F2 Sochi preview: focus on 2021

Formula 2 returns this weekend for round 10 of the championship at Russia’s Sochi Autodrom, where all the field will now be driving with one eye on their 2021 plans.

With only three rounds of the season left, the focus of the championship has shifted to who’s gunning for an F1 graduation, and who’s teeing up a campaign for next year’s F2 title. Obviously the driver attracting the most spotlight at the moment is championship leader Mick Schumacher, who is reported to be a firm favourite for one of Alfa Romero’s 2021 seats.

If Schumacher wants to solidify his chances he’ll have to continue to pull away from his title rivals Callum Ilott and Robert Shwartzman. And doing that means having a much better weekend in Sochi than he did last year, when he scored nothing after retiring from both races. A repeat of that this year would be disastrous for his title aspirations.

Robert Shwartzman, Prema (Scuderia Ferrari Press Office)

For Shwartzman in particular though, a troubled weekend for the title leader would be just what he needs. After two non-scores last time out at Mugello, Shwartzman has now dropped to fourth in the standings behind Schumacher, Ilott and Christian Lundgaard, and is 21 points off the championship lead he’d previously held for so long.

Shwartzman fortunately has a great relationship with the Sochi Autodrom to help him this weekend. As well as being the Russian’s home circuit, it was at this track last year that he wrapped up the Formula 3 title in commanding fashion, with pole position and two podiums to leave him 54 points ahead of runner-up Marcus Armstrong.

If Shwartzman can bring that kind of form again this year, there’s no reason he can’t make up for Mugello and get right back in the title hunt.

Another driver whose 2021 F1 shot is looking in danger after Mugello is Yuki Tsunoda. After his pole and win in the Spa feature race made him a shoe-in for AlphaTauri next year, Tsunoda has only scored once in the five races since. Crucially, he’s dropped from fourth to sixth in the standings, and if he doesn’t improve from there he won’t secure the superlicense points he needs to move up to F1.

What Tsunoda needs most of all is a clean race weekend. He’s shown no lack of speed since Spa, but some scruffy racing like his incidents with Dan Ticktum and Felipe Drugovich at Mugello have kept that speed from translating into the points finishes Red Bull are expecting of him.

Christian Lundgaard, ART (Joe Portlock / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

What makes things more difficult for Tsunoda is that he’s racing for that fourth spot against Lundgaard and Nikita Mazepin. Both drivers are on excellent form and will almost certainly be title contenders if they remain in F2 next year.

Neither of them had a particularly profitable outing at Sochi last year. Mazepin finished eighth in the F2 feature race but retired from the sprint race, while Lundgaard finished fourteenth and ninth in the two F3 races.

But in terms of their recent results, Mazepin and Lundgaard are both riding high as the winners of the Mugello feature and sprint race respectively. Lundgaard especially has a lot of momentum behind him, as he was on pole for the Mugello feature race as well and scored a double podium at Monza the week before.

Lundgaard’s results have put him back into the championship’s top three after a run of non-scores in the middle of the season knocked him down the order. Although he’s touted as one of next year’s title favourites, the Dane is only 16 points off Schumacher and could be a surprise late contender for the 2020 crown instead.

Giuliano Alesi, MP Motorsport (Scuderia Ferrari Press Office)

There have been two driver changes ahead of Sochi. Nobuharu Matsushita has left MP Motorsport, saying in a statement that he’s “decided to move on to fresh challenges elsewhere”. He’s been replaced by Giuliano Alesi who moves over from HWA, and in turn HWA have promoted their F3 driver Jake Hughes to take Alesi’s seat.

Alesi will be hoping that MP, who have won three races this year with Matsushita and Drugovich, will provide him with a car more capable of challenging for points than HWA. Alesi’s only points this year came with sixth place in the opening race in Austria.

Finally, Juri Vips will continue to drive for DAMS this weekend. The Estonian was initially only due to replace the injured Sean Gelael for three rounds ending with Mugello, but this has been extended to include Sochi as well.

Jake Hughes, HWA (Bryn Lennon / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

F2 Mugello: Lundgaard dominates sprint race

Renault junior Christian Lundgaard took his second win of the F2 season with a dominant performance in the Mugello sprint race, ahead of Louis Deletraz and maiden podium finisher Juri Vips.

