My championship tip would be Sette Camara as well, if I had the confidence to say that DAMS will prove to be consistently competitive this year, which I somewhat doubt (for the record, I think Albon bailed them out big-time last year). Latifi for me is the kind of driver where you can see by his finishing position how good the package actually was, and he struggled a lot. With SSC, he’s up against yet another very strong teammate, so at least it’ll be interesting to see how that duel develops. It’s also probably worth pointing out here that Latifi has yet to win a direct comparison against any of his teammates in GP2/F2. Consequently, I’d like to think that this is his last shot at actually doing something in F2 rather than his fourth season of being an also-ran, but we also have Jordan King on the grid this year so what the hell do I know.
For the reasons laid out above, my actual championship tip is Nyck de Vries. He has absolutely zero excuses this year, considering he’s in the team that had last year’s car very much figured out, with a driver who showed what they were capable of. It really is his title to lose.
My dark horse bet for the championship is (surprise, surprise) Schumacher. I’m not 100% sold on his overall speed being up there with the other generational talents of his age group that made their way to F1 in recent years, I’m not even sure he’s as talented as someone like Albon, who flew under the radar for the longest time. However, just like his father he knows the value of hard work, looked very solid in testing, and has a teammate that, frankly, shouldn’t present much of a challenge. His greatest problem might be that has he has zero prior experience with Pirelli rubber, but if Prema has the car figured out (and learned their lessons from de Vries’ tenure last year) that might not be too much of a stumbling block. He has also traditionally struggled to adapt to new cars, but again, with the combined might of Prema and Ferrari behind him my lowest expectation is somewhat regular podiums, at least in the sprint races.
Sticking with Prema, if Sean Gelael actually manages to finish in the top 10 of the championship, I shall publicly devour a pair of worn sneaker socks. Metaphorically speaking, of course. I will, however, apologise for calling him a waste of a top seat and pointing out that, according to my maths, he has precisely six merit-based superlicense points to show for his efforts, which originate from two wins in the 2015-16 Asian Le Mans Series.
Moving on, my candidate for the biggest positive surprise this year is Alesi. He didn’t set the world on fire in GP3, being very much hit-or-miss, but he’s a decent racer and Trident is at least competent and has a, IMO, much better driver pairing than last year. I’m not ruling out a shock podium or two.
The people who really need to show up are Aitken, Ghiotto and Matsushita. The latter two are veterans by now (with Matsushita even having the experience of a season of “grown-ups” racing in Japan under his belt), and Aitken was so disappointing last year that I’m convinced that this might already be his final shot if things go anywhere close to Nissany-style badly. Should he be able to emulate Ghiotto, he might be able to secure another year at Campos or a sideways move in terms of competitiveness. Should he be better, he might be able to attract interest from the big teams once again, and I’d be very happy for him. Alas, I’m struggling to see that. Either of the two extremes, actually, as he’s too good to be completely left behind.
Lastly, the most interesting team on the grid for me is actually BWT Arden. They were a giant disappointment last year, and only Günther’s flattering win elevated them above the ongoing cavalcade of dark comedy and drama that was Trident in the standings. Hubert has actual expectations on him as the reigning (and final) GP3 champion, but might have a hard time if the team and car aren’t competitive. Calderon, meanwhile, needs to justify her promotion by at least being able to stick with Hubert, because let’s be honest, her GP3 record surely can’t have been the reason she moved up the ladder into F2. If they were, then I can’t help but wonder how Mawson or Verschoor would do in F2 this year. The good thing is that she did show a clear upward trajectory towards the end of last season. She’s also on the record as saying that the F2 cars should suit her driving style considerably better, though, so I’m hoping she can do well.
This got quite a bit longer than I thought it would, so I’d like to conclude by wishing every driver, fan and fellow poster in this thread a good and safe season.
Edited by Silberpfeil, 23 March 2019 - 20:14.