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Ahead of the resumption of the 2020 Formula 2 season, we’ve decided to start a 3 part mini-series covering the drivers & teams of the 2020 Formula 2 GridPart 1 covers MP Motorsport, Charouz Racing System, Campos Racing & Carlin Motorsport

If you are new to Formula 2, do check out this article to learn more about it!
An Introduction to Motorsport: Formula 2

MP Motorsport

MP returns to Formula 2 for the 2020 season, which marks its 7th year in the second highest tier of European Single Seater racing. Established in 1995, the team has competed in various categories across the years, with varying levels of success. As of today, MP Motorsport competes at all levels on the FIA Global Pathway, with programmes in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, FIA Formula 3 Championship, Formula Renault Eurocup (F3 Regional), and the Spanish F4 Championship.

Their Spanish F4 and Formula Renault Eurocup programmes have seen massive amounts of success, with the team scoring a hat-trick of Championships from 2016-2018 in Spanish F4. However, the Formula 2/GP2 side of the operation has yet to see the same level of success, with the team being consistently rooted to the lower half of the team standings since their debut in the 2013 GP2 Series. 2019 saw MP achieve its best finish in the teams’ championship in 6th, with the team running the experienced Jordan King and rookie sensation, Maheever Ragunathan for majority of the season.

For 2020, MP Motorsport will continue to run a lineup of with an experienced driver paired with a rookie. The team should seek to build or maintain the level of performance displayed in the team from 2019, to maintain 6th place, or move up the grid to earn its first top 5 finish.

#14: Nobuharu Matsushita

Nationality: Japanese
Year in Formula 2/GP2: 5th
F1 Team Affiliation: None, Honda Affiliated driver, but not Red Bull
Prediction: P8 & Below

Has 4 years in F2/GP2 been 4 years too many?

Nobuharu Matsushita comes into the 2020 Formula 2 Championship, aged 26, with 4 full seasons of experience under his belt. In his 4 seasons in Formula 2/GP2, Matsushita has failed to finish higher than 6th in the championship standings despite driving for top teams, namely ART Grand Prix and Carlin.

Matsushita has always suffered from inconsistency across the season, which has led to him being unable to contend for the title, despite showing flashes of speed at times. 2020 marks the first time that Matsushita is driving for a non-frontrunning squad in F2, in the form of MP Motorsport, a team that has not had an impressive track record in F2. Given his inability to successfully vy for the title even when driving for a top team, it would be a miracle to see him finish in the championship any higher than 8th.

Will this be the final season for Nobuharu Matsushita in F2? We certainly think and hope so, given that Matsushita is unlikely to move into Formula 1 at all.

#15: Felipe Drugovich

Nationality: Brazilian
Year in Formula 2/GP2: 1st
F1 Team Affiliation: None
Prediction: P15-P10

A premature move? Or is it a clever strategic decision?

Felip Drugovich comes into the 2020 Formula 2 Championship, as a rookie with a mountain to climb. Looking back at his junior single seater record, Drugovich has a shining CV, with the 2017-18 MRF Challenge Formula 2000, Euroformula Open Championship and Spanish Formula 3 Championship titles. However, it ends with one glaring fault: His 2019 Formula 3 Campaign.

Drugovich’s disastrous 2019 Formula 3 Championship campaign was a shocker for many observers, with the Brazilian finishing 16th and scoring a mere 8 points across the entire season, earned from a single race. On the surface, it looked like a disaster for the Brazilian’s career, showing he was not ready for Formula 2 either. However, Drugovich may take pride in the fact that he outscored his Carlin teammates in what was a torrid season for the Carlin Motorsport team, who finished 9th in the championship with a measly 14 points.

In an interview with the official Formula 2 website, Drugovich said that the introduction of new tyres would equalise the field for teams and drivers, making it an excellent opportunity for him to learn and prepare for a title assault in future seasons. Drugovich certainly has a point here, but a premature leap to F2, given the pace gap between F2 and F3 could lead to later problems in his career, or worse, leave an even bigger stain on his racing record.

