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 Grid. Part 3 covers ART Grand Prix,
If you are new to Formula 2, do check out this article to learn more about it!
An Introduction to Motorsport: Formula 2.
ART Grand Prix
ART Grand Prix was created in 2005 as a collaboration between Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal of the ASM Formula 3 Team, and Nicolas Todt, the son of the then Ferrari team principal and current Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) President Jean Todt.
ART Grand Prix has enjoyed immense success, and can be considered one of the most successful GP2/Formula 2 teams. The team has never finished lower than 5th in the GP2 Series/Formula 2 team standings, and has won a total of 4 GP2/Formula 2 Team Championships. ART Grand Prix drivers have also won 6 Formula 2 Drivers’ Championships.
#5: Marcus Armstrong
Nationality: New Zealander
Year in Formula 2/GP2: 1st
F1 Team Affiliation: Ferrari-FDA
Prediction: P10 & Above
Marcus Armstrong comes into Formula 2 in 2020 on the back of a difficult 2019. The Kiwi started the year on a tough note, pipped to the Toyota Racing Series title by compatriot Liam Lawson at his third attempt, before struggling in FIA F3 later in the year.
Armstrong faced a year of numerous missed opportunities, with many on track scraps causing him to fall back in the closing stages of several races. These incidents cost him dearly in points, and he fell back as the season progressed, with his race wins at Spa and the Hungaroring proving insufficient to plug the points gap.
Armstrong demonstrated strong determination across the season, with his perseverance being worthy of commendation. If Armstrong can put together a strong year with clean finishes, he could easily find himself in the top 10, or possibly even in the top 5…
#6 Christian Lundgaard
Year in Formula 2/GP2: 5th
F1 Team Affiliation: None
Prediction: P8 & Above, outside title contender
A rapidly rising star
Christian Lundgaard comes into Formula 2 after a disappointing Formula 3 campaign that initially showed a lot of promise, but ultimately proved to be a disappointment. Last season Lundgaard crossed the line in the inaugural F3 race in first, only to have his first victory taken away due to a penalty, perhaps a foreshadowing of the season ahead.
Unlike the top 3 drivers, who had experience in European Formula 3, Lundgaard had joined Formula 3 from Formula Renault. Lungaard’s performance was exceptional throughout the season, and that first race should have been a hint at even more success to come later in the season, except that it never came. Lundgaard’s team, ART Grand Prix, who had historically been powerhouses in GP3 struggled throughout the year, with the team lacking consistency.
Despite this, Lundgaard made the most of the chances he had. At the Hungaroring, Lundgaard took the win from pole ahead of team-mate Max Fewtrell. Another pole position came in the hectic qualifying session at Monza, although a tangle with Lirim Zendeli saw his efforts wasted. He would score no points at Sochi, and he finished sixth in the standings. At Macau, he finished third in the qualifying race behind Juri Vips and Robert Shwartzman, and fourth in the main event, despite being a rookie.
Should Lundgaard impress this season, he could give Renault a hard time in choosing its second driver for 2021.
#3 Guanyu Zhou
Year in Formula 2/GP2: 2nd
F1 Team Affiliation: Renault – Renault Sport Academy
Season Prediction: P5 & Above, title contender
On the cusp of a Formula One seat…
The Guanyu Zhou we saw in 2019 was nothing like the Zhou we saw in 2018. After receiving a thrashing from his fellow Ferrari Driver Academy members in 2018 in the European Formula 3 Championship, Zhou departed the programme for the Renault Sport Academy. When he was announced to be at UNI-Virtuosi next to Luca Ghiotto, expectations were not high, and everyone expected Ghiotto to deliver a thrashing for Zhou.
When the season began, Zhou was defying expectations right from the outset. He was on the pace from the start, with a Fastest Lap and P10 in the Bahrain Feature Race, while delivering a fourth place in the Bahrain sprint race the next day. By the 3rd round in Barcelona he was leading the feature race on merit, scoring 3rd place at the chequered flag, and earning his maiden podium.
Subsequent podiums in the Monaco and Paul Ricard sprint races, showed Barcelona was no fluke, and he even beat his highly-rated veteran team-mate Luca Ghiotto to pole at Silverstone. A poor start meant he finished third again in that race and while he failed to win a race, or show any clear improvement over the rest of the season, he finished with a podium in the Abu Dhabi feature race to round off an excellent season.
