Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Prefer to listen to this?

Check out the below audible version of the article

MP Motorsport went through a rollercoaster of a season last year with notoriety following them. The team would be looking to have a more consistent and less wild season this time with a promising driver line-up.

MP Motorsport finished 7th last season with 96 points, going one better from their 2018 Teams Championship position. Jordan King scored 79 points for the team in the 2019 season with 2 podiums and 2 fastest laps to his tally that placed him 9th in the Drivers Championship even with an Indianapolis 500 outing in between.

His teammate Mahaveer Raghunathan, however, was the talk of the championship, and not in the way that MP Motorsport would have wanted as his multiple infringements and litany of driving mistakes forced the FIA to reassess the penalty points rule as well as a consideration to use a super licence system for junior single-seater series. He did score a solitary point at Monza, but it was clear that F2 was out of his depth.

In between the drivers who drove the full season, there were also the deputizing drivers filling in in either of the two seats; with F2 stalwart Artem Markelov and IndyCar rising star Patricio O’Ward making 1 appearance for the team each, Markelov having typically stellar weekend in Monaco with a 6th and a 4th to score 16 points while On-Ward made a promising debut in Austria despite not bringing in points.

For the upcoming season, MP has signed up experienced F2 driver Nobuharu Matsushita and 2018 Euroformula Open champion Felipe Drugovich in a line-up that has a mix of a seasoned driver who has won races in the championship with a promising young driver who has a sterling resume in other feeder series categories.

The Team

Formed in 1995 and based in Westmaas, The Netherlands, MP made their debut in the championship in 2013 where they finished 10th that year, and have steadily been the perennial midfield team in both the GP2 era and the present day Formula 2 era with a best finish of 6th in 2017.  

The team also competes in various other single-seater championships around the world as in 2019 they competed in the inaugural FIA Formula 3 Championship (where they finished 6th), the Formula Renault Eurocup, the F3 Asian Championship (part-time) and the F4 Spanish Championship.

A highlight for the team in 2019 was the win at the Macau Grand Prix in November courtesy of an amazing performance by Richard Verschoor after powering through to the front from 4th on the grid to take a fantastic win for himself and the team in Formula 3’s biggest race, a great underdog victory.

For 2020, MP’s racing programme would remain largely the same with FIA Formula 2 and FIA Formula 3 taking precedence while they would also be looking at claiming titles in the upcoming Formula Renault Eurocup and F4 Spanish Championship seasons having come 2nd in both championships last season.

 

The Drivers

_

_

#14 Nobuharu Matsushita (Japan)

After a year off from Formula 2 with a stint in his native Japanese Super Formula Championship in a subpar 2018 campaign, Matsushita returned to the FIA Formula 2 Championship with Carlin last season after racing with ART Grand Prix in GP2 and F2; making it 3 different types of cars in 3 years for the driver.

His 2019 season also included a stint in the Formula 3 category with a one-round appearance in Hungary for Carlin in the Euroformula Open Championship, retiring in Race 1 but rebounded with a 2nd place finish in Race 2 after starting from pole to place him 18th in the championship; he even took part in the Winter Series placing 4th.

It goes without saying that Matsushita has shown that he can perform at the sharp end of the field in the FIA Formula 2 Championship as his 6 wins has shown (GP2 Series wins included). It remains to be seen whether he can mount a serious title challenge this season with MP’s performances over the past few seasons.

_

#15 Felipe Drugovich (Brazil) 

The Brazilian rookie who makes a step up to the FIA Formula 2 Championship from the FIA Formula 3 Championship despite finishing 16th in the points would probably raise some questions to some observers of the paddock, but the driver doesn’t come short of talent by any means and his reputation shows it.

Winning three championships (and one sub-championship) in two years proved his mantle against decent competition with the Euroformula Open Championship title being the most significant to land him the FIA Formula 3 Championship drive in 2019 with Carlin and into the Formula 1 paddock.

The season didn’t go exactly to what he would’ve planned with 6th place in the Feature Race at the Hungaroring being the only points he would score all season. But despite that, he would finish higher than any of his Carlin stablemates Logan Sargeant and Teppei Natori in a somewhat lowly 16th.

At the end of the season, Drugovich was called up by MP Motorsport in F2 to drive for the team in the post-season tests at the Yas Marina Circuit after the conclusion of the season, racking up more than a 1000 kilometres in 3 days, clocking in the tenth fastest overall time and was the fourth-fastest rookie.

