ATRL’s Mees Drijgers takes a look at this year’s F2 rookies and their chances in F1 for 2022 and beyond.
Formula 1’s silly season has been in full force, and even though it may not be as hectic as it was last year, there is still a spot to be taken before the start of the 2022 season. However, with possibilities being slim and seats being limited, we might not see a lot of new talent taking to the stage next year. This, of course, does not mean it’ll be the same for 2023; which current F2 drivers could end up where, whether it be next season or beyond?
Liam Lawson and Juri Vips
Fans of the Red Bull juniors are gonna have to wait a little longer until they’ll be able to see their favourite drivers step up F1. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will be teaming up at Red Bull for a second year in a row, while Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda, whose contract extensions were announced the Tuesday before Monza, will be driving at Alpha Tauri. With no possibilities opening up for 2022, the earliest we’ll see the Red Bull juniors in F1 is 2023. However, though Jüri Vips raced in F2 to replace the injured Sean Geleal at DAMS last season, him and fellow Hitech teammate Liam Lawson are considered rookies in this season’s Formula 2. A top 10 finish could very well secure their place at Hitech for another year in F2, which will help them gain more experience and strengthen and polish their race craft, while they get ready for 2023. It is unclear whether Alex Albon will remain Red Bull’s reserve and test driver; either one or both rookies could be assigned these roles for 2022.
Robert Shwartzman and Theo Pourchaire
Alfa Romeo have stepped away from their Sauber seat/Ferrari seat structure this year and have given free driver choice to Fred Vasseur. With Kimi Raikkonen announcing his retirement on the Wednesday before the Dutch GP, the spot that opened up by his announced will be taken by Valtteri Bottas. The current rumours report Antonio Giovinazzi will also lose out on a seat at Alfa Romeo, with current F2 driver Guanyu Zhou amongst the candidates. Though Pourchaire’s name has been mentioned in relation to the seat, he will need a solid result in the F2 standings to gain enough points for a Super License; considering he is an F2 rookie, it wouldn’t hurt him to do at least a few more years in the series. Both Robert Shwartzman and Alfa Romeo reserve driver Callum Ilott seem to be missing out for now. FE World Champion Nyck de Vries, whose name was linked to Williams and Alfa Romeo, will most likely not get the seat next to the Finn.
Dan Ticktum and the Williams Academy
Dan Ticktum will most likely be looking for another series to race in next year; having already mentioned he will not have the financial means to do another year in F2 and with him and the Williams Academy having parted ways, Ticktum will not be racing in F1 or F2 next season. That leaves Jack Aitken, Roy Nissany and Jamie Chadwick in the academy, however they will not be driving for Williams next year. The Wednesday before Monza, Williams confirmed Nicholas Latifi will stay with the team for what will be his third year; the team also announced the signing of Red Bull reserve driver Alex Albon, who will be making his return to Formula 1 after one year.
Oscar Piastri and Guanyu Zhou
With Esteban Ocon signing a contract extension until 2024 earlier this season and Fernando Alonso announcing his stay for another year at Alpine, neither of these two junior drivers will be making step up to F1 next year, even if one of them wins the championship. Oscar Piastri mentioned on a live Q&A on Instagram that he’ll take a year out of racing if he becomes the champion, in hopes of being able to be involved with an F1 team in the 2023 season. Alpine have mentioned they might be willing to “loan” their drivers to other teams if the possibility arrives; this could very well happen to Guanyu Zhou, who is one of the main contenders for the Alfa Romeo seat.
Christian Lundgaard and Marcus Armstrong
Alpine Academy driver Christian Lundgaard and Ferrari Academy driver Marcus Armstrong have been spotted at IndyCar in the United States. Though Armstrong has only been spotted in Nashville at the track, there are no clear reports about him testing or racing in the series. Christian Lundgaard, on the other hand, tested for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and even raced for them in early August, qualifying P4 on the grid and finishing the race in 12th. Lundgaard is on his third season in F2, while Armstrong’s started his second; theoretically, both drivers seem to have the financial means to continue for another year. However, both drivers will presumably want to move on in racing and continue their careers.
Of course, silly season brings in a lot of different names. 2019 F2 champion and Formula E World Champion Nyck de Vries was linked to either a seat at Williams or a seat at Alfa Romeo; the same was the case for Red Bull reserve Alex Albon. Nico Hulkenberg and Daniil Kvyat, who became reserve drivers for Aston Martin and Alpine, respectively, were in contention for the Williams seat as well, but recently their involvement with the seat has quieted down. McLaren CEO Zak Brown is still very fond of Arrow McLaren SP driver Pato O’Ward; he will not be driving for McLaren in F1 in the next coming seasons, as both Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo signed multi-year deals, but who knows for the future? It’s called silly season after all.
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