Formula 2 Austrian Grand Prix 2020

Drivers travelled to Bahrain for pre-season testing and the start of the Formula 2 season, but with the events happening in Australia for Formula 1, it was preemptively cancelled to protect drivers, staff and spectators. The season was postponed until further notice. We were then given a provisional calendar for the first week of July, and thus, we start in Austria for the season opener.

Qualifying

For qualifying, it was similar to Formula 3, sunny and decent track temperature. In terms of battling for the pole position, you had the usuals of Guanyu Zhou, Callum Ilott and Louis Delétraz were in a shot for the first one of the season, but we even had rookies competing for the pole postion, including last year’s Formula 3 runner ups Marcus Armstrong and Jehan Daruvala, Yuki Tsunoda, Christian Lundgaard and Felipe Drugovich. With the session coming to a close, Nikita Mazepin lost the rear end of the car, sliding into the gravel pit, ending the session. It was Guanyu Zhou who managed to achieve a phenomenal lap of 1:14.416 to put it on first. Marino Sato unfortunately lost it in a similar position to the practice session earlier in the morning, starting off their season in a difficult position.

The grid is as follows:
1. Guanyu Zhou
2. Felipe Drugovich
3. Callum Ilott
4. Christian Lundgaard
5. Mick Schumacher
6. Jehan Daruvala
7. Luca Ghiotto
8. Robert Shwartzman
9. Dan Ticktum
10. Louis Delétraz
11. Nikita Mazepin
12. Yuki Tsunoda
13. Marcus Armstrong
14. Jack Aitken
15. Pedro Piquet
16. Roy Nissany
17. Sean Gelael
18. Giuliano Alesi
19. Guilherme Samaia
20. Artem Markelov
21. Nobuharu Matsushita
22. Marino Sato

Feature Race

With the weather situation similar to Formula 3’s race earlier in the morning, it was meant to be a dry race, with drivers attempting to last their stints with the slick compounds.

Luca Ghiotto was unable to take the starting grid for the race, meanwhile Marino Sato was unable to get off the line for formation lap. Both drivers ended up not starting/finishing the race.

Ilott got off the line well in comparison to his teammate Zhou. Through turn one, it was relatively clean, besides from Daruvala being spun round by fellow Carlin driver Tsunoda. Tsunoda later got a penalty for this incident. Schumacher managed to drive his car beside the MP Motorsport of Felipe Drugovich. Though Drugovich was wanting to impress, Schumacher ended up taking the position away, leaving him to claim 4th. Out front, Zhou and Ilott were having a fearsome battle, fighting for the lead. The battle was well controlled by the Chinese and the Brit, but Zhou managed to pull away from Ilott.

Behind the front runners, you had the likes of Ticktum and Lundgaard wishing to impress. Ticktum was battling out for 5th against Nikita Mazepin and with the power of DRS, he overtook him.

For Gelael, his race was over on lap eight. He entered the pits with mechanical issues. At the front of the race, Shwartzman entered the battle, overtaking the Brazilian, joining behind his Prema teammate in fourth. Robert was two seconds behind, now on the move to making it to the front. On the same lap, his former teammate Marcus Armstrong dived into the pits, opting for the hard compound. Being the first to pit, this was a strategy of nursing the tyres and maintaining track position.

Marcus started the chains of undercuts, with Drugovich and Daruvala entering the pits on lap 10. Following them, Lundgaard, Delétraz and Mazepin all went into the pits. Delétraz and Mazepin had issues when it came to attaching the wheels, losing valuable time in the pitstops. Meanwhile, at the front, Zhou was controlling the race quite easily, being 1 second ahead of the Briton Callum Ilott, who was 1.5 seconds ahead of the German Mick Schumacher.

Lap 14 came and two of the drivers near the front pitted, with Prema driver Shwartzman and DAMS driver Ticktum. Zhou, Ilott and Schumacher still remained out front, trying to maintain their tyres to do a longer stint than the drivers behind them. By lap 16, the top 3 hadn’t pitted, as well as Nissany, Alesi, Markelov and Matsushita.

