Lets Talk About The Formula 2 Bahrain Grand Prix 2021

Post race, Jess and I sat down to look back on the key features of the first Formula 2 Feature and dual Sprint Races of 2021. Together; we discussed the downfall of our predictions, our race highlights and summarised the race as a whole.

Race Weekend Predictions

Samaia surprised me more than I could have imagined

Alice

I feel like the best way to approach my predictions is to address the first driver I mentioned: Dan Ticktum. I felt that ahead of the weekend, Ticktum had a great shot at getting some good points but the universe had other ideas. He fell very unlucky during his Saturday but was able to regain some points during the Sunday feature race. He managed to take a singular point across the sprint races before pulling it back and finishing second in the feature race, placing him in fifth in the drivers championship. Although he didn’t take home his first win during the feature race as I predicted, he was very close and took it to the finish line. I also had a lot of faith in Shwartzman and Drugovich to take race wins this weekend but neither managed to pull though. Drugovich and Shwartzman both had three incredible races yet fell unlucky time and time again with both drivers managing to take a few points between them. Armstrong was another name I mentioned that I could see doing well and at times, he was pushing for good points but, like the others, things happened which caused his weekend to fall short. With all of that being said, I did predict that Zhou would land himself on pole which he did.

Regarding surprise drivers, I feel I really hit the nail on the head. Starting with Samaia, his performance this week shocked me. I’ve always had high hopes for him and after last season and being aware that his second season might not really show the talent he really is, I was nervous as we approached the weekend. However, this weekend, Samaia surprised me more than I could have imagined. I was expecting him to do better than last season, fighting for 15th to 17th but after managing to just miss out on the points twice, I was really shocked by the difference from 2020. I always knew he was a good driver and it was nice to see how well he’s grown being in a different environment. In regards to Vips, he has the weekend from Hell. His driving ability surprised me this weekend and how he pushed every lap to be better than the last but the odds and the FIA were against him this weekend. Hopefully he has better luck next time.

With teams, I was close but still slightly off. I believed Virtuosi would be the team to come out on top but they missed out by four points. It was Carlin, who I predicted would give Virtuosi a good fight, to come out on top. Prema sit at third in the standings so the three teams I predicted to be battling it out were predicted correctly.

Zendeli was very unfortunate for all three races

Jess

Unfortunately, my prediction for Marcus to start pole position was rather a bold feat, because in fact, the Kiwi only really managed 13th. Regardless, he didn’t disappoint in the feature race, taking 5th after an unfortunate start to the weekend where he retired due to mechanical issues, therefore hampering his second race. Moving on, I mentioned Zhou, Drugovich, Shwartzman, Piastri and Ticktum. Zhou and Drugovich had an incredible start, almost setting a 1-2 in the qualifying session if it wasn’t for Lundgaard. Zhou kept his pace throughout the weekend, earning three points finishes and also taking his first feature race win. Drugovich, though not as successful as his teammate, did manage to take home a 9th, due to gaining a penalty for safety car infringements. I found the Prema drivers to have very opposite weekends. Shwartzman had a good first sprint race, before locking up in the second to end it, then following a 7th. Piastri, meanwhile was very much on to taking three top 5 finishes, if it wasn’t for a collision towards the final stages of the feature race. He’s managed to keep his momentum going from Formula 3, and I’m definitely very excited to see what he has in store for the rest of the season. Ticktum was oddly the same, earning 8th, following a retirement into the first corner, and then a 2nd. He definitely would of been going towards a top 10 finish for all the races this weekend, but fate decided not. However, I’m happy for the progress he’s making this year, especially as there is a lot of stigma over him.

Out of my surprise drivers, I’d definitely say Verschoor surprised me the most. He hasn’t been given a full contract this year, but the fact that he almost got a podium in his first weekend in Formula 2 was enough to hope that he is given a full-time seat this year. Vips was just the unlucky driver that he was, never being able to take a point like last year when he filled in for Gelael. Zendeli was very unfortunate for all three races, especially in the second sprint race, where Lundgaard hit the rear, causing a puncture and later retiring. I hope he does get the full-time seat, similar to Verschoor, because they could definitely be an unstoppable team in the future.

