The 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship commences at the Bahrain Grand Prix on 29 March, starting the twelve round series once again. Last year saw George Russell clinch the drivers’ championship, with Carlin Motorsport winning the team’s title in their first year back in the series. The top three drivers’ in F2 last year all made the step up to Formula 1 for 2019, and this year’s crop of drivers will be hoping to join them on the grid next year.
The Checkered Flag will be following all the rounds of this year’s F2 championship, with the latest news, results, gossip and reactions throughout the year. Ahead of the first round at the Sahkir International Circuit, here’s a complete season preview of the upcoming season with all the drivers, teams, circuits and notes from testing.
Summary On Last Year’s FIA Formula 2 Championship
The twelve round championship started and concluded in the Middle East, with the first round taking place in Bahrain and the finale set at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. The season started with Carlin’s Lando Norris leading the way with victory at the first race of the year. The Brit led the championship throughout until 2017 GP3 Series champion George Russell went on a charge during the summer stage of the season, eventually surpassing Norris in the race for the championship.
Both Russell and Norris dueled for the title, with DAMS‘ Alexander Albon bringing up the rear as the three entered the final stage of the season as title contenders. At the penultimate round, Russell and Albon were left standing heading into the final round in Abu Dhabi, with Russell having the advantage over Albon. In the feature race, Russell secured the title. Norris ended the year in second with Albon bringing up the rear in third. The series also waved goodbye to Artem Markelov, as the Russian ended his tenure in the series after five years.
The 2019 F2 calendar remains the same as the 2018 calendar with twelve rounds, all supporting Formula 1. The season will commence on the 29th March in Bahrain at the Sahkir International Circuit. The series will head into Europe starting around the streets of Baku, followed by Barcelona and Monaco. A short break will follow before rounds in France, Austria and the United Kingdom commences during the summer stage of the championship.
Hungary will host the final race before the championship heads into the summer break. The championship comes back with back-to-back weekends of racing in Belgium and Italy. The penultimate round will take place in Russia before the final round of the series takes place at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. All twelve rounds will feature a feature and sprint race, rounding a total of twenty four races over the year.
|1||Bahrain||Sahkir International Circuit||29-31 March|
|2||Azerbaijan||Baku City Street Circuit||26-28 April|
|3||Spain||Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya||10-12 May|
|4||Monaco||Circuit de Monte-Carlo||23-25 May|
|5||France||Circuit de Paul Ricard||21-23 June|
|6||Austria||Red Bull Ring||28-30 June|
|7||United Kingdom||Silverstone||12-14 July|
|9||Belgium||Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps||30 Aug-1 Sep|
|10||Italy||Autodromo Internazionale Monza||6-8 September|
|11||Russia||Sochi Autodrom||27-29 September|
|12||Abu Dhabi||Yas Marina Circuit||29 Nov-1 Dec|
DRIVERS AND TEAMS PROFILES
The championship will feature 20 cars and 10 teams on the grid for the 2019 season. Two new teams join the grid: UNI-Virtuosi Racing replaces Russian Time whilst Sauber collaborates with Charouz Racing System to form Sauber Junior Team by Charouz. The top three of last year’s championship all join F1, whilst Artem Markelov leaves the series after five years to race in Super Formula.
Only Sean Gelael and Nicholas Latifi remain in their 2018 seats for the 2019 season, whilst the rest of the field shuffle around with new drives. Seven rookies join the grid, whilst three drivers who raced in 2017 return to the grid for another crack at the series.
CARLIN MOTORSPORT: #1 Louis Delétraz/#2 Nobuharu Matsushita
Carlin in their first year back in F2 was filled with success. Despite only capturing one win at the first race of the season with Lando Norris throughout the year, their consistency from both Norris and team-mate Sergio Sette Câmara helped them clinch the team’s title away from rivals ART with a total of seventeen podiums over the year. In 2019, the team will be hoping to hold both titles come the end of the season in Abu Dhabi with a new driver line-up mixed with experienced in Louis Delétraz and Nobuharu Matsushita.
Entering his third full season in F2/GP2, Delétraz is hoping this is the year he can mount a real challenge for the title. Last year proved to be the Swiss drivers’ strongest season in the series, clinching two podiums over the season with Charouz and ending the year in the top ten. He also managed to earn a test drive with the Haas F1 Team at the post-season test in Abu Dhabi. Now with champions Carlin, Delétraz will hope this is the year he can clinch his first win and mount a title charge. The twenty-one year old was fastest in the post-season test in Abu Dhabi and continued the pace throughout pre-season, cementing himself as an early title favourite in F2.
