F2 stands by rule barring champions from returning after Drugovich urges change

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Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich’s call for the series to allow title winners to remain in the category has fallen on deaf ears.

The 22-year-old won the series last weekend but despite landing a place on Aston Martin’s new junior driver programme he is thought unlikely to find a race seat for the 2023 Formula 1 season.

Drugovich will not be able to continue racing in F2 next year as the series’ regulations forbid past champions from returning within two years of taking the title. However he believes that rule should be waived for champions who are unable to find a seat in F1.

“In my opinion, either you’re a champion and cannot stay anymore and you have to be promoted to F1, or you can stay,” he said.

Drugovich compared the system to Moto GP’s two junior categories. “It’s kind of how it works in Moto 2 and Moto 3,” he said. “I think first of all what needs to change is whoever wins the championship needs to get a go in F1.”

However F2 CEO Bruno Michel is adamant the rule should not change. “I disagree with it,” he said. “I think it’s a pyramid and you have to have a system where at some point it has to be up or out.

“I wouldn’t like F2 or F3 to become professional championships because if you do that, that’s exactly what’s going to be the issue. You will have guys staying forever in the same championship, having a big advantage because they have a massive experience of it over the young drivers who are coming.

“Not only would it not be good for their careers, but it wouldn’t be good for the young drivers because they would be probably not shining [as much] because they would fight against people that honestly are probably not better than them but have much more experience, know the tracks, know the car, know the teams, know whatever.

“So for me, absolutely not, and I’ve always been very, very pushy for that. We did it from the very beginning of GP2 and GP3: The winner cannot stay and I think it’s a very important point to continue.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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  • 44 comments on “F2 stands by rule barring champions from returning after Drugovich urges change”

    1. Sure, it’s a pyramid where the good drivers are forced out and into test roles with F1 teams and bad pay drivers like Nissany get to drive around the tracks for years on end being a menace to drivers with talent. Makes perfect sense.

    2. I agree that as F2 Champion one earns “to be promoted to F1”; this seat (as fallback) should be guaranteed by FIA/FOM.
      Maybe FIA/FOM can reserve 1 Haas seat (or a newcomer team) as guaranteed seat.

      1. jff MAYBE the FIA should allow 22-24 car grids again, the only reason that does not happen because the greedy teams want a bigger piece of the prize money pie so the fewer teams on the grid the more money they make.. Liberty media has expanded its appeal massively to a bigger audience and the next step is 22+ car grids

      2. I don’t really agree with that as there are different kinds of F2 champions and some are very much worthy of a seat but others not per se.

        Let’s go back a few years when we had some years of long-standing GP2 drivers winning the title because just of what Bruno Michel indicates: knowing the tracks, cars, tyres, etc after driving in the series for 4 years (or so) and as such accumulating a big advantage over new joiners who might be a lot more talented but are disadvantaged from the go.

        Drivers like Palmer, Valsecchi, Leimer. Sure they won GP2. But that doesn’t mean they were the best of their generation. They just won through experience.

        I mean, if you wonder why McLaren and Alpine were fighting over Piastri and Drugovich isn’t getting further than a test driver contract, then start looking there. Piastri won 3 championships in the same span of time Drugovich was in F2. Drugovich didn’t exactly have a great campaign in F3, then had two somewhat ok-ish but not great seasons in F2 where he was beaten by all kinds of drivers (fit as well as unfit for F1 drivers) and won it in his third. He had a great season and my opinion about him changed positively, but still there are drivers who managed to do a lot better.

        It’s a bit artifical to ban only the champion though. It could make more sense to have a rule that would allow you only 3 of 4 seasons and then you’re out. Because it is true that winning the championship should not be a handicap compared to those that finished high up but didn’t win.

        1. Drivers like Palmer, Valsecchi, Leimer. Sure they won GP2. But that doesn’t mean they were the best of their generation. They just won through experience.

          I agree that they are often not the best of their generation, or even year, but if you cannot stay in F2 then they need to offer something in return.

          Some will only last one year, but they did win a feeder serie title and could measure themselves against the top serie’s drivers.

    3. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      16th September 2022, 8:50

      For me this is the main reason Liberty and the FIA should be busting a gut to get at least another 3 teams into F1. There are too many deserving drivers not sitting in race seats.

