How is F2 2020 Title Race Shaping Up?

(Image credit: FIA Formula 2)

Formula Two kicks off its two-part finale in Bahrain this weekend as we take a look at the nine drivers still in title contention and how the battle for the championship is shaping up. 

Prema’s Mick Schumacher enters this round with a 22 point lead over UNI-Virtuosi’s and fellow Ferrari junior, Callum Ilott but with a maximum of 96 points on offer across both weekends, seven other drivers will be looking to produce the mother of all shocks and grab the title at the death.

We therefore take an individual look at each of the title contenders and analyse their chances of achieving the championship crown come Sunday 6 December, starting with Schumacher who is the man that everyone is looking to beat.

 

Mick Schumacher – 191 points

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Schumacher has simply been Mr Consistent this season after a shaky start in which mistakes saw him fail to score points in two of four races at the Red Bull Ring but recovered with 14 points finishes in 15 of the last 16 races, of which ten came on the podium and is one of the biggest reasons why the young German is set for a promotion to F1 with Haas next season.

We must also mention that he has improved on his Feature Race result in the Sprint Race on four occasions and on the four podiums in which he scored Feature Race podiums, he also found himself back on the rostrum in the Sprint Race, which speaks admirable volumes about his talent as a racing driver.

On that note, Schumacher’s race starts have in particular been crucial to his form with his start in the Sochi Sprint Race being one quality example, in which he leapt from eighth to fourth by sticking to the outside line, enabling him to launch up the inside of his title rivals as they took the tighter racing line instead which could be key to the title destination.

Schumacher also mastered the challenge of tyre wear throughout majority of this season which showed in his Sochi Feature victory in which he was able to control his way to victory after Tsunoda hit tyre wear issues, whilst he also lucked in for his first win of season at Monza after Ilott encountered a technical issue in his pit stop to blow his shot at victory.

This title is therefore Schumacher’s to lose and given his performance when F2 visited Bahrain in 2019, I can’t see him blowing the title now except for technical failures given his current form, although a retirement and non finish this weekend could blow the title fight wide open heading into the final round between 4-6 December.

I however have a feeling that Schumacher will just cling on and claim the title no matter what his title rivals do across both rounds in Bahrain but if there is one lesson that we can learn from F2 is to expect the unexpected when we least expect it.

Title potential: 9/10

 

Callum Ilott -169 points

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After a solid rookie campaign last season, Ilott has been absolutely brilliant this season with more poles and race wins than any of his title rivals, yet is to miss out on a F1 seat through inconsistency in races which has left him 22 points behind Schumacher.

I however would argue that much of his inconsistency has been down to a combination of poor stewarding and idiotic driving from other drivers, especially Tsunoda who spun out after a silly move on Ilott in the British sprint backfired yet it was the Brit hit with a time penalty before Tsunoda then shunted him out of the Belgian sprint race.

Ilott however hasn’t helped himself on occasions though with an amateur race ending spin at Club in that British sprint race on top of tyre warming issues in races like Spain when he lost the win through an ill-timed safety car plus a technical issue during his pit stop in Monza Feature, costing him at least 31 vital points which would of put him nine points ahead of Schumacher instead of 22 points behind his title rival.

This weekend though is going to be crucial because if Ilott can collect pole, four points for fastest laps and finish both races ahead of Schumacher, we could well have a grandstand finish to this season otherwise it could be a case of prolonging his title dreams as long as he can.

Title potential: 9/10

 

Yuki Tsunoda – 147 points

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Honda junior, Tsunoda has adapted brilliantly to F2 in his rookie campaign to consistently challenge at the front, although it is worth noting that both of his wins came through errors from title rivals – Schumacher and Shwartzman colliding at Silverstone in the Silverstone Sprint then a time penalty for Nikita Mazepin at Spa after the Feature Race.

Add in that lost victory in the Styrian Feature Race due to a communication issue which saw him pit too late then Tsunoda has genuinely had his taste of mixed fortunes this season but as one of five drivers to have achieved five podiums, this Japanese driver has ultimately shown real consistency to find himself third in the standings with two rounds left.

Tsunoda however has on occasions pushed the limits of fair racing too far with Belgian Sprint Race and both Mugello races ultimately costing him significant points, which would of put him within a closer shot of the title than his current 44 point deficit.

There is however 96 points on offer so a perfect first round with a maximum haul of 48 points plus issues for Schumacher and Ilott could well bring Tsunoda right back into title contention, so don’t rule this future F1 star out of title contention just yet.

Title potential: 7/10

 

Christian Lundgaard – 145 points

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I wasn’t particularly impressed by Lundgaard in F3 last season but he has shown real improvement to put himself 46 points away from the title and with 48 points on offer across both weekends, the Danish driver could be right in the title fight after this weekend if results swing his way.

