PREVIEW: 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship – Silverstone

by Aaron Gillard
Albon - F2 - Silverstone

Round seven of the 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship takes us to the infamous Silverstone circuit, home of British Motorsport. Great Britain marks the start of the second half of the 2019 season and will be a home race for three drivers and teams. The notorious Silverstone circuit is fast, but also presents some challenging corners to allow overtaking opportunities and close racing. After a thrilling Austria round, the championship battle between several drivers is starting to take shape with six rounds left. Here’s what to expect from this weekend at Silverstone.

WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME OUT IN AUSTRIA

On Saturday, Nobuharu Matsushita captured the Feature race win thanks to the excellent management of his tyres and overtaking ART Grand Prix‘s Nyck de Vries for the lead of the race at the final stages. de Vries led majority of the race, but his tyres began to degrade rapidly in the final few laps, allowing the Carlin and UNI-Virtuosi Racing‘s Luca Ghiotto through. Matsushita captured the win, his first in the series since 2017 and ended Carlin’s wait for a race win, which last came in Bahrain 2018 with Lando Norris.

Sérgio Sette Câmara ended a near-two year wait for a race win as he claimed the Sprint race victory in Austria. The Brazilian racing for DAMS took command of the race after fighting multiple drivers up front. Sette Câmara managed to hold the pressure from Louis Delétraz, who later retired from the race after a brake failure. This allowed Ghiotto to once again grab second place, whilst de Vries captured third place again, but only just as a hard-charging Mick Schumacher was close to completing a comeback performance with a podium finish, after starting the race from eighteenth place. The German however fell short to de Vries on the final lap.

You can read the reports from Austria here: Feature | Sprint

Credit: Joe Portlock/LAT Images/FIA Formula 2

WHAT HAPPENED AT LAST YEAR’S ROUND IN GREAT BRITAIN?

The Feature race saw a British-born winner in Alexander Albon, claiming the win away from George Russell. Russell in the ART started on pole and led the race until the pit stop window, where a slow stop proved to be costly. Albon benefited from the slow stop from his fellow Brit and would take the win at Silverstone. Russell was able to bring his car home with second place ahead of Charouz Racing System‘s Antonio Fuoco.

In the Sprint race on Sunday, it was a rookie win for German’s Maximilian Günther in the BWT Arden car, converting reverse grid pole to his only win in the series so far. Günther controlled the race from the front whilst behind him, Russell and Norris made their way through the field to claim the final podium places. Norris delivered a spectacular overtake against Artem Markelov and de Vries, passing both cars at Vale.

You can catch up on last year’s races here: Feature | Sprint

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR THIS WEEKEND?

As the series reaches past the halfway stage of the championship, Nyck de Vries lies on top of the standings with 152 points to his name. The Dutch driver has remained consistent throughout the championship, scoring a podium finish in every round excluding the first round in Bahrain. Furthermore, de Vries has scored in every race but one, as has Nicholas Latifi in second place, but de Vries has a higher average points per race (12.6) compare to Latifi (9.5). Both drivers share three wins each, but de Vries has picked up the wins lately whilst Latifi claimed his at the beginning of the season, before facing a small hiccup that allowed de Vries to claim the lead of the series. The two will most likely fight against each other for the title but they are not alone as Sette Câmara joins the picture, having claimed his first win of the season and lies eight points behind his DAMS team-mate.

The Austria round saw two new race winners in the 2019 season. Matsushita and Sette Câmara claimed victory in F2 for the first time since 2017, earning a near two-year wait for a win. The two join the group of drivers who have won a race this year, including the likes of de Vries (3 wins), Latifi (3), Anthoine Hubert (2), Jack Aitken (1) and Ghiotto (1). Last year saw ten drivers win in the overall 2018 F2 Season, but only seven winners by the halfway stage, the same amount we have in 2019. The series has seen plenty of competitive drivers coming close to victory but weren’t able to execute it fully to come home with the win. Guanyu Zhou, Delétraz and Juan Manuel Correa have come close in occasions, but could only manage second or third. Zhou for Virtuosi in particular has displayed strong pace throughout his rookie season and despite lacking a win, is placed the highest rookie overall in the championship with sixth place and has collected three podium places. Last year saw a rookie claim the Sprint race win, converting pole to the win. Could we potentially see a repeat this year at Silverstone?

