MEDIABALAP.com – The FIA Formula 2 Championship visits Mugello for the first time as the 2020 season continues in Italy for Round 9.
WHEN TO WATCH All times local (GMT +2)
Friday Free Practice: 12:55 – 13:40 Qualifying: 17:00 – 17:30 Press conference: 18:15 Saturday Feature race: 16:45 (33 laps) Press conference: 18:05 Sunday Sprint race: 11:55 (23 laps) Press conference: 13:00
THE STORY SO FAR
The historic circuit at Monza gives way to a brand-new Italian adventure this weekend, as the FIA Formula 2 Championship visits Mugello for the first time. The excitement should be just as intense however, as the battle for the Drivers’ Championship continues. Mick Schumacher grabbed his first F2 Feature Race win last weekend to underline his title ambitions, before Callum Ilott inherited Sprint Race victory to move top of the standings once again.
It was Yuki Tsunoda who went quickest in Free Practice on Friday, the fourth time the Carlin racer has done so this season, but Ilott pipped him to pole position by just 0.030s in Qualifying.
The UNI-Virtuosi racer looked fast on Saturday too, though Schumacher’s lightning start from P7 to seize second place before the first corner was eye-catching. The Ferrari juniors then fought for the lead, but when Ilott stalled after his pit stop Schumacher took full advantage. The PREMA ace took the flag for his first win of the campaign, ahead of Luca Ghiotto and Christian Lundgaard. Ilott recovered to sixth to move level on points with Championship leader Robert Shwartzman, who finished ninth.
Ilott was then promoted to first following Sunday’s Sprint Race, after Dan Ticktum was disqualified having led from lights to flag. It was not possible to take the required fuel sample from his DAMS machine and he was denied victory. Subsequently, ART’s Lundgaard gained second place, with Schumacher moving up into third for the pair’s second podium finishes of the weekend.
It’s all change at the head of the Drivers’ Championship heading into Round 9, as Ilott (149 pts) regains top spot. 37 points from Monza move Schumacher (143) up two places into second, just six points behind. Shwartzman (140) has slipped to third, but is only nine points off the leader. Tsunoda (123) has also dropped into fourth place, ahead of Lundgaard (116).
Having clinched the FIA Formula 3 title last weekend, PREMA Racing (283 pts) have now extended their lead in the F2 Teams’ Championship to 32 points over UNI-Virtuosi (251). Hitech Grand Prix (173) are third, with ART Grand Prix (150) climbing to fourth, just four points ahead of Carlin (146).
Visiting Mugello is almost a trip into the unknown for many in the paddock. Fast, flowing corners and a switch to Pirelli’s hard and soft compounds, mean tyre wear will be critical to any chance of success.
FROM THE GRID – ROBERT SHWARTZMAN (PREMA RACING)
“I don’t know if I like the circuit to be honest! It’s been a very long time since I raced there. I remember it was not the best weekend for me, but it’s been a while, so I hope this year is going to be good.
“The track is very interesting, because it’s uphill and downhill and it’s very fast. Even though it’s really nice, it’s going to be very difficult to perform well. It’s a big challenge, but I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully after this race weekend I’ll say it’s a really good track.
“Tyre management is going to be very important. I think it’s probably going to be the highest deg track of the season. I’m really focussing on how to work the tyres and do the best job possible to keep a least a little bit of life in them. I don’t think they will last long.
“The track is very quick with a lot of high-speed corners where it’s either uphill or downhill, so the car can be on the limit and you need to be brave and have trust in it if you want to go fast. I also think it’s going to be physically tougher than other tracks.
“There’ll definitely be overtakes on the main straight, coming into the Turn 1, but apart from that it’s very difficult to get past. With high-speed corners it’s very hard to have good downforce and stay close to the car in front.
“Last weekend in Monza I learned not to have expectations at all. That was wrong from my side. For Mugello, without having much experience of the track at all, if any, I don’t have any expectations. I just want to do the best job possible, and to enjoy every moment while driving the track.”
TYRE TALK – MARIO ISOLA (PIRELLI’S HEAD OF F1 AND CAR RACING)
“Last weekend in Formula 2, Mick Schumacher took an emotional victory after executing his soft-medium strategy perfectly, while Guanyu Zhou made up 12 places using the alternative strategy. Congratulations to PREMA Racing for an excellent result on home territory, winning the F2 Feature Race, as well as the F3 Teams’ Championship.”
- Mugello Circuit is new to the FIA Formula 2 Championship calendar, and comprises 15 corners. The track is 5.245km long, including the 1.141km-long main straight.
- Callum Ilott’s pole position last weekend was his second consecutive pole at Monza, and the fifth of his F2 career. The Briton has more pole positions than any other driver on the grid.
- Mick Schumacher’s win at Monza last Saturday, the second of his F2 career, was the first time the Ferrari junior has taken Feature Race victory. His previous win was in 2019’s Sprint Race at Budapest.
- Schumacher became the 10th different race winner of the season last weekend, matching the record for unique winners in a season in the modern era of FIA Formula 2 (2017 & 2018).
- PREMA Racing now hold the record of the highest number of wins in the modern era in FIA Formula 2 with 16.
- Ilott became the second triple race winner of the season following his victory last weekend.
- Schumacher earned his third double podium finish of the season in Monza and has more podiums than anyone so far this season (8). The German driver has now finished in the top three for the past five consecutive races.
- One more unique podium finisher this weekend would be the 15th different driver to finish in the top three this season. This would match the record of unique podium finishers in a season of the modern era of FIA Formula 2 (2018).
- Lap 15 of this weekend’s Sprint Race is due to be the 500th racing lap of the season.