Tyre management issues though has caught Lundgaard at times and particularly in Spain where he struggled throughout both races, whilst mistakes in Hungarian Feature Race and Spanish Sprint cost him valuable points which could well be key come end of season on 6 December.

Lundgaard’s title prospects will likely boil down to how he performs this weekend and if he can take full advantage of any issues for Schumacher, Ilott or Tsunoda then don’t count the Dane out of snatching an unlikely title.

Title potential: 7/10

 

Robert Shwartzman – 140 points

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Shwartzman has enjoyed a great season but at same time, he has received plenty of lessons with spins and a British Sprint collision with Prema teammate, Schumacher being two notable examples whilst he does also need to up his single lap pace if wants to produce a stronger challenge next season.

The Russian seems to had hit a rut though with no points from his last four races and this two-month break is unlikely to have helped so unless he comes straight out and dominates both rounds in Bahrain, I genuinely can’t see him mounting more of a title challenge but could get a lucky Sprint victory like he did at Spa if others tangle.

2020 though will be one of valuable lessons for Shwartzman to improve on from tyre management to single lap pace and more, but I genuinely can’t see him doing much to snatch the title.

Title potential: 5/10

 

Nikita Mazepin – 140 points

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Mazepin currently sits 51 points behind Schumacher with points finishes in 14 of 20 races but he has made the absolute best of his points finishes with 10 of his points finishing positions coming from top six finishes.

The Russian has however raced quite aggressively on occasions with Spa Feature Race and his Mugello sprint collision with Hitech GP teammate – Luca Ghiotto being two notable examples of where he lost potentially huge points through hard racing, which we do enjoy but there is a fine line if want to challenge for the title and a F1 seat or just race hard for the excitement of it.

Mazepin though falls between the two because when he finishes in the points, he often collects the maximum that his car allows but silly moves can often cost him vital points on other occasions, but if he can enjoy two perfect weekends and luck falls his way, don’t count the Russian out yet.

Title potential: 6/10

 

Louis Deletraz – 122 Points

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With zero wins and pole positions, it is simply down to consistency that Charouz’s Louis Deletraz finds himself still in title contention but with 65 points left on offer after Saturday’s Feature Race, Deletraz could well cling on to his title dreams until at least Sunday if he has a good feature race.

I however cannot see him staying in the title mix come the final weekend given his deficit to Schumacher and it would certainly take something dramatic for him to have an outside shot at the crown, with three of his four podiums coming in Sprint races which isn’t really enough points wide to boost his chances.

We however must applaud Deletraz for his overall consistency which has placed him above Guanyu Zhou and Luca Ghiotto in the standings, even if all three will be amongst the first title contenders to be eliminated.

Title potential: 3/10

 

Guanyu Zhou – 119.5 Points

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After an impressive rookie campaign in 2019, Zhou has simply had a lot of rotten luck in 2020 but has shown strong consistency with points in 14 of 20 races and four fastest lap points to boot, on top of his first F2 win last time out in Sochi.

Zhou however is 71.5 points behind championship leader – Schumacher and I sadly can’t see him overhauling that deficit beyond crazy circumstances, because if there is a series where craziness sums up the action then it’s F2 where we can never say never to any scenario.

The Renault junior however was honest in an recent interview that “It hurts a little to see what could have been especially when you see how tight it’s at the front…”

I therefore can’t see Zhou mounting his title challenge much beyond the end of this coming weekend but he should look to use these two rounds to build a positive platform in terms of momentum to take into 2021 and reverse that minor ‘hurt’ that he is feeling.

Title potential: 3/10

 

Luca Ghiotto – 104 Points

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Although Ghiotto has enjoyed stronger F2 campaigns, he has done a solid job to find himself in with the narrowest of chances at taking the title if everything falls his way, which probably requires him to nail two perfect weekends and everyone else in the title fight to somehow fail to score points across both rounds if he is to overturn a 87 point deficit.

Ghiotto’s lack of consistency in the first half of this season however has cost him a realistic shot at the title but he fought back with a stronger second half to this season, even though he did collide with Mazepin at Mugello then Campos’ Jack Aitken in Sochi which have done massive damage to his title chances.

His win in the Hungarian Sprint race however is a moment which will be Ghiotto’s highlight of 2020 after clinching victory in a race dominated by tyre wear which bodes well coming into Bahrain given their track surface can be rough, although those two previously mentioned mistakes are huge dents in his title dreams.

I therefore would be surprised if he is amongst the first contenders eliminated come the conclusion of Saturday’s feature race because it is going to take a miracle for Ghiotto to claim the title.

Title potential: 1/10

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