When I was typing out my predictions, I was expecting a fight between UNI Virtuosi and Prema, but in fact, Carlin have managed to sit themselves on the top step, because I wasn’t entirely expecting either of their drivers to get on the podium twice this weekend. However, Virtuosi hasn’t lagged behind, as they are only 4 points away from them, keeping a 6 point lead to Prema.

Audience

As we looked at how the audience predicted the weekend, we turned to view the pole position first. The top place for pole was split equally between Drugovich and Zhou but it was Zhou who finished on top with 28.6% predicting correctly. From there, we went on to look at the first sprint race. Shwartzman was the most popular choice for the winner of the first race with 28.6% but nobody predicted that the Kiwi rookie in Liam Lawson would finish on top. Runner up saw Jehan Daruvala take to the podium which 14.3% of the audience predicted correctly. Our second rookie in David Beckmann went on to finish third which nobody predicted. 14.3% went on to predict that Zendeli would put out the fastest lap for the first sprint race and they predicted correctly.

For the second sprint race, Zhou was the popular candidate to win the race but it was Australian rookie of Oscar Piastri who went on to take to the podium which nobody predicted. With the runner up, 28.6% predicted that Lundgaard would take second which they predicted correctly. Third place was awarded to Zhou which 14.3% predicted correctly. The fastest lap for the race was then awarded to Ralph Boschung which nobody predicted.

Runner up saw Ticktum’s name no where in sight

For the feature race, 57.1% predicted that Ticktum would take the race win but it was actually the 14.3% who predicted Zhou that were correct. Runner up saw Ticktum’s name no where in sight after how highly he was predicted for the race win which was a shame as Ticktum finished in second. Third place on the podium was won by Liam Lawson after his retirement Saturday afternoon which nobody predicted. Robert Shwartzman went on to put in the fastest lap that Sunday which 28.6% of the people predicted.

With regards to most surprising driver, Drugovich was the most popular with his weekend being the biggest surprise out of them all. Drugovich, at times, was on for one of his best weekends to date and each time, he found a new misfortune. His pace in qualifying and his racing ability didn’t fall as a surprise for me as he’s known as being a very strong driver. We also saw Vips, Piastri, Beckmann, Zendeli and Pourchaire’s names mentioned. Vips had a very unlucky weekend but his driving was there. The most that fell as a surprise for the Estonian was the distaste that fell from the FIA towards him. Piastri and Beckmann both surprised me this weekend. I was expecting some good midfield battles between the pair but to witness them both on their first F2 podiums really came as a shock. Zendeli and Pourchaire surprised me as well with how well they coped under the pressure of the new series however, sadly, a few faults found neither drivers able to compete as much as they’d have liked.

To finalise, we looked at the teams. 57.1% predicted Prema to fall on top with UNI taking 28.6% and Carlin with 14.3% but it was actually the complete opposite. Carlin found themselves to be the team on top after the weekend with two podiums, one retirement and three point finishes. Virtuosi were only four points behind with two podiums, two point finishes and two finishes outside of the points. Prema closed into third, ten points behind Carlin, with one race win, three point finishes, one retirement and one finish outside of the points.

Ticktum’s Redemption Day

We went on to summarise each race in three words, my feature review being Ticktum’s Redemption Day. After his dreadful weekend which was filled with mistakes and misfortunes, it was good to see him finish the weekend on a high. After the collision with Piastri, I was almost certain he wouldn’t be able to redeem himself but he pushed to the point where he was able to fight Zhou for the race win.

Jess’ three words were Lawson is Impressive. Similar to what she said about the first sprint race, she would never have expected Lawson to have had an incredible weekend, where he took two podiums. If it wasn’t for a retirement in the second race, she is sure that he would of have taken a lot of points this weekend, maybe even the potential for a triple podium.

