There have been some truly wacky, impressive and downright entertaining races in Formula 2 in the past. Let’s venture back and have a look.
With the Drivers’ Championship already decided in Formula 1, there is no better time to trawl the internet in search for some great historic entertainment in the form of old F2 and GP2 event weekends.
The F2 races are shorter and more action-packed, and competition is fierce across all drivers and teams. If you need some respite from the processional nature of modern-day F1, look no further than the feeder series directly below it. From tactical masterclasses to absolute chaos, F2 has seen it all.
In this installment of The F2 Report, we look back at three of the craziest Formula 2 races in recent memory.
3. Charles Leclerc blitzes the field: Bahrain Sprint 2017
Even before Charles Leclerc had stepped foot inside an F2 car, he was already being touted as a future Formula 1 star. But the race that made everyone in the racing world stop and take notice was his sprint race supremacy at Bahrain in 2017.
Fresh off his maiden podium at the feature race around the same track, the Monegasque driver and his Prema team went for a bold strategy call. Starting from sixth on the grid, Leclerc scythed his way through the field and took the lead in the space of just nine laps. While everyone else opted to stay out on aging Hard tyres, Leclerc came into the pits for a set of brand new Soft tyres.
With just nine laps to go and in a lowly 14th position, Leclerc had it all to do in the dying stages of the Sprint Race. Passing cars to the left and right, on the inside and the outside, the Prema driver in only his second race in F2 made light work of the competition and was over four seconds a lap faster than his rivals.
As the final lap approached, the young man from Monaco was in third, stalking ever so close behind the pair of Luca Ghiotto and Oliver Rowland.
Leclerc streaked past Rowland on the main straight, and danced his way through an ailing Ghiotto in the final sector to claim an unprecedented victory under the blazing sun. Or perhaps this wasn’t such a surprise, knowing what was to come of Monegasque in the following years…
2. Changeable conditions in Hungary 2018’s feature race
A wet/dry race is almost always guaranteed to produce an exciting race, full of daring overtaking manoeuvres and equally bold strategic decisions. The Hungaroring was wet following a heavy downpour overnight, but no more rain was predicted for the rest of the weekend.
The 34 laps of tentative tip-toeing around the racetrack were underway, with polesitter Sergio Sette Camara holding off a fast charging Nyck de Vries into the first corner. As with every wet race, some guys were simply better accustomed to the conditions than others, with the likes of Lando Norris and Antonio Fuoco slipping and sliding their way past slower drivers and into the podium positions.
Norris slipped past Sette Camara to take the lead, and built a sizeable twelve-second advantage over his Carlin teammate as the track began to dry. With the possibility of victory slipping away, Sette Camara bit the bullet first and pitted for Dry tyres. It wasn’t long before the rest of the field dove into the pits as well, and this is when the pendulum swung.
With the track now dry, other drivers who had been struggling on the Wet tyres were suddenly a lot faster. One of these drivers was De Vries. Lap after lap he shaved away at his deficit to Norris and made it look easy with a switchback at the chicane with eight laps remaining, before waltzing away to finish over 16 seconds ahead of the Briton come the chequered flag.
1. The F2 chaos of Azerbaijan 2016
The Baku street circuit opened to much excitement and anticipation for F1 in 2016, but it was up to the feeder series to test the waters before the big boys dipped their toes inside.
It was always going to be an attritional affair, being a narrow street circuit and all, but nobody could have predicted the utter carnage that was about to go down in both races of the weekend.
The Feature Race started with the customary 22 vehicles, and ended with just ten, meaning every driver who saw the chequered flag scored points. The fact that five drivers, including current F1 drivers Pierre Gasly and Nicholas Latifi, crashed out of the race in the very first corner was just icing on the cake.
All 12 retirements came from drivers either crashing into each other or getting a little too comfortable with the barriers, and with Jordan King and Jimmy Eriksson taking each other out with two laps to go, Antonio Giovinazzi lead just enough cars across the line to dole out the full serving of points available.
Unfortunately, the race craft failed to improve for the Sprint Race. Things started tame enough, but on Lap 7 a coming together between King and Eriksson sent the latter out of contention. The fourth Safety Car period of the weekend ensued, and race leader Nobuharu Matsushita completely misjudged the restart, allowing Daniel de Jong into the lead for all of five seconds, before he and almost half of the remaining field locked up and had to take the escape road.
The Safety Car was forced out for a record fifth time, but it seemed as though none of the drivers had learned how to properly carry out a proper restart. With some drivers applying full throttle as the safety car pulled in and others slamming on the brakes, an accident was inevitable. Gustav Malja clattered into the rear of Mitch Evans, and both of their races were ended thereafter. Sean Gelael was unable to wriggle his way past the ever-increasing stack of broken cars and went into the barriers.
Matsushita then pulled off a move not too dissimilar to Lewis Hamilton on Sergio Perez at the same track in 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, going straight on at the first corner following yet another restart. He ended up being the final retirement of the weekend, a faintly believable nineteen!
Giovinazzi couldn’t have cared less however, as he took victory for a second time in two days.