2012 Formula Two Preview

From its name you might conclude that Formula Two was the last step on the road to Formula One.  You would be wrong: Formula Two is a shadow of the series that existed between the 1960s and 1980s and provided a route into Formula One for drivers such as René Arnoux, Keke Rosberg and Carlos Reutemann.  Since being resurrected in 2009, no Formula Two driver has made it to Formula One, either directly or indirectly.  That will change at some point, as there have been some talented young drivers passing through Formula Two’s ranks, with the prize for winning the championship being a test with Williams F1 team, while the second and third placed drivers will receive GP2 tests, and all three receive an FIA Super Licence necessary to compete in Formula One.  As a result, it is surely only a matter of time before the Formula One teams take on a Formula Two graduate, and this will raise Formula Two’s profile on the motorsport ladder.

One of Formula Two’s great advantages over other junior series is its costs.  While it is difficult to gather exact costs for other series, it is generally believed that a season in GP2 can cost upwards of £2 million and around £600,000 for Formula 3 Euro Series.  By comparison, a season in Formula Two costs only £225,000.  This cost reduction is made possible by being a single-make series without teams, having the series promoter (MotorSport Vision) prepare the cars

This season the Formula Two car, the JPH1B, has been upgraded to improve grip and handling.  For 2012 the car has new carbon fibre brakes, as well as switching from Avon to Yokahama tyres.  These upgrades are expected to make the cars faster by around two seconds a lap.

Here are the drivers who are signed up to compete in this season’s Formula Two championship:

2.            James Cole

Last season was Cole’s debut in Formula Two, and he scored 6 points on his way to 20th in the championship.  2009’s British Formula Ford champion, Cole should improve on last season’s performance now that he has experience at this level.
I predict – 9th

4.            Luciano Bacheta

Despite only entering four races in last season’s Formula Two championship, Bacheta managed to score points in each race, an impressive result, and testament to how quickly the Romford-born driver is able to learn a new car.  Bacheta has been 2006 T Cars champion, third in 2007’s Formula Palmer Audi championship, and was runner-up in Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup in 2010, and is one of the BRDC’s rising stars.  Given that he seems to learn series fairly quickly, he could be in with a chance of this season’s title.
I predict – 1st

5.            Parthiva Sureshwaren

Parthiva Sureshwaren is something of a veteran in Formula Two, with this being his third season in the series.  Despite this, Sureshwaren has only ever scored one point in Formula Two, this coming in his first season, so if he manages to score points he can count this season as having been successful.
I predict – 18th

7.            David Zhu

The first Chinese driver in Formula Two, Dai Wei Zhu, also known as David, is a graduate of Formula Pilota China’s first season.  As well as driving in Formula Two this season, Zhu will act as an ambassador to raise the profile of Formula Two in China.  Scoring points would probably be a good result for him this season.
I predict – 11th

8.            Plamen Kralev

Bulgaria’s top driver, Plamen Kralev was something of a latecomer to motorsport, beginning in 2007 at the age of 34.  For the last two seasons he has been driving in Formula Two, scoring two points.  There is no denying that Kralev has been a fantastic ambassador for motorsport in Bulgaria, but his performances have been less than stellar.
I predict – 16th

9.            Mihai Marinescu

Returning for his third season in the number 9 car, Marinescu took one win at Monza last season on his way to 5th in the championship.  Marinescu drove in the GP2 Final in Abu Dhabi at the end of last season, so he might have been hoping to attract enough sponsorship to get a drive in GP2 for this season, but instead he is back in Formula Two.  If he continues the improvement he has shown he could be a title contender.
I predict – 3rd

10.          Alex Fontana

Fontana is the reigning champion of European F3 Open (the old Spanish Formula Three) and will make his debut in Formula Two this season.  The Swiss driver has been showing good form in testing, and now that he is a proven champion he should have the mettle to pick up race wins and even challenge for the title.
I predict – 4th

