Marcus Armstrong says despite a tricky second successive Formula 2 weekend around the Red Bull Ring, he remains well poised to challenge for the overall championship believing 2020 will see a rookie don the crown come the season finale.
The Kiwi snared his second podium finish in only his fourth race in the junior series yesterday evening, benefiting from a daft retirement by the Prema of Mick Schumacher when a piece of tyre debris set off the car’s fire extinguisher while running in third.
Armstrong now lies fifth in the standings after two rounds and is within a whisker of provisional championship leader and former Toyota Racing Series teammate Robert Shwartzman.
Without his horrid luck in the season-opening sprint race which saw Armstrong retire from the race due to a mechanical issue while challenging for the race lead, the Kiwi would likely be leading the points race as the F2 fraternity heads to the Hungaroring next week.
But Armstrong admits he still sits in a strong position with points on the scoreboard to build on his championship assault, suggesting 2020 will be the year of the rookies with only one series sophomore boasting a full season’s experience in the current Top 5 of the standings.
“Positively, we do have more points on the board, and that’s the priority at the moment,” said Armstrong. “I keep thinking of this weekend as the first weekend, but it’s the second weekend.
“But still, the Championship is long, and I think that we’re in a good position because I feel that we’re only going to improve. Then again, I think that today was just a bit poor in terms of performance. We need to do some work.
“I think this year, if any year, a rookie is going to win the championship. Firstly, there’s whole bunch of good rookies. I’ve raced against both of these guys in the past and in many Formulas. Robert Shwartzman is also very strong, Felipe Drugovich too, so I think there’s a lot of strength there.
“With the new 18-inch tyres everyone is also having to learn. For example, in that race [Sunday’s sprint race] I think Guanyu Zhou had similar issues to me in terms of tyre management. Even the experienced guys are still having to learn this new rubber. [So] yes, I do think that a rookie is well placed to become the champion this year.”
Armstrong made his step up to FIA Formula 2 after a successful F3 campaign last year which saw the Kiwi cement himself as a title threat, eventually finishing the year runners-up to a dominant Shwartzman.
Armstrong is one of three drivers to have stood on the rostrum twice this year, the others being Dan Ticktum and Shwartzman.
The young Cantabrian returns to action next weekend on July 17-19 at the Hungaroring, the same venue he scored his first F3 race win last year.