After a long and cold winter break, we finally head to Bahrain for the first three races of the season. With the field completely open and anybody’s game for the championship, we’ll be given our first proper opportunity to see how the field could pan out for the forthcoming weekends. The weekend starts with qualifying on the 26th March, the first and second Sprint Race’s on the 27th March and the Feature Race on the 28th March. If you’re looking to keep up to date with all of the racing this weekend, your schedule is as followed: Friday will see a 45 minute Practice at 1:05pm and Qualifying at 4:30pm, Saturday will see the first Sprint Race at 1:25pm while the second Sprint Race at 7:40pm and Sunday will see the Feature Race at 1:50pm. All times are Local Time/GMT +3.
Like every weekend, we sat down and discussed our predictions of the weekend ahead, whilst also discussing what you thought as well.
That could be insanely optimistic
The new layout of Formula 2 has definitely thrown some confusion into the works. It’s going to be interesting to see how the drivers use these changes to benefit them. With the sprint race giving out points to the top eight but seeing a reverse grid for the second of the two, based off of the results of the first, will drivers be willing to risk a point or two to place themselves at the front of the grid for the race later that day?
With that being said, I can see Ticktum doing well across all of the races this weekend and taking home his first win. If I’m completely honest, I can see his first race win coming on the Sunday with the feature race. I can also see the likes of Shwartzman and Drugovich taking race wins and podiums this weekend. There’s also a good chance that Armstrong will be fighting for a place on the podium with the power of the DAMS machinery behind him. However, I can see it potentially being Zhou claiming pole position in the qualifying session. The UNI is a very talented car and Zhou is an extraordinary driver. Ilott took the crown as the driver with the most poles last season and I can Zhou filling in his boots ahead of this season.
For my surprise drivers, I can see Samaia and Vips bringing something different to the table. Samaia had a rough first year in Formula 2 with a team that wasn’t a 100% there and constantly fell to the back and I believe he’s going to surprise us all and be battling futher up the midfield. That could be insanely optimistic but I have a gut feeling that we’re going to see much more of the Brazilian this year. Vips is a driver who I’ve always believed to be a talent with a great potential of moving to Formula 1 in the future. He’ll be joining Lawson at Hitech this season and after the teams successful first year in Formula 2, it’ll be interesting to see how the season plays out.
As I look at teams, my heart has to stick with UNI-Virtuosi for the team I believe could take the most points this weekend. The team has a strong line up with a great team and a good car behind them with a strong potential at pushing for their first constructor win. I would also like to make a mention towards Prema and Carlin. Both are two powerful teams who will be pushing for a lot of points this weekend. These three teams have some serious competition and it’s really going to make the season that little bit more interesting.
With a new format for Formula 2, it will be some getting used to. However, this means another set of predictions to attempt for the weekend. On top of that, there are a lot of new drivers coming up from Formula 3, along with familiar and old faces. As always, I will start with qualifying. There is no real logic behind my answer, but I’m oddly hoping for Armstrong. A new surrounding and a new environment provides a fresh start after a somewhat disappointing season will definitely help the Kiwi for his season ahead. In terms of my podiums, I’m hoping to see any of the following: Zhou, Drugovich, Shwartzman, Piastri, Armstrong and Ticktum.
As my surprise drivers, I’d like to see Zendeli, Verschoor, Petecof and Vips. Each had their own range of successes last year, ranging from strong results to titles, so I’m hoping they can bring their talent to the Formula 2 machinery to achieve some good results for their first weekend of the season. This especially applies to Vips, who had an incredible run, whilst he repplaced Gelael in DAMS last year.
I’m trying it again for the second year in a row, where I try and predict Virtuosi to take the championship every weekend! But in all seriousness, I would love it for them to take the lead for the championship and starting off the season strong, as they well and truly deserved it last year. I’m expecting Prema to be there, but also I’d like Carlin to challenge for the points. They have an incredible line up of Ticktum and Daruvala, so I hope they achieve well this weekend.
