After another amazing Formula Two season in which we saw a title fight go the distance, comeback drives and ten different race winners, its time to reflect on a selection of drivers who have been outstanding in 2018.
Despite tough new cars, fierce competition and testing times when things didn’t go their way, these drivers all rose to the challenge and are definitely amongst the best of F1’s next generation.
Having won the GP3 title last season in dominant style after starving off the threat of fellow Brit – Jack Aitken, George Russell has risen to the challenge once again to lead the championship from Lando Norris over summer break.
Like last year, Russell initially struggled in opening round as a rookie but Mercedes’ support has once again been invaluable in helping him become a strong all round consistent driver, as he lifted his second consecutive title at a higher level at first attempt.
One of his best performances came in the feature race in France, when he managed to hold off Carlin’s Sergio Sette Camara in tough conditions and a last corner lunge from the Brazilian.
As well as winning races from front, Russell has shown his raw speed in carving his way through the field on numerous occasions with his first race win coming from 12th on grid in Azerbaijan Sprint Race.
He again showcased that side of his race craft in Hungarian Sprint Race by going from last on grid to eighth and the final point, which highlights just how exceptional he has been throughout the entire season in his dedication to winning this title even if meant rejecting invites to drive in FP1 sessions from Force India.
Ultimately, what I liked about Russell this season is his teamwork quality because when told about teammate, Jack Aitken’s engine failure in Monaco’s sprint race, he described it as “Unbelievable” which highlights how much he cares about the constructors’ as well as driver’s championship and is also not afraid to get vocal on Social Media.
France in particularly was significant for the Championship in terms of reliability issues hitting the fan, and Russell showed how much he values being a team member whilst still being vocal about the reliability crisis impacting on a fair title fight in this tweet.
Frustrated for myself and the team, completely out of our hands… 🤷♂️
Let’s hope something changes for the good of the championship and every driver racing in it. https://t.co/A8xZxgf7Ge
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) 24 June 2018
Now that is commendable for any driver when they care just as much about the team’s championship as well as their own title bid, particularly when on track in middle of a race like in Monaco when he showed concern about his teammate – Jack Aitken’s retirement due to engine issues.
Russell is without any doubt one of the biggest stars from this F2 season, and I for one am excited to see how his future plays out in F1 if he continues to develop at the rate that he is.
Since blasting ono the F2 scene with a stunning pole and dominant Feature Race victory in Bahrain, Lando Norris has just been amazing to watch through his highs and lows as he now prepares for his Formula One debut with McLaren next year.
One notable quality of Norris is his consistency with just four races outside the points, including that double retirement in Russia.
Only Russell has shown a higher level of consistency when finishing in the points with his run of five podiums during the triple header to Norris’ two, effectively defining the difference between these two Brits and the destination of the title.
Norris however is stronger in the wet as evidenced by a stunning drive to first during Hungarian GP in the wet, at pace which was 2.5s faster than his own teammate.
He also participated in one wet practice session for McLaren at the Italian GP, where he was only 0.856s off the experienced Fernando Alonso which underlines his potential for next season.
In summary, Norris is definitely going to be one to watch in coming years if someone gives him a top car and could well become a threat to Max Verstappen in wet races.
Having experienced a mixed rookie season last year, Alexander Albon adapted brilliantly to the new Dallara F2 2018 car compared to other returning drivers with four solid race wins.
Albon showed fantastic single lap pace throughout majority of season and was just one of two drivers who took three consecutive poles (Russell being the other), which underlines his potential despite having initially struggled in the sprint races.
Another great thing about why Albon has proven to be one of this year’s best drivers is the way he has handled himself throughout the campaign without F1 links unlike his rivals.
In an era when being part of a F1 team can provide drivers with additional confidence and performance understanding, Albon has really fought his way to a third place finish through pure quality, and therefore has earned his Toro Rosso seat after previously being released from Red Bull’s youth programme in 2012.
Now, can Albon repay their restored faith by making that step up to complete against likes of Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Kimi Raikkonen in F1 next season?
Despite a difficult start as he got to grips with the new car and reliability, Artem Markelov has once again been an epic joy to watch and will be a huge miss in 2019.
If there’s one positive about Markelov is that he never gives up as demonstrated on numerous occasions this season, with Bahrain Feature Race being a notable highlight in which he went from a pit lane start to third through exceptional tyre management before then winning the sprint race.
This year also saw the Russian become Renault’s Development driver but he wasn’t afraid to yet again produce plenty of gutsy moves, which only he could get away with, as highlighted in this montage of his best moves in 2018.
Although this season has been disappointing with a fifth placed championship finish compared to recent years, Markelov’s attitude and continued crazy moves as seen above makes him without any doubt a stand-out star of 2018 and a winner in the entertainment stakes.
Nyck de Vries – After a sluggish start at Prema, De Vries has made considerable progress throughout season as demonstrated by one non points finish in last 12 races. Now, he needs to take that momentum forward and turn it into a 2019 title fight after missing out on the McLaren drive to Norris.
Sergio Sette Camara – After an impressive rookie season last year, Sette Camara has produced a solid season despite missing the Monaco round with a hand injury from a Qualifying crash. Now on McLaren’s roster and with a DAMS seat confirmed, expect to see this young Brazilian continuing to thrive and improve his overall performance.
Antonio Fuoco – Having left Prema, Fuoco has surprised with his consistency at F2 debutants, Charouz Racing and took the Monaco Sprint victory plus four third placed podium finishes. As a Ferrari junior, expect Fuoco to be amongst the ones to watch in 2019 if can produce a title challenge now he is comfortable in the series.
Jack Aitken – Although comfortably beaten by teammate – Russell, Aitken has shown his potential at times with a storming drive to second in Baku before winning Barcelona Sprint Race. Now if he can get to grips with new car, he will be a major contender next season like he was in his second season of GP3.
Luca Ghiotto – Campos hasn’t been amongst frontrunners since 2015 so Ghiotto has done a brilliant job in getting majority of the team’s points (including three podiums), whilst teammate – Roy Nissany struggled to even get anywhere near top ten before eventually being replaced by the consistent Roberto Merhi for final two rounds.
Roberto Mehri – Despite having started season at MP Motorsport before losing his seat then moving over to Campos after missing two rounds, Mehri has had a strong season in which he collected two third placed finishes and showed impressive consistency at Campos in just four races.