Formula 1: Has F2 completely lost its purpose and effectiveness?

The FIA have had multiple failures with establishing Formula 2 since the 1940s, but when they rebranded the GP2 Series in 2017, it was quite a success.
Oliver Bearman, Kimi Antonelli, Formula 2
Oliver Bearman, Kimi Antonelli, Formula 2 / Qian Jun/MB Media/GettyImages

Despite the number of talented drivers who have come through the ranks of Formula 2, such as Lando Norris, George Russell, and Charles Leclerc, the pathway for drivers to move into Formula 1 has become more challenging.

While Formula 2 is meant to be the final step to prepare drivers before reaching Formula 1, the series appears to be losing some of its effectiveness.

Although there have been a number of successful drivers who have made the transition, there are quite a few who succeeded in Formula 2 and either struggled mightily in Formula 1 or never got a full-time seat. 

What has caused Formula 2's lack of effectiveness?

Looking at the past few seasons of those who made their way up to Formula 1, things simply did not work out, even though some of them had won the Formula 2 championship.

Nyck de Vries, Felipe Drugovich, Theo Pourchaire, and Mick Schumacher are all former Formula 2 champions who either never got a real chance to prove themselves at the top or have still not secured their first Formula 1 seat.

Though there are some similarities between the cars in Formula 1 and Formula 2, the most striking difference is that all Formula 2 cars are the same, whereas in Formula 1, all 10 teams have varying levels of performance capabilities.

Most often, rookies who come from Formula 2 tend to feed into one of the lower teams on the grid, making that transition even more difficult. However, that challenge is what determines whether a driver is meant for Formula 1 or not. Leclerc and Russell are great examples, as they performed well with Alfa Romeo and Williams, respectively, and later moved on to Ferrari and Mercedes.

That poses a rather interesting question: what is the point of Formula 2 if those in it struggle in Formula 1, or simply never make it?

Taking a look at this season’s Formula 2 championship, Paul Aron has done a splendid job thus far, as he holds the points lead seven through race weekends.

Despite his tremendous consistency, there is very little news about Formula 1 teams potentially signing him for next season. The Estonian driver also left the Mercedes Driver Academy at the end of 2023, as they chose to focus more on Kimi Antonelli.

On the flip side, there are two big names in Formula 2 this season who are junior drivers for two of the best teams on the Formula 1 grid, Oliver Bearman with Ferrari and Antonelli with Mercedes.

Neither one of them has done anything spectacular in Formula 2 this season, with Bearman sitting in 14th place in the standings and Antonelli sitting in ninth. But both drivers will likely have full-time seats in Formula 1 next season. 

That can likely be attributed to the fact that they have made the most of their opportunities in Formula 1, whether that be through private tests, practice sessions, and even a surprise Grand Prix start, in the case of Bearman.

Oddly enough, the 19-year-old sits in the same position in the Formula 1 standings and the Formula 2 standings, despite having made only one Grand Prix start this year.

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All things considered, being a junior driver for a Formula 1 team and producing results in those few private tests and free practice sessions seems to be far more valuable than being among the best drivers in Formula 2. Perhaps something will be done by the FIA in the future that makes the pathway to reach the top more justifiable.