Formula 2: Shwartzman and Armstrong in the starting blocks

Sakhir 25 March 2021

The stage is set at the Bahrain International Circuit for the start of the 2021 Formula 2 season. Over the past 15 years, this series has proved to be the main stepping stone to Formula 1, as only the best drivers do well up against the stern test it provides. The Ferrari Driver Academy boasts an impressive history in the category, with Charles Leclerc winning in 2017 and Mick Schumacher in 2020.

Duo. Two FDA youngsters are taking part this year: Robert Shwartzman and Marcus Armstrong both embarking on their second year in the category. The 21 year-old Russian stays with the same Prema team as in 2020, while Armstrong switches to the French DAMS outfit. Both went well in pre-season testing two weeks ago at the same Sakhir track, when it was clear that this year’s racing will be very competitive.

Progress. “For Marcus and Robert the aim this year is to build on what they achieved last season,” commented Marco Matassa, Head of Ferrari Driver Academy. “It’s a process that depends on continuity of results. Although they were rookies in the category last year both drivers performed well, but as is usually the case their lack of experience also showed. I think that, this season, everything is in place for them to reap the benefits of their efforts and that will develop race by race. Robert gets on well with his team, while Marcus immediately felt at home with DAMS, spending a lot of time with his new engineers during the winter break. I think we have good reason to be optimistic about the coming season.”

Format. There’s a brand new format to this season, with three races per weekend instead of two. The Friday programme remains unaltered with the usual free practice and qualifying, while Saturday now features two sprint races. The grid for the first of these will see the top ten places from qualifying reversed, while the second will see the same inversion applied to the race result of the first race. The Feature Race, the main event, will be run over a longer distance, with a mandatory pit stop. Its grid will follow tradition, based on Friday’s qualifying times.

Weekend. Friday free practice at Sakhir starts at 13.05 local (11.05 CET) and qualifying begins at 16.30 (14.30 CET). Saturday is busier than before with the first sprint race at 13.25 (11.25 CET) local, followed by the second one at 19.40 (17.40 CET). The Sakhir F2 weekend concludes with the Feature Race starting at 13.50 (12.50 CET) on Sunday.