DAMS have announced that Ferrari academy driver Marcus Armstrong will join the team for the 2021 Formula 2 campaign.
Armstrong made his F2 debut in 2020 with ART and scored podiums in the opening two rounds at the Red Bull Ring. After a difficult mid-season he returned to form by the end of the year, with points at Mugello, Sochi and Bahrain to end the season 13th in the standings. Armstrong then drove for DAMS in the post-season test at Bahrain.
Previously, Armstrong has been runner-up to Robert Shwartzman in the 2019 F3 championship, as well as 2017 Italian F4 champion and ADAC F4 runner-up.
“I’m very excited to be joining DAMS,” Armstrong said. “It’s been a long time coming as there was a lot of interest in working together last season. DAMS has a massive history, especially in GP2 and F2 — it’s one of, if not the, best to be with.
“We are aiming for the title. By no means is it going to be easy with such fierce competition, but I feel that when I’m in the right environment with a great team I can really do special things.”
DAMS co-team owners Gregory and Oliver Driot added: “We are very happy to welcome Marcus to DAMS. We have been following his career and his performance for several years so we are glad to finally join forces for this season.”
DAMS is set for an all-new lineup for 2021, with Sean Gelael having already announced that he will not return to F2 for another season and Dan Ticktum set to join Jehan Daruvala at Carlin.
Robert Shwartzman took his fourth win of the season and first since Spa in the Bahrain sprint race, while Callum Ilott’s championship hopes took a big hit after a collision with Jehan Daruvala.
Shwartzman got a clean launch from reverse grid pole to hold the lead from Yuki Tsunoda, who jumped Marcus Armstrong for second off the line. Nikita Mazepin was slow away, allowing Daruvala and Mick Schumacher to take fourth and fifth respectively.
Tsunoda had strong pace to pressure Shwartzman through the opening sequence of corners, but before the end of the lap the Carlin driver picked up a right rear puncture and was forced to pit.
Without Tsunoda to defend from, Shwartzman was able to start putting in fastest laps and pull out a gap over Armstrong. Further back, Mazepin recovered from his slow start by taking fourth from Schumacher on lap 4, then demoting Daruvala off the podium a lap later.
Shwartzman had a gap of almost three seconds over Armstrong at the start of lap 6. But this was wiped out when Theo Pourchaire stopped on track after his fire extinguisher went off in the cockpit, and the safety car was deployed.
The race restarted on lap 7, with Mazepin putting immediate pressure on Armstrong and Schumacher battling to hold fifth over title rival Ilott.
Schumacher had a big lockup going into Turn 10 and looked to be heading off the track. Ilott took advantage of the error by diving to the inside of his rival, but ended up locking his own tyres and spearing into Daruvala ahead.
Daruvala retired on the spot while Ilott tumbled out of the points with damage to his front wing and nose. Schumacher managed to get away without any contact, although he lost position to Pedro Piquet, who navigated the incident to emerge in fourth before the virtual safety car was called.
When the VSC was withdrawn on lap 9 Armstrong reacted well to put pressure on Shwartzman, but was unable to make a move for the lead stick. Armstrong ended up losing second instead to Mazepin after locking up at T1, then was passed for third by Piquet on lap 12.
But although Mazepin had much more pace than Piquet and Armstrong behind him, he didn’t have enough to make any impact on Shwartzman’s lead. Having been able to conserve his tyres out front while Mazepin hurt his fighting through the field, Shwartzman continued to pull away over the second half of the race and took the chequered flag with five seconds in hand over Mazepin.
Behind the podium battles Schumacher was running in fifth but didn’t have the tyre life to take any more advantage of Ilott dropping out of the points. On lap 15 he was dropped to sixth by Guanyu Zhou, then immediately came under fire from Christian Lundgaard.
