With hundreds of drivers competing in feeder series all over the world, your chances of getting to Formula 1 are slim. If you manage to join the academy of a Formula 1 team though, they increase tenfold. That is, if you perform. In this series we take a look at how the members of F1 academies have performed in 2021. Today: the Red Bull Junior Team.
By Matt Jeffray
There is one driver academy on the road to Formula 1 that receives more attention than any other. The Red Bull driver academy has a name for bringing some of the most talented drivers through the feeder series in the past two decades, but with that success comes an unwavering ability to chop drivers at the first sign of weakness. Many great drivers have come and gone under the watching eye of Helmut Marko, and this current crop of Red Bull Juniors are in the exact same boat. Here we will go over each of their 2021 campaigns, and what to look out for as we head into 2022.
Jüri Vips (Formula 2)
Competing in his first full-time season in Formula 2 for 2021, the highly rated Juri Vips showed flashes of brilliance, claiming two wins in Baku and three further podiums to claim a sixth-place final standings result for Hitech Grand Prix and thus keeping his name firmly in the minds of everyone within the Red Bull camp. The 21-year-old Estonian has shown plenty of speed and race craft ability in the past years across many series including Formula 3, Super Formula and now Formula 2, so now the race is on for Vips to stamp his authority on the motorsport world in 2022.
Vips is rumoured to be continuing with the Hitech team into 2022, but nothing has been confirmed yet. The Estonian did however take part in the post-season Formula 2 test in Abu Dhabi with the team alongside Marcus Armstrong.
F1 Feeder Series talked to Vips earlier in the year.
Liam Lawson (Formula 2, DTM)
After a sensational 2020 in FIA Formula 3, 19-year-old Liam Lawson from New Zealand arrived in Formula 2 with a weight of expectation. And in taking his maiden win at the first race of the season in Bahrain, it was clear to see that Lawson has arrived with intentions of fighting for the title with fellow F3 graduates Oscar Piastri and Theo Pourchaire among others. However, as the season progressed, a slew of races with bad luck quickly dropped Lawson out of contention as the young Kiwi balanced his F2 duties with a much more successful DTM campaign, where he almost claimed a miraculous rookie season championship until an opening lap coming together with Kelvin van der Linde put pay to that.
Much like his Hitech teammate Juri Vips, Lawson also doesn’t have concrete plans in place for 2022. Although it may make sense for the Red Bull academy and for Hitech to remain consistent and retain both drivers, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet.
Jehan Daruvala (Formula 2, F3 Asia)
For some years now, Jehan Daruvala has been seen as the next Indian hope in global motorsport. And with good reason, leading up to his current tenure in Formula 2, the now 23-year-old from Mumbai has won in everything he’s driven in all the way from Formula Renault 2.0 to Formula 3 and now even tasting winner’s champagne in Formula 2. Finishing seventh in this year’s championship, Daruvala came of age for the Carlin squad, taking two wins and five podiums as well as going toe to toe with eventual series champion Oscar Piastri in Saudi Arabia for a win. He also scored three wins on the way to third in the F3 Asian championship during the 20/21 off-season.
While we know that Daruvala will still be on the grid in 2022, the whereabouts of which team he’ll be driving for is unknown, especially with the news that Logan Sargeant will be joining the Carlin team. The rumour mill pointed at Daruvala perhaps joining the Prema team and partnering Formula 3 champion Dennis Hauger. He participated in the post-season test in Abu Dhabi with the Italian powerhouse.
Jonny Edgar (Formula 3)
17-year-old Brit Jonny Edgar moved into 2021 off the back of winning the ADAC Formula 4 championship the year before and looked set for a strong season with Carlin Buzz Racing in the ultra-competitive FIA Formula 3 championship. But the lack of pace and performance from the car as well as little testing and running in the F3 chassis was the limited factor in what turned out to be a relatively underwhelming season for Edgar, with the young Red Bull academy driver only mustering an 18th place championship finish, with season-best finishes of fifth in Catalunya and the Red Bull Ring being the highlight of the season.
Edgar was testing for the Trident team at the post-season FIA F3 test in Valencia alongside Roman Stanek and Zane Maloney and will be looking to continue in the series as the 17-year-old and 2020 ADAC F4 champion continues to hone his craft.
Jak Crawford (Formula 3, Euroformula Open)
Another driver that came into FIA Formula 3 after an impressive 2020 in ADAC Formula 4 was 16-year-old American hopeful Jak Crawford. Finishing runner-up to Jonny Edgar, Crawford moved into 2021 with the Hitech Grand Prix squad, coupling his F3 duties with a partial campaign in the Euroformula Open championship. Finishing an impressive third in the latter, Crawford took an astounding eight wins for Team Motopark. Things were less smooth sailing in FIA F3 however, with the youngster from North Carolina taking just the one podium at Spa-Francorchamps in changeable conditions to finish 13th overall in the end of year standings.
No news has been made official of the American’s whereabouts for 2022, but he was present at the 2021 post-season FIA F3 test in Valencia last month with the Prema squad, driving alongside Arthur Leclerc, Paul Aron and Italian F4 and ADAC F4 champion Ollie Bearman, and setting some very impressive times.
