December 8, 2021

F2 finale: Schumacher aims for title on road to F1

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Mick Schumacher holds 22-point Formula 2 championship lead heading to Bahrain, where there will be four races over two weekends; Callum Ilott leads chasing pack, ahead of Yuki Tsunoda; Watch every Bahrain GP session live on Sky F1 this weekend

By Matt Morlidge

Last Updated: 25/11/20 10:21am

The Formula 1 titles may be decided – but Formula 2 is heading for an epic conclusion, starting at this weekend’s Bahrain GP, as Mick Schumacher looks to convert his lead into a sought-after championship to further bolster his reputation and F1 credentials.

After a two-month break, the F2 season finishes with a double-header in Bahrain – where there will be four races over two weekends – and Schumacher, the son of F1 legend Michael, holds a 22-point lead over fellow Ferrari junior and F1 hopeful Callum Ilottt.

Four other highly-rated youngsters, Yuki Tsunoda, Christian Lundgaard, Robert Shwartzman and Nikita Mazepin, are also in title contention heading into the Bahrain GP – and you can watch all the action live only on Sky Sports F1.

  • Saturday’s Feature Race starts at 9am on Saturday, November 28
  • Sunday’s Sprint Race starts at 9.50am on Sunday, November 29

F2 is the official feeder series for F1 and is regarded as the ultimate breeding ground for young racing talent, with Charles Leclerc and George Russell two of its more recent champions. Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, also won the title in the championship’s previous iteration.

F2’s Bahrain finale: The state of play

An F2 race weekend takes place at the same track as F1 and is comprised of practice and qualifying on a Friday, the latter setting the grid for the Feature Race on Saturday – where the majority of the points are scored. There is then a shorter Sprint Race on the Sunday, where the top eight positions from Saturday’s race are reversed for the grid.

Consistency has been key for the Schumacher with Prema Motorsport in 2020 – he has only failed to score points three times in a series with reverse grids and crashes aplenty – and since the summer he has built a championship lead, helped by Feature Race wins in Monza and Sochi.

But Schumacher, who has improved immensely in his second F2 season, admits “everything is open” heading into the back-to-back finale with Ilott right on his tail. The Englishman, at 22 a year older than Mick, has one more win than Schumacher in 2020 (2x Feature, 1x Sprint) and is a threat despite the points difference.

Formula 2 championship standings

Driver Team Points
1. Mick Schumacher Prema Motorsport 191
2. Callum Ilott UN Virtuousi 169
3. Yuki Tsunoda Carlin 147
4. Christian Lundgaard ART Grand Prix 145
5. Robert Shwarzman Prema Motorsport 140
6. Nikita Mazepin Hitech Grand Prix 140

A maximum of 48 points can be scored during a race weekend in F2. Four points are awarded for whoever seals pole on Friday, while the winner of Saturday’s Feature Race earns 25 points, and the winner of Sunday’s Sprint Race earns 15 points. A further four points are on offer for fastest laps, with two awarded in each race (provided the driver with fastest lap finishes in the top-10).

That means Schumacher can wrap up the title this weekend if he holds a 49-point advantage afterwards, although the hard-to-predict nature of F2 also means other drivers have a chance to overhaul him.

Tsunoda heads the chasing pack in third, 44 points behind, with Lundgaard just two points further back. Shwartzman and Mazepin are level on 140 points, 51 off Schumacher.

Mick Schumacher’s brilliant overtake of Yuki Tsunoda saw him take the lead in Formula 2’s first race at the Russian Grand Prix.

Mick Schumacher’s brilliant overtake of Yuki Tsunoda saw him take the lead in Formula 2’s first race at the Russian Grand Prix.

“Above all, I feel a great anticipation and excitement,” said Schumacher. “I think there is a good chance for us to win the championship which is why I am very confident and optimistic. Obviously, there is still a long way to go and a lot of work to do, but I totally trust in the quality of our package.

Schumacher set for F1 grid in 2021 – and who else?

The winner of F2 commonly immediately heads to F1 afterwards – partly because they are then ineligible for another F2 season and also because they have displayed the talent and guile required for a championship.

In truth, Schumacher may not even need the title to earn an F1 seat. The 21-year-old, backed by Ferrari – where his father won six of his seven F1 titles – has long-been linked with a step up and is the front-runner to land a seat at Haas in 2021.

Haas, who have both spots available and are powered by Ferrari engines, are set to partner Schumacher with Mazepin – who brings plenty of financial backing.

GP2/F2 champions

Year Driver Made it to F1?
2005 (GP2) Nico Rosberg Yes
2006 (GP2) Lewis Hamilton Yes
2007 (GP2) Timo Glock Yes
2008 (GP2) Giorgio Pantano Yes *
2009 (GP2) Nico Hulkenberg Yes
2010 (GP2) Pastor Maldonado Yes
2011 (GP2) Romain Grosjean Yes
2012 (GP2) Davide Valsecchi No
2013 (GP2) Fabio Leimer No
2014 (GP2) Jolyon Palmer Yes
2015 (GP2) Stoffel Vandoorne Yes
2016 (GP2) Pierre Gasly Yes
2017 (F2) Charles Leclerc Yes
2018 (F2) George Russell Yes
2019 (F2) Nyck De Vries No
* Pantano raced in F1 in 2004, before his F2 title

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has admitted that, with few options available on the grid, it is likely only one of the three Scuderia youngsters – Schumacher, Ilott and Shwartzman – moves into F1 next season, and preferred an announcement before the F2 season finished.

But Ilott, who was previously part of the Red Bull junior programme, winning the championship would certainly give Ferrari, and other teams, something to think about.

Shwartzman will almost certainly stay in F2 next season, although has a chance to impress during an F1 practice session at the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP.

A very special moment as Mick Schumacher presents Lewis Hamilton with one of his father’s crash helmets after the Briton equalled the F1 wins record.

A very special moment as Mick Schumacher presents Lewis Hamilton with one of his father’s crash helmets after the Briton equalled the F1 wins record.

The other F2 driver who has a big chance of making the step up to F1 next season is Tsunoda, the Japanese starlet who is backed by Honda – Red Bull’s current engine suppliers – and has recently tested for AlphaTauri.

Tsunoda is the big favourite to replace Daniil Kvyat at AlphaTauri next season, provided he gains enough super-license points – which his third place in the F2 championship would secure.

When’s the Bahrain GP on Sky this weekend?

Friday, November 27
9.30am: F2 Practice LIVE!
10.30am: Welcome to the Weekend LIVE!
11am: Bahrain GP Practice One LIVE!
1.10pm: F2 Qualifying LIVE!
2.45pm: Bahrain GP Practice Two build-up LIVE!
3pm: Bahrain GP Practice Two LIVE!
5.30pm: Story So Far LIVE!

Saturday, November 28
9am: F2 Race One LIVE!
10.45am: Bahrain GP Practice Three build-up LIVE!
11am: Bahrain GP Practice Three LIVE!
1pm: Bahrain GP Qualifying build-up LIVE!
2pm: Bahrain GP Qualifying LIVE!

Sunday, November 29
9.50am: F2 Race Two LIVE!
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday LIVE!
4pm: Chequered Flag LIVE!
5pm: The Notebook LIVE!
6pm: Bahrain GP highlights
10.05pm: Bahrain GP race replay