For those bored of Verstappen and Red Bull’s domination of Formula 1, look no further than the premier junior single-seater series, Formula 2. Here’s what to expect from round ten of the 2023 season.
So far this year, F2 has seen four different Championship leaders, and two teams are currently tied in the Teams’ Championship. The Drivers’ Standings remain as close as ever, and no one team or driver is dominating the field.
This is why we enjoy watching F2 so much. And as the campaign reaches it’s climax, tensions are rising and the main contenders are starting to reveal themselves.
A trio of drivers are within 21 points of each other at the top of the Drivers’ Championship. With a maximum haul of 39 points available over the three days of competition, the order can swing completely at Spa.
Heading the Standings is Danish driver Frederik Vesti on 153 points. He has the most wins of all at four race victories, and extended his lead from second-placed Theo Pourchaire to 11 points in the preceding round. A further ten points back is DAMS driver Ayumu Iwasa on 132 points. Just one poor weekend for any of the above drivers and the complexion of the Title fight can completely change.
Furthermore, if all three drivers fail to score good points in Belgium, there are three other drivers in the shape of Victor Martins, Jack Doohan and Oliver Bearman snapping at their heels and can get back in contention for the crown should their rivals miss the mark.
ART teammates tension
Pourchaire and Martins, the all-French lineup for ART Grand Prix based 150 kilometres from Paris, came to blows at the Budapest round. Pourchaire attempted to get past his teammate on cold tyres fresh out of the pits, but Martins refused to give up the position and pushed the former wide.
Martins, who eventually finished third while Pourchaire dropped to sixth, believes his compatriot teammate was ‘too optimistic’ in his overtaking attempt. He told F2 media: “Theo tried to go on the inside of turn three, which was a bit too much optimistic, and then we were arriving side-by-side into turn four, but I just kept the line.”
He added: “Honestly, I don’t know what really happened but I focused ahead and on myself. I will look with the team and with him if there is something to discuss.”
But the teammates have refuted claims that there was any animosity between them, with Martins stating that he is ready to help his teammate in his Championship charge. He continued: “He has his own, I have mine, and honestly we try to help each other…”
“Sometimes you can see some aggressiveness on the track, but honestly, if you come to the track, it’s another thing. Every time we laugh, we help each other, we work a lot together at the sim, between sessions. It’s a really good atmosphere there.”
Safety concerns at Spa
The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is lauded for being a driver and fan’s wet dream. Huge elevation changes, challenging high-speed corners and several overtaking opportunities.
However, the racetrack has come under fire once again in recent months after the death of Formula Regional racer Dilano van’ t Hoff on the Kemmel straight in tricky weather conditions. F2 driver Juan Manuel Correa will be returning to the circuit in the same machinery where he suffered life-threatening injuries in an accident that claimed the life of Anthoine Hubert four years ago.
Alfa Romeo F1 driver Zhou Guanyu has suggested the inclusion of a chicane before the infamous Eau Rouge-Raidillon corner complex to reduce speeds, like they did for the 1994 Belgian Grand Prix. This looks unlikely to happen, but there are still conversations being had to see how safety can be improved on the historic track.
Last year in Belgium, Doohan put in an impressive performance to claim second in the Sprint and win the Feature race. He may have a good opportunity to continue his good form in Hungary on a circuit where he has won in the past.