The curtains have drawn on yet another exciting season in Formula 1’s feeder series, with the conclusion of it 14th and final round in Abu Dhabi.
The Drivers’ Championship had already been decided with Felipe Drugovich as Champion as the teams flew over the Arabian Peninsula into the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but three teams would have been biting their nails over what was to be a tight three-way tussle for the Teams’ Title.
Three outfits from three different nations, namely MP Motorsport (The Netherlands), ART Grand Prix (France) and Carlin (Great Britain) would be duking it out for the ultimate honours, just as their respective countries would be flying out to neighbouring Qatar for the 2022 World Cup. They would be banking everything on their pair of drivers to wring out every last bit of performance from the Dallara F2 2018 chassis powered by the 3.4-litre Mecachrome V6 engine.
In the end, a solid performance by Drugovich in both the Sprint and Feature races secured the Team’s Championship for MP Motorsport, despite a late charge by Lawson and Carlin catapulting them above ART Grand Prix and just eight points behind the Dutch team. ART failed to score a single point under the lights of the Yas Marina Circuit but maintained third in the final Standings ahead of Prema Racing.
The Drivers’ Championship was shaken up significantly compared to the end of the Monza round, so let’s discuss that right now with some of the hot topics from the final round of the 2022 campaign.
A Disappointing Season End for many Top Contenders
You may recall that there were three drivers on the exact same number of points following the conclusion of the Feature race in Italy. Two rookies, Enzo Fittipaldi and Jack Doohan were battling it out for fourth in the Standings alongside veteran F2 racer Jehan Daruvala, and all three drivers were on 126 points.
Unfortunately for this trio of daring drivers, the season couldn’t have ended much worse for them. A seventh place for Doohan in the Sprint race allowed him to finish ahead of his two closest rivals at the time, but superior performances from other drivers further down in the Standings meant he only managed to secure sixth as the season came to a close.
Doohan was no doubt helped in his minor points finish by a lap 1 Red flag in the Sprint, caused ironically by a severe crash between none other than Daruvala and Fittipaldi. Both of them were well and truly out of the race, and all their hopes were tied to achieving a decent result at the Feature race.
But it was not to be. Both Daruvala and Fittipaldi lacked any sort of pace in the 33-lap event, and trundled home in 13th and 14th respectively. Doohan was unable to extend his advantage over the others owing to a critical error by his Virtuosi Racing mechanics who failed to mount his front left wheel properly, causing said wheel to say peace to the rest of the car and roll across the circuit, briefly bringing out the yellow flags; needless to say, the Australian subsequently retired from the race.
So a disappointing end to the season for a few of the drivers who we wrongly assumed would finish the year strongly. For Doohan and Fittipaldi, perhaps they don’t have a lot to worry about as far as their futures are concerned. But this is yet another nail in the coffin for Daruvala and his hopes for ever making it into F1.
Lawson Leaves it Late
Carlin driver Liam Lawson ended his year with a bang, winning the Sprint race and appearing on the podium for the Feature race to help his team leapfrog ART Grand Prix to second in the Teams’ Championship.
The New Zealander made the absolute most of his second place start in the Sprint, usurping polesitter Richard Verschoor on the tenth lap and driving of into the distance as the sunlight began to fade to finish almost eight seconds ahead of the Dutchman in second.
His Feature race performance was arguably more impressive, as he pulled off a handful of handy overtakes on Logan Sargeant and made an undercut work to finish in third place.
This late domination was all that Lawson needed to make a miraculous from seventh to third in the Standings. He will be in a reserve driver role for Red Bull and Alpha Tauri in 2023, a thoroughly deserved promotion for the driver.
Iwasa: A Real Rising Star?
Ayumu Iwasa managed his second pole position of the season (his first being in Hungary), but this time he duly converted this into a Feature race victory.
The race was far from plain sailing for the Japanese driver; although he was pretty much leading the entire way, his grasp on first place was from tight, as Drugovich hounded him from behind and looked set to snatch the lead away, but Iwasa held on in the dying moments to take home a second winners’ trophy.
Iwasa has been on my radar since the early stages of the season. He didn’t have a chance to race in 2021 to find his feet in the series before his first full season in F2 but still hit the ground running immediately with consistent points finishes in the first three rounds.
The race win brought him up to fifth in the Drivers’ Championship, ultimately making him the second-highest placed rookie in 2022. Will he follow in compatriot Yuki Tsunoda’s footsteps and jump ship to F1 when the opportunity arises? He will get another year in F2 next year to challenge for the Title, then who knows?
Logan Sargeant to F1 and Williams
The driver who finished higher than Iwasa as a rookie was Logan Sargeant. With the Anthoine Hubert Award in one hand, Sargeant now has his other hand on the Williams F1 Team contract, as he has now secured enough Super-License points to be eligible for a seat in the pinnacle of open-wheel motorsports.
His driving in Abu Dhabi last weekend was nothing to write home about, but two solid points-scoring finishes in each race helped him to fourth in the final Standings, in a season in which he needed to finish in at least seventh to secure the 40 points required to race in F1.
The American racer will replace the outgoing Nicholas Latifi at Williams, partnering Alex Albon in 2023. We are all very excited to see what Sargeant will be capable of amongst some of the best drivers the world has ever seen.
Drugovich Dominates the 2022 F2 season
With the pressure off of his shoulders, Drugovich had every right to take it easy in Yas Marina. But in the end not only did he extend his lead in the Championship, but he also scored a double podium to secure the greatest winning margin in the history of F2. If that isn’t an indicator of the Brazilian’s domination of the season, I don’t know what is.
As mentioned previously, consistency was the key to Drugovich’s success this year. It was bound to be a winning formula, as other arguably faster drivers faltered in the shape of avoidable retirements and drops in driving ability. He scored points in 24 out of a possible 28 occasions, which is almost unheard of in a series where everyone has the same car.
A reserve driver role for Aston Martin in 2023 is the least that Drugovich deserves, but he may look elsewhere during the season to satiate his undeniable competitive streak.
So that’s it for 2022! Now the long and gruelling wait for more F2 action begins. But there is a lot to look forward to; including the inaugural race at Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia. Be sure to check out the changes that will be made in 2023 for F2 by clicking here.