Schumacher got some brief respite on lap 17 when an unsuccessful move from Lundgaard at Turn 4 left the Dane instead defending from Felipe Drugovich in eighth. But shortly after the trio were caught by Louis Deletraz, who had taken the chance to pit under the earlier safety car and had the advantage of much fresher tyres.
Over the next five laps, Deletraz picked off Drugovich, Lundgaard, Schumacher, Zhou and Armstrong to run fourth behind his Charouz teammate Piquet. This then became third on lap 22, when Piquet pulled to the side of the road with a mechanical problem.
Armstrong managed to hold on to fourth ahead of Zhou, while Lundgaard pipped Schumacher for sixth on the final lap and Drugovich took the final point in eighth.
Shwartzman’s win means the Russian moves to fourth in the championship and is still mathematically in contention for the title. With Ilott failing to score, Schumacher now has a 14-point lead over his nearest rival going into the final round next week.
Felipe Drugovich took his third win of the Formula 2 season in the Bahrain feature race, while MickSchumacher recovered from tenth to fourth to keep his title lead ahead of Callum Ilott.
The feature race had looked like a chance for Ilott to retake the title lead as he qualified on pole with Schumacher down in tenth. But when the lights went out Ilott was passed for the lead by Drugovich from second, while Schumacher jumped up to fourth.
Meanwhile, Dan Ticktum had a slow getaway from third and dropped back to eighth, and Yuki Tsunoda got up to 16th from his back of the grid start.
Across the opening laps Ilott then struggled for pace on his medium tyres. On lap eight he was passed by Marcus Armstrong for second, before Schumacher on hard tyres passed Ilott for third a lap later. Schumacher then improved to second by the end of the lap, when Armstrong locked up and ran wide at Turn 11.
Ilott pitted to swap his mediums for hards on lap 12, but a slow front left meant he came out in 17th. However, by pitting earlier than Drugovich, who stopped on lap 15, Ilott was able to get the undercut advantage and take the net lead on Drugovich’s first lap out of the pits.
Schumacher led the race until his own pit stop on lap 19, where he swapped from his starting set of hards to new mediums. Prior to his stop Schumacher had been losing several seconds a lap to his rivals on fresh hard tyres, and as a result he lost ground in the pits, rejoining in sixth behind Jehan Daruvala, Armstrong and Robert Shwartzman.
On lap 20 Drugovich came back at Ilott, retaking the lead of the race and beginning to open a gap of several seconds once ahead. Meanwhile, Schumacher started coming back through from sixth on his faster mediums, passing Shwartzman on lap 21 and Armstrong on lap 23.
With five laps to go Schumacher caught Daruvala for the final podium position. But despite having the pace advantage on the medium tyre, Schumacher couldn’t find a way past Daruvala’s defence. In the end Schumacher ran out of grip, and Daruvala was able to hold on to third behind Ilott for his first F2 podium.
Schumacher finished fourth ahead of Nikita Mazepin, while Tsunoda came sixth with the fastest lap.
Tsunoda had made steady progress through the field after his rapid start, and by lap 26 was into the points with a pass on Sean Gelael. The Carlin driver then picked off more positions over the closing laps with the help of his fresh medium tyres, passing Luca Ghiotto, Ticktum, Shwartzman and Armstrong before the flag.
Armstrong, Shwartzman and Ticktum finished seventh, eighth and ninth, and Jack Aitken took the final point with a last-lap pass on Ghiotto.
Full race result:
Hitech Grand Prix
Yuki Tsunoda (FL)
ART Grand Prix
Charouz Racing System
Hitech Grand Prix
Charouz Racing System
BWT HWA Racelab
ART Grand Prix
BWT HWA Racelab
Feature image by Rudy Carezzevoli / Getty Images, courtesy of FIA Formula 2
Formula 2 returns this weekend for round nine of the championship, in support of the Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello.