      1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        16th September 2022, 9:13

        There must be a deal to be done here to waive the anti dilution fee for new teams if they will agree to take F2 Champions if none of the other teams do.

        1. to waive the anti dilution fee for new teams if they will agree to take F2 Champions if none of the other teams do.

          Good idea!
          But only for 1 team and for at least 20 years (it’s just a fallback guarantee as some drivers will find their own seats).

    4. We see in W Series how letting past champions stay in the series is bad for the sport. I’m fully behind what Bruno Michel is saying.

      There are other championships out there for drivers who cannot find a seat in F1, like Indycar or Super Formula or Formula E. Maybe a European equivolent to Indycar or Super Formula needs to be created for these drivers, we used to have World Series by Renault (and also that championship where the teams were owned by football clubs) but the FIA killed it, and this is the result.

      I remember Grosjean succesfully driving in series like AutoGP after his first F1 career and that helped him stay relevant for example.

      1. @ajayrious problem with W series is its artificial gatekeeping of talent which results in low quality reginal carting level drivers and the cars are too slow resulting in a racing series weaker than a national F4 Championship but artificially promoted being on the same stage as F1 being a support race .

        Regarding Grosjean and AutoGP. The FIA has caused the decline in competing single seaters due to the superlicence system which heavily favours FIA sanctioned events, one example is (non fia) Japanese Super formula which is on par with F2 for speed racing at FIA Grade One tracks like Suzuka and Fuji but the champion earns less superlicence points than a sub 300ps FIA formula e bumpercar champion racing in a backlot of a convention center.. so drivers and their backers if they want to reach F1 have almost no choice but to go FIA monopoly route.

        In the past you wasn’t ‘forced’ into GP2/F2 or FE if you wanted to reachin F1 as you could race in race single seaters like AutoGP, A1 Grand Prix Superleague Formula, Formula Renault 3.5 Series but they have all gone thanks to FIA meddling with the superlicence points system to make F2 the only viable route into F1 .

        One of the big negative of this is what drugo and Piastri are experiencing, they won F2 title but due to the limited seats in F1 and small 20 car grids they have no F1 seat plus banned from F2 (and all of the other fast single seaters not around anymore) so they cant race high level whilst waiting for a seat in F1 .

        1. Indeed.

          My solution to this would be, instead of shoehorning in Sprint Races to F1, have each teams 3rd/reserve driver take part in a separate championship, using the spare chassis. Perhaps points could even contribute to the Constructors Championship whilst retaining the purity of the normal Drivers Championship for just the Sunday race.

    5. Felipe is just another driver. Not the shining example of someone left out. De vries is another drugovich, I can’t think of a massive talent being lost, not even Frjns. Lots of drivers deserved chances over current f1 drivers. Wsr I reckon got too much of a good reputation, no top driver has come from it.

      1. @peartree Blame F1/liberty media for having a small grid (desperately need bigger 22-24 grids) which limits seats available as untalented journeymen pay drivers take up most of the seats. examples are:
        chinese driver zhou who spent 6 seasons in f3 and f2 winning zero titles yet got the alfa seat due to him being state backed and pays alfa 30 million a year for him to race.
        Stroll(did not race in F2, daddy spent 10’s millions hiring the best F1 level team to give his son an ‘overpowered’ F3 team) has a seat for life because daddy literally owns the team.
        There are many more examples but the amount of pay drivers plus limited 20 car grid limits race seats for talented newcomers.

        Drivers like Lewis Hamilton would never reach F1 today because the amount of pay drivers on the grid with backers paying 8 figures a year for a seat denying actual talents and F2 title winners a seat

      2. WSR had Vettel, Kubica, Ricciardo, Bianchi, Sainz, Vergne, Vandoorne, Magnussen (also Alonso when it was World Series by Nissan).

      3. @peartree common misconception: instead of WSR, you actually mean FR3.5. People often confuse the two.

        The World Series by Renault was actually an event format that used to accomodate a number of series including FR3.5, FR2.0, FR1.6, the Clio Cup and/or the Renault Sport Trophy.
        Interestingly, not all weekends when FR3.5 races where part of the WSR, but still part of the official competition. Those were weekends when Renault didn’t use the WSR template and it was slimmed down to mostly just the racing.

