As the FIA Formula One grid pounds round the Sakhir Circuit, FIA Formula 2 has already enjoyed it’s pre-season test in Bahrain earlier this week.
While you can’t determine the pecking order from just a few days of testing, you can make assumptions on who is on for a good year, or not.
Carlin – A team that are somehow going under the radar in terms of a title fight but I believe that the Boys in Blue are PREMA’s main threat in 2021.
Having lost Yuki Tsunoda to AlphaTauri in F1, Carlin snapped up Dan Ticktum in his place and the Brit was the only driver to top two sessions over the three day test. Partner that with Jehan Daruvala who seemed to crack the code in the final four races in Bahrain last year and the rest of the grid should be worried, especially with both drivers matching each other in each session.
Hitech GP – 2020 was a very good year for Hitech in their first in F2 but I was sceptical of their drivers this year and their lack of F2 experience.
However both Liam Lawson and Juri Vips looked right at home in their Red Bull liveried cars and were consistently at the right end of the timing screens. While I still maintain they won’t be in the championship hunt like some have suggested, they shouldn’t see a downturn in form having seen both Nikita Mazepin and Luca Ghiotto take wins last season.
Bent Viscaal – Not one of the drivers being talked about and the Dutchman only has one race secured for 2021 but the move to Trident, who struggled in 2020, has ignited something within him and he was very impressive throughout the three-day test.
He highlighted Trident’s improvements as Marino Sato showed more promise in these three days than he had in all of 2020 for the same team signalling an upturn in fortunes for the Italian team, whoever they have behind the wheel.
HWA Racelab – Perhaps we all expected this because when HWA announced their lineup of Alessio Deledda and Matteo Nannini, we were all a bit sceptical in their choices.
While Deledda’s lack of points in two seasons of FIA Formula 3 make his signing questionable in terms of driver ability, Nannini showed promise last season in the same category and he’ll be doing double duty this season. However most agree that this step up will come too soon for the Italian and HWA’s poor 2020 looks to get even worse in 2021.
Robert Shwartzman – Maybe I’m clutching at straws here but Shwartzman is expected to be the strong title favourite this year and for me, he didn’t fill me with expectation on any of the three days.
It could be PREMA tactics with his new teammate Oscar Piastri also not grabbing any headlines but I would have wanted to see more by the driver who should be the class of the field in 2021.
Roy Nissany – 2021 needs to be a good year for the Israeli if he wants to make a claim for a Williams seat in the future. He tested the F1 car on Friday but his week hadn’t been as he hoped before then as he was outshone by his new teammate Marcus Armstrong.
The Kiwi ended the final day fastest but he was most impressive in beating Nissany, a driver with more experience than he, in almost every session and cementing himself as a team leader.
The season is less than two weeks away and will get underway on 26-28th March again at the Bahrain Circuit where the teams and drivers will release the shackles and go into battle once again.