Mick Schumacher and Callum Ilott set for F2 title showdown in Bahrain
Mick Schumacher holds 22-point Formula 2 championship lead heading to Bahrain, where there will be four races over two weekends; Callum Ilott leads chasing pack, ahead of Yuki Tsunoda; Watch every Bahrain GP session live on Sky F1 this weekend
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 25/11/20 10:41am
The Formula 1 titles may be decided - but Formula 2 is heading for an epic conclusion, starting at this weekend's Bahrain GP, as Mick Schumacher looks to convert his lead into a sought-after championship to further bolster his reputation and F1 credentials.
After a two-month break, the F2 season finishes with a double-header in Bahrain - where there will be four races over two weekends - and Schumacher, the son of F1 legend Michael, holds a 22-point lead over fellow Ferrari junior and F1 hopeful Callum Ilottt.
Four other highly-rated youngsters, Yuki Tsunoda, Christian Lundgaard, Robert Shwartzman and Nikita Mazepin, are also in title contention heading into the Bahrain GP - and you can watch all the action live only on Sky Sports F1.
- Saturday's Feature Race starts at 9am on Saturday, November 28
- Sunday's Sprint Race starts at 9.50am on Sunday, November 29
F2 is the official feeder series for F1 and is regarded as the ultimate breeding ground for young racing talent, with Charles Leclerc and George Russell two of its more recent champions. Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, also won the title in the championship's previous iteration.
F2's Bahrain finale: The state of play
An F2 race weekend takes place at the same track as F1 and is comprised of practice and qualifying on a Friday, the latter setting the grid for the Feature Race on Saturday - where the majority of the points are scored. There is then a shorter Sprint Race on the Sunday, where the top eight positions from Saturday's race are reversed for the grid.
Consistency has been key for the Schumacher with Prema Motorsport in 2020 - he has only failed to score points three times in a series with reverse grids and crashes aplenty - and since the summer he has built a championship lead, helped by Feature Race wins in Monza and Sochi.
But Schumacher, who has improved immensely in his second F2 season, admits "everything is open" heading into the back-to-back finale with Ilott right on his tail. The Englishman, at 22 a year older than Mick, has one more win than Schumacher in 2020 (2x Feature, 1x Sprint) and is a threat despite the points difference.
Formula 2 championship standings
|1. Mick Schumacher||Prema Motorsport||191|
|2. Callum Ilott||UN Virtuousi||169|
|3. Yuki Tsunoda||Carlin||147|
|4. Christian Lundgaard||ART Grand Prix||145|
|5. Robert Shwartzman||Prema Motorsport||140|
|6. Nikita Mazepin||Hitech Grand Prix||140|
A maximum of 48 points can be scored during a race weekend in F2. Four points are awarded for whoever seals pole on Friday, while the winner of Saturday's Feature Race earns 25 points, and the winner of Sunday's Sprint Race earns 15 points. A further four points are on offer for fastest laps, with two awarded in each race (provided the driver with fastest lap finishes in the top-10).
That means Schumacher can wrap up the title this weekend if he holds a 49-point advantage afterwards, although the hard-to-predict nature of F2 also means other drivers have a chance to overhaul him.
Tsunoda heads the chasing pack in third, 44 points behind, with Lundgaard just two points further back. Shwartzman and Mazepin are level on 140 points, 51 off Schumacher.
"Above all, I feel a great anticipation and excitement," said Schumacher. "I think there is a good chance for us to win the championship which is why I am very confident and optimistic. Obviously, there is still a long way to go and a lot of work to do, but I totally trust in the quality of our package.
Schumacher set for F1 grid in 2021 - and who else?
The winner of F2 commonly immediately heads to F1 afterwards - partly because they are then ineligible for another F2 season and also because they have displayed the talent and guile required for a championship.
In truth, Schumacher may not even need the title to earn an F1 seat. The 21-year-old, backed by Ferrari - where his father won six of his seven F1 titles - has long-been linked with a step up and is the front-runner to land a seat at Haas in 2021.
Haas, who have both spots available and are powered by Ferrari engines, are set to partner Schumacher with Mazepin - who brings plenty of financial backing.
|Year||Driver||Made it to F1?|
|2005 (GP2)||Nico Rosberg||Yes|
|2006 (GP2)||Lewis Hamilton||Yes|
|2007 (GP2)||Timo Glock||Yes|
|2008 (GP2)||Giorgio Pantano||Yes *|
|2009 (GP2)||Nico Hulkenberg||Yes|
|2010 (GP2)||Pastor Maldonado||Yes|
|2011 (GP2)||Romain Grosjean||Yes|
|2012 (GP2)||Davide Valsecchi||No|
|2013 (GP2)||Fabio Leimer||No|
|2014 (GP2)||Jolyon Palmer||Yes|
|2015 (GP2)||Stoffel Vandoorne||Yes|
|2016 (GP2)||Pierre Gasly||Yes|
|2017 (F2)||Charles Leclerc||Yes|
|2018 (F2)||George Russell||Yes|
|2019 (F2)||Nyck De Vries||No|
|* Pantano raced in F1 in 2004, before his F2 title|
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has admitted that, with few options available on the grid, it is likely only one of the three Scuderia youngsters - Schumacher, Ilott and Shwartzman - moves into F1 next season, and preferred an announcement before the F2 season finished.
But Ilott, who was previously part of the Red Bull junior programme, winning the championship would certainly give Ferrari, and other teams, something to think about.
Shwartzman will almost certainly stay in F2 next season, although has a chance to impress during an F1 practice session at the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP.
The other F2 driver who has a big chance of making the step up to F1 next season is Tsunoda, the Japanese starlet who is backed by Honda - Red Bull's current engine suppliers - and has recently tested for AlphaTauri.
Tsunoda is the big favourite to replace Daniil Kvyat at AlphaTauri next season, provided he gains enough super-license points - which his third place in the F2 championship would secure.
When's the Bahrain GP on Sky this weekend?
Friday, November 27
9.30am: F2 Practice LIVE!
10.30am: Welcome to the Weekend LIVE!
11am: Bahrain GP Practice One LIVE!
1.10pm: F2 Qualifying LIVE!
2.45pm: Bahrain GP Practice Two build-up LIVE!
3pm: Bahrain GP Practice Two LIVE!
Saturday, November 28
9am: F2 Race One LIVE!
10.45am: Bahrain GP Practice Three build-up LIVE!
11am: Bahrain GP Practice Three LIVE!
1pm: Bahrain GP Qualifying build-up LIVE!
2pm: Bahrain GP Qualifying LIVE!
Sunday, November 29
9.50am: F2 Race Two LIVE!
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday LIVE!
2.10pm: THE BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX LIVE!
4pm: Chequered Flag LIVE!
5pm: The Notebook LIVE!
6pm: Bahrain GP highlights
10.05pm: Bahrain GP race replay