        That being said, Frijns definitely deserved a go in F1, just never got the big budgets. That Hilmer seat in GP2 just wasn’t a good one. He should have accepted Red Bull when they wanted to enroll him in their junior programme – I am absolutely sure he would have at least had a shot in F1 and possibly still be there.

        Also, you can’t be serious about FR3.5 (in its different guises) and its supposed better reputation than warranted. For a good while it had the better drivers over GP2, it just got killed by the FIA hugely handicapping it when the superlicense point system was introduced. Which is basically why lots of drivers now come from GP2/F2: there’s been an influx of young drivers the past years and since they came through the feeders recently, they have come through GP2/F2.

        Current drivers that came through the GP3/GP2/F2 pyramid and graduated before the super license points system: Hamilton, Hulkenberg, Perez, Bottas, Sainz, Ocon
        Current drivers that came through the FR2.0/FR3.5 pyramid and graduated before the super license points system: Vettel, Alonso, Ricciardo, Bottas, Magnussen, Sainz, Ocon

        Drivers like de Vries and Albon came through the feeders at the time the points system was introduced and switched from the Renault ladder to the FIA one.

        Others are either younger (so to F2 by default) or came from Euro F3 (from which it usually went to either FR3.5 or GP2/F2)

        1. @mattds no I meant wsr the whole series, mainly 3.5 like as motogp emcompasses moto2 and moto3 but it is also the main category.

    6. It does seem a bit strange that drivers are almost punished for winning… I would set the rule as 3 years max regardless of what position you finish in or if they want to stick with winners having to leave, at least let them win twice before they’re excluded.

      You could have someone leading the Championship but they have a technical issue that means they miss out on the title during the final race. They are then allowed to compete the following year but the person who benefitted from their misfortune is automatically booted out. Most F1 teams will have already sorted out who is driving for them the following year and the grid in most other series that are at least the equivalent or higher of F2 will be getting pretty full.

      It’s almost like if you have nothing set up for the following year and are still making a name for yourself, it’s better to finish 2nd. No-one in F1 will think any less of you but you also have the option to continue in F2…

      1. @petebaldwin Yeah, I agree – I don’t know what the answer is, but this situation doesn’t seem fair. Most F1 teams have their seats locked in by September. F2 races can be pretty crazy at times, and yes, sometimes someone just shines and dominates a season, but with reliability, only 13 rounds, kamikaze dive-bombs. It’s tough for a driver to make their case before summer.

        Of course it should be tough to get to F1 (unless dad has money). But banning someone because they won and there were no available seats when they did, doesn’t look right to me. I didn’t realise they were allowed to return after two years, I like that, but we know a two year hiatus in the motorsport pyramid is pretty much career ending.

        Perhaps – what you suggest with ‘3 years and then you’re out’ policy might be better. I dunno, but the current model looks clumsy to me.

        In looking up Giorgio Pantano (who seemed to be in the junior series forever), I learnt Maldonado has the second highest wins in F1’s various junior series’.

        The things you learn.

      2. I completely agree with this @petebaldwin. You could be a pretty good F2 driver but keep finishing 2nd or 3rd and remain in the series. But if you come out on top, then you lose your place. It just makes no sense.

        It’s easily remedied by introducing a rule that once you won the series you then have one more year to complete in it. If a driver can finish top or close to top more than once, then they hopefully stand a good chance for a drive or a test drive place at least, with an F1 team.

        The best answer of course is at least one more F1 team.

    7. The whole thing is pathetic. F1 has established itself (aka brainwashed kids to think) as the “the be-all and end-all” of motorsports and majority of the kids have no ambition to race anywhere else. They probably don’t even know motorsport besides F1 exists. Those naive kids believe racing in F2 warrants them a place in F1. SMH.

      With things like the silly superlicense points system and its entire F1-centric propaganda while not really promoting much apart from F1, FIA ruined the value of all racing series by diminishing them to some pointless motorsport folklore.

      I hope this entire structure eats itself. Meanwhile, Felipe Drugovich can cry a river.

    8. It’s not a simple solution. I can see why Drugovich is frustrated, but I do agree largely with Bruno Michel. You can’t have a series littered with ex-champions limiting newcomers’ chances to learn the ropes in a relatively fair way.
      The problem is that many drivers are entering F1 at an age much younger than ever in the past. F1 used to be the pinnacle you reached around 27 or 28. And you had 6 or 7 years at it. Some had more, but generally your F1 career wasn’t a decade. Now the F1 hunt for the next big thing means drivers are regularly entering F1 at 20 or 21 and they can, and will, stay there for well over a decade. Eventually this will lock the series out for all but the best funded or only the very shiniest new toy in F2.