After spending a year racing in Japan, Nobuharu Matsushita returns to the F2 grid with Carlin, giving another crack at the series and becoming Japan’s first F1 driver since 2014. His 2018 season in Super Formula proved to be challenging and ended the year eleventh overall in the championship. Matsushita has experience under his belt having spent three years with ART and collecting four wins in the process. During testing, the Japanese driver showed that he hasn’t lost any speed by setting times within the top ten. This year will be an important year for Matsushita giving that he has been presented a second chance in F2 by Honda. If proven successful, Matsushita could find himself landing a seat or a place within one of Honda’s customer teams in F1.
ART GRAND PRIX: #3 Nikita Mazepin/#4 Nyck de Vries
ART Grand Prix had a year of success by clinching the drivers’ title with George Russell. ART lost out on the race to clinching the double as Carlin snatched the teams’ title at the final round. Russell and Jack Aitken‘s victories provided another strong year for the French squad, who notoriously perform strongly within F2/GP2. They are looking to continue their dominance with the signing of 2018 GP3 Series runner-up Nikita Mazepin and race winner Nyck de Vries.
Russian driver Nikita Mazepin will be one of seven rookies entering F2 this year, and he has the fortunes of driving with the same team that won the drivers’ title last year. Mazepin competed in the GP3 Series during the 2018 season and cemented a strong championship charge throughout the year against team-mates Anthoine Hubert and Callum Ilott. He could only settle second best after a time penalty during the final feature race of the year, meant he handed the title to Hubert. Now, Mazepin has the luxury of being promoted to ART’s F2 team and hopes to mount a similar charge in his rookie season like fellow champion George Russell. But the Russian will face a tough challenge with an experienced team-mate and an armada of drivers who will be fighting to win the championship.
Nyck de Vries enters his third year in F2 and hopes with a second chance with a top team, can mount a title charge in 2019. de Vries spent last year with Prema Racing and took three wins home towards a fourth place finish in the championship. With the top three drivers of 2018 now entering F1, the Dutch driver hopes to join them next year and joins ART, a team he raced with in GP3 during the 2016 season. In pre-season testing, de Vries showed his determination by putting in four fastest times over the six days of testing. With a championship winning team and strong pace shows that de Vries maybe the driver to watch in the race for the 2019 title.
DAMS: #5 Sérgio Sette Câmara/#6 Nicholas Latifi
DAMS’ 2018 season was a tail of two halves. One side of the garage saw a surprising title charge from Alexander Albon, who started the year on a race-by-race deal. The other side saw Nicholas Latifi have a tough year of bad luck and inconsistency as he couldn’t match the pace of his team-mate. Both drivers were able to claim wins and podiums, helping DAMS end the year in third. Latifi remains at the team for a fourth year whilst Brazilian Sérgio Sette Câmara joins the team for 2019.
Last year saw Sette Câmara help Carlin clinch the teams’ title, despite missing out on one round due to injury. The Brazilian was win-less throughout 2018 but stepped on the podium eight times to finish the year sixth overall. There were several opportunities for Sette Câmara to clinch wins last year, but ultimately missed out. His strong year with Carlin and assisting team-mate Norris to the teams’ title earned him a development role with McLaren F1 Team. For 2019, Sette Câmara made the switch to DAMS in a bid to mount a title charge for 2019. If successful, Sette Câmara could become Brazil’s next F1 superstar after the departure of Felipe Massa in 2017.
Nicholas Latifi’s 2018 season was challenging and his bid to make it into F1 was unsuccessful. The Canadian driver ended the 2018 season ninth overall with one win to his name, collecting it at Spa in the sprint race. He also captured three podium finishes, but majority of his season was spent on the back foot and couldn’t match the pace of team-mate Albon. In 2019, Latifi will race with DAMS again hoping to be the year he finally wins the championship. Pre-season testing has shown promising signs that his sixth year will be better than last year.
