Formula 2 is a great experience for any driver, but they are all in it for one reason only: to reach Formula 1. With only 20 seats on the grid and the vast majority taken by the established drivers, the opportunities are few and far between. Which means that Formula 2 drivers have to take any chance they can to try and claim them. One clear way of getting there is through an affiliation with a Formula 1 team, which a number of Formula 2 drivers have achieved including Spain’s sprint race winner Jack Aitken. Jack will make his test debut with Renault this week, as the Formula 1 teams remain behind after the Spanish Grand Prix for the first in-season test of the year. Not only that, but there are also going to be two dedicated days of Pirelli testing with 2019 prototype tyres (with McLaren and Force India).
As well as Jack, the feature race winner George Russell will also be driving in the test with Force India – taking part in the Pirelli development programme. Russell has already taken part in free practice sessions with Force India, and he is joined at the team this week by Nicholas Latifi, who has also previously tested for Renault.
These tests represent a very good chance for Formula 2 drivers to prove what they can do in more powerful machinery: taking place straight after the Grand Prix using identical cars. there is pretty much a direct comparison between the drivers testing and the actual race drivers.
A strong test performance can certainly open a few doors. Lando Norris set some hugely impressive times when testing for McLaren after the Hungarian Grand Prix last year and now he’s been invited back for his third test in the F1 car this week.
Of course, testing is all about teamwork, but it’s also a useful opportunity for Formula 1 teams to see what their young drivers are like technically, in order to assess what sort of feedback they can give engineers. These days, that counts for just as much as the ability to put in a quick lap time. Most of all, in testing, there is nowhere to hide. The cars are equipped with maximum telemetry and drivers have the chance to drive much longer than they would simply in a Grand Prix. This week might just turn out to be instrumental in a few future careers.