      It’s a relatively new phenomenon so the rules haven’t changed to keep up with it. But we’re seeing it now with quite a few recent F2/F3 drivers graduating and moving across the pond to Indycar. That may or may not be the desired solution, but it is one. Other series’ will benefit from the glut of talent unable to be accommodated by F1. It might be that funding for an alternative series to F1 (which may end up being Indycar) needs to happen so that the constant production line of talent coming out of F2 has somewhere more meaningful to go. More meaningful than say Formula E (see de Vries last weekend).

      So yeah, it’s not ideal at the moment and it’s only getting worse as F1 fills up with 23/24 year olds and younger. Something may have to give. Maybe allow a champion one more season in F2 and then you have to go? That may sound like kicking the can down the road by a year but it isn’t. It wouldn’t always be availed of, and may give them time to wait for a seat to open or better plot their next move. If an F2 title fight goes down to the wire, the eventual winner (who didn’t know until that point that they would be the champion and now has to leave) is left with very little time to firm up a move away and get out of the series. If they had one more year they’d have the luxury of making better arrangements at a more relaxed pace.

      1. @bealzbob I think you hit the nail on the head when you say that as the drivers entering F1 are getting younger and having longer careers, there isn’t the natural churn needed for the current number of seats available. All options that address this (increase age to mid 20s, more teams, 3 car teams, compel teams to get rid of underperforming drivers etc) have serious drawbacks.

        I have no solution to this problem that I an share.

      2. Brian: “You can’t have a series littered with ex-champions limiting newcomers’ chances to learn the ropes in a relatively fair way.”

        Every other series and every other sport seems to manage pretty well with ex-champs competing against each other. Also, I’m pretty sure that the F2 series doesn’t consider itself a nursery for newcomers to learn the ropes. Every series surely considers itself to be competitive, and they want the best drivers they can get.

        1. “I’m pretty sure that the F2 series doesn’t consider itself a nursery for newcomers to learn the ropes”
          – I’m pretty sure it literally does see itself as exactly that, which is why this rule is in in the first place.

          “Every other series and every other sport seems to manage pretty well with ex-champs competing against each other.”
          – This issue is specific to racing feeder series. There are some feeder series lower down which allow champions and there are some that do not. The problem F2 has is that it’s high enough to be desireable to be in, but still a feeder so it needs a good high turnover of drivers.

    9. This is why we need more teams on the grid. Drugovich in an Andretti would be a boon for F1. Instead the teams are being selfish with their franchise models and anti-dilution fund.

      What are they so scared of ?!

    10. Can someone remind me… Is F1 only race category above F2?

      1. @denis1304 I get what you’re saying, but if you were to ask any WEC, IndyCar, Formula E driver would they rather go to F1 next season or stay where they are? I think most would take an F1 seat.

        Obviously Buemi, Ericsson, Schneider and countless others have thrived outside F1. *I wonder what the odds on Ericsson or Rossi winning the Indy 500 a few a years ago when they backmarkers in F1?

        I think if they could relive their careers they’d rather have found success F1. Not that I think F1 is great – the lack of parity in cars means most on the grid on a Sunday don’t have a chance at winning, but it does seem to be what drivers aim for, rightly or wrongly.

        1. but if you were to ask any WEC, IndyCar, Formula E driver would they rather go to F1 next season or stay where they are? I think most would take an F1 seat.

          I don’t think as many as you think would be all that interested.
          Unless it was in a current Red Bull….

          Nobody at the top of those series is queuing up to jump into a Haas or Williams.

          1. I don’t think as many as you think would be all that interested.

            You might very well be right, I don’t know if we’d always get an honest answer if we asked. Perhaps money is a factor? I’m going to assume the average salary of an F1 driver is greater than that of WEC or IndyCar, but if everyone wants to be in F1, why does it pay more? Surely teams have the stronger hand?

            Why is Daniel Ricciardo trying to find a seat after getting paid $20 million? Surely if he’s offered $1 million and a car he’d take it?

            These are just questions – I have no answers.