Ayumu Iwasa (Formula 3, F3 Asia)
We’re seeing somewhat of a resurgence of Japanese drivers on the world stage of motorsport in recent years, with the likes of Red Bull prodigy Yuki Tsunoda graduating to Formula 1 this year after setting the F2 and F3 world on fire in past seasons. Red Bull also have another ace up their sleeve in the form of 20-year-old Ayuma Iwasa. After winning the French F4 title in 2020, the Osaka native moved up to FIA F3 in 2021 with the Hitech Grand Prix squad, finishing 12th in the final standings and managing to score two podiums including a win at the Hungaroring. He also competed in the F3 Asia series during the off season prior to his FIA F3 campaign, finishing 8th in the standings, showing his prowess.
News of where Iwasa will be plying his trade in 2022 in unknown as of right now, but he was present at the post-season Formula 2 test in Abu Dhabi with the DAMS team, as the French team weigh up their options for next year. There is still one seat left next to the already signed Roy Nissany.
Isack Hadjar (FRECA, F3 Asia)
Joining the Red Bull academy in 2022 is the extremely talented 17-year-old Frenchman, Isack Hadjar. At such a young age, Hadjar has already starred in the Formula Regional European Championship in 2021 with R-ace GP, scoring two wins and three additional podiums on the way to a very credible 5th place final standing in his rookie year. The young Parisian also took part in the F3 Asia Series with Evans GP, taking five podiums on the way to a 6th place final standing while only taking part in three of the five rounds. He will be one to look out for in 2022.
In 2022, Hadjar will more than likely be making the leap up to FIA F3 with Hitech Grand Prix. He may even be doing the Formula Regional Asian off-season championship in January with Hitech also.
Red Bull-supported (not a part of the Red Bull Junior Team)
Hiroki Otsu (Super Formula, Super GT)
Hiroki Otsu had somewhat of a watershed year in Japan in 2021. Continuing in Super Formula and moving over to the Red Bull Mugen Team, the now 27-year-old from Saitama, Japan scored a solitary win on the way to sixth in the final standings. After finishing third in the 2015 Japanese Formula 4 campaign, Otsu is finally beginning to gel into Japanese racing as well as showing the speed and consistency that the Red Bull camp knows he has.
Otsu is looking more likely to be leaving the Red Bull Mugen team, with the energy drink giants appearing not to continue its support of the #15 car for a third consecutive season, thus opening the door for the Red Bull Junior to join Nakajima Racing to partner three-time champion Naoki Yamamoto.
Jack Doohan (Formula 3, Formula 2)
Being the son of a motorsport legend is never an easy task, especially when trying to carve your own legacy into the very same line of work. Jack Doohan had a sensational 2021, claiming a runner-up finish in the FIA Formula 3 championship, claiming 4 wins, and running eventual champion and fellow Red Bull stablemate Dennis Hauger all the way in an intense championship fight. Moving to MP Motorsport for the remaining two race meetings of Formula 2, Doohan impressed, scoring seven points, and immediately seeming at home in the series.
For 2022, Doohan has been confirmed to officially graduate to Formula 2 with Virtuosi Racing as the 18-year-old Australian looks to build on his rapidly growing reputation not just within the Red Bull club, but also in the wider world of motorsport. The Doohan name is making a comeback.
Dennis Hauger (Formula 3)
The standout driver within the Red Bull driver program in 2021 is without a doubt, 18-year-old Norwegian ace Dennis Hauger. Coming off the back of a tricky debut Formula 3 campaign in 2020 with the Hitech Grand Prix team, Hauger joined the almighty Prema team heading in 2021 with the sole intention of gunning for title glory. And he set out immediately with a Feature Race win in Catalunya and scored a further eight podiums including three more wins to take the title in style in Sochi, Russia.
All we know at this point is that Hauger will be graduating to Formula 2 in 2022, and so far, all the signs point to him continuing with the Prema team, as Oscar Piastri fulfils his Alpine F1 reserve duties and Robert Shwartzman looking ever likely to leave Formula 2 after 2021. Nothing has been confirmed yet though, but he did take part in the post-season test in Abu Dhabi with Prema.
F1 Feeder Series had a chat with Hauger on his season and Formula 1.
Arvid Lindblad (Karting)
The youngest driver within the Red Bull stable at just 14-years-old is promising British kart racer Arvid Lindblad. Competing in three different categories in 2021, Lindblad took rostrums in all three, with two third place finishes in the WSK Open Cup and Super Masters Series respectively, and winning the WSK Euro Series, scoring more than double the points of runner-up and McLaren junior, Ugo Ugochukwu.
The young British Swede is expected to remain in karting for 2022, although making the leap up to KZ2 shifter karts with SP Motorsport, with potential to move into single seaters for 2023. Chances are though, he will make a single-seater appearance in 2022, as he will turn 15 in August.
All photo’s on courtesy of the Red Bull Content Pool, except Arvid Lindblad: WSK/Red Bull