25TH NOVEMBER
Sprint Race: 9:35AM (UK Time)/1:35PM (Abu Dhabi Time)
WHERE CAN I WATCH THE FORMULA 2 RACES?
You can watch the session lives from the FIA Formula 2 championship on Sky Sports F1 throughout the weekend in the UK and Ireland. Re-runs of the races will be shown over the week.
HOW CAN I KEEP UP WITH ALL OF THE ACTION OVER THE WEEKEND?
The Checkered Flag will provide the latest news and updates from 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship this weekend and throughout the season.