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From a feeder series giant arriving, to a hotly-contested battle between sophomores — Five reasons to watch F2 in 2024

Written by Vyas Ponnuri, Edited by Debargha Banerjee


Image Credits - Formula 2

Formula 2. The stepping stone to Formula One. Often known as Formula One’s premier feeder series, it’s a common sight to see drivers on the F2 grid take up seats with teams at the pinnacle of motorsport in the future. 


A long list of alumni from the second tier of racing have worked their way into Formula One, in various capacities. You’ll recognise some of these Formula One names on the grid today: Charles Leclerc, George Russell, Oscar Piastri, Zhou Guanyu, Lando Norris, Logan Sargeant, Alex Albon….. Well, the list goes on. 


While the racing and the magnitude of the occasion definitely adds to the spectacle, this year’s Formula 2 season is set to take the buzz a notch higher. New cars, a grid brimming with talent, drivers poised to showcase their talent and hotly-anticipated battles lining up and down the grid await, as the drivers and teams look to tackle the upcoming season commencing later this week, at the Bahrain International Circuit. 


With anticipation building for the upcoming season of Formula 2, we give you five reasons not to miss a single moment of F2 action in 2024….


Kimi Antonelli, the next F1 hopeful?; Credit - Mercedes AMG Petronas

A feeder series giant enters the series, with plenty up for grabs

Andrea Kimi Antonelli. The phenom that has taken junior formulae by storm. His speed and consistency have worked wonders — even earning him a direct leap from the lower-tier Formula Regional European Championship (FRECA), all the way to Formula 2, bypassing the Formula 3 series. 


The buzz and hype around Antonelli is no less either. Having been inducted into the Mercedes Driver Academy even before he stepped into a go-kart, he now sits as a potential replacement to Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton. Having a massive pair of boots to fill, the Mercedes junior has even been earmarked by Mercedes as first choice to take the seat at the German giant. 


It’s never easy for anyone to skip a rung on the ladder, and to do that when there’s plenty of eyes scrutinising your every move, which makes Antonelli’s super promotion all the more remarkable. 


Antonelli’s FRECA exploits earned him a leap to F2; Credits - Sebastian Rozendaal

Of course, Mercedes haven’t set any expectations for the 17-year old Italian, to avoid him getting into a spin — be it on track or off track, but Antonelli’s stellar junior record speaks for himself, and his talent on the tarmac. 


The Italian doesn’t just win, he dominates racing series. His first season in Italian F4 outlined the sheer talent this youngster possessed — with 13 wins and 15 podiums, he was crowned champion by a whopping 104-point margin to runner-up Alex Dunne, who moves to Formula 3 for 2024. 


A similar template followed in the ADAC F4 Championship, when he outraced his competition to win by 57 points, snapping up nine race wins in the 15 races he competed. He even missed the penultimate round of the season. Such was the extent of his dominance. 


2023 was no different, as Antonelli dominated the Formula Regional Middle East Championship (FRMEC) and the FRECA season, his successes giving even more impetus to warrant a leap up to Formula 2.  


While the Formula 2 cars will be a different kettle of fish compared to what Antonelli has raced in his junior career, there’s even more reason to believe he will be well and truly in the fray to join an elite trio comprising Leclerc, Russell, and Piastri, to have won their debut F2 season.


The Dallara-designed Formula 2 car for 2024; Credits - Formula 2

A new generation of Formula 2 cars will take to the track

Speaking of what Antonelli and his competitors will race in 2024, the latest iteration of Formula 2 machinery will take centrestage in the upcoming season. 


The all-new, ground effect Formula 2 car was publicly unveiled during the Italian round of the F2 season, at Monza. 


This new beast takes plenty of design cues from the present-day Formula One cars, with the redesigned rear wing and front wing more predominant among the several other changes. 


In addition, the car has been designed so as to accommodate drivers of different heights, including female drivers too. Apart from the initial shakedown conducted during the launch weekend, teams and drivers too ran a shake down event in January, ahead of the pre-season 

test between February 11-13 at the Sakhir International Circuit, Bahrain.


Image Credits - Formula Motorsport Limited

Apart from an experience of driving the new Formula 2 machinery for the first time, drivers also got a chance to sample the new spec F2 car in wet weather, as the rain gods showered their blessings on the racetrack, driving home the pun of Bah'Rain’. 


Apart from the valuable experience of driving on a damp track, drivers and teams racked up plenty of mileage, and can now use this valuable data to prepare for the first weekend of the year, at the same track from February 29th to March 2nd. 


While it usually takes rookies that bit longer to hit the ground running in Formula 2, the new car marks a clean slate for all drivers, and every driver now faces the same challenge of adapting to the new spec of machinery this season, and it will be imperative for them to do, if they want to retain an advantage across the season.


Bortoleto will be driving the #10 Invicta Racing car in 2024; Credit - Formula 2

A talented rookie contingent heading into 2024

This year's grid features a rare instance of three racing champions from 2023 taking to the F2 grid.


Aside from Antonelli, the FRECA champion in 2023, the grid also features reigning Formula 3 champion Gabriel Bortoleto, who steps up the motorsport ladder to partner second-season bound Kush Maini at Invicta Racing. 


An accumulator of points across 2023, Bortoleto's consistency won him the Formula 3 season for Trident. The Brazilian only finished outside the points thrice all season, with Spa-Francorchamps the only race weekend he didn't score points across the season. 


The Brazilian was comfortably ahead of a four-way fight for second on the leaderboard, and was crowned F3 champion in qualifying around the Temple of Speed, Monza. Such was his points gap to the rest. 


