Formula 1 is looking at its most competitive year in the midfield in a while, which McLaren, Ferrari, Alpine, AlphaTauri in the fight, plus Aston Martin and Alfa Romeo playing catch-up to possibly join those teams in the fight. Formula 2 (F1’s feeder series), which equal cars, is also looking at a very competitive at the top, which three different winners in three races so far in F2 this season. In this article, I will look at the top F2 Drivers who may be looking to take a step into F1 in 2022.
Listed by (Name, F2 team, Driver Academy)
Guanyu Zhou, UNI-Virtuosi, Alpine
Guanyu Zhou is China’s best bet to get their first driver on the grid in a long time. Zhou currently leads the F2 championship, which a pole and race win to his name in 2021. This is Zhou’s third season in F2, after being F2’s best rookie in 2019, struggling due to mechanical and health issues last season, but is the championship favorite in 2021. He could possibly be looking at seats at either Alpine or Williams, with Fernando Alonso entering his 40s at Alpine, and Alpine’s close relationship with Williams.
Oscar Piastri, PREMA, Alpine
Oscar Piastri enters the season after winning the F3 championship, and immediately took a victory in Race 2 at Bahrain. Piastri, only 20, could have more raw talent than Zhou, but is less experienced and could need more years in F2 to be ready for F1. Like Zhou, Alpine and Williams would be his most likely landing spots if he was to join the F1 grid.
Christian Lundgaard, ART, Alpine
Christian Lundgaard is the youngest out of the Alpine trio in F2. He is the least likely to get an F1 seat, although not impossible. He has 2 wins and 6 podiums to his name, following a seventh place finish in his 2020 campaign. Like Zhou and Piastri, Lundgaard likely would get his F1 chance through either Alpine or Williams if offered.
Liam Lawson, Hitech, Red Bull
Liam Lawson won his first race of his first season in F2, taking Race 1 in Bahrain. He is part of a very talented Red Bull Junior Academy. Lawson was a major title contender in F3, and is looking super strong in his first F2 season. Whether Red Bull does the same with him as they did with Yuki Tsunoda, bringing him to F1 after one season in F2, remains to be seen. As a Red Bull junior, the only logical F1 seat would be at AlphaTauri.
Jehan Daruvala, Carlin, Red Bull
Jehan Daruvala is India’s best hope to get on the grid since Narain Karthikeyan, and he’s certainly not disappointing, sitting third in the F2 championship. Daruvala took a disappointing 12th in the 2020 campaign, but impressed towards the end of the season, taking victory in Sakhir last season. Like Lawson, Daruvala’s only chance to be in F1 would likely come in the form of an AlphaTauri.
Juri Vips, Hitech, Red Bull
Juri Vips was supposed to be a title contender in 2021, but surprisingly has not picked up points after 3 races yet. Vips was hit with a wave of penalties and unfortunate incidents, so his goose egg in 2021 should be taken with a grain of salt. Like Daruvala and Lawson, his move to F1 would be with the AlphaTauri team.
Dan Ticktum, Carlin, Williams
Dan Ticktum was formerly a Red Bull junior before moving to Williams. He has not gotten any chances to test an F1 car yet, but remains in the hunt for a seat in 2022. Ticktum is not a fan favorite, as he was involved in three accidents in three races over Round 1, but the talent is there.
Roy Nissany, DAMS, Williams
Roy Nissany’s results may not be appealing on paper, but his many outings with the Williams car has been productive. Nissany is another version of the dreaded “pay driver” in motorsport. With Williams in need of money, Nissany is simply just pouring money into the team.
Richard Verschoor, MP Motorsport
Richard Verschoor nearly lost his F2 seat due to financial reasons, but luckily kept it after a strong Round 1. Verschoor, who is not part of any driver academy, struggles with finances, and with the road to F1 reliant on money, talented drivers like Verschoor may not make it. It is unclear who might be willing to take Verschoor due to his lack of backing, but options like Haas or Aston Martin seem likely.
Robert Shwartzman, PREMA, Ferrari
Robert Shwartzman was in the conversation for an F1 seat in 2021, but ultimately needed another year to improve after a weak end to a strong rookie season. Shwartzman has not gotten to a great start in 2021, only 8th after he was a championship favorite. He’s the only notable Ferrari driver in contention for an F1 seat at the moment.
So who will get a seat?
After only one round, there are definitely favorites, but the picture will start to get clearer once the season rolls on. My best bets at this point is Guanyu Zhou for either Alpine or Williams (depending on the moves around him), Jehan Daruvala or Juri Vips for AlphaTauri, and Robert Shwartzman for Alfa Romeo.
No matter who’s getting a seat or not, F2 is set for its best season in a long time.