Lawson is Impressive

The audiences three words were all around that final lap. It was intense, nobody knowing how the race would end. With the safety car leaving one final lap to place the drivers in their final place, Piastri colliding with Ticktum and Zhou defending to his last second, you really couldn’t predict where the drivers would end up.

Looking at the first sprint race, my three words were The Unpredictable Rookies. Sprint race one was the first race of the season and it saw two rookies make their way to the podium with another trailing close behind. We saw our first race winner as rookie Liam Lawson who had an incredible battle across the entire race to take his first Formula 2 win. Third place saw David Beckmann while Piastri finished in fifth.

Jess’ three words were Rookies On Top. If it wasn’t for Theo Pourchaire losing power in his car, for sure, the podium would of been Lawson, Theo and Beckmann, which would of been a podium Jess would never have forgotten. Formula 2 is known for their unpredictability, but expecting 3 rookies potentially taking the podium was definitely something she would never have thought of guessing.

The audiences three words were very similar to Jess and I’s with the topic of conversation being around the rookies dominating race. We also saw somebody go on to speak about how the race was chaotic, brilliant and heart breaking which is probably the best way to describe the weekend as a whole. So much happened from start to finish that it’s just difficult to comprehend what happened and what didn’t.

I am confused

As we went on to look at the second sprint race, my three words were I am Confused. After a very interesting race filled with lots of hard racing and hundreds of fighting opportunities down to the last turn, we were met with a very confusing finale. We saw Piastri win the race, becoming the second F2 race winner of 2021 and the second rookie to go on to win this season, but he was joined by Zhou and Daruvala when in reality, it was Lundgaard who should have standing second on the podium. Not only were we confused but the drivers were also confused, all because Lundgaard’s pit stop was completely forgotten.

Jess then went on to say for her three words that Vips’ Luck’s Gone. Jess was saying that it was an interesting full-season debut for Vips, where we all had high hopes for him to impress and yet, there was no point taken from the entire weekend. She wishes that Vips can go on from this weekend and take some points, or podiums if it allows, in the following weekends, as he definitely deserves to be there.

For the audiences second sprint race three word review, we saw one person go on to say ‘Stewards Not Smart’. This relates back my statement of the confusion we experienced. Due to the stewards making a mistake with Lundgaard taking his penalty in the pits, it meant that he missed out on celebrating his podium in true Formula 2 fashion.

He had been on the pace all weekend

Regarding highlights, my highlight this weekend was how unpredictable everything was as a whole. Cars and drivers we deemed to be reliable had failure after failure while drivers that we believed would have a struggle in the beginning were standing upon podium after podium. Nobody would have predicted that the top six would consist of three rookies, let alone seeing Shwartzman and Drugovich barely hanging on. It was an interesting race weekend and really leaves the rest of the season up in the air for predictability.

Jess would say her highlight is not really down to each race, but rather as a whole weekend, which is about Zhou’s races. He started the season in pole position. After earning a 7th, he started the race 4th and did not disappoint, bringing home a 3rd for the Norfolk-based team. The progress never really ended as he went into the final race of the weekend, starting in first and then finishing first after a tussle with Verschoor, all race long. She was very happy to see that Zhou finally got his first feature race win, as he had been on pace all weekend and definitely deserved it.

The audiences highlights for the race weekend revolved a lot around the final laps of each race. Looking back at this, I can completely understand. Two moments that really stood out for me was the fight with Lundgaard during the second sprint race and the battle between Zhou and Ticktum for the race win during the feature race. We also saw somebody talk about Pourchaire’s opportunity to fight for a race win after starting from pole during sprint race one, although, that opportunity was lost once the car found faults. We saw another say that Piastri’s sprint race two win was there highlight while someone else went on to say that the Ticktum podium was their feature race highlight.

The fight with Lundgaard

Conclusion

This weekend was an interesting start to the season which saw three race winners and a further four podium finishers, leaving the field completely open for the rest of the season. Will Zhou be able to hold out on top? Will Carlin continue their streak and take their first teams championship in three years?

We will catch you at the end of April for the beginning of the FIA Formula 3 season.