Ousted HWA racer Nannini returns to F2 in Petecof’s seat

Formula 2

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Former HWA racer Matteo Nannini, who was replaced by Jack Aitken for the Monaco F2 round, will return to the series at Campos in Baku this weekend.

He will take the place of Gianluca Petecof, who revealed after the Monaco F2 round he was in danger of having to withdraw from the series due to a budget shortfall.

Nannini competed in the first round of F2 for HWA, as part of a dual campaign for the team including the F3 championship. However, in social media posts that have since been deleted, he announced before the Monaco round that his main sponsor would no longer support the dual campaign and he would concentrate on F3.

His return in place of Petecof will begin with this weekend’s race. Neither he nor the team have confirmed whether their agreement will continue for the rest of the season.

Reigning Formula Renault European champion Petecof suffered technical problems during the Monaco round, leaving his car stranded halfway up the hill with plumes of white smoke billowing from it before qualifying. Departing F2 just six races into his rookie season, the form Ferrari Driver Academy member had three retirements over the course of his six races in the category, achieving a best finish of 13th.

Matteo Nannini, Campos, Formula 2, 2021
Nannini will return to Formula 2 with Campos
Campos sporting director Adrián Campos-Suñer Torres said “We feel sorry for Gianluca and the circumstances that prevented him from coming here but we hope to have him with us again in the future.

“Furthermore, we are pleased to have Matteo joins us for this appointment, and we are sure he will be competitive due to his huge potential as a racing driver.”

Nannini was replaced by one-time F1 racer and multiple F2 race-winner Aitken. He will remain with the team in Baku this weekend drive at least both the Monaco and Baku rounds for the German team, alongside competing in GT World Challenge.

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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  • 7 comments on “Ousted HWA racer Nannini returns to F2 in Petecof’s seat”

    1. AHHH this is complicated.

      So guy with no budget (Nannini) gets replaced by Aitken, and then finds a budget and goes and replaces someone else without a budget (Petecof)?

      1. Also I think the sponsor has been quite harsh on Petecof if they’re withdrawing their funding (I’m assuming it’s due to performance issues). While he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in many races so far, he was not a world away, unlike another driver in F2 this season…

        Add to that the bad luck in the Bahrain Feature Race where he had to retire after the fire extinguisher went off (again, this really needs sorting in the F2 cars), and his entire Monaco weekend was compromised by the mother of all engine failures in Practice.

        1. @randommallard The rider is that Petecof moved up from Formula Regional, not F3, which is a big step. Ideally, he would be in an FDA-supported Prema or Charouz seat in F3, but oh well…nepotism comes first.

          Also I accidentally reported your comment while trying to press Reply. Many apologies.

        2. @wsrgo to be honest, I think the step is fine – the issue is that he’s been in a disgustingly unreliable car and only had two race weekends. The condensed format really doesn’t help drivers stepping up, which is meant to be the whole point of F2.

          @randommallard I don’t know that Petecof had a sponsor and I don’t think it was per se performance related. I think he had essentially said he’d work out the budget as he went along, hoping something magic would happen and it just didn’t, unfortunately.

          The Campos car is not good but you can equally have horrible luck in a Prema. The reliability needs to hugely improve, for such a big budget series where a bad season can make or break your rise in the junior ranks – having a year in an explosively terrible car when you’re a professional driver doesn’t matter as much but ultimately, all anyone sees of most of your junior years are the numbers and if there’s more RET than podiums, it won’t matter how close you could’ve been to one otherwise.

          Genuinely think it should be an FIA priority to look at this but, under COVID, it currently can’t really be.

          1. @hazelsouthwell Fair enough. I kinda just presumed the budget shortfall was due to a withdrawing sponsor but it could have been something else actually. But yeah the unreliability of the cars really needs to be addressed where possible, especially as their lifespan has been doubled as a result of covid. Even things like the fire extinguisher going off mid race, which has happened 2 or 3 times in the last year alone if I remember correctly.

          2. @hazelsouthwell to that end, do you have any idea why the reliability of the Formula 2 cars seems to have taken such a sharp downturn when they switched to the F2/18 back in 2018?

            The change in specifications back in 2018 seems to have brought a huge number of problems with it – the electrical systems have been creating problems for three years now, there were the endemic clutch operation issues in 2018, the engines have been relatively unreliable and problems with inconsistent power outputs have been reported. To cap it off, we then had DAMS throwing around claims of fuel leaks – which is fairly serious from a safety point of view and really not acceptable.

            The equivalent Formula 3 car, the F3 2019, seems to have been introduced with relatively few issues – added to that, the engine in the Formula 2 car is a turbocharged version of the same engine (the Mecachrome V634) that has been used in the former GP3 and now in Formula 3 without issue. I also can’t think of other comparable cars, such as the Super Formula SF19 that Dallara also produces, that have similar persistent issues like this either.

            What is it about the F2/18 that causes so many problems now? Are you aware of issues in the supply chain for the car? Have there been technical development issues?

    2. And I thought Matteo wouldn’t continue after his HWA departure.

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