Written by Juan Arroyo, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
The wait is almost over: The sandy dunes of Zandvoort are ready for Formula 2 to return, after a long summer break. With only three rounds remaining in the championship, it's all to play for in the title fight—and the pressure is on for certain drivers to perform this weekend. Frederik Vesti, for one, will almost certainly be feeling the pressure after Spa-Francorchamps. The PREMA driver crashed during the warm-up laps for the feature race, one that he was due to start on pole position for. Victory - if not a high-scoring result - disappeared before the race had started. For Vesti, the real hit came from championship rival Théo Pourchaire, who took the championship lead with a second-placed finish.
ART’s Pourchaire leads by 12 points over Vesti after Spa, standing on top for the first time since Baku. Consistency is what Pourchaire is looking for this weekend. A third-year runner in F2, he has called this year “win or bust”. With almost intermittent podiums per race weekend, recouping the form he held at the start of the year would be a significant advantage for the French driver. The feature race result was “the perfect way to enter the summer break,” said Pourchaire, who added: “We were close to that win and a bit lucky with the Safety Car for sure but that's part of the race. Yeah I'm proud to be P2, leading the Championship after this race and I mean I had a great car and that's really good you know.”
One driver finding form not impossibly away from the title fight is Jack Doohan. The Virtuosi driver, who stood 10th in the standings not long ago, claimed both feature race wins in the last two rounds. Given he is the team’s only points-scorer, Virtuosi will be delighted to see the Australian finding his form. Before the Hungaroring round, Doohan’s last podium came at Jeddah.
As for his own expectations of the title, Doohan said in a previous interview with Formula 2: “There are some things unfortunately out of my control this year but we’re resilient and we’ve been able to fight our way back after five rounds going from 18th in the Championship. It’s still an almighty gap. Theo’s still an awesome driver and doing an excellent job and so is Enzo, but I’ll continue to fight and if we can do it then I’d love to.”
The Zandvoort circuit demands a certain level of downforce from the setups, notwithstanding the heavy banking featured in certain sections of the 4.259 km (2.646 miles) circuit. Tyre degradation is on the higher end of the calendar, but drivers say it is manageable when not in dirty air.
It is a tight and twisty layout, especially in the first sector, where drivers will find each other too close for comfort, as they head into the 19-degree banked section leading into the second sector. Elevation changes are a feature not to be missed in the first half of the lap, as drivers will be taken back down again by a sweeping right-hander, for a total height difference of 8.9m (29 ft).
Turn one provides the best overtaking opportunities after a long DRS zone. Drivers can follow through the twisty first sector, and attempt an overtake into the banked Turn 3. Multiple lines work through this corner, so expect to see a varied amount of overtakes here in the races. The end of the back straight is another overtaking opportunity, into Turn 11. Two hairpins follow this corner and, before they know it, drivers are on the banked final corner and back onto the main straight.
Here’s everything you need to know about the weekend, summed up:
The historic Dutch track contains 14 corners, and is 4.259 km (2.646 miles) long.
It is a tight and twisty layout, referred to as the “karting track” of the F1 calendar.
Banked corners make multiple overtaking lines possible.
Medium tyre degradation.
Main and back straights provide prime overtaking opportunities
Felipe Drugovich claimed F2 Pole Position in 2022, setting a time of 1:20.713s.