Formula 2 rejects calls to drop ban on former champions

Felipe Drugovich (BRA) MP Motorsport wins the 2022 F2 Championship. 10.09.2022. Formula 2 Championship, Rd 13, Sprint Race
© XPB 

Organisers of the Formula 2 championship support series say they have no plans to change the ban on allowing current and former champions to race.

Once a driver clinches the title, they are ineligible to race in future seasons. It's meant to ensure that the series remains fresh and dynamic by encouraging fresh new talent to be developed without not getting 'blocked' at the top.

The idea is that champions should be heading straight into Formula 1, as happened in 2017 with Charles Leclerc and the following season with George Russell taking seats with backmarker teams Sauber and Williams respectively.

But in recent years that's become harder to achieve. The 2019 F2 champion Nyck de Vries only just made his Grand Prix last week in Monza as a late stand-in for the unwell Alex Albon, having been racing in Formula E instead.

Mick Schumacher was able to carry the momentum of winning the 2020 F2 title to secure a seat at Haas, but last year's champion Oscar Piastri had to serve a year on the sidelines as a reserve driver for Alpine before finally winning a seat at McLaren for 2023.

Now this year's title winner Felipe Drugovich finds himself in limbo. Aston Martin did decide to snap him up to their junior driver programme for 2023, but a race outing is unlikely in the short to medium term.

Frustrated by the situation, Drugovich said this week that F2 champions who don't get a chance to step up to F1 the following year should be allowed to continue competing in the support series.

Felipe Drugovich (BRA) MP Motorsport wins the 2022 F2 Championship. 10.09.2022. Formula 2 Championship, Rd 13, Sprint Race

“In my opinion either you’re a champion and cannot stay anymore and you have to be promoted to F1 - or you can stay," he suggested. “It’s kind of how it works in Moto 2 and Moto 3.

"I think first of all what needs to change is whoever wins the championship needs to get a go in F1," he insisted.

But F2 CEO Bruno Michel is against changing the rules, and insisted that F2 champions must move on and out once they clinch the title.

“I think it’s a pyramid and you have to have a system where at some point it has to be up or out," he explained. “I wouldn’t like F2 or F3 to become professional championships.

"If you do that, that’s exactly what’s going to be the issue. You will have guys staying forever in the same championship, having a big advantage because they have a massive experience of it over the young drivers who are coming.

“Not only would it not be good for their careers, but it wouldn’t be good for the [next generation of] young drivers because they would probably be not get to shine.

Bruno Michel (FRA) F2 CEO. 21.05.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 6, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, Qualifying

"They would fight against people that honestly are probably not better than them but who have much more experience, know the tracks, know the car, know the teams, know whatever.

“So for me, absolutely not," he asserted. "I’ve always been very, very pushy for that. We did it from the very beginning of GP2 and GP3: the winner cannot stay, and I think it’s a very important point to continue.”

Drugovich secured this year's title with MP Motorsport at Monza after stretching out a 77 point lead over ART rival Théo Pourchaire with just two races remaining at Yas Marina in November.

The 22-year-old Brazilian has picked up five race victories this season, including a clean sweep at Catalunya and victory in the Monaco sprint race.

Meanwhile third placed Logan Sergeant, who is currently competing for Carlin, will have his first taste of an F1 weekend with a free practice session for Williams at the Circuit of the Americas.

Laurent Rossi (FRA) Alpine Chief Executive Officer with Otmar Szafnauer (USA) Alpine F1 Team, Team Principal and Jack Doohan (AUS) Virtuosi Racing - F2 race winner. 28.08.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Belgian Grand Prix, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, Race

And Jack Doohan, who is currently in fourth in the driver standings with Virtuosi Racing, is rumoured to be on Alpine's long list of drivers to replace Fernando Alonso at Enstone and race alongside Esteban Ocon in 2023.

Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi told The Race website that Doohan is “still in the pool of people that Otmar, myself and the team are considering."

However he cautioned: “We need someone who’s capable of showing the way alongside Esteban. We can’t develop a car on only one side of the garage.”

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