Formula 2’s Rising Stars

As the summer break reaches its end we begin the second half of the Formula 2 season and its all to play for with the championship still wide open. There are 3 leading contenders who all have a little bit more than just the championship at stake; they all have a chance at racing in F1 next year. We will take a look at the top three and assess their chances for the title and racing in F1 next year.

P1: George Russell 

@F2 2A Mercedes junior driver and leader of the championship, but its not been plain sailing for the young Brit. Many drivers have struggled with F2’s new clutch system and stalling was a common occurrence on the grid but ART seemed to struggle the most with both cars stalling in Bahrain throwing away valuable points. George’s starts as a result suffered and he often lost places at the start until the issues were resolved. Back to back wins in the Baku sprint race and Barcelona feature race put George back into play. A poor weekend full of errors in Monaco saw George walk away from the event pointless and slip further back in the title hunt, it wasn’t until France that we saw the level of consistency that helped him win him the GP3 title. Three poles, two wins and five podiums since then has seen him build a points tally of 171 in the championship and 12 points clear of his nearest rival.

With silly season in full season George has been linked with both Force India and Williams, it’s clear Mercedes are keen on finding him a race seat but a lot of doors are closing and George may run out of time to get an F1 seat for 2019. It’s more likely that he will find himself in a reserve role for 2019 with FP1 outings building him up to a race seat in 2020.

P2: Lando Norris

@F2 3

After pre-season testing Lando Norris looked to be the odds on favourite for the title and he confirmed those beliefs by winning the first race of the season but he hasn’t really shown that level of speed since.

Lando has only scored five podiums since the the opening weekend and appears to be lacking the outright speed that Russell and Albon have shown. He does however sit P2 in the championship and that’s thanks to his consistency, he is the only driver on the grid to have finished every race and has scored points in all of them except two. If Lando wants to win the title he will need to start improving in qualifying, he often finds himself having to make up too many places in the race whereas his contenders lead from pole and pull away from the field. There is no doubt that Lando has the speed, he just needs everything hooked up and he can start winning again. 

There is a lot of speculation about McLaren’s second F1 seat and Lando has a good shot of getting it, he has the chance to prove himself in FP1 at Spa but must make sure it doesn’t interfere with his race weekend; Charles Leclerc had stated that having FP1 outings during his GP3 campaign hurt his preparation and he ensured that he didn’t make the same mistake when challenging for the F2 title. If Lando can at least fight for the title up until the final race then he has a good shot of earning the second McLaren drive.

P3: Alexander Albon

@F2 2

Currently in his second season in F2, Alex finds himself P3 in a season where his future looked uncertain with his contract with DAMS being on a “race by race” basis. Three pole positions in a row however has cemented himself of the grid and people really started to notice the Thai driver. 

Alex’s weakness however has been on race day, he has only managed to convert one pole into a race win and only has four podiums to his name which does include 3 race wins. Where Lando has been very consistent; Alex has been very inconsistent, he has retired from three races and has only finished in the top four twice since Monaco. Alex’s speed is without question but race craft seems to be where the issue’s are, if he can continue scoring pole positions and manage his tyres well during the races Alex has an outside chance at the title. 

Alex was once a Red Bull Junior but was dropped by the programme when they thought to see no potential with him. He does now however have an outside chance at a seat in Toro Rosso as they now have a driver conundrum on their hands. “I need to do better if I want to have a seat with Toro Rosso next year, I think it’s the only place I have [an opportunity] to drive with a team in F1. Dr Marko isn’t my biggest fan and I need to impress him more to have a chance” Alex Albon said in an interview. If he can deliver some more consistent results it wouldn’t be impossible to return to the Red Bull stable much like Brendon Hartley did last season.

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