Mugello is set to be a special weekend for F1, being Ferrari’s record 1,000th Grand Prix and taking place at a circuit they own. But while the Scuderia is currently suffering through one of its worst seasons in F1 to date, its academy drivers Callum Ilott, Mick Schumacher and Robert Shwartzman will give them plenty to be proud of as they enter the weekend first, second and third in the F2 championship respectively.
Monza proved a particularly happy hunting ground for the Ferrari academy, with Schumacher taking his first win and eighth podium of the season in the two races. But it was Ilott who came away with a seven-point lead in the standings, having taken pole for the feature race and inheriting the sprint race win from the disqualified Dan Ticktum.
Trying to predict whether they’ll have the same form at Mugello is tricky. Shwartzman and Schumacher both have competitive experience of the track, but nothing more recent than their last Italian F4 campaigns in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
However, the Prema team they drive for has spent many a race weekend at the circuit over the years. They’ll have plenty of knowledge to draw on, and arguably have the best chance of giving their drivers a winning car.
And speaking of winning cars, Schumacher will have an opportunity this weekend to drive one of the very best, as he will take his father’s Ferrari F2004 around the track in a very special demonstration run.
As well as Schumacher and Shwartzman, five other drivers on the current F2 grid have experience of Mugello: Guanyu Zhou, Luca Ghiotto, Marcus Armstrong, Marino Sato, and DAMS stand-in Juri Vips.
Armstrong and Vips have the most recent experience, having raced there in the 2017 Italian F4 championship. Both had strong results that year: across the two rounds raced at Mugello, the two drivers collected five poles, three wins and five further podiums between them.
Of course, results in 2017 Italian F4 don’t guarantee results in 2020 F2. But Armstrong and Vips will both be hoping their prior knowledge of the trick will give them some edge at least over their rivals.
After a strong start to the year with two podiums at the Red Bull Ring, Armstrong has yet to finish in the points again since. As another one of Ferrari’s juniors, he needs to get back to the kind of form he showed in F3 last year if he wants the FDA’s focus for a 2021 F2 title campaign. Armstrong still has four rounds of the season left to recover from his 14th position in the standings, and there’s no better place for him to start than on Ferrari’s home turf.
As for Vips, Mugello may mark his final opportunity to score points in F2 this year as Sean Gelael is currently marked to return to DAMS from Sochi onwards.
Vips has enjoyed an impressive debut so far, having challenged for points in each of the four races he’s contested despite being parachuted into the series with little to no preparation.
However, the Estonian must be frustrated that for all his efforts, he’s finished just on the wrong side of the top ten each time. In fact, his average finishing position from the last two rounds is 10.5, so it’s not as if Vips needs a gargantuan upshift in form to break into the points.
It’s not yet been announced whether Vips is targeting a full-time F2 campaign next year, or if he will try to contest Super Formula again instead. But whichever route Red Bull chose for him, capping off his first run in F2 with a couple of points will be an excellent way to make the most of what’s been a challenging year for him.
Formula 2 returns this weekend at Silverstone for the fourth round of the 2020 campaign.
Prema driver and Ferrari protege Robert Shwartzman will come into the weekend full of confidence, after becoming the championship’s only repeat winner so far last time out in Hungary.
With 18 points in hand over the next-best driver Callum Ilott, Shwartzman’s goal at Silverstone will be to build that gap even further and break free of the chasing pack. If he can keep up the momentum now, there will be little his rivals can do to stop Shwartzman asserting his dominance over the title as he did in Formula 3 last year.
Ilott will of course be the first of many drivers hoping to disrupt Shwartzman’s title challenge this weekend. Since winning the first race of the season, Ilott’s own campaign has been patchy by comparison, with only one further podium to his name so far.
A win on home soil this weekend will easily put Ilott back in the mix, and he should be well-placed to do so as his UNI-Virtuosi team won last year’s Silverstone feature race with Luca Ghiotto.
Behind Shwartzman and Ilott, there’s a fierce battle developing over third place in the standings. Christian Lundgaard currently holds the position with 43 points, but Mick Schumacher, Dan Ticktum and Marcus Armstrong are all within nine points of the Dane.