Starting from third, Lundgaard got a rapid launch to get ahead of polesitter Artem Markelov and second-placed Vips into Turn 1. Deletraz also made up several places at the start to go from sixth to third ahead of Vips, Mick Schumacher and Felipe Drugovich.

Lundgaard started breaking away from Markelov and the chasing pack almost immediately. By the end of lap 4 he was already over three seconds ahead of Markelov, which only kept increasing as Markelov struggled to keep pace.

Markelov’s difficulties saw him lose second place to Deletraz on lap 6, then third to Vips a lap later. But despite Deletraz finding clear air ahead of the HWA, he was unable to make up any more ground to Lundgaard than Markelov was. By the halfway stage of the race Lundgaard had increased his gap to almost seven seconds, which swelled to 14.5s by the chequered flag.

As Lundgaard flew clear, Deletraz came under pressure from Vips later on in the race. In the final laps the gap was just a few tenths and Vips made several attempts to get by into Turn 1. But ultimately Deletraz was able to keep ahead and take second place, while Vips finished third for his first podium in F2.

Juri Vips, DAMS (Rudy Carezzevoli / Getty Images)

Mick Schumacher finished just off the podium in fourth, taking valuable points to extend his new championship lead over Callum Ilott. Guanyu Zhou took fifth place after a superb charge through the field from near the back after his retirement in yesterday’s feature race. After making steady progress through the backmarkers early on, Zhou found his way into the points on lap 17 and continued moving forwards with a late burst of pace.

Ilott finished behind his UNI-Virtuosi teammate in sixth ahead of Jehan Daruvala, while Trident’s Marino Sato picked up his first point of the season in eighth. Markelov continued to struggle for pace throughout the race and eventually finished in last place, while Drugovich also slipped back out of the points and down to 15th by the flag.

After taking a 1-2 finish in yesterday’s feature race, Hitech had a complete reversal of fortunes in the sprint race. By the halfway stage Nikita Mazepin and Luca Ghiotto were running fifth and sixth, but on lap 15 they collided at Turn 1 as Mazepin locked up while Ghiotto tried to pass him on the outside.

The crash saw Ghiotto retire on the spot. Mazepin was able to continue in fifth initially, but shortly after was given a ten-second penalty and then forced into a pit stop by damage concerns, which saw him finish in 18th.

Luca Ghiotto, Hitech (Mark Thompson / Getty Images)

After Mugello, Schumacher leads the championship by eight points from Ilott, while Lundgaard moves into third place ahead of Shwartzman by five points. In the teams’ standings, Prema now has a 40-point lead over UNI-Virtuosi.

Formula 2 returns in two weeks’ time at Sochi in support of the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix.

Full race result:

Pos. Driver Team Points
1 Christian Lundgaard (FL) ART Grand Prix 17
2 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 12
3 Juri Vips DAMS 10
4 Mick Schumacher Prema Racing 8
5 Guanyu Zhou UNI-Virtuosi Racing 6
6 Callum Ilott UNI-Virtuosi Racing 4
7 Jehan Daruvala Carlin 2
8 Marino Sato Trident 1
9 Robert Shwartzman Prema Racing
10 Roy Nissany Trident
11 Marcus Armstrong ART Grand Prix
12 Pedro Piquet Charouz Racing System
13 Jack Aitken Campos Racing
14 Nobuharu Matsushita MP Motorsport
15 Felipe Drugovich MP Motorsport
16 Guilherme Samaia Campos Racing
17 Dan Ticktum DAMS
18 Nikita Mazepin Hitech Grand Prix
19 Yuki Tsunoda Carlin
20 Artem Markelov BWT HWA Racelab
Ret. Luca Ghiotto Hitech Grand Prix
Ret. Giuliano Alesi BWT HWA Racelab

 

F2 Monza: Ilott inherits sprint race win after Ticktum disqualified

Dan Ticktum has been disqualified from the Monza sprint race after DAMS were unable to provide the required fuel sample from his car, with Callum Ilott inheriting the win.

Ticktum pulled over after taking the chequered flag with concerns that he wouldn’t have enough fuel to make it back to parc-ferme and still provide the 0.08kg of fuel required by the FIA scrutineers. However, when a sample was taken Ticktum’s DAMS only had 0.05kg available.

