The build-up to this weekend’s FIA Formula 2 Championship season finale has been dominated by a host of driver signings for the 2020 season, with no less than six seats already confirmed.
Ferrari Academy drivers and current F2 drivers Giuliano Alesi and Mick Schumacher will remain in Formula 1’s official feeder series for a second season.
Alesi (pictured top), the son of one-time Grand Prix winner Jean, will move from Trident to new entrants HWA Racelab which take over the Arden team’s entry next year. The French youngster has had a tough baptism to Formula 2 with the backmarker Trident outfit (with whom he also contested the GP3 Series championship in 2018), with a pair of seventh-place finishes at Monza his best results to-date.
“I would like to thank HWA AG for the magnificent reception and for the faith they are putting in me. I am overjoyed to be part of this impressive company,” Alesi said.
“All the employees are already highly motivated and I am looking forward to working with a great team – that is the most important thing for me. I cannot describe how I feel at the moment – I am over the moon.”
Schumacher, the son of seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Michael, will remain at PREMA Racing with whom he has raced since he made his ADAC Formula 4 Championship debut in 2016. The driver/team combination went on to win the European F3 title in 2018 before the German stepped up to Formula 2 this year, peaking with a Sprint Race win at the Hungaroring.
“I am entering my second F2 year with very valuable lessons learned, both in the way to handle the car and tyres but also to work in a bigger team environment,” Schumacher said of his re-signing.
“I will certainly build up on this experience when I go into a season that I cannot wait to start. Teaming up again with PREMA seems only natural, since we work and grow together since so long now, and I can only thank them for again giving their trust in me. I’ll definitely give anything to prove them right.”
Both Alesi and Schumacher will be pitted against highly experienced Russian drivers in the form of multiple GP2/F2 race-winner Artem Markelov and newly-crowned FIA Formula 3 Championship title-winner Robert Schwartzman, respectively.
Markelov, currently driving for Arden for the remainder of the season following the tragic death of Anthoine Hubert at Spa-Francorchamps, is a driver with a known pedigree. He finished runner-up to current Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc in the 2017 Formula 2 Championship season and has achieved nine victories and a further eight podium finishes in his GP2 / F2 career which started in 2014.
“I am really looking forward to racing for HWA RACELAB in Formula 2 next season,” the 25-year-old said. “I think we will gel quickly. HWA has a vast wealth of motorsport experience, from which I am sure I will benefit.”
Schumacher will have stiff competition against Schwartzman, who claimed three wins and ten podiums in this year’s inaugural 16-race Formula 3 Championship season with PREMA Racing. The youngster has been part of PREMA’s programme since 2018, winning the rookie title in the European F3 championship in the same year that Schumacher claimed outright honours.
“I am really happy to move up to Formula 2 as it is the final step before Formula 1 and obviously a very important one. On the other hand, I am delighted to continue my relationship with PREMA Racing,” Schwartzman said.
“Our goal is to win the championship as this year we showed that, even with a new car, a lot of unknowns and high-level competitors, it is possible to be at the front right away.
“I’m sure we have what it takes to do it all again in 2020. I will do my best to learn the tires and car as quickly as possible so we will be at the top of our game from the very beginning. I want to thank Ferrari, the Ferrari Driver Academy and SMP Racing for helping and supporting me. I hope to reward their continued trust with some great results.”
The 20-year-old led a PREMA 1-2-3 in the Formula 3 Drivers’ Championship standings, comfortably beating teammates Marcus Armstrong and Jehan Daruvala to the title.
Armstrong has also moved up to the Formula 2 Championship and has been signed to the ART Grand Prix team, which has claimed back-to-back Drivers’ Championship titles for George Russell and Nyck de Vries.
The Kiwi claimed three wins and a further three podium finishes in his 2019 F3 campaign, finishing runner-up to fellow Ferrari Academy pilot Schwartzman.
“It’s an honour to join ART Grand Prix for many reasons, mainly because of the team’s huge history,” Armstrong said, perhaps already feeling the pressure to be a championship frontrunner as a rookie.
“It’s been a driving force in GP2 and F2 over the last fifteen years and a lot of F1 drivers have come from the ranks of ART Grand Prix. Secondly, I met the team in Paris to meet everybody and my first impression was that everybody is really professional, they try to find small advantages everywhere… and there is a little pressure to be honest!”
Callum Ilott will also remain on the Formula 2 Championship grid in 2020, switching from the Sauber Junior Team to race-winners UNI-Virtuosi. The British driver made his F2 debut in 2017 with a one-off outing for Trident but had to wait until 2019 before securing a full-time role with the Czech-owned, Swiss-run outfit.
He claimed his maiden Formula 2 podium finish at Barcelona with third place in the Sprint Race, backing that up with another podium at Sochi, as well as a superb pole position at Monza.
“I’m really excited to be joining UNI-Virtuosi for 2020! I believe this is the best place for me to fight for the championship title as winning is in the team’s DNA and I share the same hunger for success,” Ilott said.
“The professionalism within the team, from the management to the mechanics, is second to none and it’s easy to see why they’re always mentioned in the fight for the championship.”
|2020 FIA Formula 2 Championship – Provisional Entry List (to-date)|
|ART Grand Prix||Marcus Armstrong||TBA|
|HWA Racelab||Giuliano Alesi||Artem Markelov|
|PREMA Racing||Mick Schumacher||Robert Schwartzman|
|Sauber Junior Team by Charouz*||TBA||TBA|
|Virtuosi Racing||Callum Ilott||TBA|
* Official entry to be confirmed
Images via FIA Formula 2 Championship, FIA Formula 3 Championship and LAT
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