Although Lundgaard is quite a way adrift of Shwartzman, he is still likely to be a threat this weekend. Prior to Hungary, where he failed to score in either race, Lundgaard had been on a run of top-six finishes culminating in his sprint race win in Austria.
If Lundgaard can put his Hungaroring disappointment behind him, he’s shown he has the pace to be a serious title threat this year.
Schumacher comes to Silverstone on a good run of form, having taken a double podium at the last round in Hungary. However, he’ll need to make a much bigger step forward this weekend if he wants to stay in contention for the title and an F1 shot next year, as he is so far yet to outscore Shwartzman in any race this season.
Meanwhile, Ticktum has also displayed plenty of ability in his F2 debut, although has yet to claim his first win in the series. A challenger in sprint races in particular, the DAMS driver will be one to watch this weekend for sure.
FIA Formula 2 takes to Budapest’s Hungaroring this weekend for round three of the 2020 championship.
While the opening round of the season was dominated by returning drivers Callum Ilott and Guanyu Zhou, last weekend was the turn of F2’s rookies. Robert Shwartzman and Christian Lundgaard took their first victories in the series to assume the lead of championship from Ilott, while Yuki Tsunoda, Dan Ticktum and Marcus Armstrong all impressed with podium finishes.
When F2 arrives in Hungary these rookies will be aiming to build on that momentum and take charge of the championship. Expect to see Shwartzman come out of the gates strong as he tries to make up for retiring from last weekend’s sprint race, while Tsunoda will be hungry to reclaim the feature race win that was taken from him by a team radio failure in Austria.
Mick Schumacher will also be one to watch this weekend. Not only will he come to Hungary with confidence from having won there in F2 last year, but he’s also on a much-improved run of form this time around.
In both rounds at the Red Bull Ring, Schumacher showed he had the pace to come away with at least a podium finish, if not a win. However, a spell of bad luck—including his fire extinguisher going off in his cockpit while running third last Sunday—means he’s currently lagging behind his title rivals, and will be pushing even harder this weekend to catch up.
And he won’t be the only one. Zhou will also be looking ahead to the Hungaroring weekend as a chance to get his championship campaign back on track. The Renault junior will be sorely disappointed after leading both feature races in Austria but coming away with only one podium, and will need to lay down a marker this weekend to avoid the title fight slipping away from him.
Further back, the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend will also provide a much-needed reset for some of the drivers still yet to score any points.
Chief among these will be Hitech’s Luca Ghiotto. Used to being a title protagonist, Ghiotto’s best finish so far has been tenth in the second Austria sprint race, with an array of incidents and technical issues helping to keep him away from the points.
Also in need of a breakthrough soon is Jehan Daruvala. At the start of the season the Red Bull-backed driver talked up his goal of vying for an F1 seat with Alpha Tauri next year, but so far he’s had a mixed start to the season and is currently only P17 in the standings.
Daruvala has been solid in qualifying this year, starting both feature races well inside the top ten, but scruffy performances on race day mean he’s yet to convert any of those starts into points. With his Carlin teammate and fellow Red Bull junior Tsunoda already fighting for wins and podiums, Daruvala will need to tidy up his racecraft this weekend and make good on his pace if he wants to avoid losing Red Bull’s focus.
Christian Lundgaard took victory in the Styria sprint race, taking the lead early and going on to command throughout.
Lundgaard started the race in third behind reverse polesitter Dan Ticktum and ART teammate Marcus Armstrong, but passed Armstrong for second at the start. He stuck with Ticktum through the opening few laps and on lap 4 passed the DAMS on the inside of Turn 3 to take the lead.
Once in front, Lundgaard continued pushing and opened up a two second gap over Ticktum by lap 8—this increased by another second by lap 12. Ticktum responded in the middle phase of the race to take a few tenths out of Lundgaard, but a series of lock ups allowed the gap to open back up to 3.2s by lap 22.