Ilott and ART’s Christian Lundgaard are now joined by Mick Schumacher on the podium, and Nikita Mazepin moves into eighth place to take the final point.

By inheriting the victory, Ilott’s championship lead is increased from five to six points over Schumacher, and nine points over Robert Shwartzman.

F2 Monza: Ticktum takes comfortable sprint race win

Dan Ticktum cruised to a second F2 win of the season in the Monza sprint race, while yesterday’s feature race winner Mick Schumacher made more progress in his title fight with Callum Ilott and Robert Shwartzman.

Ticktum got into the lead at the start, moving up from second on the grid to pass reverse polesitter Louis Deletraz. Mick Schumacher also got a good start with moves on Luca Ghiotto, Guanyu Zhou and Christian Lundgaard to move from eighth into fifth by the end of the opening lap.

Once in the lead, Ticktum barely had to look back. By the time DRS was enabled he’d already broken more than a second clear of Deletraz, as the Charouz driver fell into the clutches of Ilott. Just after half distance Ilott passed Deletraz into Turn 1, taking second with Ticktum three seconds further up the road.

Callum Ilott, UNI-Virtuosi (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli / Getty Images)

Deletraz then began slipping back and came under pressure from Lundgaard. The ART had got up into fourth after Schumacher ran wide on lap 8 and Zhou and Yuki Tsunoda both retired with engine problems. On lap 14, Lundgaard then passed Deletraz to get onto the podium for the second time in the Monza weekend.

There was a brief pause to the race on lap 17 when Felipe Drugovich was tipped into a spin at Rettifilo and his beached car warranted a virtual safety car. At the restart two laps later Lundgaard pounced on Ilott coming out of the Parabolica, but Ilott was able to hold the Dane off under braking for Rettifilo and keep second place.

Lundgaard wasn’t close enough to try another move in the final laps and remained third behind Ilott, who crossed the line almost four seconds adrift of race winner Ticktum.

Christian Lundgaard, ART (Bryn Lennon / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Deletraz eventually dropped to fifth, with Schumacher passing him on lap 20 despite the Prema nursing a huge flat spot since the lap 8 lockup that put him behind Lundgaard. Deletraz came under pressure from the second Prema of Shwartzman before the flag, but managed to keep his Charouz ahead.

Jehan Daruvala finished behind Shwartzman in seventh, and Jack Aitken took the final point in eighth place.

Ilott’s second place means he has regained the championship lead from Shwartzman, while Schumacher moves ahead of the Russian into second. Five points separate Ilott and Schumacher, with just three points between the two Premas.

Full race result:

Pos. Driver Team Points
1 Dan Ticktum DAMS 15
2 Callum Ilott UNI-Virtuosi Racing 12
3 Christian Lundgaard ART Grand Prix 10
4 Mick Schumacher (FL) Prema Racing 10
5 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 6
6 Robert Shwartzman Prema Racing 4
7 Jehan Daruvala Carlin 2
8 Jack Aitken Campos Racing 1
9 Nikita Mazepin Hitech Grand Prix
10 Juri Vips DAMS
11 Roy Nissany Trident
12 Nobuharu Matsushita MP Motorsport
13 Giuliano Alesi BWT HWA Racelab
14 Marino Sato Trident
15 Guilherme Samaia Campos Racing
16 Luca Ghiotto Hitech Grand Prix
17 Artem Markelov BWT HWA Racelab
18 Pedro Piquet Charouz Racing System
19 Marcus Armstrong ART Grand Prix
Ret. Felipe Drugovich MP Motorsport
Ret. Guanyu Zhou UNI-Virtuosi
Ret. Yuki Tsunoda Carlin

F2 Monza: Schumacher wins after Ilott stalls in pits

Mick Schumacher took his first win of 2020 in the F2 feature race at Monza after early race leader Callum Ilott stalled in the pits.

Schumacher got a lightning start from seventh on the grid, jumping all the way up to second behind polesitter Ilott on the run to the first corner. Christian Lundgaard also got away well by passing Luca Ghiotto and Yuki Tsunoda to move into third.

The gap between Ilott and Schumacher stayed steady at half a second in the opening laps, before Ilott was able to open it up to just over a second on lap 7. By lap 10 Ilott had extended the gap further to almost two seconds before he made his pit stop.

