The Formula 2 championship will expand to a 22-car grid for the upcoming 2020 season, with Hitech Grand Prix joining the category.
The championship has featured 10 teams since the GP2 Series was rebranded as Formula 2 for 2017, shortly after Liberty Media’s takeover of Formula 1 and its support categories.
Formula 2 typically operates in three-year cycles, with 2020 the final season of the current phase, but championship CEO Bruno Michel has given the green light for Hitech’s entry.
Charouz Racing System replaced Rapax at the start of the current cycle in 2018, Russian Time rebranded as UNI-Virtuosi for 2019, while for 2020 Arden has been fully taken over by Mercedes affiliate HWA RACELAB, following their collaboration last season.
It means that Formula 1’s feeder series will have an 11-team grid for the first time since GP2’s final year in 2016.
Hitech will race under numbers 24 and 25 in this year’s championship.
Hitech last year made the transition from European Formula 3 to the new-for-2019 FIA Formula 3 Championship, which replaced the GP3 Series on Formula 1’s support bill.
The squad finished second in the standings, taking four victories, courtesy of Red Bull-backed Jüri Vips and Leonardo Pulcini.
Hitech is also involved in the Formula 3 Asia Championship and operates the entire grid of cars for the W Series.
“I’d like to thank Bruno for the trust placed in Hitech to give us an additional entry,” said Hitech boss Oliver Oakes.
“Stepping up to F2 was always something we were aspiring towards, once we had established ourselves in the new era of Formula 3.
“With the new 18-inch rims and some car updates coming to F2 in 2020 it made entering now much more necessary than the end of 2020 where we would be a year behind the learning process.
“Of course, joining the grid this late means we are slightly up against it – but at Hitech we like a challenge!
“We are under no illusions that it will be a big ask to compete against some very established teams in F2 but I believe in our group and I am really excited for the first event in March at Bahrain.”
Hitech has yet to confirm its driver line-up for its inaugural season in Formula 2 but MotorsportWeek.com understands that Nikita Mazepin and Sérgio Sette Câmara are the main candidates for the two seats.
Mazepin, the 2018 GP3 Series runner-up whose father is an investor in the team, competed for Hitech in Formula 3 across 2016/17 is racing for the team in the ongoing Asian Formula 3 series this winter.
The Russian youngster undertook private test days in Mercedes’ 2017 Formula 1 car through last year and sampled the squad’s 2019-spec W10 during Barcelona in-season running.
He was previously associated with Racing Point predecessor Force India and featured in eight days of official testing across 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Mazepin Sr.’s Uralkali company attempted to acquire Force India from Vijay Mallya when it entered administration mid-2018 though lost out to Lawrence Stroll, father of F1 racer Lance.
Mazepin stepped up to ART Grand Prix in Formula 2 last year, placing 18th in the championship, as team-mate to eventual champion Nyck de Vries.
Sette Câmara, meanwhile, has raced in Formula 2 since 2017, spending a year each at MP Motorsport, Carlin and DAMS, and placed fourth in the 2019 championship, taking two victories.
Sette Câmara contributed to DAMS’ Teams’ title success last year but will not race for the squad in 2020 after it recruited Sean Gelael and Williams-backed youngster Dan Ticktum.
The Brazilian was previously part of Red Bull’s junior scheme, testing for Toro Rosso in 2016, and last year acted as McLaren’s development driver, leading to a run in the MCL34 during in-season testing.
Hitech has also yet to confirm its three-driver line-up for the Formula 3 championship.