      2. Strictly speaking, as far as the FIA is concerned – F3 -> F2 -> F1.
        But it depends on your own personal opinion, really. I’d place WEC above F2. Also Indycar, and Super Formula. And many others… As in, ‘equal to’ F1 as the top of their respective ‘ladders’…

        Actually, depending on how you view F2’s place in the world, any top level series anywhere in the world is above F2, as F2 is a skill/experience/career development series within the FIA’s ladder.
        Most racing series are not aimed at developing talent, but exploiting the (already proven) top talent.

    11. Another reason to have more than 10 teams in F1

    12. The reduction in testing has had a negative impact on a young driver’s ability to show the f1 teams what they could. Brining back testing would go a long way to giving drivers a path to an f1 seat.

    13. Wouldn’t be an issue if they allowed more teams, but F1 doesn’t learn from its history and will continue to bend over for the manufacturers who will drop them in an instant. Sad.

    14. 3 car teams, 3rd car no more than 3 years. Huh, that’s a lot of 3s. Eliminate offseason testing. Reduce practice session and have sprints. There, liberty is happy and progress of new drivers

    15. I know this isn’t NASCAR, but as a fan of both, there are sometimes a few guys that just aren’t good enough to race in Cup. Justin Allgaier has been in Xfinity (their F2 for non-nascar folk) for over 10 years. Same with Matt Crafton, who has raced their Truck Series (F3) for 15 years.

      I’m for the change.

    16. Bruno Michel’s argument has some merit. If they don’t want F2 to be a destination for lesser talents to race fast cars in for the long term, that’s their choice and that’s fair enough. Then again their choice to only boot out the champion is totally arbitrary and rather meaningless in the context of his reasoning. The drivers finishing 2nd and 3rd have gained just as much experience with the cars, tracks and tyres as the guy who won the title, especially if it’s a close fought championship. Why should they then get to stay? Not only are they just as experienced, they’re ‘worse’ drivers. That risks turning F2 into a field of experienced lesser talents… kind of like what he says he wants to avoid.

      On the other hand, Drugovich sounds a bit like he’s only just discovered that F1 is a competitive market and that nobody owes him anything. To get an F1 deal, he has to do more than win F2. He has to prove that he’s better than Alonso, Sainz, Ocon, or George Russell. Alternatively, he has to offer more money than Zhou or Latifi, or have better family connections than Stroll and Schumacher. It’s not ideal, but unfortunately that’s how F1 works. On the positive side, with the imminent growth of top level sportscars in LMH and LMDh, there will soon be a lot of job openings for people like Drugovich outside of F1.

    17. Idea: Drive to Survive (almost literally) — the lowest points scoring driver in F1 loses their seat to that year’s F2 champion, it’s a clause written in all drivers contracts and must be obeyed by all teams.

      1. Yes, great idea! Or a drive off between the F1 driver and the F2 champ. The winner gets the seat. DTS would love it…

      2. Wow…….. It’ll never happen, the legal side – all kinds of complications, it would be a nightmare.

        But what a great idea! Last in F1 loses their seat to first in F2. Of course, first in F2 might have better options. But in principle, I like it!

      3. You base this silly idea on an absolutely nonsensical assumption that one’s points score in F1 is a reflection of his talent!
        F1 is a manufacturer championship, not a driver’s championship. Next year, Fernando Alonso will drive a garbage wagon called Aston Martin, and no matter how hard he tries, he won’t score more points than a drunken, unmotivated Sergio Perez driving a Red Bull. He might very well score 0 points and be last in the championship together with his teammate.
        George Russell scored 0 points in his first F1 season in 2019 in which he was also last in the championship and the only driver to not score a single point. You’d get rid of them immediately….

        That idea would just render the teams with the worst cars as immediate catapults out of F1 for anybody who’s unfortunate with the “award” to drive them.

    18. I like how everyone says there’s tons of F2 talent and then Haas’s top prospect for next year is… Nico Hulkenberg. I guess he is a GP2 champion, 13 years ago!

    19. Is there any other organised sport that anyone can think of where the winner is excluded from future events so that everyone else can have a turn? There’s sports where there are age limits, leagues which are for amateurs only, handicap systems to level up the field, but excluding the champion is just mad.

    20. Remove the stupid ‘Champion can’t race again’ and just replace it with an age limit. Say 25 and under as of the 1/1

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