Can British F2 drivers win at home?

Wednesday 03 July 2024

Having taken over from the previous GP2 formula, the FIA F2 Championship is the final stepping stone to a prized place on the Grand Prix grid. In recent years the second-tier series has been won by Charles Leclerc, George Russell (when Lando Norris was runner-up) and Oscar Piastri – proof if needed that it is the final proving ground for the stars of tomorrow.

The 2024 campaign saw the introduction of an exciting new engine and chassis package. It is designed by Dallara specifically to provide aspiring talent with the best preparation by making it as close to an F1 car as possible in terms of appearance, safety, systems and performance. Power comes from a 3.4-litre turbocharged Mecachrome V6 engine producing 620bhp, which performs on a semi-synthetic Aramco fuel.

Silverstone marks the half-way point in the new-look 2024 season with six double-header rounds already completed and six more to follow.

Almost incredibly the opening 12 races have seen no fewer than ten different winners… including victories for all three British drivers in this year’s line-up. Taylor Barnard and Zak O’Sullivan shared Sprint and Feature Race spoils in Monte Carlo while Ollie Bearman arrives at Silverstone on a high having won last Saturday’s Sprint Race in Austria.

Barnard has stepped up to F2 after being a winner in last season’s F3 series. O’Sullivan, a member of the Williams Racing Driving Academy, has also graduated having finished runner-up in the 2023 F3 Championship.

Bearman hit the headlines earlier this season when, as a Ferrari reserve driver, he deputised for an ill Carlos Sainz in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Then aged just 18, he excelled by qualifying in an impressive 11th and finishing a fine seventh to become the youngest driver in F1 history to score World Championship points on debut.

His main focus in 2024, though, is contesting his second season in the FIA Formula 2 Championship – a series in which he finished sixth last year with four wins. Despite starting as one of the title favourites, the teenager and his team have struggled to get to grips with the latest F2 car and his Sprint Race victory in Spielberg came as a welcome relief.

“We’ve been working really hard this year; we are starting to understand better what the car wants and we are getting back to where we want to be. We are going in a good direction but we still need to do a little step further,” admitted Bearman who would love to be winning at Silverstone.

Like so many of this country’s top young racers, both Barnard and Bearman are beneficiaries of the Motorsport UK Academy, an initiative established by the governing body to ensure promising British talent is given every chance to progress to FIA World Championship level in all disciplines.