Bortoleto’s impressive showings in the lowest tier on the Road to Formula One have earned a call-up to the famed McLaren Driver Development Programme, featuring other big names such as IndyCar racer Pato O'Ward, Toyota hypercar racer Ryo Hirakawa, and F1 Academy racer Bianca Bustamante among them. 


O’Sullivan (left) and Colapinto (right) will undertake full F2 campaigns in 2024; Credit - Williams Racing

The rookie contingent is bolstered by three further drivers in the top five stepping up to full-time drives in 2024 - Williams juniors Zak O'Sullivan steps up to reigning champions ART Racing alongside Victor Martins, while Franco Colapinto steps up to MP Motorsport's F2 operations alongside the incumbent Dennis Hauger. 


Newly-inducted Red Bull junior Pepe Marti also steps up to head Campos’ F2 operations, alongside Jak Crawford, who moves in from Hitech Pulse-Eight to the Spanish team. 


Elsewhere, highly-rated Briton Taylor Barnard returns to the PHM fold, stepping up to head their F2 operations in 2024, alongside Joshua Durksen. Barnard amassed 72 points on his way to tenth in the standings, helping Jenzer Motorsport to their best-ever Formula 3 finish to date. 


Finally, 2023 Super Formula champion Ritomo Miyata ventures into Formula 2, signing for Rodin Motorsport alongside Sauber Academy junior Zane Maloney. Miyata was crowned Super Formula champion in 2023, edging out five-time AlphaTauri racer Liam Lawson for the title. 


Finally, Estonian Paul Aron will also take part in his first full season for Hitech Pulse-Eight, racing alongside former VAR and Virtuosi racer Amaury Cordeel, while Rafael Villagomez steps up from Formula 3 to race for VAR in 2024. 


Martins vs Bearman, a championship tussle this year?; Credit - Formula 2

Seasoned drivers battling it out for the title

While the rookies are set to pose a stern test to the rest of the grid, expect some sophomores to show plenty of fight, be it against each other, or the rest of the grid. 


Having battled fiercely in the past, Victor Martins and Ollie Bearman will resume their hard-fought rivalry once again. 


A rookie-of-the-year battle for the ages, it was eventually Victor Martins who emerged on top, with Bearman pushing him all the way. 


The duo went toe to toe multiple times in 2023, banging tyres and going off the track. Their battles at Jeddah, Spa-Francorchamps, and Zandvoort caught the attention, with both drivers often coming off worse from battles against each other. 


While the duo had their inconsistencies across the season, expect them to iron out any chinks in their armour, and forge a championship challenge this season. 


They will be met with a stern challenge from fellow 2023 rookies though, with newly-inducted Sauber Academy driver Zane Maloney, and Aston Martin-backed Jak Crawford looking to build on solid rookie campaigns. 


Kush Maini in the yellow Invicta Racing car; Credit - Invicta Racing

Don't rule out Kush Maini either, as the Indian driver proved a consistent force in the first half of 2023, scoring points in eight consecutive races, matching Lando Norris’ eight-race scoring streak from half a decade ago. 


While his form tailed away as Campos’ season fell flat, expect the Invicta Racing team to provide him a better shot at a championship victory. With a slew of changes around the Indian racer this season, including being mentored by a Flying Finn, and signed into the Alpine Driver Academy, expect Maini to be fighting for big points in 2024. 


Last but not the least, Enzo Fittipaldi remains on the F2 grid, moving from the Rodin Motorsport set up to VAR, coming off the back of a stellar showing last season, finishing in the top ten. Juan Manuel Correa too continues into 2024, having turned a wheel in the series for the first time since that fatal incident with Anthoine Hubert at Spa. 


These are the most prominent names to have driven multiple seasons in the series, and expect them to be right in the thick of action in 2024, battling against themselves as well as the class of rookies, not sparing any margins.


Losail features on the F2 calendar in 2024; Credit - F1 Chronicle

More exciting locations to go racing in 2024!

The 2024 Formula 2 calendar features a record 14 races, levelling the tally of races set during the 2022 season. However, this will be the longest calendar in terms of rounds as well as the duration of the season. 


The season finale at Abu Dhabi stretches into December, not for the first time, but it means the season will be played out over nearly 10 months, with the first representative session set to take place on February 29th at Sakhir. 


While the traditional two-month break separates the final European round of the season, and the Middle Eastern season finale, this year’s calendar wears a distinct change. With the final round on European soil set to take place at Monza between 30th August and 1st September, two further rounds have been pencilled in between. 


With the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend now slated for a date in mid-September, Formula 2 will support the showpiece event as per schedule, followed by a two-month break giving the drivers some much-needed R&R, before they head to the gruelling Qatar round on the calendar. 


If anything is to go by, the drivers and teams will be put firmly into the hot seat — quite literally, with the heat of the desert having proved tough for Formula One’s ace athletes in 2023. However, the paddock can breathe a sigh of relief, as the race will be scheduled for cooler climates late in November, and edging into December. 


With Imola set to return to the calendar, after a flash flood cancelled the race weekend at the iconic racetrack in 2023, the calendar moves up to 14 rounds, meaning unfortunately there is no place for the rollercoaster, banked corners of Zandvoort on the F2 calendar in 2024.  


Yet, the upcoming season of Formula 2 racing is set to be one not to miss, given the sheer talent on display, as they pilot the latest advancement in Formula 2 machinery around world-famous racetracks, under the eyes of popular figures around the Formula One paddock, scouting for these future talents to step up and drive for renowned teams one day.


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