The new season of F1’s premier support series, Formula 2, begins at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix. With the all-new Formula 3 series also beginning at the Spanish Grand Prix, we preview everything you need to know about the feeder championships ahead of their 2019 seasons, as the stars of tomorrow battle for championship glory and a potential spot on the 2020 Formula 1 grid.
More than half of the drivers on the 2019 Formula 1 grid have passed through one (or both) of the sport’s main feeder series – Formula 2 (formerly GP2) or GP3. All of the last three GP2/F2 champions – Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc and George Russell – are currently in Formula 1. GP3, which becomes Formula 3 for 2019, frequently provides drivers with a path into F2 and sometimes even directly into F1 – six of the nine series champions to date have progressed to the pinnacle. Both series are well worth watching, offering action-packed close races.
2019 F2 & F3 Calendars
Formula 2 will be on the support bill at 12 rounds of the F1 championship in 2019, with Formula 3 joining at 8 events in Europe. Here are the full 2019 calendars for both series.
Formula 2 Drivers to Watch in 2019
The Formula 2 grid is made up of twenty drivers from ten teams, while the Formula 3 grid features ten teams with three drivers each. Carlin are the reigning champions in F2, while ART won the teams’ championship in the final season of GP3. Here are five names to look out for in Formula 2 in 2019:
- Mick Schumacher (pictured above), son of seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher, steps up to Formula 2 in 2019. In 2018, the German won the FIA F3 European Championship, finishing almost 60 points ahead of title rival Dan Ticktum. Schumacher, who joined the Ferrari Driver Academy over the winter, will compete with Prema Racing in F2, who in recent years have led both Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc to title success in the series.
- Being Dutch, Nyck de Vries usually picks up a lot of trackside support at the European rounds of the F2 championship courtesy of Max Verstappen’s orange army. De Vries finished fourth in last year’s F2 championship – the highest ranked driver to not pick up a Formula 1 drive for 2019. A member of the McLaren young driver programme, de Vries returns to the ART team for the new season, the team with whom he competed in GP3 in 2016. Last season, George Russell won the F2 title driving with ART. Can de Vries follow suit in 2019?
- There are high hopes for Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou in the F2 championship this year, with many believing Zhou is China’s best shot at getting a driver into Formula 1 in the near future. Since finishing as runner-up in the Italian F4 Championship in 2015, Zhou has placed eighth in the FIA F3 European Championship in each of the last two seasons, picking up two wins and three pole positions last year. Formerly a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, Zhou signed with the Renault Sport Academy earlier this year and will therefore race in Renault’s colours at the UNI Virtuosi Racing team this season.
- In 2019, Tatiana Calderon will become the first female driver to compete in the modern era of Formula 2. The Colombian will be driving for BWT Arden, founded by Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner. Calderon has competed in all of the last three GP3 seasons, finishing a best of 16th last year with 11 points. Alongside F2 duties, Calderon also serves as the Alfa Romeo team’s Test Driver in 2019 – a role which she first took up in 2017.
- Calderon’s team-mate at BWT Arden will be reigning GP3 champion Anthoine Hubert. Aside from the Austrian round of last year’s GP3 championship, Hubert finished on the podium in at least one of the two races each weekend in the 2018 season on his way to being crowned champion at the final round. Will his GP3 skills translate into F2 success?
How the race weekend works
In both Formula 2 and Formula 3, Practice and Qualifying takes place on Friday, with the first race (Feature Race) on Saturday and the second race (Sprint Race) on Sunday before the F1 Grand Prix.
All New Formula 3
For 2019, GP3 has become the FIA Formula 3 Championship, uniting with the now-defunct FIA Formula 3 European Championship to create a clearer progression ladder to Formula 1.
The Formula 3 season begins at the Spanish Grand Prix, with pre-season testing having already taken place at the Paul Ricard Circuit. The new car for the series, the Dallara F3 2019, was revealed at last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. It serves as the successor to the Dallara GP3/16 used in last year’s GP3 championship, and features a halo. Updated aerodynamics on the new car have been designed to allow closer racing than in previous seasons of GP3.
Will you be watching Formula 1’s feeder series this season? Which drivers will you be supporting? Let us know in the comments!