Guanyu Zhou is having a strong rookie Formula 2 season, but still waits for that first win. Credit: Jerry Andre/LAT Images/FIA Formula 2

After a streak of races without scoring points, the Sprint race from Schumacher was a display for the ages. The German stalled his car in the Feature race, putting him down the order and was a lap down from the leading pack. He ended the race in eighteenth place as a result, but showed strong race pace with his positive lap times. On Sunday however, the Prema Racing driver was on another level by storming his way through the field and into the points. After the safety car, the German continued his assault and a chance for a podium finish came close, only to lose out by 0.245 seconds to de Vries in third place. The comeback drive handed Schumacher points, points he needed after a shaky few rounds where he was on a run of seven races without a point. With the streak over, Schumacher will aim to continue the scoring and with a track coming up he’s been to before and has tasted victory, it should be a promising round for the German driver.

The Silverstone round will also mark the return of Mahaveer Raghunathan, who re-joins the grid after taking his race ban in Austria. The Dutch-Indian driver picked up a race ban at Circuit Paul Ricard for exceeding Virtual Safety Car rules three times in the Feature race, rewarding him three penalty points for each infringement. Raghunathan was replaced by Patricio O’Ward, a Red Bull protegee from Mexico, for the round he was banned. He delivered a decent performance but left Austria with no points. Now, Raghunathan is back and will hope that a round away from the series will be a learning curve for him.

Silverstone will be a home race for three Brits this weekend. Aitken, Callum Ilott and Jordan King will be hoping to put on a show for their home fans and improve their status within the drivers’ championship. All three have made trips to the podium in front of their home crowd, but it is only King who has won on home soil within F2/GP2, taking the Sprint race victory in 2016. Aitken is the only Brit to have won a race this year, with the Feature race at Baku, and is within a shot of becoming a title contender. Ilott has faced a challenging start to life in F2, but has shown some positive results with one podium finish and a front row start. King in his return to F2 after a year away has led MP Motorsport throughout the season, scoring majority of the team’s points and lies in the top ten of the championship. All three will have points to prove and will be hoping in both races they can collect a good result to improve their championship status on home soil.

It will also be a home race for three teams within F2: Carlin, UNI-Virtusoi Racing and BWT Arden. All three teams have tasted victory this season, with Carlin ending their year-long streak without a win at the last round in Austria. Virtuosi currently lie second overall in the teams’ championship and consistently have challenged DAMS for the top spot. In their home race, they’ll be hoping to close down the gap as they start the second stage of the season. Arden have tasted two Sprint race wins, but will hope to continue their winning ways with Hubert and aim for a points finish with Tataian Calderon. Carlin came close to having a double podium appearance in Austria, but a brake failure left Delétraz retiring from the race whilst in second place. But the Surrey-based team collected a win last time out and with strong results from Matsushita, are determined to continue that momentum at their home race.

Jack Aitken, Callum Ilott and Jordan King will be representing United Kingdom this weekend at Silverstone. Credit: Joe Portlock/LAT Images/FIA Formula 2

WHAT IS THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEKEND?

FRIDAY 12TH JULY

Practice: 11:55AM (UK Time)
Qualifying : 3:55PM (UK Time)

SATURDAY 13TH JULY

Feature Race: 3:45PM (UK Time)

SUNDAY 14TH JULY

Sprint Race: 10:00AM (UK Time)

WHERE CAN I WATCH FIA FORMULA 2 THIS WEEKEND?

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 NEWS OVER THE WEEKEND?

The Checkered Flag will provide the latest news and updates from 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship this weekend and throughout the season.

Will we see a British winner at Silverstone this year? Credit: Joe Portlock/LAT Images/FIA Formula 2

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