UNI-VIRTUOSI RACING: #7 Guanyu Zhou/#8 Luca Ghiotto
UNI-Virtuosi Racing enter Formula 2 replacing the once well-known Russian Time team. At the end of the 2018 season, the Russian team withdrew from the series and their entry was taken up by Virtuosi, who previously ran the Russian Time team in their formation back in 2013. Now under a new name, ownership and line-up with Luca Ghiotto and rookie Guanyu Zhou, the team will hope bring success in their first year in F2.
Entering in his rookie season in F1, Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou will hope to deliver in front of the big stage of F1. Zhou competed in the FIA Formula European 3 championship with Prema in 2018, taking two wins and six podiums to a eighth place finish in the championship. After impressing during the post-season test in Abu Dhabi, Zhou got the call to drive with Virtuosi for the 2019 F2 season. During testing, Zhou produced impressive times and laps, potentially bringing a surprise to the field. Zhou is also backed by Renault for the 2019 season, so a strong year in F2 could lead to further opportunities with the French squad.
Returning to the team he raced with in 2017, Luca Ghiotto will hope to clinch a title in his fourth year racing in F2/GP2. The Italian raced with Russian Time in 2017 alongside Artem Markelov, who both helped the team achieve their second title in the series. Ghiotto’s 2018 season was challenging with Campos, the Italian performed well to claim four podium finishes and finish eighth overall in the championship. A victory nearly fell on his lap at the final round during the feature race, but a corner cut penalty blew his chance. Now with Virtuosi, Ghiotto is looking to use his experience and mount a championship charge.
PREMA RACING: #9 Mick Schumacher/#10 Sean Gelael
After two strong opening years in GP2/F2, last year was Prema’s toughest season as they could manage only fifth place in the teams’ championship. Nyck de Vries took three wins with the Italian team whilst Sean Gelael clinched a podium appearance in the Monaco feature race. This year, Prema will hope they can make the jump back within title contention. Gelael stays on for another season whilst 2018 FIA Formula European 3 champion Mick Schumacher joins the team in 2019.
The Schumacher name returns within the F1 paddock with Mick Schumacher joining Formula 2. Schumacher’s strong second half of the 2018 season in F3 saw him clinch the title ahead of Brit Dan Ticktum. Schumacher and Prema raced together since 2016 and will continue to do within F2 for 2019. As well as earning a drive in F2, Schumacher also joined the Ferrari Drivers’ Academy, partnering the team his father Michael Schumacher won five of his seven titles in F1. During pre-season testing, Schumacher produced one of the fastest times of the day in Jerez and shown consistent pace throughout testing. How well Schumacher will do in his rookie year will be an interesting story to follow throughout the year.
For the third year in a row, Sean Gelael clinched a fifteenth place spot in the drivers’ championship, but 2018 proved to ba challenging year despite clinching a podium appearance around Monaco in the feature race. After that second place, the Indonesian driver failed to make a further points finish throughout 2018, but still has a place on the grid for the 2019 season with Prema, being one of two drivers to remain at the same team from last year. Geleael will be hoping in his fifth year in the series to make a big jump and get consistent results to improve on his fifteenth place spot.
SAUBER JUNIOR TEAM BY CHAROUZ: #11 Callum Ilott/#12 Juan Manuel Correa
Charouz Racing System impressed in their first season in F2 in 2018, capturing two wins in Monaco and Abu Dhabi. In their second year, Charouz join forces with Sauber to for Sauber Junior Team by Charouz and they hope to fight for more wins and podiums over 2019. To do this, they hire two GP3 graduates in Callum Ilott and Juan Manuel Correa.
Ferrari Drivers’ Academy driver Callum Ilott makes the jump from GP3 after a sniff for the title in 2018. With two wins and seven podiums under his belt, Ilott clinched a third place in the drivers’ table in his rookie season. His reward for his effort was a promotion to F2 with Sauber Junior Team. Ilott has previously raced in F2 before back in 2017 with Trident at Silverstone, clinching a nineteenth and fourteenth position in the feature and sprint race. Ilott will have to get to grips with a new car compare to the last time he raced in the series two years ago. His pre-season testing has been challenging with limited mileage, but could be one of the midfield drivers that could spring a few surprises.