I’m oddly hoping for Armstrong
We sat down and asked the audience what they believed would come of the Formula 2 Bahrain Grand Prix. To start, we asked who everybody could see finishing on pole with the UNI-Virtuosi drivers being the drivers on top. Both Drugovich and Zhou took 28.6% of the votes while the remainder was split equally between Daruvala, Lundgaard and Shwartzman with 14.3% each. This year, the grid will work slightly differently. The qualifying on Friday will determine Sunday’s Feature Race with pole position starting at the front of the grid, followed by the runner up and so forth. The point system will work with P1 getting 25 points down to P10 receiving 1 point. This qualifying session will also determine Sprint Race one with the driver qualifying in P10 being placed into pole position for the race. The reverse grid comes into play here. The reverse grid also comes in to play during the second Sprint Race with the results from Sprint Race one placing P10 onto pole position for race two. However, for the sprint races, only P1 to P8 receive points. Still confused? So are we.
With this being said and taking into regards that Sprint Race one is based off of a qualifying reverse grid, people believed that Shwartzman would go forward to win the first of the two races on the Saturday with 28.6% agreeing while Zhou, Drugovich, Ticktum, Vips and Petecof each took 14.3%. For runner up, we saw a similar divide with Drugovich taking 28.6% while Ticktum, Daruvala, Pourchaire, Shwartzman and Piastri each took 14.3%. The vote for third laid weighted between two drivers with Ticktum and Shwartzman each taking 28.6% while Zendeli, Zhou and Piastri each took 14.3%. Looking at the fastest lap, we saw Drugovich as the driver on top with 28.6% while Zhou, Piastri, Shwartzman, Zendeli and Lundgaard each took 14.3%.
As we move into Sprint Race two, which is determined via a Sprint Race One reverse grid, we found that people believe Zhou would land himself in first with 28.6% agreeing. From there, the remaining 71.4% was divided into five and split between Ticktum, Lawson, Lundgaard, Petecof and Shwartzman. For runner up, we saw a similar line up with Lundgaard taking 28.6% while Shwartzman, Zhou, Ticktum, Daruvala and Vips took 14.3% each. Third found a larger bias with Drugovich taking 42.9% of the votes, Ticktum holding 28.6% and Zendeli and Lundgaard taking 14.3% each. Shwartzman was on top when it came to the fastest lap with 42.9% while Drugovich, Ticktum, Lundgaard and Armstrong each took 14.3%.
From there, we moved into Sunday’s race. The grid for the Feature Race is determined by how the drivers place during Friday’s qualifying. The results fell very different here with Ticktum taking 57.1% of the votes. He was followed by Prema’s Shwartzman with 23.6% while Zhou finished it off with 14.3%. Runner up saw the return of previous drivers with Drugovich taking 28.6% and Vips, Armstrong, Shwartzman, Piastri and Zhou each taking 14.3%. For the third and final spot on the podium, Piastri was the most popular with 28.6%. The remainder was split between Daruvala, Lundgaard, Beckmann, Armstrong and Shwartzman. As we then looked at the fastest lap, Ticktum was on top with 42.9% followed by Armstrong and Shwartzman with 28.6% each.
With most surprising driver, we saw Drugovich as the most popular answer with 28.6% while Vips, Piastri, Beckmann, Zendeli and Pourchaire each took 14.3%. I’m not shocked to see that the surprising drivers are mainly built up of rookies. It’ll be interesting to see how these drivers perform throughout the season and weekend one will always be full of mystery. For the teams, we saw people believe that Prema will take the most points with 57.1% of the votes, followed by UNI with 28.6% and Carlin with 14.3%.
Overall, it’s going to be a very, very interesting weekend and a great start to the season. It’ll be good to finally see the cars back out on track and always remember, the first race of the season will never determine how we watch it end.
And that’s it for this weeks posts. We will be returning Monday with our race summaries but until then, enjoy your race weekend.