F2: 5 Takeaways from the Italian Grand Prix (Monza)

F2 Championship - Round 13:Monza - Sprint Race
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Felipe Drugovich is the 2022 F2 Drivers’ Champion. Despite not finishing the Sprint Race the results of others were enough to secure him the title.

The weather in Monza was hot and so was the on-track action as other drivers are fighting for their future in 2023. We had crashes, safety cars, red flags, penalties, and plenty of talking points from the weekend.

Caution was thrown to the wind as the red mist descended across the grid. This was the penultimate weekend and with only Abu Dhabi to go everyone knew they needed to impress.

1 – A Champion Crowned

Over the last few races it has felt more like when would Drugovich win the F2 title rather than if. Now we have our answer, he was confirmed as champion following the Sprint Race. Despite his race finishing after 44 seconds!

Drugovich was penalized after qualifying for not slowing under yellow flags and would start 12th. Pourchaire, his main competitor, was further back starting 14th. Contact towards the back of the grid into turn 1 between Tatiana Calderon and Olli Caldwell brought out the safety car.

Drugovich had weathered the turn 1 storm. However, at turn 5 he made contact with Amaury Cordeel and ran wide into the gravel. The contact and the gravel were enough to damage his suspension putting him out of the race.

Nervously sitting on the pit wall, Drugovich watched Vips come home to win his first race of the year. Where was the all-important Pourchaire?

Iwasa was struggling with pace holding up a fair few drivers and giving Pourchaire a line of sight to where he needed to finish. The battling start to the race had Pourchaire in 11th place but with progress slowing, he came under pressure from Hauger. Pourchaire lost out and a trip through the gravel sent him back down to 16th before he eventually lost another place.

That was enough to claim the title for Drugovich with three races remaining!

2 – Where to Now?

F2 is very proud of its boast as the ‘Road to F1’ and is seen as the most traditional route to the top of motorsport, despite the interest around Colton Herta. However, even after taking the title in relatively dominant fashion, Drugovich has no affiliation to any F1 team. It is not looking likely he will be earning himself a seat there for 2023 at least.

On one hand, it’s disappointing as these young drivers work hard to get to the top and you don’t want to see them miss out. On the other hand, it shows the strong position of F1 that they can pick drivers on their perceived merit and skill, rather than in the past when any financial backing was also important.

Drugovich is estimated to bring upwards of $10m in sponsorship with him but that doesn’t look enough to secure a seat for him. The best case for him is likely to be a reserve role with one of the teams where he can hope for a few FP1 sessions and maybe a 2024 seat if he impresses.

With his smooth, efficient driving style and ability to keep tires alive, I think there is a series out there for him. So Felipe, if you’re reading this, might I suggest a look into Formula E?

3 – Best of the Rest

With the title now decided, attention turned to those drivers behind. Everyone wants to finish as high as they can and there are now 4 rookies in with a shout of being named ‘Best Rookie’, Frederik Vesti having joined the fray.

Only second to sixth can finish best of the rest but from third to tenth could change in any order. Pourchaire, though he had a disappointing weekend is still the favorite to finish second. Behind him, it’s much closer. Logan Sargeant’s early season momentum has fizzled out with a reasonable Sprint but was taken out of the Feature Race. He is still the top rookie but coming under more pressure from late-season bloomer Jack Doohan.

Jack Doohan finished just behind Sargeant in the Sprint Race. Rather ironically it was these two who came together in the Feature Race. Doohan struggled with his launch and was caught up in the battle behind him trying to defend. Slight contact with Daruvala sent Doohan straight into Sargeant, ending both their races.

The Monza Feature Race win, and his first this year, vaulted Daruvala up to fifth in the standings. He is now equal on points with Doohan and Enzo Fittipaldi. Starting sixth in the Feature Race, Daruvala kept his cool throughout the race. Making overtakes when needed and pulling off a great strategy for what was actually a relatively easy win. His first F2 victory this season and third is his career at this level.

4 – Team Battle

The team championship has really heated up. A double non-finish for MP Motorsport in the Sprint meant that despite winning the drivers title the top of the standings got much closer. MP Motorsport’s second driver Novalak, a rookie, has not been able to keep up with the pace and productivity of his teammate, and now champion, Drugovich.

At the top, it’s gotten spicy. MP Motorsport are now tied on points with ART Grand Prix. And who drives for ART? Theo Pourchaire! He might have lost the drivers’ title but with a stronger teammate in Vesti, the ART guys will be determined to win this one. One weekend to go and it’s all square.

Those behind haven’t exactly given up either. Carlin are within reach but consistency has been a problem for their drivers recently. And jumping back into the top 4 is PREMA Racing. The team that was so dominant for so long. With his first win Daruvala will want to keep that up into Abu Dhabi and Hauger looks to have put his troubles aside.

5 – Risk Vs Reward

Any type of motorsport can be dangerous but single seater, open topped cars are seen as the most dangerous. While big strides have been made in safety, it is still inheritably dangerous, and the Feature Race reminded us of that.

The drivers know that and they consider the risks to be worth it compared to the goal of making it into F1. Those risks were on full display this weekend. It was only a minor collision, but Tatiana Calderon was medically informed not to race in the Feature Race after her Sprint collision. The reason was an injury to her hand.

Lap 1, Turn 1 at Monza is well known as a flashpoint in any series and F2 is no exception. Steaming into the corner Boschung was forced across the run-off clipping Pourchaire into a spin when re-joining. The spin ended both of these driver’s races but worse was to come.

Pourchaire came spinning across the track and was run into by Caldwell and Ghiotto, destroying Pourchaire’s car. It was a very nervy moment until he was seen up walking around again.

There was another incident as Calan Williams went wide and spun. Coming back across the track he collected another car and hit the barrier. There was a lot of damage and so a red flag was brought out to clear the cars and check the barriers.

Luckily after that, it was relatively normal F2 incidents. With opportunistic drivers making moves that weren’t really there and coming away with damaged wings only. We saw an increase in severe penalties given out throughout the weekend compared to what we’d expect. Iwasa was also disqualified from the Feature Race due to a technical infringement with his DAMS car.

Championship Standings

The F2 drivers’ championship is wrapped up for Drugovich but it’s still all to play for behind him. Anyone from second to sixth is still mathematically in with a shout of coming out on top in that group.

The team’s championship is closer than ever with little to choose between them. One good or bad result could swing it for anyone.

Drivers

  1. Felipe Drugovich – 241 points
  2. Theo Pourchaire – 164 points
  3. Logan Sargeant – 135 points
  4. Jack Doohan – 126 points

Teams

  1. MP Motorsport – 281 points
  2. ART Grand Prix – 281 points
  3. Carlin – 258 points
  4. PREMA Racing – 224 points

One final weekend to go when F2 returns in Abu Dhabi on 18-20 November. Which team will come out on top and who will be our top rookie?

Read Next: F3: 5 Takeaways from the Italian Grand Prix 

Featured Image Credit: Joe Portlock – Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images