Just over three months since the racing was set to begin in Bahrain, we’ll be headed out to Austria instead to kick off the Formula 2 season. We’ll be racing back to back at Spielberg with qualifying on the 3rd and 10th July, the Feature Race on the 4th and 11th July and the Sprint Race on the 5th and 12th July. If you’re looking to keep up to date with all of the racing this weekend, your schedule is as followed: Friday will see Practice at 12:55 pm until 1:40 pm and Qualifying at 5:00 pm until 5:30 pm, Saturday will see the Feature Race at 4:45 pm until 5:45 pm and Sunday will see the Sprint Race at 11:10 am until 11:55 am. All times are local track times.
As the potential of the season hung by a thread, Jess and I chose to not let the bad news dwell and set ahead our predictions for the year back in April. Today, we sit down to look at how the race weekend will go ahead along with an audience of people.
Looking at how testing played out alongside each drivers experience last year, it makes looking at the first weekend of the season difficult. Currently, I can see one of the UNI-Virtuosi drivers or Louis Deletraz pushing for the top three. Alongside them, I believe Daniel Ticktum has a strong chance at claiming his first Formula 2 podium. Looking forward into the Sprint race, I can see the FDA drivers wiping out the entirety of the podium. Mick Schumacher, Marcus Armstrong and Robert Shwartzman all have a good chance at taking a podium this weekend. Although it will be Armstrong and Shwartzman’s first year in Formula 2, both drivers have a great deal of passion for their craft and it reflects in their racing. Both drivers excel in all weathers and with a rainy weekend planned for us, I believe we will see a lot of competition between these three to secure that top spot.
I believe Samaia is a strong name to look out for. With this being his debut year, lack of racing in Europe and his age, people are overlooking his potential and ability. I feel he will definitely be an underdog this weekend, pushing to take points and surprising everyone.
For fastest lap, I believe it will either be one of the Prema or UNI-Virtuosi drivers. Both teams have a very strong driver line up with a lot of potential. With great machinery and a talented team, both teams will be pulling out some fast laps this weekend and will definitely be the teams sat on top as we head into next weekend.
It has been about 3 months since the drivers really had a proper feel of the machinery, perhaps affecting the results, but I believe driver’s will still have their form despite this. Seeing how quick Delétraz was in the Virtual Grand Prixs, it wouldn’t surprise me if he won the Austrian feature race. Neither would seeing Zhou or Ilott completing the standings. The people to look out for with last year’s results in mind would be Matsushita or Ghiotto. Both moved teams in the off season, so with a brand new car and team, the question asked is, will they make it onto the podium? For the outsiders that were promoted up from Formula 3, I can see Armstrong making a strong debut and potentially Shwartzman, depending if the Prema car is better than it was last year. Similarly, I expect the same group of people for the sprint race. I’d also include Ticktum as well, knowing how well he can drive with the right mindset.
Besides from the top runners, I’d keep an eye out for the three Prema rookies that moved up and Aitken. Aitken didn’t have a smooth run last year, but I think he has the capabilitiy of getting a high position. I’m expecting the two drivers of Virtuosi to bring them to the top of the standings of the first round, potentially being challenged by ART Grand Prix.
THE SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES
Between Jess and I, we share a lot of similarities compared to our differences when it comes to racing. Together, we both see Deletraz, Zhou and Ilott taking home podiums. Alongside this trio, we also both see Armstrong and Shwartzman battling the big leagues. Although, through this I believe that Schumacher has a solid chance at securing a podium and being successful this weekend, Jess’ bets are placed towards Matsushita and Ghiotto. At least we both agree that Ticktum is a talented driver who will be a force to be reckoned with this weekend.
Aside from this, although Jess doesn’t share the same opinion in the sense of Schumacher being a front runner, she does agree that he is a driver to look out for this weekend. While I strongly sit by my opinion that Samaia will be a key driver, Jess believes that Aitken holds that space. Saying that, we both agree that UNI-Virtuosi will be a team at the told however, Jess believes they will be joined by ART while I feel Prema will be joining them.
Once again, we asked an audience of people what their predictions for the upcoming weekend in Austria would look like. Compared to Formula 3, these results held much more conflict. We first looked at who they thought would finish on pole after qualifying. Louis Deletraz sat at the top with 25% of the votes. Following behind him with 16.7% each were Jack Aitken, Christian Lundgaard and Marcus Armstrong who were just ahead of Callum Ilott, Guanyu Zhou and Mick Schumacher who each received 8.3% of the votes. From there, 25% of people believed Callum Ilott or Jack Aitken could go on to win the Feature Race. A further 8.3% said Deletraz, Nobuharu Matsushita, Schumacher, Luca Ghiotto, Lundgaard and Armstrong. Runner up saw Ilott once more taking the majority vote with 33.3%, followed closely by his team mate Zhou with 25%. Armstrong went on to take 16.7% while Aitken, Deletraz and Shwartzman took 8.3% each. For a third time, Ilott took the majority with 25% believing he would take third in the Feature Race. Ghiotto, Schumacher and Lundgaard both took 16.7% of the votes while Armstrong, Zhou and Dan Ticktum took 8.3%.
Moving into the Sprint Race, Ilott was a favourable name once again. 33.3% of the audience believed that he could go on to win, followed closely by Aitken with 25% and Ghiotto with 16.7%. Ticktum, Zhou and Armstrong each took 8.3%. The same results reflected into runner up as UNI-Virtuosi driver Ilott took 25% of the votes while Deletraz, Aitken and Lundgaard took 16.7% each. Zhou, Ticktum and Matsushita each took 8.3%. For third place, Aitken managed to take the top spot with 25% of the votes while Sean Gelael took 16.7%. Deletraz, Schumacher, Shwartzman, Ticktum, Zhou and Ilott each took 8.3%.
Aside from the races themselves, we asked a couple of questions regarding how the race weekend would go ahead regarding the drivers. We found that 25% of the audience said that Callum Ilott or Robert Shwartzman would be the most surprising driver in Austria. A further 16.7% said Ticktum would surprise them the most while Artem Markelov, Deletraz, Lundgaard and Armstrong each took 8.3%. Looking at the fastest laps, the board remained very even. Zhou, Ilott, Lundgaard and Ticktum each took 16.7% each while Ghiotto, Deletraz, Aitken and Armstrong took 8.3%.
To finish it off, we asked which team the audience thought would leave Austria with the most points. UNI-Virtuosi took the top spot with 41.7% of the votes. Prema sat closely behind with 25%, Campos Racing with 16.7% and ART and DAMS sitting with 8.3% each.
Between Audience, Jess and I, there are a lot of mixed opinions up in the air. Ilott, Zhou, Armstrong, Deletraz and Shwartzman are all popular names for taking points and podiums this weekend but with the forecast ahead, who knows what could happen. UNI-Virtuosi, Prema and ART are looking to be the three teams that people believe have the best fighting chance this weekend. Will the boys in red take the points?
We will see you Monday at 5pm BST Time with your race rundown and Wednesday at 5pm BST for our race review. Keep a look out if you want a chance at having your say on the Formula 3 Austrian Grand Prix 2020.