Zhou’s impressive rookie season gives him a solid platform to build upon, but he has to prove that his amazing rookie season is no fluke, after the 3 mediocre seasons in Formula 3. Zhou is going to be a contender for the title, and should he win it, expect to see him in Formula One at Renault.
#4 Callum Ilott
Year in Formula 2/GP2: 3rd (Y1 was R6 Only)
F1 Team Affiliation: Ferrari – Ferrari Driver Academy
Season Prediction: P6 & Above, Potential title contender
Back on the road to F1
Of the 3 Ferrari Driver Academy drivers placed in Formula 2 in 2019, Mick Schumacher was the one attracting all the press attention, with many expecting him to be the lead FDA driver in the standings, but when it came to the end-of-season standings it was Ilott who led the way.
Ilott didn’t have an easy beginning to his F2 season, crashing out of qualifying for round one in Bahrain. However, by the 3rd round of the season in Barcelona, he’d qualified in the top five, and after starting on pole for the sprint race, he came home with a 3rd placed podium finish. He carried the momentum into Monaco, where topping his qualifying group, joining Nyck de Vries on the front row.
However, he failed to start due to an electrical issue, laying waste to his efforts. At Paul Ricard, he rose from the back of the field to nick the final point in the sprint race, and at his home race at Silverstone he was on sprint race pole, but tyre management troubles saw him finish in fourth, 0.656 seconds off the podium.
At Monza, he qualified on pole, but fell to 4th by the end of the race. However, he ended his first full season strongly, with a podium from ninth on the grid in the Sochi sprint race, and a pair of top-five finishes in Abu Dhabi.
For 2020, expect Ilott to be a contender for race wins and podiums, and given his strong pace, he could be a title contender…
#1 Sean Gelael
Year in Formula 2/GP2: 6th (1st season R6-7, R9-11)
F1 Team Affiliation: None
Season Prediction: 20th – 15th
How many years is too many?
2020 marks Gelael’s 6th season in Formula 2, and his 5th full season. For 2020, Gelael departs Prema for DAMS, once more carrying backing from KFC Indonesia and Indonesian oil company Pertamina. Gelael is one of the 3 drivers who will be having their 5th full season in Formula 2, and unlike Ghiotto or Matsushita, he has seen little success, with zero race victories from his 96 starts in the GP2/F2 category. In addition, Gelael has never finished higher than 15th in the standings, or scored more than 29 points in a season.
In all fairness, Gelael’s sponsorship from Pertamina and KFC Indoneisa has helped support the careers of many young drivers who suffer from a lack of funding. However, given his lack of success in the category, perhaps it is time for change, and 2020 should be Gelael’s last and final season in the category. Formula 2 is intended as the final training ground for young talents before breaking into Formula 1, and his racing record certainly indicates he is not one.
Given the much increased competitiveness of the field this season, Gelael is not expected to climb up the standings and break into the top 10.
#2 Dan Ticktum
Year in Formula 2/GP2: 2nd (1st Season was R12 only)
F1 Team Affiliation: Williams – Williams Racing Driver Academy
Prediction: P10 & above
A Second Redemption Shot
Dan Ticktum. A name that can lead to a heated debate on message boards and forums, cumulinating in an endless name calling process. Ticktum initially received a 2 year race ban in 2015, after overtaking multiple cars to deliberately collide with another driver under safety car conditions. This was later reduced to a one-year ban with the second year suspended. Red Bull signed him to its junior team in 2017, where he stayed until 2019. After a dismal start to his Super Formula season in 2019, he was dropped midway through the year.
In December 2019 however, Ticktum made 2 major announcements. He would be joining DAMS in Formula 2, and return to the F1 Paddock as a development driver for the 2020 season at Williams, joining the Williams Racing Driver Academy.
Second chances, much less third chances, are a rarity in motorsport. Following his incident with Collard, many had called for Ticktum to be banned from the sport for life, stating that his reckless actions were unacceptable in the high-risk environment of motorsport. Following his Red Bull axing, many thought Ticktum’s career was over, but he has defied expectations to secure a return to the world of F1, while securing a top Formula 2 seat. Ticktum needs to be at the top of his game throughout the season, to prove that he is deserving of this 2nd chance of redemption.