F2: 5 Takeaways from Hungary

Theo Pourchaire - F2 - Hungary
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We leave Hungary with a reignited title battle, drivers falling foul of the stewards and a potential F1 seat looming in the background.

Coming off the back of France where the gap at the top of the F2 championship was closed ever so slightly, Drugovich still looked comfortable. Those chasing him knew going into the summer break they were running out of time to make their move. But in Hungary, moves were made, some for the better while others not so much.

1 – Pourchaire Reignites Title Battle

Coming into the weekend, all the conversations had been about Logan Sargeant’s momentum. Early season favourite Theo Pourchaire had started strong but recent races had been more lacklustre. Pourchaire came out swinging in the Feature Race with a blistering start from fourth on the grid, behind his rival Drugovich. This vaulted him up to second on the track where he pressured Armstrong all the way to their first pitstops.

F2 pitstops are not slick like F1 but the ART Grand Prix team did their job. Allowing Pourchaire to jump Armstrong on the pits and take the lead. On the medium tyres to the end, Pourchaire needed to overtake those who started on the mediums. A task he set about with joy, working his way up the grid and building the gap behind.

When the medium starters finally pitted only his teammate Vesti was in a position to claw him back in. Unfortunately for Vesti, he had a penalty for forcing another driver off the track and so was too far back to look for a fight. You have to suspect he wouldn’t have had the pace even without the penalty, Pourchaire looked to have it covered.

Pourchaire took the win of the Feature Race, a result that this writer predicted!

2 – Sprint Could Be Pivotal

In F2 we have two races over a weekend. The Feature Race is on Sunday but on Saturday, there is the Sprint. A shorter race where the top 10 from qualifying start in reversed order. There are fewer points available, but it gives more chances for drivers to score points. On the flip side, the Sprint also doubles the risk for drivers of getting into incidents.

It is very possible that the Sprint could end up deciding this year’s championship.

Pourchaire won the feature race and took 25 points while Drugovich only took two. However, Drugovich also earned five points in the Sprint while Pourchaire took none. The Sprint allows the drivers another chance to score, and it could help Drugovich to maintain that gap till the end of the season.

Alternatively, the Sprint could end a title challenge with the wrong result. Logan Sargeant needed to regain his momentum but, in the Sprint, got caught up in a turn 1 incident. Ending his Sprint race and increasing the pressure coming out of the summer break.

3 – Audition Time

Pre-weekend we had the news that Vettel would be retiring at the end of the season. Potentially opening up an F1 seat at Aston Martin.

Post-weekend we received this announcement:

This really throws up an interesting dynamic. Previously the seat at Aston Martin was linked to Schumacher and Ricciardo but their seat probably wasn’t going to be open for an F2 driver.

Now it’s looking like open season. The dream of these F2 drivers is within touching distance and expect fireworks later in the season if drivers think they have a shout.

Let’s predict how these announcements play out for some of the open seats and F2 hopefuls:

  1. Alonso to Aston Martin
  2. Alpine’s Academy driver and former F2 Champion Oscar Piastri to Alpine
  3. Nicholas Latifi to leave F1
  4. Logan Sargeant to Williams with Albon being resigned

Sargeant might not win the F2 title, but he has shown great pace at Silverstone and Austria. Sargeant is also a Williams academy driver so has to be favourite at the minute.

4 – Rookie Struggles

The junior series act as a step up from series to series. Coming into the year, Dennis Hauger as the reigning F3 champion would have been hoping to make an impact. It hasn’t quite worked out that way.

A slow start was to be expected but as he got to grips with the new cars, the performances haven’t really shown.

There looked to be a turning point for Monaco and Baku where he took a Sprint victory and then a Feature Race victory. That was until normal service resumed except for a podium in Austria.

F2 is definitely a step-up but Hauger has the ability. He just seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Getting into first-lap incidents or overusing his tyres like this weekend in Hungary which puts him out of position and compromises his race. That leads to Hauger trying to compensate and over-drive, causing yet more incidents usually.

This season looks like it will have to be put down to learning. Hopefully, a stronger end of the year can allow Hauger to come back swinging next year. Which is needed to rise to the top of the Red Bull Academy supply chain.

5 – Penalty Points

Discipline has come to the forefront this year and not in a good way.

You might have heard of penalty points being given to drivers across F1 and F2 but nothing seems to come of them. This year in F2, we’ve already had two drivers receive the full punishment of a race ban and we are close to a third. That is far too many and does nothing to help their auditions for that F1 seat!

Earlier this year Amaury Cordeel was banned from competing at Silverstone after getting twelve penalty points. Now the Alpine academy driver Olli Caldwell will now be banned from Spa. Caldwell received his final penalty point for track limit infringements in Hungary after also falling foul of this in Austria.

The final driver who could also be banned is Roy Nissany who is one point away from a ban. A driver who has come in for criticism multiple times for his driving this year.

We now have the mid-summer break before F2 returns to Belgium for the Spa race weekend from the 26th to 28th of August.

Championship Standings

One last look at the standings before the break shows the battle building at the top.

Drivers

  1. Felipe Drugovich – 180 points
  2. Theo Pourchaire – 159 points
  3. Logan Sargeant – 119 points
  4. Enzo Fittipaldi – 100 points

Teams

  1. ART Grand Prix – 250 points
  2. Carlin – 207 points
  3. MP Motorsport – 206 points
  4. Hitech Grand Prix – 164 points

Read Next: F1 – 5 Takeaways from the Hungarian Grand Prix