F2: How the title could be decided in Mick Schumacher’s favour in Bahrain – and who can stop him
After a two-month hiatus, Formula 2 makes its long-awaited return to action in Bahrain, with two rounds (and four races) to go and as tight a title race as we’ve ever seen in the second tier. Mick Schumacher leads eight drivers who could all mathematically clinch the crown, with Callum Ilott, Yuki Tsunoda and Christian Lundgaard all in contention.
We take a look at who could win it, and when…
Who is in the driving seat?
Mick Schumacher: 1st – 191 points
Mick Schumacher’s second season in Formula 2 can be summed up in two halves: an underwhelming start, followed by a blistering second half. It’s easy to forget the Ferrari junior’s struggles at the beginning of the campaign, when he took just two points finishes from the opening four races. A set of P3s in Hungary proved to be a false dawn as he followed it up with ninth, 14th and seventh, before the real turnaround came at Silverstone in the 70th Anniversary GP weekend.
Schumacher has earned himself a tag as the strongest starter on the grid. The German’s not been the greatest qualifier in F2 – he’s yet to start on the front row in a Feature Race – but his trademark launch off the line regularly puts him in a position to score strongly, no matter where he lines up.
Case in point being his victory in Sochi. Schumacher started from seventh but had lunged to second by the first corner alone, before stealing the win from Tsunoda. He heads into Round 11 top of the table with 191 points.
Who are the main rivals?
Technically, he has eight of them, all the way down to Luca Ghiotto in ninth. But realistically, Callum Ilott is the man who stands the greatest chance of preventing Schumacher’s march towards the crown, sitting 22 points adrift in second.
Ilott led the Championship for much of the season and is tied with Robert Shwarztman for most wins, but ultimately hasn’t been able to match the unrelenting consistency of Schumacher. The German stole the lead from him in Mugello with a pair of top five finishes and hasn’t looked back. He then added a further 30 points in Round 10, while Ilott could only muster 16.
Red Bull junior Tsunoda (44 away from the lead) and Renault prodigy Lundgaard (46 away) stand an outside chance from third and fourth. Their form has been patchy though, with bursts of podiums and wins followed by difficult periods off the pace.
Despite leading the Championship on two occasions this season, Shwartzman’s poor recent form – he’s scored just twice in the previous six races – has seen him fall back, with the title looking unlikely from fifth, 51 points behind.
Who is in form?
The simple answer? Mick Schumacher. The PREMA man has scored a minimum of 18 points in every round since the second weekend at Silverstone, while every single one of his rivals have endured low-scoring rounds. He’s nabbed 130 points in the last five alone, a mega 45 more than anyone else.
Discounting Schumacher’s relentless run of form, there are a few contenders, Tsunoda being chief of which. The Red Bull junior has 85 from his last five races, but lost a significant chunk of points in Mugello, when he failed to score a single one.
Ilott has scored strongly in three of the past five events but saw his title ambitions take a battering in both Belgium and Mugello, when he amassed a total of just five. By comparison, Schumacher nabbed 45 in those two rounds.
What does Schumacher need to do to win this weekend?
For a start, he’ll need to prove he’s not lost any sharpness over the past two months, and then it’ll be a case of proving that the second half of the season has been a coming of age, rather than just a purple patch.
Mathematically speaking, the title is well within his reach. Schumacher could clinch the crown as early as Sunday, if he finishes the Sprint Race with a 49-point advantage.
That means scoring 27 points more than Callum Ilott over the course of the weekend – a feat he hasn’t actually managed yet this season. Though he did come close in Belgium, when he added 26 more than the Briton.
He’ll also need to outscore Tsunoda by five and Lundgaard by three, while retaining a 49-point lead over everyone else. A hefty task, but you’d not bet against it happening.