The 2015 FF2M season witnessed one of the most open championship battles with five drivers from four different teams in contention for the championship heading into the final meeting at Monza. Five was whittled down to three going into the sprint race, where James Clark put in a virtuoso performance to win the championship from Vaino Kimminen. The Finn got his revenge in the 2015-16 FF2M Asia season with a convincing championship win over his British rival. Unusually, the championship was won at the final qualifying session of the season rather than during the actual races.
With Clark absent heading into the 2016 FF2M season, it would therefore be natural to label Kimminen as the championship favourite, particularly as he emerged from pre-season testing at Barcelona fastest of all, but the potential for another close season is strong with plenty of drivers and teams looking competitive. Based off of pre-season testing’s laptimes, at least five drivers could challenge Kimminen, three of which are graduates from the previous FF3M season; Alessandro Farina, Nolan Bryant, and Catharina Caracciola.
Farina, a.k.a The Flour Man, almost dominated the 2015 FF3M season with an impressive seven wins, and he lapped only four hundredths of a second slower than Kimminen during day 2 of testing, so he is an obvious challenger to Kimminen. Bryant, son of former Indycar racer and professional fighter Jacky Bryant, was impressive during the FF1M pre-season tests, and it looks like he has carried his speed into FF2M. If he can carry his FF3M consistency as well (he finished in the top six in every race last season in FF3M), then he could be a serious contender for the championship. As for Caracciola, she made her FF2M last season at Spa and sensationally won despite a scary collision with Sergey Sirotkin at Eau Rouge. Her form since then has been varied, but she showed great fighting qualities in the final FF2M Asia race at Bahrain GP where she went from 12th to 3rd after a bad start.
Two other drivers who could challenge for the championship have been around since the 2014 season. Cristobal Alvarez returns to the FF2M paddock after not being allowed to compete in the Asia series due to winning the 2014-15 championship, and he was immediately on the pace, topping the first day. The other driver, Pierre Gasly, is more of a outside shot. Ever since his debut, he has shown potential with plenty of podium finishes, but his 2015 campaign was a poor one with just six points to his name. His brief stint with LiquiTarget in the 2015-16 Asia season appears to have boosted his speed and confidence.
Drivers Championship Prediction
1st. Vaino Kimminen
2nd. Alessandro Farina
3rd. Nolan Bryant
4th. Cristobal Alvarez
5th. Catharina Caracciola
6th. Pierre Gasly
As for the teams championship, it is likely to be contested between four teams. Their average laptimes set by their drivers were all within a tenth of each other with Willows Junior coming out on top ahead of Spaniel Racing, Gojira2, and STV Racing. Their second drivers will be crucial, and the edge would have to be given to Willows Junior and Spaniel Racing as Kamui Kobayashi from Gojira2 has had some time away from single seaters, and Benjamin Pryor from STV Racing doesn’t quite have the raw speed compared to Esteban Ocon and Mattia Alfonsi, although he has shown to be a very plucky racing driver.
5th to 10th looks just as competitive, but this surprisingly features both Danish Racing Team and OLM Racing, who despite the race winning line-ups they possess, were fairly low key at Barcelona. It is worth bearing in mind however that the average from 1st to 10th was just seven tenths of a second, so it is possible that Sam Bird, Pascal Wehrlein, Daniil Kvyat, and the returning Charlotte Plectrum could spring surprises for the upcoming season.
Teams Championship Prediction
1st. Willows Junior
2nd. Spaniel Racing
4th. STV Racing