Written By Juan Arroyo, Edited by Simran Kanthi
Just 23 points separate the top three teams in Formula 2 heading into the season finale.
MP Motorsport have a shot at their first-ever teams' championship this weekend and ART Grand Prix are back on top for the first time in years. Meanwhile, Logan Sargeant is quietly leading Carlin's title charge in his quest for a seat at Williams next year.
With titles, super licences and academy spots all at stake, Abu Dhabi is set to provide a thrilling three-way finale to this season's championship battle.
MP Motorsport - 281 points
If you were asked to guess before the season started which teams would be championship contenders, chances are MP Motorsport wasn’t high on your list — and history would justify that.
However, the Dutch outfit has finally come to life in Formula 2 with the drivers' championship already secured in Monza at the hands of Felipe Drugovich. The 22-year-old Brazilian has five wins and four pole positions to his name this season and is leading the team's title charge with over 80% of their points scored.
Drugovich has been this season's Mr. Consistent, missing out on points just four times in 26 races. The newly signed Aston Martin reserve built a strong lead early on by taking back-to-back podiums in Jeddah, as well as back-to-back wins in Barcelona.
He has maximised his opportunities to amass a 77-point lead over title rival Théo Pourchaire.
On the other side of the garage, Clément Novalak has struggled to find form all season. Currently in 14th, Novalak has shown strong pace at certain points in the season but has been unable to put together a good run of results, keeping MP Motorsport from pulling away in the championship.
The French driver has been in a season-long battle with his tyres, often lacking pace in qualifying and starting toward the back of the grid. The car seems to perform better in race trim, but Novalak's Friday struggles have made points hard to come by. The 21-year-old has racked up 40 points and a podium in the run-up to Abu Dhabi.
MP don't want to run a leg short with a chance at their first teams' title, so all focus will be on maximising both cars' performance at Yas Marina.
ART Grand Prix - 281 points
ART is one of the top teams in this series, but a dip in form over the last couple of years had many doubting if this was the year they'd get back in the game (spoiler alert: it was).
Théo Pourchaire is following up on his rookie year with another good season, racking up three wins and four podiums for a total of 164 points.
The 19-year-old hasn't been far off Drugovich consistency-wise, but technical issues and some missed opportunities gave the unrelenting Brazilian a much more straightforward run to the title.
The key element for ART in this battle is Frederik Vesti, currently 7th but still mathematically within a shot at 3rd in the drivers' standings.
Vesti has driven a solid first year in F2 with four podiums to his name, as well as a special maiden win at Baku in June. The Mercedes-backed junior is adjusting well to his new machinery and has been crucial in keeping his team in the fight with MP Motorsport.
Where you could say the Dane is lacking is consistency. Three points in the opening three rounds was not an ideal start, but it is to be expected from a rookie. From Spain, he's been in the points more often than not while grabbing the occasional podium.
The highs have been at the very top, but the lows will hurt a lot more if ART miss out on the title this weekend. In a nutshell, the French are strong where the Dutch fall short (and vice versa).
Carlin - 258 points
Having finished in third three years running, Carlin are anxious to get back on top of Formula 2. The Surrey-based team has quietly racked up points throughout the year to find itself with an outside shot at glory with one round to go.
Logan Sargeant has it all to fight for with a super licence on the line. In 3rd on 135 points, the Williams academy driver is taking full advantage of the opportunity: two wins, four podiums, and a pair of pole positions to his name.
Sargeant has to finish no lower than sixth in the standings to qualify for a Formula 1 seat, which Jost Capito has announced will be his should the American acquire the necessary super licence points.
Unless he severely underperforms this weekend — which would ruin Carlin's chances of the championship — Sargeant looks set for a Williams drive in 2023. Nothing is certain in racing, though.
Not far behind in 7th, Liam Lawson is another one of the seven drivers in contention for third in the drivers' championship. The Kiwi has been key for Carlin this year with three wins and four podiums to his name for a total of 126 points, just nine behind teammate Sargeant.
Whenever one of them has had a bad weekend, the other has been there to recover points. This is what has kept them within striking distance of MP Motorsport and ART Grand Prix, who would've been further ahead if not for tumbles throughout the season — then again, this is what F2 is all about.