Charouz Racing System

Charouz returns to Formula 2 for the 2020 season, its 3rd year in the second highest tier of European Single Seater racing. Following the end of it’s partnership with Sauber Motorsport, the team will revert to its original name in 2020. Established in 1985, the team has completed in Junior Seater Racing and Sports Car Racing, with the team enjoying success in both disciplines.

Charouz joined Formula 2 in 2018, following the collapse of the Formula V8 3.5 World Series, previously known as the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, where the team enjoyed success in its twilight years. Charouz has shown to be a solid midfield team over the past 2 years, and for 2020, it should look to move up the grid with the returning Deletraz bringing a wealth of experience in the category alongside, rookie Pedro Piquet.

#11 Louis Delétraz

Nationality: Swiss
Year in Formula 2/GP2: 4th
F1 Team Affiliation: Haas F1 Team
Season Prediction: P8 & Above

Louis Delétraz is the son of Jean-Denis Delétraz, a 3 time Formula One race starter. During his time in F1, Delétraz Sr. became known as a pay driver, driving for backmarker teams Larousse and Pacific. Delétraz Sr’s career ended after he defaulted on payments to Pacific. Keith Wiggins, principal of the Pacific team famously stated, “On ability alone, we are not willing to keep him.”

Fortunately, Louis Delétraz’s career has had a much better reputation, with his racing record prior to F2 clearly displaying his talent. He was also formerly a Renault protege before being dropped after 2016. However, in F2, Delétraz has struggled to impress, with his first season in 2017 netting a mere 16 points, while his second season, where he joined Charouz saw him in 10th, with 74 points. For 2019, he switched to the front-running Carlin squad, where he suffered from a lack of consistency, coming in 8th with 92 points.

Given that Charouz is considered to be a midfield team, alongside a much more competitive field, it unlikely that Delétraz will climb the championship standings this season. Retaining 8th place would be a good target for him.

#12 Pedro Piquet

Nationality: Brazilian
Year in Formula 2/GP2: 1st
F1 Team Affiliation: None
Season Prediction: P18-P10, with a few points scoring finishes

For the first time in over a decade, the Piquet name returns to Formula 2/GP2. The last time this name appeared, in GP2, it was the name of a team, set up by a father, for his talented son, a young driver by the name of Nelsinho. In 2020, it returns in the form of a young driver, following in the footsteps of his father, and elder brother.

Pedro Piquet comes into Formula 2 with a decent racing record, showing flashes of speed, but blighted by inconsistency. Prior to 2018, it was easy to dismiss Pedro Piquet as a Formula 1 hopeful, given his poor European Formula 3 record, but this changed in 2018, when he drove for Trident in GP3. In his debut season in the category before it’s rebranding, he demonstrated strong race pace on several weekends, coming home 6th in the drivers’ standings. 2019 saw him build upon his 2018 progress, finishing 2nd of the non-Prema drivers, who would sweep the championship that year.

For 2020, Pedro Piquet looks to continue with this trend, with the young Brazilian turning in quick times during testing. Given the level of competitiveness in this years’ F2 field, a top 10 finish would be hard, but not impossible for him.

Campos Racing

Campos Racing returns to Formula 2 in 2020, in what will be the team’s 11th campaign in the second tier of European Single Seater Racing. Their 2020 returns comes off the back of a largely successful 2019 campaign with Jack Aitken, which saw the British-Korean driver challenge for the title during the season, ultimately finishing 5th.

Aitken’s success also led to the team enjoying its highest finish in the teams’ championship since 2015, with the team coming in 5th overall. This was despite having a revolving door of drivers in the second car, which scored a mere 30 points out of the 189 achieved by the team. Dorian Boccolacci, who competed in 10 races, scored all 30 points.

Aitken is retained for 2020 and will be hoping to secure the title in his 3rd year of Formula 2. Aitken will be paired with a relatively unknown rookie, Guilherme Samaia, who enjoyed success in his native Brazil, but has had less success in Europe. Due to the increased relative competitiveness of the grid in 2020, it is unlikely that Campos could climb up the grid, and it should look to maintain 5th place in the Teams’ Standings.