11.          Kourosh Khani

This season Formula Two has a very multinational grid, and Kourosh Khani is no exception, representing Iran on Formula Two’s grid this season.  A graduate of Formula Renault 2.0, Khani will hopefully pick up some points and raise the profile of motorsport in his native Iran this season.
I predict – 15th

12.          Mathéo Tuscher

Mathéo Tuscher is shockingly young – still only 15 – and already a champion, winning Formula Pilota China last season.  This season he steps into Formula Two, and it will be very interesting to see how quickly he is able to adapt to the car.
I predict – 10th

13.          José Luis Abadín

Last year José Luis Abadín’s Formula Two season was broken up by suffering gastroenteritis, causing him to miss the race at the Nürburgring, and financial problems, causing him to miss the rounds at the Red Bull Ring and Monza.  Seemingly he has sorted out his budget for this year and lines up again on the Formula Two grid.  Given that he only managed one point last season he might expect to have another difficult season.
I predict – 13th

14.          Mauro Calamia

Young Swiss driver Mauro Calamia drove in Formula Renault 2.0 Alps last year where he finished 10th.  The 20-year-old got his first taste of Formula Two in the tests at the end of last year.  Given that he failed to top the charts then, and has performed averagely in other series, he might struggle to get into the points positions often.
I predict – 14th

18.          Dino Zamparelli

One of the more exciting drivers joining Formula Two this season, Dino Zamparelli is the reigning Formula Renault BARC champion.  His result earned him a place as a finalist in the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, which recognises young British driving talent.  A talented driver, Zamparelli could well pick up some wins this season.
I predict – 5th

19.          Christopher Zanella

When Christopher Zanella joined Formula Two last season he had a great debut and was actually leading the championship following the second round of the series.  Following that high, however, Zanella failed to win again, and after the fourth round at the Nürburgring he did not even finish on the podium.    As a result it is difficult to predict how Christopher Zanella will perform this season.  If he uses his experience and performs like he did in the early stages of last season he will be champion.  If his form from the end of last season continues as he struggles for confidence he will be stuck in midfield.
I predict – 8th

20.          Daniel McKenzie

In 2009 Daniel McKenzie was British Formula Three’s National Class champion, but his move to Formula Renault 3.5 last season did not bring success, as he failed to score a single point.  His performances in pre-season testing suggest that he will perform better in Formula Two and could challenge for wins.
I predict - 6th

22.          Axcil Jefferies

This season Axcil Jefferies will become the first African driver to compete in the new Formula Two championship.  With it having been two years since he last drove competitively and Formula Two being a higher level than he has previously competed at, Jefferies might struggle to make the points regularly.
I predict – 16th

27.          Markus Pommer

While his career to date may not suggest that Markus Pommer will blow the rest of the field away in Formula Two, in pre-season testing Pommer has regularly been top of the timings charts, and if he can carry this form into the season proper he will definitely be challenging for the title.
I predict – 2nd

35.          Hector Hurst

Considering that last season was Hector Hurst’s first season out of karting he was remarkably competitive against drivers who had more experience in open-wheelers.  That said, perhaps instead of moving straight into Formula Two Hurst would have benefited from a second season in Formula Renault BARC, where he might have been able to use his experience to compete for the title.  While I can’t blame him for jumping at the opportunity to race in Formula Two, I think he might find it difficult to match the more experienced competitors in the series.
I predict – 12th

48.          Dean Stoneman

We are very lucky just to have Dean Stoneman on the grid this season.  The 2010 Formula Two champion, Stoneman seemed to be on the up-and-up and was looking forward to making his debut in Formula Renault 3.5.  Then he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and instead of racing, Stoneman’s life became about making a full recovery.  Thankfully Stoneman is now able to get back to competing, and will return to Formula Two.  It remains to be seen how Stoneman will perform after his illness, which prevented him from training much of last season, but it’s great to see him return.
I predict – 7th

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