Zhou wouldn’t pit for another 2 laps later, coming in from P1 and arriving P6 ahead of Marcus Armstrong. With a flawless pitstop, it came down to how well the teams did the driver’s pitstops and track position. Ilott came in a lap later and with the UNI-Virtuosi team doing another incredible pitstop, he came out ahead of Zhou. This meant Schumacher now had the provisional lead. Opting for the softs with a grip advantage, Mick pits in at lap 20, just two laps later than Zhou, and ends up ahead of both drivers. Since Zhou was the first to pit out of the three of them, he had warmer tyres, allowing him to overtake Ilott and Schumacher later on in the lap. With warmer tyres and DRS, Ilott does a similar move on lap 23 in a DRS zone, meaning it was a UNI-Virtuosi 1-2, with Schumacher trailing by.

Behind the Virtuosi’s and Prema car, Armstrong was moving up the order with an early pitstop, now running in 6th. With both HWA cars not pitting yet, he was provisional 4th. However, it was not all plain sailing, with his former teammate last season battling him for the position. Shwartzman having more recent tyres had an advantage over Armstrong, who had tyres over 15 laps old.

Alesi finally pits on lap 25, leaving his teammate, Artem Markelov out front. This meant Zhou was hunting down his first ever win in Formula 2, after such a successful rookie season last year. Yet this was all ruined within a few seconds. A gearbox issue (confirmed by the team the following day) meant he was losing power down the straight towards the first corner, allowing his rivals of Ilott and Schumacher to overtake. Trailing off towards the back of the grid, it was now Ilott, Schumacher, Armstrong, Shwartzman and Lundgaard for the top 5.

Another technical issue 3 laps later by Artem Markelov meant the safety car was brought out. This brought the gap between the front runners and the mid pack back together again, allowing for a more closer racing after the safety car. The strucken car of Markelov was pulled into the inside of the barriers, allowing racing to follow suit a lap later after the safety car was called out.

Schumacher, now 2nd, was battling for the lead against the Brit, but to everyone’s amazement, he lost it into the gravel on lap 32, sending his car into the barriers. Carrying enough momentum through the gravel, he managed to turn his car and head out of the gravel pit. However, this meant Ilott now had a large advantage against Armstrong and Shwartzman. With a gap of 4.6 seconds, it was smooth sailing for Callum to the end.

Whilst Armstrong and Shwartzman were fighting on track, Alesi pitted under the safety car. With rubber about 10 laps younger than the rest of the grid, he climbed from P11 to P6, behind the two rookies, Lundgaard and Ticktum.

With the final laps closing in, Shwartzman tried to overtake Armstrong, but with his spectacular defending and going in places where Robert didn’t want him to be, he stayed back, looking at his perspective with a championship point of view.

The race ended with Ilott first, Armstrong second whilst holding off his former teammate Shwartzman.

The feature race results are:
1. Callum Ilott
2. Marcus Armstrong
3. Robert Shwartzman
4. Christian Lundgaard
5. Dan Ticktum
6. Giuliano Alesi
7. Louis Delétraz
8. Felipe Drugovich
9. Nobuharu Matsushita
10. Roy Nissany
11. Mick Schumacher
12. Jehan Daruvala
13. Pedro Piquet
14. Nikita Mazepin
15. Jack Aitken
16. Guilherme Samaia
17. Guanyu Zhou
18. Yuki Tsunoda
19. DNF Artem Markelov
20. DNF Sean Gelael
21. DNF Marino Sato
22. DNS Luca Ghiotto

Sprint Race

The sprint race grid is:
1. Felipe Drugovich
2. Louis Delétraz
3. Giuliano Alesi
4. Dan Ticktum
5. Christian Lundgaard
6. Robert Shwartzman
7. Marcus Armstrong
8. Callum Ilott
9. Nobuharu Matsushita
10. Roy Nissany
11. Mick Schumacher
12. Jehan Daruvala
13. Pedro Piquet
14. Nikita Mazepin
15. Jack Aitken
16. Guilherme Samaia
17. Guanyu Zhou
18. Yuki Tsunoda
19. Artem Markelov
20. Sean Gelael
21. Marino Sato
22. Luca Ghiotto

Drugovich, starting on pole, had a clean getaway from the grid, with Delétraz trailing behind. With the HWA of Alesi and DAMS of Ticktum starting on the same row, it was no surprise that going through the first few corners, they were battling it wheel to wheel. Armstrong, who started 7th on the grid, had an amazing start, stayed a little behind the two fighting cars infront. Into turn 3, Armstrong, Alesi and Ticktum were all side by side. With Armstrong’s late lunge, he emerges out on top, whilst Ticktum backed out the fight. Instead, Shwartzman was now fighting Ticktum for the position.