But as Ilott pulled away from his box he stalled the car, and by the time UNI-Virtuosi got it going again Ilott had fallen to 21st. As well as losing the lead to Schumacher, Ilott also found himself two places behind title rival Robert Shwartzman, who had already made his own stop.

Callum Ilott, UNI-Virtuosi (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli / Getty Images)

However, Ilott found a fresh turn of pace in his second stint. Setting successive fastest laps in his first few tours out of the pits, Ilott made his way through the lower midfield and alternate strategy drivers still yet to stop.

By lap 19 Ilott was back in the points as the final alternate strategy runners came into the pits, and seemed to have more speed than the other drivers on the same strategy ahead of him. By lap 23 he had overhauled Shwartzman for sixth, before getting into the top five with a pass on Louis Deletraz a lap later.

By this stage Schumacher was 11 seconds up the road in first, with eight laps left to run. But after catching and running close to Tsunoda in fourth, Ilott’s charge was halted as he struggled to find a way past the Carlin. Over the next few laps Ilott’s pace began to drop as he stayed stuck behind Tsunoda, which allowed Schumacher to get further ahead and Ilott’s teammate Guanyu Zhou to catch and pass Ilott three laps from the end.

Ilott eventually crossed the line in sixth place while Schumacher cruised to victory with more than three seconds back to second place. But despite the disappointment of losing the win, Ilott’s sixth place and points for pole means he is now level on points with Shwartzman in the championship.

Luca Ghiotto, Hitech (Clive Mason / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Schumacher’s unchallenged run to the flag was helped by the fierce battle over second and third behind him. After scrapping into the first corner, Lundgaard, Tsunoda and Ghiotto continued to fight over the podium positions through the rest of the race.

Tsunoda was quick to recover from losing out to Lundgaard and Ghiotto at the start, passing Ghiotto later on the opening lap and Lundgaard on lap 5. But the trio found themselves together again at the end of that lap, going wheel to wheel through Parabolica and down the straight. Lundgaard eventually won out into Turn 1, but not before the three made contact in the braking zone, sending Ghiotto down the escape road and dropping him back to fifth.

On lap 8 Lundgaard became the first of the trio to pit as ART sought the undercut advantage. The Dane kept ahead after the others made their stops, although Ghiotto was able to jump Tsunoda on strategy and emerged as the fastest on fresh tyres late in the race. On lap 25 Ghiotto set the fastest lap, before he caught and passed Lundgaard for second on lap 28.

Lundgaard fought back in the final laps but had to settle for third, while Tsunoda finished fourth ahead of Zhou, Ilott and Dan Ticktum. Deletraz took eighth place to deny Shwartzman in ninth reverse grid pole for tomorrow, and Jehan Daruvala took the final point in tenth.

Christian Lundgaard, ART (Rudy Carezzevoli / Getty Images)

With Ilott and Shwartzman both finishing further down the order, Schumacher’s feature race win has elevated him into the title hunt with them, as he moves into third in the standings with only three points separating him from his fellow Ferrari juniors.

Full race result:

Pos. Driver Team Points
1 Mick Schumacher Prema Racing 25
2 Luca Ghiotto (FL) Hitech Grand Prix 20
3 Christian Lundgaard ART Grand Prix 15
4 Yuki Tsunoda Carlin 12
5 Guanyu Zhou UNI-Virtuosi Racing 10
6 Callum Ilott UNI-Virtuosi Racing 8
7 Dan Ticktum DAMS 6
8 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 4
9 Robert Shwartzman Prema Racing 2
10 Jehan Daruvala Carlin 1
11 Juri Vips DAMS
12 Pedro Piquet Charouz Racing System
13 Jack Aitken Campos Racing
14 Marcus Armstrong ART Grand Prix
15 Nobuharu Matsushita MP Motorsport
16 Felipe Drugovich MP Motorsport
17 Artem Markelov BWT HWA Racelab
18 Giuliano Alesi BWT HWA Racelab
19 Roy Nissany Trident
20 Marino Sato Trident
21 Guilherme Samaia Campos Racing
Ret. Nikita Mazepin Hitech Grand Prix

F2 Spa: Shwartzman wins after Ticktum and Nissany collide

Robert Shwartzman led home a Prema 1-2 in the Spa sprint race, assuming the lead after Roy Nissany and Dan Ticktum collided ahead of him.

Starting from fourth on the reverse grid, Shwartzman jumped to third immediately as Guanyu Zhou was slow off the line. Meanwhile Ticktum got a much better start from second than polesitter Nissany and took the lead into the first corner.

Ticktum and Nissany continued fighting through the opening sequence of corners with Nissany managing to get back ahead of the DAMS. But while they fought at the front, there was drama further down the pack as title contender Callum Ilott was hit from behind by Yuki Tsunoda and spun out of the race.

The safety car was deployed to recover Ilott’s car. At the restart on lap 4 Ticktum stuck close to the back of Nissany to harry the Trident through Eau Rouge and down the Kemmel Straight. Ticktum then went to the outside going into Les Combes and ran wide as Nissany held the corner, but didn’t back out and the two collided as Ticktum bounced off the kerb and back onto the track.

Clive Mason / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Nissany was spun into the wall and retired immediately. Ticktum was able to continue albeit with a damaged car, but dropped to second as Shwartzman came through the collision to assume first before the safety car was redeployed.

When the race resumed again on lap 7, the damage to Ticktum’s car became clear as Shwartzman immediately pulled out a 2.8s gap over him. But despite a train forming behind the struggling DAMS, Ticktum was able to defend second place for several laps.

Louis Deletraz initially took the position at the restart but Ticktum repassed him on lap 8. This turned out worse for Deletraz, as he was then passed by Schumacher and Zhou on the same lap and dropped to fifth.

However, Ticktum was unable to keep defending when Schumacher caught him on lap 12. Zhou also got past the DAMS on the following lap, and from there Ticktum started to fall back through the top eight.

Guanyu Zhou, UNI-Virtuosi (Clive Mason / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

The train caused by Ticktum’s damaged car meant that Shwartzman was able to run away in first place and reach the chequered flag unchallenged. The Russian managed to build a nine-second gap over the rest of the field by lap 14, and kept this gap over the remaining five laps to take a dominant win.

Schumacher and Zhou completed the podium in second and third, with Hitech’s Nikita Mazepin and Luca Ghiotto finishing in formation behind them. Deletraz eventually finished in sixth ahead of Christian Lundgaard. Artem Markelov took the final point in eighth, after a penalty awarded to Tsunoda for hitting Ilott dropped the Carlin out of the points into ninth. Ticktum eventually finished tenth after his late struggles, just ahead of teammate Juri Vips.

Shwartzman’s win and Ilott’s retirement means Shwartzman has retaken the lead of the championship with 132 points to Ilott’s 122. Tsunoda is 11 points back in third, although Schumacher’s sixth podium of the year has moved him to within five points of the Japanese driver.

In the teams’ standings, Prema now has a 24-point lead over UNI-Virtuosi, while third-placed Hitech is 62 points behind.

FIA Formula 2 returns next weekend at Monza, in support of the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix.

Full race result:

Pos. Driver Team Points
1 Robert Shwartzman (FL) Prema Racing 17
2 Mick Schumacher Prema Racing 12
3 Guanyu Zhou UNI-Virtuosi Racing 10
4 Nikita Mazepin Hitech Grand Prix 8
5 Luca Ghiotto Hitech Grand Prix 6
6 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 4
7 Christian Lundgaard ART Grand Prix 2
8 Artem Markelov BWT HWA Racelab 1
9 Yuki Tsunoda Carlin
10 Dan Ticktum DAMS
11 Juri Vips DAMS
12 Pedro Piquet Charouz Racing System
13 Felipe Drugovich MP Motorsport
14 Giuliano Alesi BWT HWA Racelab
15 Guilherme Samaia Campos Racing
16 Jehan Daruvala Carlin
17 Jack Aitken Campos Racing
Ret. Marino Sato Trident
Ret. Marcus Armstrong ART Grand Prix
Ret. Roy Nissany Trident
Ret. Callum Ilott UNI-Virtuosi
DNS Nobuharu Matsushita MP Motorsport

Ranking the F1 chances of F2’s top five hopefuls

This year the Formula 2 grid is full of drivers from F1 junior academies, with the top spots in the standings locked out by proteges from Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault.

With plenty of 2021 F1 seats still up for grabs, we’re taking a look at the chances of these young hopefuls stepping up to the top tier next season.

Yuki Tsunoda, Carlin (Dan Istitene / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

1. Yuki Tsunoda

Of all the young academy drivers on the 2020 F2 grid, joint Red Bull/ Honda talent Yuki Tsunoda looks the most likely to join F1 next year. Not only is he already racking up wins, poles and podiums in an impressive debut season, but Alpha Tauri boss Franz Tost has said it’s only a matter of time before Tsunoda is promoted to the team.

At almost 40 points adrift of the championship leader Callum Ilott, Tsunoda is an outside contender for the F2 title at best. But given Red Bull’s comments, so long as he can remain within the top four of the standings to secure the necessary super licence points, it seems almost a sure bet that Tsunoda will be a 2021 Alpha Tauri driver.

Robert Shwartzman, Prema (Joe Portlock / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

2. Robert Shwartzman

If Tsunoda is the most likely F2 driver to get an F1 promotion for next year, then Ferrari protege Robert Shwartzman isn’t far behind. After a dominant run to last year’s F3 title, Shwartzman immediately staked his claim to this year’s F2 crown with two wins early in the campaign.

Shwartzman may have lost the F2 lead to fellow Ferrari junior Callum Ilott, but that doesn’t seem to have harmed the Russian’s status as the FDA’s golden boy. And as well as his formidable talent, Shwartzman comes with additional backing from SMP Racing, which would be an excellent sweetener for Alfa Romeo should he be lined up to replace Antonio Giovinazzi.

Mick Schumacher, Prema (Courtesy of Ferrari Media)

3. Mick Schumacher

Ahead of the season Mick Schumacher was touted as one of the favourites for the F2 title. But although he’s scored more points and podiums than he did in his 2019 debut, a mix of incidents and mistakes means Schumacher’s campaign is still without a win.

However, Schumacher’s chances of an F1 promotion still remain relatively high for two reasons. Firstly, because there’s still half the F2 season left to run, meaning he has another 12 races to break his winless run and move up from fifth in the standings. And secondly, because if he can get in a position to earn his super licence, there’s every chance Ferrari will want to take the opportunity at getting a Schumacher back into F1 as soon as possible.

Callum Ilott, UNI-Virtuosi (Dan Istitene / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

4. Callum Ilott

It may seem odd or even unfair putting Callum Ilott behind his fellow FDA members Shwartzman and Schumacher, considering he is currently leading both in the F2 standings and should therefore be Ferrari’s F1 priority. But although Ilott’s every bit their match on track, Shwartzman and Schumacher both have a certain extra “superstar” quality that has left Ilott somewhat in their shade.

However, being F2 champion brings plenty of its own superstar quality. If Ilott can see off Shwartzman in the second half of the season and take the crown himself, he’ll give Ferrari no choice but to take notice of him instead.

Christian Lundgaard, ART (Joe Portlock / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

5. Christian Lundgaard

As F2 debuts go, Christian Lundgaard’s has been excellent so far. With a win and two further podiums to his name, the Renault junior has not just performed well on his step up from F3, but is currently third in the championship behind Ilott and Shwartzman.

However, even if Lundgaard were to march forward in the rest of the year and snatch the F2 title, the chances of it leading to an F1 seat are very slim at best. Renault have none available, having signed Fernando Alonso to partner Esteban Ocon for the next two years. And with no customer team to place him at either, Lundgaard’s F1 hopes probably depend on waiting for a gap at the works team to open up in 2022.

F2 Spain preview: Ferrari junior royale in Barcelona

Formula 2 returns this weekend for round 6 of the championship at Spain’s Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The last two rounds at the British and 70th Anniversary Grands Prix set up a battle royale for the title between Ferrari academy drivers Callum Ilott and Robert Shwartzman. Shwartzman had looked to be building up to a dominant run at the title coming into the Silverstone double header, as the only repeat winner of the season thus far and with an 18-point lead over Ilott in the standings.

But over the four races that followed, Shwartzman’s campaign was blighted by incidents and poor qualifying performances, scoring only four points with eighth place in the second feature race, and losing victory in the second sprint race after a collision with Mick Schumacher.

Robert Shwartzman, Prema (Scuderia Ferrari Press Office)

Meanwhile, Ilott scored well in three of the four races and took his second pole and win of the season in the second feature race. As a result, he’s regained the lead of the championship with a 21-point buffer back to Shwartzman.

Coming into Spain, Shwartzman will get a boost of confidence from his previous record at the circuit, as in Formula 3 last year he took pole position and victory in Barcelona to set up his title challenge. However, with such a difference between him and Ilott he’ll need a remarkable bounce back to form, not to mention trouble for Ilott, to recover that deficit.

But Ilott has his own reasons to be confident about heading to Barcelona. The Briton took his first F2 podium in Spain last year, with third in the sprint race. On top of that, his UNI-Virtuosi team were in contention for victory in both races, with Luca Ghiotto and Guanyu Zhou both on the podium across the weekend and Ghiotto taking pole for the feature race.

Christian Lundgaard, ART (Joe Portlock / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

And it’s not just Ilott that Shwartzman needs to catch this weekend. The Russian’s disastrous run at Silverstone has also allowed Christian Lundgaard to jump him for second in the standings. There are only two points between Shwartzman and Lundgaard, but as Ilott showed last weekend a small gap can grow rapidly in F2.

What’s more, Lundgaard also has great form in Barcelona, as he actually beat Shwartzman on the road in last year’s F3 feature race but lost the win to a five-second penalty for a virtual safety car infringement. Knowing he can go well on this track, Lundgaard will be one to watch this weekend as he aims to remind Ilott and Shwartzman that the title fight isn’t a two-horse race yet.

And not far behind Shwartzman is his countryman Nikita Mazepin, who comes to Spain on a run of seven consecutive points finishes—the longest of anyone so far this year. After taking his maiden win at the first Silverstone round, Mazepin is in the ascendency, and is only another strong weekend away from closing the 14-point gap to Shwartzman.

F2 Great Britain: Ilott takes title lead with feature race win

Callum Ilott took his second win of the season in the Silverstone feature race, taking advantage of a low finish for title rival Robert Shwartzman to assume the lead of the championship.

Ilott started the race from pole and got away well to hold the lead into Turn 1. Behind him, Dan Ticktum also got a good launch from fourth to jump both Jack Aitken and Christian Lundgaard into second.

Ticktum pressured Ilott for the lead over the opening laps, but a mistake on lap 3 sent him wide and dropped the DAMS back behind Lundgaard and Aitken. Two laps later Ticktum then lost another three positions, to Mick Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin and Louis Deletraz respectively.

Jack Aitken, Campos (Rudy Carezzevoli / Getty Images)

On lap 6 Lundgaard and Aitken both pitted from the podium positions to change to hard tyres, and Ilott made his own stop a lap later and came out in P12. Schumacher, running the alternative strategy having started on hards, assumed the lead ahead of Mazepin and teammate Shwartzman, who started outside the points.

While Ilott and the former leaders cut their way through the traffic, Schumacher and Mazepin engaged in a fierce battle at the front of the field. Mazepin looked to be faster at first but couldn’t find a way through, and after a few laps stuck behind the Prema his tyres began to blister and he dropped to over a second behind Schumacher on lap 11.

Schumacher became the first of the alternate runners to pit on lap 19, handing the lead to Mazepin who stayed out for another three laps. When Mazepin did come in his longer stint looked to have paid off as he rejoined the track ahead of Schumacher in sixth, but Schumacher was able to get back ahead of Mazepin while the Russian was on cold tyres.

Louis Deletraz, Charouz (Dan Istitene / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

After all the pit stops had been completed, Ilott was back in the lead ahead of Lundgaard and Aitken, with Deletraz and Yuki Tsunoda in fourth and fifth having passed Ticktum as they made their way through the traffic.

The top three remained the same for the rest of the race, despite Lundgaard running off track on lap 26 and dropping back towards Aitken. However, Deletraz and Tsunoda came under pressure in the closing laps from Mazepin on fresh soft tyres. Having already taken sixth place back from Schumacher on lap 25, Mazepin then passed Tsunoda two laps later and caught and passed Deletraz for fourth on the final lap.