#10 Jack Aitken

Nationality: South Korean/British
Year in Formula 2/GP2: 3rd
F1 Team Affiliation: Williams -Williams Racing Driver Academy
Season Prediction: P3 & Above

A Driver on the Verge of a breakthrough…

The Jack Aitken we saw in 2019 was a different driver from the Jack Aitken we saw in 2018. After receiving a thrashing from his ART Grand Prix teammate and eventual champion, George Russell, few had high expectations for Aitken. Aitken’s move from leading team ART to mid-field team Campos did nothing to raise any expectations for him during the pre-season.

When the season began, however, it was clear things were different. Despite qualifying being a weakness, Aitken showed strong race pace, which allowed him to score 3 wins over the season, a feat that his predecessor, the highly-rated Luca Ghiotto was unable to do. For 2020, Aitken has his eyes set on the title and will deliver if Campos continues this upward form.

#11 Guilherme Samaia

Nationality: Brazil
Year in Formula 2/GP2: 1st
F1 Team Affiliation: None
Prediction: P22 – P18

A Wildcard

Guilherme Samaia’s racing record shows a driver who enjoyed much success in Brazil, but has struggled in Europe. Expectations are low for this rookie, who was dealt a thrashing by his fellow RP Motorsport teammate and F2 rookie Felipe Drugovich in the 2018 Euroformula Open Championship.

Carlin Motorsport

Carlin Motorsport returns to Formula 2 in 2020, in what will be the team’s 8th campaign in the second tier of European Single Seater Racing. Established in 1996, the team has run in various championships with varying degrees of success. As of today, Carlin Motorsport competes at all levels on the FIA Global Pathway, with programmes in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, FIA Formula 3 Championship, BRDC British Formula 3 (F3 Regional), and the British F4 Championship.

For 2020, Carlin is running a fresh lineup, with 2 Red Bull juniors, Yuki Tsunoda and Jehan Daruvala. Both drivers are rookies who are moving to Formula 2 after success in Formula 3. Due to the increased relative competitiveness of the grid in 2020, alongside the rookie drivers it will be running, it appears likely that the team will not be challenging for the title, and will instead be seeking to maintain it’s 4th placed finish.

#7 Yuki Tsunoda

Nationality: Japanese
Year in Formula 2/GP2: 1st
F1 Team Affiliation: Red Bull – Red Bull Junior Team, Honda – Honda Formula Dream Project
Season Prediction: P10 & Above

Japan’s latest F1 Hopeful

Yuki Tsunoda comes into Formula 2, after a single season of European Single Seater racing in the FIA Formula 3 Championship with Jenzer Motorsport. Tsunoda is hoping to become the first Honda junior to reach Formula One, a target that his predecessors Nirei Fukuzumi, Tadasuke Makino and Nobuharu Matsushita failed to achieve.

Tsunoda comes with a glittering racing record in Japan, alongside a shining year in Formula 3. Despite finishing 9th overall, Tsunoda was the only Jenzer Motorsport driver to score points, and the 67 points were sufficient to give Jenzer 7th in the Championship.

Expect Tsunoda to perform well over the course of the season, and he is likely to deliver a top 10 finish in the championship standings.

#8 Jehan Daruvala

Nationality: Indian
Year in Formula 2/GP2: 1st
F1 Team Affiliation: Red Bull – Red Bull Junior Team
Prediction: P10 & Above

India’s latest F1 Hopeful

Jehan Daruvala enters Formula 2, following a successful campaign with Prema in Formula 3, where he challenged his teammates for the title throughout the season. It was this performance he displayed on track that led to him being signed by the Red Bull Junior Team.

Last year, Daruvala lacked consistency at times, which ultimately cost him the title, and saw pipped to second place by Marcus Armstrong. It will be difficult, but not impossible for Daruvala to challenge for the title in his rookie year, and he is expected to beat his teammate Tsunoda, owing to his greater experience. A top 10 finish in the championship standings is to be expected.

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