Lundgaard began to ease off towards the end of the race as his tyres degraded, but by this point Ticktum’s own tyres were also running out of grip and the DAMS was unable to close the gap. By the chequered flag Lundgaard took the win with 2.3s in hand over Ticktum, as well as two extra points for setting the fastest lap earlier in the race.
Armstrong was unable to keep up with Lundgaard and Ticktum up front, and on lap 12 he was passed for third by Mick Schumacher into Turn 3. However, Armstrong regained the position two laps later when Schumacher’s fire extinguisher went off in his cockpit, forcing the German to retire. Armstrong held on to the position until the end of the race to take his second podium of the season.
UNI-Virtuosi ran a quiet race behind the top three. Guanyu Zhou passed teammate Callum Ilott at the start and was promoted to fourth after Schumacher’s retirement.
In the final laps Ilott closed up to the back of Zhou and looked to have the pace on his tyres to pass his teammate. But the pair caught up with Armstrong on the last lap which gave Zhou DRS to defend and keep Ilott behind in fifth.
Jack Aitken finished sixth ahead of Sean Gelael, while Nikita Mazepin picked up his first point of the season in eighth. Saturday’s feature race protagonists Robert Shwartzman and Yuki Tsunoda both retired, the Prema spinning out at the start and the Carlin stopping with a clutch issue.
At the end of round 2, Shwartzman holds a narrow five-point lead in the drivers’ championship over Lundgaard and Ilott, who are level on 43 points. Ticktum is fourth and Armstrong fifth.
In the teams’ standings, ART maintain their lead with 77 points, seven ahead of UNI-Virtuosi and 15 ahead of Prema.
Formula 2 returns next weekend in support of the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Prema’s Robert Shwartzman took his first Formula 2 win in the Styria feature race, taking advantage of a team radio problem for longtime race leader Yuki Tsunoda.
With the track drenched the race began after a lengthy delay with four laps behind the safety car. When the safety car pulled into the pits and the race began in earnest, polesitter Tsunoda got away from the pack cleanly and commanded the race in its early phase, building a gap over Guanyu Zhou with each lap. After two laps of racing the Carlin driver was 1.6s ahead, which increased to 5.5s by lap 21 as Zhou’s wet tyres started to overheat.
Zhou pitted on lap 21 along with Shwartzman. But when Carlin called Tsunoda in to cover the UNI-Virtuosi, he was unable to hear the message over team radio and stayed out for another three laps. All the while, Tsunoda’s pace compared to Zhou on the fresher tyres continued to drop off.
Tsunoda eventually came in on lap 26 after seeing the team’s pit board, but lost so much time on his older tyres that he lost the lead to Zhou and rejoined the track in a net third position.
Meanwhile, Shwartzman had been making progress through the field after initially losing a position to Christian Lundgaard on the second racing lap. On lap 14 he passed Luca Ghiotto for sixth, then took fifth from Jack Aitken on the following lap. When Lundgaard had a slow pit stop on lap 21, Shwartzman moved into fourth behind Tsunoda, Zhou and Callum Ilott.
Shwartzman demoted Ilott off the podium after both drivers had made their respective stops, and on fresher tyres he started reeling in Zhou with a series of fastest laps. On lap 27 Shwartzman passed Zhou for the lead of the race and began building up a gap as Tsunoda rejoined them after his own stop.
In the closing laps Zhou began to struggle with overheating tyres again and Tsunoda passed him for second on lap 30. With much younger tyres, Tsunoda then started eating into Shwartzman’s gap out front, reducing it by over two seconds across the next three laps.
But although he closed in to within half a second of Shwartzman, Tsunoda’s pace wasn’t enough to complete a move on the Prema in the final laps and Shwartzman held on to the victory. However, Tsunoda was able to earn another two points for setting the fastest lap.