Deletraz just about hung on to keep fifth place from Tsunoda. Schumacher was unable to find the same late-race speed as Mazepin despite running on the same strategy and stayed in seventh, and will share the front row of tomorrow’s sprint race with eighth-place finisher Shwartzman. Guanyu Zhou and Felipe Drugovich rounded out the points, while Ticktum finished in P15 after plummeting down the order in the closing stages.

Ilott’s victory with Shwartzman only eighth means the UNI-Virtuosi driver retakes the lead of the championship with 102 points.

Callum Ilott, UNI-Virtuosi (Rudy Carezzevoli / Getty Images)

Full race result:

Pos. Driver Team Points
1 Callum Ilott UNI-Virtuosi Racing 25
2 Christian Lundgaard ART Grand Prix 18
3 Jack Aitken Campos Racing 15
4 Nikita Mazepin Hitech Grand Prix 12
5 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 10
6 Yuki Tsunoda Carlin 8
7 Mick Schumacher Prema Racing 6
8 Robert Shwartzman Prema Racing 4
9 Guanyu Zhou (FL) UNI-Virtuosi Racing 2
10 Felipe Drugovich MP Motorsport 1
11 Nobuharu Matsushita MP Motorsport
12 Jehan Daruvala Carlin
13 Luca Ghiotto Hitech Grand Prix
14 Marcus Armstrong ART Grand Prix
15 Dan Ticktum DAMS
16 Giuliano Alesi BWT HWA Racelab
17 Marino Sato Trident
18 Roy Nissany Trident
19 Artem Markelov BWT HWA Racelab
20 Guilherme Samaia Campos
21 Pedro Piquet Charouz Racing System
Ret. Sean Gelael DAMS

F2 Great Britain preview: Silverstone reset for Shwartzman and Ilott

Formula 2 is back this weekend for the fifth round of the 2020 championship, returning to Silverstone in support of the F1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

For title protagonists Robert Shwartzman and Callum Ilott, revisiting Silverstone will provide a much-needed second chance at the circuit after a trying round for them both last weekend.

For Shwartzman, who had previously only finished outside the top four once this year, the British Grand Prix weekend was little short of a nightmare. What began with a lowly qualifying position of 18th for the feature race ended with a best finish of 13th in the sprint race and no points scored for the championship leader.

Shwartzman’s pain was lessened somewhat by Ilott stalling on the feature race grid and spinning out of contention for the sprint race victory, meaning the UNI-Virtuosi driver was unable to capitalise on Shwartzman’s struggles and snatch away the championship lead. However, Ilott’s recovery to fifth in the feature race moved him to within eight points of Shwartzman.

Robert Shwartzman, Prema (Courtesy of Prema Racing)

Shwartzman and Ilott’s struggles mean they’ll now be driving with renewed focus on the chasing pack behind them.

In particular, Christian Lundgaard underlined the pace he’s been showing all season with fourth place in the feature race and second in the sprint race last weekend, putting him just four points behind Ilott and twelve behind Shwartzman. Another strong finish ahead of his rivals this weekend could well see Lundgaard leave Silverstone as the new championship leader.

The top two will also be keenly aware of Hitech’s Nikita Mazepin. The Russian came alive at Silverstone last weekend, taking his first F2 win in the feature race and battling up to fifth in race two, and certainly has the pace to be a threat again this time out.

What’s more, Dan Ticktum is lurking just one point behind Mazepin after taking his own maiden victory in the last sprint race. However, Ticktum’s three podium visits so far have all come in sprint races, so he’ll need to translate that clear speed to a top three in the feature races if he’s going to start troubling the title contenders.

Nikita Mazepin, Hitech (Joe Portlock / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Just behind the top five, a kind of “Class B” is forming between Guanyu Zhou, Louis Deletraz, Felipe Drugovich, Mick Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda. While their results over the season so far haven’t kept them in touch with the title battle, they’re all still formidable over a race weekend and each proved this last time out in Silverstone.

Zhou, Deletraz and Tsunoda were all on the podium across last weekend, while Drugovich took pole for the feature race and Schumacher was in contention for the victory before his tyres gave up on him in the final stages.

All of them bar Drugovich are still looking for their first win this season, and given the pace they’ve already shown around Silverstone, that could come for any of them this weekend.

Yuki Tsunoda, Carlin (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)