 

F2 Virtual Racing Summary
Round 1 Bahrain
Feature Race: 
Matsushita started 13th and finished 18th after making a brilliant start to climb up to as high as 9th amongst the chaos at the first turn only to drop back to 16th by the end of the first lap. He then pitted at the start of Lap 5 after possible altercations with other drivers at the back of the field and would remain in 18th until the end of the Feature Race. Drugovich meanwhile started 8th before dropping to 10th after the first turn but stayed clear of the mayhem further behind and then overtaking ART’s Théo Pourchaire for 9th. He would also have a battle with fellow F3 drivers Lirim Zendeli and Frederik Vesti, going wheel-to-wheel for a whole lap. Eventually he finished 8th after benefiting from a 5 second penalty that befell Christian Lundgaard.
Sprint Race:
Matsushita had it all to do in the frenetic 5 lap Sprint Race and again made a brilliant charge through the field to climb up to 11th by the end of the first lap. He was up to 10th on Lap 3 before fading back to 15th by the end of the race. Drugovich had the benefit of starting on pole from finishing in 8th in the Feature Race. But he couldn’t convert it to a good result after getting knicked at the start, dropping to 3rd before getting spun around by Zendeli at the end of Lap 1. He eventually finished 16th behind Matsushita.
Round 2 Spain
Feature Race:
Matsushita qualified 6th while Drugovich qualified 9th with both maintaining positions before disaster befell on Matsushita where he was involved in a kerfuffle with Deletraz and Jack Aitken at Turn 4, dropping him to 17th. Drugovich benefited from the mayhem and was up to 7th. He was then up to 6th after the stops which became 5th after Arthur Leclerc’s sudden retirement on the last lap, while Matsushita on the other hand recovered to 14th.
Sprint Race:
Drugovich started in 4th courtesy of his 5th place finish in the Feature Race with Matsushita in 14th for the 5 lap Sprint Race. Drugovich dropped to 5th after getting a slight shove onto the grass by Aitken, Matsushita made his way up to 11th by the end of lap 1. Drugovich dropped to 7th by lap 3 after being overtaken by Oliver Rowland and Leclerc, Matsushita 10th. The drivers remained in those positions until the end of the race.
Round 3 Monaco
Feature Race:
Drugovich started 12th, but Matsushita missed the race due to possible connection issues. The former was then caught up in the first corner pile up that was initiated by Juan Manuel Correa and Dan Ticktum that left half the field bottlenecking at Sainte Devote. Drugovich’s race was further compounded by two 3-second penalties for warnings, but with the nature of how Monaco punishes corner cutting and other drivers also getting penalties, he somehow ended up in 10th.
 
Sprint Race:
Drugovich and Matsushita lined up where they finished for the Sprint Race which by now has become customary for mayhem due to the 5 lap race distance. Drugovich pulled off a blinder by leapfrogging to 7th at the start, notably trying to wallride his way through at the hairpin in vain and stayed in 7th. Matsushita on the other hand was one of four drivers mysteriously teleported into the pits and out of the race before it began. Drugovich then dropped back to 10th by race end after squabbling with serveral drivers.
Round 4 Azerbaijan
Feature Race:
For the final race of the F2 Virtual Racing series, MP decided to completely change its lineup for this race by bringing in 2018 Euroformula Open runner-up and 2019 FIA Formula 3 driver Bent Viscaal and 2018 GP3 Series runner-up Nikita Mazepin. Viscaal qualified 9th and Mazepin 13th. Viscaal made up one place to 8th at the start while Mazepin had a horrible start and was at the very back of the field. But it went pear-shaped for Viscaal as he was sent to the back of pack. After the stops Mazepin was up to 14th while Viscaal was 16th where they eventually finished respectively.
Sprint Race:
The final ever race for the F2 Virtual Racing series saw melee at the start that helped Viscaal jump up to 7th while Mazepin dropped to 15th. Viscaal faded in the last couple of laps of the race where he in the end finished the race in 11th after the brilliant start while Mazepin made up one position to finish exactly where he was in the Feature Race.
All in all it was a patchy run for MP as they were there or thereabout in the Top 10 at most races, but incidents and outside factors hindered them from scoring more points and thus (unofficially) finish the F2 Virtual Racing series in 10th. The team will be hoping the real life F2 season would go better.

The Season Ahead

After last season’s issues with one driver bringing in points and one driver bringing in the opposite type of points, with the latter gathering unwanted attention to the team, MP Motorsport would definitely love to start off the new season and new decade afresh.

The signing of Matsushita was definitely a huge boost as his experience in the second tier would prove to be invaluable for the team while Drugovich’s speed, especially during his Euroformula Open championship year, might be potentially unlocked if everything gels well together.

Matsushita would also serve as a great benchmark for Drugovich as he would try to get up to speed in the category where he looks to impress the team and ultimately the Grand Prix paddock at large; with the Anthoine Hubert Award for best rookie also firmly in his sights.

All in all, everything looks very good for the MP Motorsport team as they try to climb their way up through the pecking order. Adding to the fact that they have had a very fruitful pre-season testing period with both drivers racking up a lot of laps, there’s plenty of optimism for the team heading into the new season.

_

What do you think? Who will win the MP MOTORSPORT inter-team battle and do either have a chance of fighting for the title this year?

_

Let us know in the comments on Twitter @F2inside

_

*Image Credit: LAT Images / FIA F2 Championship

SHARE
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
AUTHOR

SHOP FOR FORMULA 2

RACE REPORTING

The selected event has not yet concluded. The results and report will be posted shortly after the end of this session.