Yuki Tsunoda has won the 2020 FIA Formula 2 Best Rookie award, named after the late Antoine Hubert. The Japanese protegé of the Red Bull Academy inherits the title from Guan Yu Zhou, who won it last year.
At the beginning of the season, we posted an article named Rookies Under The Lens where we tried to predict who would win this award at the end of a season that was as exciting as the whole year 2020 has been unpredictable.
Our main candidate was Robert Shwartzmann, who started out very strong at beginning of the year, but then entered a mid-season crisis that brought him eventually to close the championship in 4th, right behind Tsunoda. The Russian driver, however, can boast the highest number of race wins in the year: 4 in total. If he is able to be more consistent with his results and on-track pace, he will definitely be the driver to beat in the 2021 season.
Second on the list was Marcus Armstrong. The New Zealander did not have a good season at all, achieving only two podium finishes in the first two rounds in Austria, and then descending into the midfield for the rest of the season. He will have to up his game significantly next year, in order to keep his seat on the way to F1, and within the Ferrari Driver Academy.
Tsunoda was actually third on the list, and considered “unlikely, yet not impossible” candidate to win the “Rookie of the year” award. The Japanese driver has been really fast all-season, but couldn’t always convert his quick one-lap pace into race wins, same as Callum Ilott, who ended up in 2nd place just one point ahead of Tsunoda.
Among the other rookies, I will personally have to eat my hat when it comes to Felipe Drugovich. He was not even considered as a serious candidate for the award in our original post, but the Brazilian driver has demonstrated that he can drive well, and can put his car in front when needed. With 3 race wins against his name, he needs to build on this great rookie year, and take the fight to Shwartzmann for the 2021 title.
Jehan Daruvala managed to finish his rookie campaign on a high, winning the last race of the year. The Indian driver cannot, however, be happy about how things went down in 2020: as a result of his poor performance throughout the year, he will likely lose the chance to secure the Alpha Tauri F1 seat for 2021, already reserved for Tsunoda.
What a year this has been, for rookies and experienced drivers alike. Yuki Tsunoda has certainly been a worthy winner of the award named after Anthoine Hubert, whose memory is still strong with all of us, and the motorsport fans around the world.
Who has been your favourite rookie this year? And who do you think will be the most interesting prospect in 2021?
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