F2 will welcome a new American driver to the grid in the name of Juan Manuel Correa. The Ecuador-born driver races under an American licence, but hopes to represent both nations strongly in his rookie year. Correa competed in GP3 with Jenzer Motorsport, finishing twelfth overall in the championship. Correa was able to secure a seat with Sauber for the 2019 season after testing with the team in the post-season test in Abu Dhabi. Prior to the season, Correa was able to land a development driver role with Alfa Romeo Racing for 2019.
CAMPOS RACING: #14 Dorian Boccolacci/#15 Jack Aitken
Campos Racing endured a tricky season, heavily relying Luca Ghiotto on scoring regular points for the Spanish team over the year. Their year ended strongly with both Ghiotto and Roberto Merhi grabbing a podium each in the final round at Abu Dhabi. Five podiums of the year rounded off their 2018 season and hope 2019 will be a year they can bounce back to the top. Race winner Jack Aitken joins the team whilst Dorian Boccolacci captured a last-minute seat for the upcoming season.
French driver Dorian Boccolacci gets the call from Campos to race with the team full time for the 2019 season. Boccolacci raced in the second half of the 2018 season with MP Motorsport, after being promoted from their GP3 team after claiming a win in Budapest. The French driver initially won on home soil in the feature race, but was later disqualified from the race after failing to supply a fuel sample after the race. After the 2018 season, Boccolacci tested with Campos at the first test in Jerez, and impressed the Spanish squad to warrant him a full-time drive for the year. With his experience from the second half of 2018, Boccolacci hopes he can start 2019 quickly and help Campos push back up the field.
Last year was a mixture of highs and lows for Jack Aitken. He grabbed his first ever win in F2 in mixed conditions around Barcelona, but endured a difficult stretch of races without scoring any points. His ended his year with ART eleventh overall, two points shy from reaching the top ten. For his second year in F2, Aitken made the move to Campos and hopes within a new environment, he can repeat his winning ways again and return to the top step of the podium.
MP MOTORSPORT: #16 Jordan King/#17 Mahaveer Raghunathan
MP Motorsport suffered a challenging 2018 season with various of drivers behind the wheel of their cars. Their eighth place finish in the teams’ championship was an downfall of their seventh place from the previous season, but the Dutch team hopes to make a leap forward in 2019. MP were the last team to confirm their line-up, with the signing of veteran driver Jordan King and Indian driver Mahaveer Raghunathan.
After taking a year away from F2 to race in IndyCar, Jordan King returns to the series with MP for 2019. The British driver previously raced in F2/GP2 for three years with MP and Racing Engineering. He claimed two wins and six podium finishes in that period. He spent 2018 sharing a drive with Ed Carpenter during the IndyCar season, but makes a return to F1’s feeder series for another crack for 2019. King tested with team during pre-season testing and showed he hasn’t lost any speed despite driving a brand new car. Despite agreeing a drive in F2, King is set to miss the Monaco round of F2 due to clashing with the Indy500, where King will race in.
One of the last signings onto the F2 grid, Mahaveer Raghunathan lands himself a seat with MP for the 2019 season. The Indian driver races under a Dutch licence, Raghunathan managed to grab a seat thanks to a last minute test entry with MP during the second pre-season test in Barcelona. Raghunathan raced in the GP3 Series in 2016 for two races with Carlin, and raced in the BOSS GP Series in 2017, where he won the championship. Raghunathan will partner alongside King and hopes to get to speed with the F2 car and style of racing the series provides in the opening rounds.
BWT ARDEN: #18 Tatiana Calderon/#19 Anthoine Hubert
It was a mixed season for BWT Arden last year. Whilst being race winners in 2018, the British team struggled to remain consistent with Maximilian Günther and Nirei Fukuzumi, resulting in a ninth place finish in the teams’ title. For 2019, Arden will collaborate with German component giants HWA RACELABS and will field two drivers graduating from the GP3 Series: 2018 champion Anthoine Hubert and female driver Tatiana Calderon.
One of the stories of the F2 season will be how will Tatiana Calderon fair in her rookie season in F2. Becoming the first female driver to compete in F2, Calderon is determined to continue her progress up the Motorsport ladder after three years in GP3. Last year was her strongest year, scoring eleven points and finishing sixteenth overall in the drivers’ championship, but unlucky circumstances prevented her from scoring more points. Throughout last year, Calderon hoped to make the jump up to F2 and with support from her sponsors and Alfa Romeo Racing, she has been given the chance. Testing has been tough for the Colombian driver, but Calderon will certainly gain a following throughout the year as she aims to make it to F1.
