Felipe Drugovich has urged a change in the rule that is potentially curbing the development of he and his predecessor as F2 champion, Oscar Piastri.
It looks very much as though three of the last four Formula 2 title winners will be unsuccessful in progressing straight up to F1 the following season.
Since George Russell in 2018, only Mick Schumacher (2020) has earned an immediate promotion to the big league.
Nyck de Vries, the 2019 F2 victor, only made his Formula 1 debut at the latest round of the 2022 series as a stand-in for unwell Alex Albon at Williams.
Piastri, champion in 2021, has spent most of this year as Alpine’s reserve and simulator driver as there was no F1 seat available to him, although the Australian has signed to join McLaren next year.
There are, of course, no guarantees and Drugovich, something of a surprise F2 title winner this season, has agreed to a developmental role with Aston Martin. He is due to take part in an FP1 session for the team at one of the remaining rounds this term.
The Brazilian feels there should be an automatic elevation for the Formula 2 champion – but not only that, he also feels it is unfair that the title cannot be defended the following year.
Piastri, for instance, won F2 at his first attempt and may well have benefited significantly from another year of competitive action instead of spending it on the sidelines.
“I think in my opinion, either you’re champion and you cannot stay anymore and you have to be promoted to F1, or you can stay,” said Drugovich, quoted by Motorsport.com.
“I think it’s kind of how it works in Moto2 and Moto3. I think first of all, what needs to change is whoever wins the championship needs to get a go in F1.”
The 22-year-old MP Motorsport driver has 71 F2 starts under his belt and insists he is still targeting F1 – although at Aston Martin he will have a difficult job dislodging 2023 arrival Fernando Alonso and team owner’s son Lance Stroll, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
“We had a few contacts in IndyCar but as I said many times, it’s not the main goal for now, we are just trying to be in F1,” said Drugovich.
“But as I said, if I need to race something else other than F1 next year, it’s for sure a category to consider.”
Merci Theo! Great fight all the year! Great to battle with someone as talented as you! Let’s keep it going👊💪 https://t.co/F8p9KJkv6E
— Felipe Drugovich (@FelipeDrugovich) September 10, 2022
Would it be workable to invoke automatic promotion to F1?
Motorsport is not like football, where the top teams in the tier below can just go straight up to the next level.
We are talking about individual drivers, whom the F1 constructors are free to employ on whatever criteria they choose provided they have an FIA Super Licence.
Why should any of them be forced to give a contract to the Formula 2 champion just because a rule decrees one of them has to?
We agree that in theory it sounds like the right principle to implement – after all, several non-champions in F2 have made the step up in recent years for example Nicholas Latifi, Alex Albon, Lando Norris, Zhou Guanyu, Nikita Mazepin and Yuki Tsunoda.
But unless the F2 champion is already affiliated to a certain F1 team, how would it be calculated where he then goes to? Unless there was a rotation system put in place whereby, say, the bottom however-many teams in the standings one year then took it in turns to take on a Formula 2 champion and were obliged to do so within the regulations.
You sense that could still be something of a legal minefield to introduce though.
There is, however, clearly a flaw in the system when three F2 champions out of four cannot get an F1 drive for the following season – and as Drugovich says, it is to be hoped this can be addressed as soon as possible, if only by allowing them to defend their trophy.