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The second season of the FIA Formula Two Championship got underway at Silverstone this weekend, but the standard of drivers on its entry list is threatening the series' growth.

Last year, the series had names like Soucek, Wickens, Aleshin, Jousse, Bortolotti and Pavlovic. This year though, you'll struggle to find any such names. Champion Soucek has become a tester for Virgin Racing, Aleshin has returned to Formula Renault 3.5, while Wickens and Bortolotti have moved to GP3.

Two of the favourites for 2010 are second year drivers Kazim Vasiliauskas and Philipp Eng, who finished last year in 7th and 8th respectively. Other second year drivers are Nicola de Marco and Armaan Ebrahim. Expect them to remain around the midfield this year. Three Brits return from last year; Jolyon Palmer, Jack Clarke and Tom Gladdis. Between them they only managed to score a handful of points after their graduation from Formula Palmer Audi and, in Gladdis' case, Star Mazda. However, this year they look set to be regulars at the front.

Its the newcomers that really lack the quality. Euroseries 3000 Will Bratt will be up there, as will Formula Master frontrunner Sergey Afanasyev. The lack of quality is shown best though by the fact that Johan Jokinen, who failed to score in 2009's F3 Euroseries, and Dean Stoneman, who finished fourth in Formula Renault UK, are amongst the F2 frontrunners. Arriving from the back of the Formula Renault 3.5 field, Mihai Marinescu will be found in the midfield, as will Formula Renault 2.0's Benjamin Lariche and Formula Renault 1.6 champion Benjamin Bailly. Ivan Samarin comes from the Russian Formula Three Championship, but who knows who good that is?

Further at the back are FPA graduate Paul Rees, Formula Master backmarker Kelvin Snoeks, ex-A1GP driver Parthiva Sureshwaren, Polish female Natalia Kowalska and oil-funded Ricardo Texeira. Bringing up the very rear are the inexperienced 37-year-old Bulgarian Plamen Kralev and 38-year-old Indian actor Ajith Kumar.

In terms of driver quality, F2 has dropped below Formula Renault 3.5, F3 Euroseries and has been further displaced in the single-seater pecking order by GP3. Even the revised Auto GP series can boast Giorgio Pantano and other names in its original A1 GP cars. F2 really needs to sort itself out if it is to hold its own.
 





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