F2 season preview: The 2018 season starts this weekend in Bahrain
By William Esler
Last Updated: 13/12/18 2:24pm
2018 heralds a new era in Formula 2, with the debut of the Dallara built F2 2018 - the first new car the series has seen since 2011.
The teams will no longer have banks of data to rely on and with all the drivers in identical machinery, it will be down to them and their engineer to make the difference.
Formally known as GP2, 32 drivers have progressed from the series to race in F1. Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Nico Hulkenberg are all former champions, while the last three champions - Stoffel Vandoorne in 2015, Pierre Gasly in 2016 and Charles Leclerc in 2017 - will all be present on the F1 grid in 2018.
This really is the series to see the next generation of F1 stars!
Three British drivers will be on the grid for the season-opening races in Bahrain and all three are already linked to F1 teams.
Lando Norris will race for Carlin and is McLaren's reserve driver - he won the FIA European F3 title in 2017.
George Russell and Jack Aitken will be team-mates at ART. Russell is contracted to Mercedes and drove in first practice in Brazil and Abu Dhabi for Force India last year. He also won the GP3 Series title in 2017. Aitken is Renault's reserve driver.
Other drivers with F1 connections are Nyck de Vries, who has been part of the McLaren family since 2010, while American Santino Ferrucci is development driver at Haas. Artem Markelov is development driver with Renault, Nicholas Latifi is Force India's reserve driver, Antonio Fuoco is part of Ferrari's driver academy and Sean Gelael drove in four first practice sessions for Toro Rosso in 2017.
All new for 2018, the F2 2018 is built by Dallara and weighs in at 720kg including the driver.
It is powered by a V6 3.4 litre turbo charged Mecachrome engine, producing 620HP. It is capable of 0-62mph in 2.9 second and has a top speed in excess of 208mph.
To prepare drivers for F1, the car sports the same DRS system and is activated on the same parts of the track.
The car runs on Pirelli tyres on the same size wheels as Formula 1 used in 2016.
The weekend starts with a 45-minute practice session, usually on a Friday morning, with a 30-minute qualifying session in the afternoon. Four points are awarded for pole position.
That determines the grid for Saturday's Feature Race, during which the drivers must make a mandatory pit-stop to switch dry tyre compounds - just as in F1.
The Feature Race is run over 170km or 60 minutes (except for Monaco where the race is run over 140km and in Budapest where the race is run over 160km).
The top 10 drivers score points (25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1) with two points being awarded to the driver who set the fastest lap of the race (as long as they finish in the top 10).
The results of the Feature Race set the grid for Sunday's Sprint Race with the top eight positions reversed.
The top eight finishers score points (15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1), and the driver who sets the fastest lap scores two points (as long as they finish in the top 10).
Every practice session, qualifying session and race will be live on Sky Sports F1.