Zhou continued to struggle and dropped back from the two leaders. He came under threat from Mick Schumacher in the closing laps, who had taken fourth from Ilott after starting ninth on the grid, but managed to defend his place on the podium and finish third.
Schumacher and Ilott finished fourth and fifth respectively, with Lundgaard and Marcus Armstrong behind them. Dan Ticktum finished eighth and took pole for Sunday’s reverse grid, and Aitken and Sean Gelael closed out the top ten.
Formula 2’s second round gets underway this weekend at the Red Bull Ring, in support of the Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix.
The opening round in Austria last weekend presented us with a whole host of potential title protagonists. UNI-Virtuosi came out on top with Guanyu Zhou on pole for the feature race and Callum Ilott taking the win and the championship lead.
But Prema were also rapid, with Robert Shwartzman on the podium and Mick Schumacher challenging for the win on Saturday. And ART were in the mix with Marcus Armstrong and Christian Lundgaard, and came away from the round top of the teams’ championship.
This weekend, it could be any combination of those six drivers on the feature and sprint race podiums. Zhou will be especially fired up, not just to make up for his costly retirement last Saturday, but also to prove a point to Renault after he was passed over for Fernando Alonso for the 2021 race seat.
But if last weekend is anything to go by, he’ll have stiff competition from his teammate first of all, with Ilott looking to consolidate his lead in the standings.
Hitech and Carlin will both be wanting more on their second visit to Spielberg. Hitech had a difficult F2 debut with Luca Ghiotto failing to start the feature race and retiring from the sprint race, and Nikita Mazepin finishing both races outside the points.
And Carlin’s dual Red Bull-backed lineup had an awful start to the season last weekend. After Yuki Tsunoda and Jehan Daruvala showed impressive pace in practice and qualifying, they ended up coming together on the opening lap of the feature race and lost their chance at points in either race.
Considering they’re running at the Red Bull Ring again this weekend, Tsunoda and Daruvala will need to have a much cleaner race to avoid attracting Helmut Marko’s displeasure.
Felipe Drugovich dominated Sunday’s sprint race at the Red Bull Ring, leading from pole to take his maiden Formula 2 victory.
The MP Motorsport rookie got a clean getaway from reverse grid pole to set up an early lead from Louis Deletraz on the front row. Behind them third place changed multiple times over the first lap as Giuliano Alesi came under pressure from Dan Ticktum, Robert Shwartzman and Marcus Armstrong all at once.
The battle was resolved by the end of the first lap when Alesi pulled off to the side of the track with flames pouring from the rear of his HWA. The safety car was brought out to recover Alesi, with Armstrong assuming third over Ticktum and Shwartzman.
Alesi’s car was quickly cleared but the safety car was redeployed multiple times in the following laps. First when Sean Gelael ground to a halt, again when Luca Ghiotto was spun out of the race by Jehan Daruvala, and for the final time on lap 15 when Armstrong lost drive and stopped on track, handing third place to Ticktum.
When the safety car pulled in for the last time on lap 16 Drugovich rapidly pulled away from Deletraz and was out of range by the time DRS was enabled. Behind them, Ticktum managed to drop Shwartzman and open a gap to protect third place from the Prema.
The podium positions remained unchanged for the final 12 laps of the race, with Drugovich winning by 2.3s from Deletraz and Ticktum. Shwartzman finished fourth ahead of ART’s Christian Lundgaard.
Nobuharu Matsushita took sixth place after a long battle with Mick Schumacher, who made early progress from P11 on the grid but couldn’t find a way to continue past Matsushita. Jack Aitken took the final point of the day in eighth.
At the end of the first F2 round of the season, Callum Ilott leads the championship with 27 points, four ahead of Shwartzman with Drugovich a further two points back. ART heads the teams’ championship by five points from UNI-Virtuosi, with MP Motorsport in third.
F2 returns next weekend at the Red Bull Ring again, supporting the Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix.