After a long nine week break, the Formula 2 championship is back in action in Bahrain. Two rounds a week apart, four races on two different layouts of the same Sakhir circuit. The 5.412 kilometre track is first up, as used for the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix, Formula 2 races and test sessions.
Five guys. For the five Ferrari Driver Academy talents racing in F2 this year, the tension has slowly been mounting during the long wait since the previous round in Sochi. The FDA guys know what they have to do in Bahrain as they face the prospect of a whirlwind of four races in eight days. The spotlight will be shining most brightly on Mick Schumacher, given that the 21 year old German leads the series coming into this round.
Three-way title fight. Mick is currently on 191 points, 22 more than fellow academy driver Callum Ilott. It’s a comfortable lead, but not enough for Schumacher to relax given there are still 96 points up for grabs. Apart from the title fight, the Sakhir double-header is also the opportunity for everyone to try and end the year on a high note. Robert Shwartzman is well aware of that, currently lying sixth on 140 points. He’s enjoyed an excellent rookie season in Formula 2 and will drive for Scuderia Ferrari at the Young Driver Test following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina.
Looking for a strong finish. Sakhir will also be an opportunity for Marcus Armstrong and Giuliano Alesi to grab a good result to end the year, as in both cases the season has not lived up to their expectations. Now they have four more opportunities to make up for that as they plan their future.
Getting up to speed. “Formula 2’s return to the track is definitely a much awaited moment for our drivers,” commented Head of FDA Marco Matassa. “After a long break since Sochi, they will all have to get used to the speed again, which is one of the few feelings one cannot reproduce in the simulator. With just one free practice session, it will be very important to get a feel for the car as quickly as possible and, as Sakhir is very hard on tyres, it will be important to manage them as well as possible. The drivers in the hunt for the title will be under a bit more pressure than usual and it will be a strong test of nerve, which is what happens when the final rush of a championship features a very close leaderboard.”
Programme. The first Sakhir weekend gets underway this Friday with free practice at 12.35 local (10.34 CET), followed by qualifying at 16.15 (14.15 CET). The Feature Race sees the cars leave the grid at 12.10 (10.10) on Saturday, with the Sprint Race on Sunday at 13 (11.CET).