Giuliano Alesi, who was running in 6th, had to pull over due to an issue, potentially with the engine, causing smoke. Subsequently, the safety car was called out to retrieve the car. With the car cleared 2 laps later, the safety car was meant to come in, until Sean Gelael also retired his car on the side of the road, meaning it was redeployed for another 2 laps.

As soon as the green flags were waved, Schumacher took no time in overtaking feature race winner, Ilott. Behind, Tsunoda was flying up the field in 12th from 18th. Armstrong, in 3rd, tried an overtake on Delétraz, sending a late dive into the corner, however he was unable to slow down the car in time for the corner, losing the position back to the Swiss. This meant Ticktum was now gaining on the New Zealander.

Ghiotto, Daruvala and Zhou were fighting it around turn 4 on lap 8. Daruvala bumps into Ghiotto’s rear, sending him round into the gravel pit. Zhou had to take evasive action, running into the gravel, losing time and positions. Since Ghiotto’s car was stuck in the gravel and in a very dangerous place, the safety car was called out once more.

After 3 laps around the Red Bull Ring circuit, the safety car was called in, allowing racing to resume. Markelov was following Daruvala around the track until he went wide. Not realising, Artem hit part of his front wing on the rear of the Carlin driver’s rear. Because of this, he ends up at the back of the remaining grid and had to pit. At the front, Drugovich had an excellent restart, now running 0.9 seconds ahead of second place, Delétraz. Behind the two front runners, Schumacher still was trying to overtake Matsushita after the restart, but still unable to pass, remaining in 8th position.

Disaster struck for the ART rookie of Marcus Armstrong. What was once a very successful debut weekend ended in shatters when he lost power on the hill up to turn 2 on lap 14. Because of where Armstrong rolled the car to on the way down, the safety car was once again pulled out the pitlane to bring the drivers around the track safely.

The safety car came back in on lap 16, resuming the racing. Drugovich again had to battle off the Swiss driver, but with ease, he manages to regain a gap ahead of him, maintaing the first place. Behind, Yuki Tsunoda was making a redemption from the feature race, having started 18th was now running up the order in 10th, however, he was being faced by Nissany, Piquet and Mazepin for the same position. For the feature race winner, he didn’t have the pace to fight up front and now being challenged by Aitken for 8th meant he wasn’t in the points scoring positions anymore.

Drugovich had to bring the car home with a gap of 1.2 seconds head of Louis in second place. Ticktum trailed Delétraz by 0.6 seconds, whilst also within the grasps of Shwartzman. In the final closing laps, Mazepin overtakes Nissany after many attempts, whilst Aitken makes the move on Ilott, earning the final points position.

Despite being a rookie, Drugovich showed his capabilities and level headedness when it came to leading the race.

The sprint race results are:
1. Felipe Drugovich
2. Louis Delétraz
3. Dan Ticktum
4. Robert Shwartzman
5. Christian Lundgaard
6. Nobuharu Matsushita
7. Mick Schumacher
8. Jack Aitken
9. Callum Ilott
10. Nikita Mazepin
11. Yuki Tsunoda
12. Roy Nissany
13. Pedro Piquet
14. Guanyu Zhou
15. Guilherme Samaia
16. Jehan Daruvala
17. Marino Sato
18. Artem Markelov
19. DNF Marcus Armstrong
20. DNF Luca Ghiotto
21. DNF Sean Gelael
22. DNF Giuliano Alesi

We’ll be back once more next week (10-12 July) for another round of Red Bull Ring. The team will be following the same schedule for the posts:
Friday – Predictions
Monday – Race Summaries
Wednesday – Race Opinions