Formula 1 Tests are a wonderful opportunity to witness some of the future stars of tomorrow in action. Once again a Mercedes driver was at the top of a timing screen at the end of Wednesday’s second Barcelona test but not Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas but instead a Russian Formula 2 driver named Nikita Mazepin. Today we will explore what we know so far about Mazepin and some other future F1 stars currently plying their trade in Formula 2.
Any driver topping a timing screen at a Formula 1 test does their future career no harm and on Wednesday that honour went to Nikita Mazepin. The Russian is used to people underestimating him as in GP3 last year he almost won the title – when many considered he would struggle. For 2019 he is a rookie for ART Grand Prix in Formula 2 up against the big name of Mick Schumacher – many a race fan knows about the talent, history and expectation being placed on the German this year.
Last year’s Formula 2 Championship was won by George Russell who now has found himself at the wheel of a ROKiT Williams Racing car albeit a very underperforming car so it is not yet possible to see what Russell can achieve in his F1 career. Mazepin’s teammate at ART Grand Prix, Nyck de Vries currently sits third in the F2 table but the Russian is way down in 16th position. However, expectations of Mazepin were also low in GP3 last year before he almost won the title, so who knows what could be yet to come for the promising Russian. Topping an F1 test is a pretty good start. Critics though may argue it simply shows how superior the Mercedes is – time will tell.
Sergio Sette Camara, another driver from the F2 grid, managed 19 laps in the McLaren and for this year in Formula 2 he has chosen a new team for a new challenge on the championship. Sette Camara has left Carlin and joined DAMS. Here he has found a teammate in the form of the much favoured and already victorious Nicholas Latifi.
Nicholas Latifi is racing with DAMS for the fourth season running and is very much a title favourite for 2019. Latifi is top of the F2 Championship with 93 points from 6 races. At present, he is on the books at Williams and enjoyed 88 laps of running time on Wednesday but if the spotlight continues to shine on him, Williams may struggle to hold onto their test driver unless their performance improves.
Another driver who has captured a lot of column inches is a 23 year-old British-Korean racing driver named Jack Aitken. Aitken is battling for the Formula 2 championship with a new team, he has joined Campos Racing for 2019, a team which had their own struggles last season. However, many see Aitken having chosen this path to prove what he can do with an underperforming team – having been comfortably beaten by his former ART teammate last year. 2019 is a huge year for Jack Aitken who caught much attention in 2018 with his dominant Spanish sprint race victory (Youtube it) and with his Asian roots and F1’s assault on Asia with new races announced there it could be an advertiser’s dream.
However, Jack Aitken’s test did not show the driver at his best as he was in a Renault which was desperately testing new development parts and as such only 77 laps were managed but he still sat fifth in the timings just under a quarter of a second off Kimi Raikkonen.
If you are starting to despair with Formula 1 and the predictability of a race winner, you could do far worse than turn your attention to the Formula 2 Championship. This championship is known for close racing, bold overtakes and unpredictability. Despite the fact that Nicholas Latifi is top at present, there is no guarantee that he will still be there by the end of the season. As for Lewis Hamilton winning a 6th world title? Well you would be a brave person to bet against it.