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Column: The F2 prospects vying for a 2021 F1 promotion - Part 1

  • Published on 25 Jun 2020 13:15
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  • By: Fergal Walsh

Formula 2 has long been viewed as the last stepping stone for a driver before they progress to Formula 1. Although there are some exceptions, most recently Brendon Hartley who moved to F1 from the World Endurance Championship, F2 has proven to be very valuable in preparing a driver for the step up to F1.

Since 2008, at least one driver in the F2 field made their debut in F1 the following the season. 2019 in F1 saw arguably the most impressive group of promotions, with the top three in the 2018 F2 standings (George Russell, Lando Norris, Alexander Albon) all making their way to the premier series.

F2, or GP2, as it was called from 2005 to 2016, has seen 11 of its 15 champions gain entry to F1, while just two of those (Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton) have received an F1 championship.

Charles Leclerc is the only other F2 champion as of yet that has won a race in F1 - indicating that an F2 title does not necessarily lead to a successful career in F1.

However, it is the most obvious place to look for talent, and this year, there are a number of contenders looking to impress and secure a contract in F1.

Mick Schumacher

Many eyes will be watching over the season of Mick Schumacher, who is entering his second year in the series. History tells us that Schumacher performs substantially stronger in his sophomore campaign of any championship. 

Last year, Schumacher secured one race win during the year, but failed to break into the top ten in the drivers' standings, finishing 12th. It was in the same position that Schumacher finished his maiden European Formula 3 championship, before winning the title the second year.

Being part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, Schumacher is being tipped for an Alfa Romeo seat next year in place of either Kimi Raikkonen or Antonio Giovinazzi, who are both currently out of contract at the end of the year.

The German already has an FIA super licence under his belt, which is required in order to make the full-time switch to F1. And now with experience in F2 on his side, the 21-year-old is hoping to become the third member of the Schumacher family to race in F1 next year.

Robert Shwartzman

One of Schumacher's biggest threats this year could come from his teammate at Prema, Russian Robert Shwartzman.

Shwartzman is one of the hottest prospects in racing at the moment, following his championship win in the FIA F3 series last year. 

Shwartzman was already partnered with Schumacher at Prema in 2018 in the European F3 series, with the 20-year-old enjoying a strong second half to the season on his way to third in the drivers' standings.

With success behind him, Shwartzman's super licence is already secured and he can therefore make the full-time move to F1 should the opportunity come his way.

As he enters the year as the reigning F3 championship, Shwartzman is undoubtedly one of the title favourites and is also a leading contender for a 2021 F1 seat - which would make him just the fourth Russian driver in F1's history.

Yuki Tsunoda

Red Bull's driver programme has seen a vast number of racers enter F1 - many of them have swiftly exited, but others - such as Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, have found success.

Tsunoda is one of two Red Bull juniors competing in F2 this year, with the other being Jehan Daruvala. Although it was Daruvala who finished higher in the F3 championship last year as part of the dominant Prema team, Tsunoda impressed on many occasions with his speed and race craft, winning the sprint race at Monza.

Tsunoda does not yet have an F1 super licence to his name, and requires fourth place or higher in the 2020 F2 standings in order to obtain one.

The expectation to receive that accomplishment has already been placed on his shoulders as Dr Helmut Marko, who heads the Red Bull junior programme, stated earlier this year that they expect him to finish in the top four

Although Red Bull have other options to place into AlphaTauri such as Daruvala and Sergio Sette Camara, Tsunoda's links with Honda could prove valuable as the relationship between Red Bull and its engine manufacturer strengthens. 

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Driver profile

  • Team Prema Racing
  • Points -
  • Podiums -
  • Grand Prix -
  • Country DE
  • Date of b. Mar 22 1999 (21)
  • Place of b. Vufflens-le-Château, Switzerland, DE
  • Weight 70 kg
  • Length 1.77 m
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Formula 1 Calendar - 2020

Date
Grand Prix
Circuit
3 - Jul 5
Austria
10 - Jul 12
Austria
17 - Jul 19
Hungary
See full schedule

Formula 1 Calendar - 2020

Date
Grand Prix & Circuit
3 - Jul 5
Austria Red Bull Ring
10 - Jul 12
Austria Red Bull Ring
17 - Jul 19
Hungary Hungaroring
See full schedule
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