As the penultimate step in the motorsport ladder, Formula 2 hosts a hugely competitive grid of race and championship winners all looking to take the final step in their careers before nabbing the ultimate prize, a seat in Formula 1.
The grid, which includes multiple GP2 race winners such as Luca Ghiotto, Norman Nato, Artem Markelov, Johnny Cecotto, Nobuharu Matsushita and Jordan King as well as five of the top six drivers from GP3 in 2016, including champion Charles Leclerc and vice champion Alexander Albon, promises to provide electric action on track as they compete to be the first Formula 2 champion.
The teams and drivers return to Bahrain after a successful pre-season test at the circuit 2 weeks ago: DAMS driver Nicholas Latifi set the pace across the 3 day period with a time of 1:40.541 on the 2nd day, just ahead of Nyck De Vries at Rapax on the final day. As such the circuit is well known to the whole grid, who will be working hard on setting up their cars to management tyre wear, which is particularly tough here. To that end Pirelli will provide the drivers with their Medium and Soft compounds for this round.
Norman Nato "“Bahrain is quite a difficult circuit to find the limit to make a good laptime, because you have to brake right on the limit, especially at turn 1: it’s quite bumpy, so it’s difficult to find and stay on the limit, and it’s so demanding on brakes. Sector 1 is more about braking, sector 2 is about slow corners, and sector 3 in qualifying you can feel that you are losing your tyres, and you just have to manage them to the line.
“For qualy that’s tough, to make the tyre last for the full lap, and for the race it’s one of those where you really have to think about managing your tyres. It’s quite demanding, and it will be really hot next week for the race: the forecast is that it will be around 33 degrees, which extreme. In Bahrain if you are leading it is easier to manage your tyres, but if you are further back it’s much worse, so qualifying is really important for the whole weekend.
“The race is all about set-up, to adapt the car for the tyres: during the test we saw it was easy to lose 2-3 seconds from lap to lap, so the key will be to manage this and find consistency. But the test was good: I have raced with Arden before but the team is completely new, so it was important to work and to get to know each other better. And I think we have done this, we are working well together, and are ready for the season.”
The opening round of the newly reformed FIA Formula 2 Championship will kick off at Bahrain, running alongside the FIA Formula One World Championship. Driver will experience both day and night running over the course of the weekend - as qualifying will take place late in evening under floodlights, with the two races taking place during the day time for the Feature Race and Sprint Race.
Arden drivers Norman Nato and Sean Gelael go into the opening round with the main aim of getting the season up and running on the front foot, aiming for big point scores and podiums. Nato and Gelael showed strong pace throughout testing - with Nato topping two days in the process, setting Pertamina Arden up well for the season ahead.