The last GP3 series champion, Anthoine Hubert joins Calderon in making the step up to F2. Hubert had a breakout year in GP3 with ART, resulting in clinching the title against fellow team-mates Nikita Mazepin and Callum Ilott. With two wins and eleven podiums to his name, it was enough to win the title in Abu Dhabi. His success also earned him a spot within the Renault Sports Academy. In 2019, Hubert will hope to follow the footsteps of Charles Leclerc and George Russell in winning the GP3 series and F2 series back-to-back. Pre-season for Hubert and Arden has been challenging, but the Frenchman has collected a lot of mileage during testing and hopes to start the season strong in Bahrain.
TRIDENT: #20 Giuliano Alesi/#21 Ralph Boschung
Trident’s 2018 season proved to be challenging on and off the track in F2. Their season saw the Italian team end the year tenth overall with 37 points to their name from their drivers Arjun Maini, Alessio Lorandi and Santino Ferrucci. The Ferrucci drama that emerged after the Silverstone weekend proved to be a hot topic for the team, but the team hopes to put that all behind them in 2019. The team will field GP3 Series race winner Giuliano Alesi and F2 veteran Ralph Boschung.
Son of F1 race winner Jean Alesi, Giuliano will make a step closer to racing in F1 by being promoted to F2 for 2019. Alesi raced in GP3 in three years with Trident, and will continue to represent the Italian squad with their F2 team. The Italian driver captured one win in Barcelona and four podiums to a seventh place finish in the 2018 championship. Alesi remains with Trident and makes the step up to F2, hoping to perform well and bring the Alesi name back into F1.
The second Swiss driver on the F2 grid, Boschung will hope 2019 will be the year that he can complete a full season and showcase his talents. Boschung competed the 2018 season with MP Motorsport and had a challenging year, but showed potential within the midfield. The Swiss accumulated seventeen points to finish eighteenth overall in the drivers’ table, but missed the last two rounds of the season. Boschung took part in pre-season testing with Trident at Jerez in a bid to earn a seat in F2. He was successful and will race in F2 for another season. He will hope to complete a full season for the first time, after missing the final few rounds in 2017 and 2018.
EARLY TITLE FAVOURITES?
Pre-season saw six days worth of testing for the ten teams, majority of them running their main drivers they’ll be using for the season. For four of the six days, Nyck de Vries was fastest overall and has shown to be the early title favourite going into Bahrain. Mick Schumacher was fastest at the final day of testing in Jerez, but hasn’t been consistent with the times throughout. Sérgio Sette Câmara in the DAMS was fastest during the second day in Barcelona and was among one of the drivers who consistently remained at the top. Another was Louis Delétraz at Carlin, who showed early pace at the post-season test in Abu Dhabi, by being one of the fastest drivers over the test. He replicated that pace and could engage with the likes of de Vries and Sette Câmara for the top spot.
Both UNI-Virtuosi Racing drivers of Luca Ghiotto and Gunayu Zhou showed strong pace during the Barcelona pace, with Zhou and Prema’s Mick Schumacher being the best of the rookie bunch in terms of times and consistency. Nikita Mazepin set similar pace to his follow rookie class, but also suffered a bit of trouble with incidents during pre-season. Campos’ Jack Aitken has shown early signs with strong pace to be among-st the drivers who could sprint a surprise in the sprint races, by mingling with the top eight cars throughout testing. Nobuharu Matsushita joins Aitken in that group, showing that he hasn’t lost any pace despite being a year away from the series.
Some liveries from the 2019 grid will differ from their team-mates due to different sponsorship’s, but the overall outlines remain the same.
WHERE CAN I WATCH FIA FORMULA 2 THIS SEASON?
UK viewers with Sky Sports F1 can watch every round of the 2019 FIA Formula 2 season on their channel, with qualifying and all races available for viewing. F1 TV users will also have access to Formula 2 on the app, with every session available throughout the year.
HOW CAN I KEEP UP TO DATE WITH THE NEWS FROM FIA FORMULA 2?
The Checkered Flag will follow and provide coverage of all rounds of the 2019 FIA Formula 2 season, including every practice, qualifying, feature and sprint races. TCF will also keep up to date with all the news, updates, gossip, interviews and analysis relating to the series throughout the year.