There is still a round left in this year’s edition of the Formula 2 Championship, however every team is well in advanced discussions with drivers to shape the formation of the grid for 2023. Following much speculation, here is the latest news on the F2 driver line-ups for next year.
By Tyler Foster
We will touch on each team’s set of drivers from this year and whether they will be staying or moving on, including where they may relocate to within motorsport. Secondly, we will discuss the main prospective drivers for each team, and finally, we have included a little mention of other contenders who may be considered as secondary options.
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The reunion of Felipe Drugovich and MP Motorsport has gifted feeder series fans with an all-time great F2 season. Having claimed the Drivers’ Title with their Brazilian star, they are able to do the double this year and win the Teams’ championship if they aren’t outscored by the ART team in the final round. Either way, it has been a surprising yet remarkable year for this Dutch team and they have big ambitions to repeat this performance once again in 2023.
With Drugovich moving on to an F1 reserve role in the Aston Martin camp and it being unlikely that Clement Novalak will return with MP next year, both seats are available. However, they won’t have to go far to find willing suitors, with the two main replacements already being a part of the F2 grid. The Prema pairing of Jehan Daruvala and Dennis Hauger have not met the expectations put upon them at the start of this season and are looking at simultaneously joining MP Motorsport for 2023, remaining as teammates.
While Daruvala has been speaking with ART, he is less strongly rumoured at the French team. Meanwhile, Hauger has been linked with Carlin but is more likely to join MP . Another option for MP was Alpine Academy’s Brazilian driver, Caio Collet, who finished P8 in Formula 3 this year with MP Motorsport. He is rumoured to be focusing his future on endurance racing.
ART Grand Prix
It’s been a strong year for ART in 2022 with the French team having scored four victories – three for Pourchaire and one for Vesti. They enter the final round in Abu Dhabi on level points with MP Motorsport and Théo Pourchaire is all but confirmed to finish P2 in the standings. Furthermore, they have seemingly banished the ‘cursed second seat’ perception that existed in previous years. Vesti is strongly rumoured to be switching teams in 2023 ART will almost certainly see a new driver pairing in 2023.
The best way to secure a seat in Formula 2 is to win the Formula 3 Championship; Victor Martins has done just that. The 21-year-old Alpine Academy driver entered his second season in F3 in 2022 with ART, and won two of the opening three Feature Races to take an early lead in the series. From then on, a consistent influx of points helped Martins take the title in confusing fashion during a hectic final round in Monza. The combination of his 2022 performances and his Alpine connection makes Martins one of the most sort after drivers for F2 teams. It is all but confirmed that the Frenchman will be staying with ART, the team that helped him deliver the F3 title, as he graduates to Formula 2 for 2023.
In an unusual turn of events, after initially announcing that he would not return to F2 in 2023 for a third season, Théo Pourchaire is now the favourite to be confirmed alongside Martins to create an all-French line-up for the French squad. If so, this gives Pourchaire one final chance to achieve his “dream” of winning the F2 title, before penetrating the F1 market for a 2024 seat.
Other drivers linked to the Pourchaire seat include Arthur Leclerc, and Juan Manuel Correa, however neither of these are to be taken as strong claims. Jehan Daruvala will be remaining in F2 for a fourth season and while in talks with ART the Indian driver has another option open with MP Motorsport.
It is expected that both Lawson and Sargeant will not return, leaving both seats at Carlin free for next year. Sargeant of course will be aiming for a dream graduation to F1 with Williams as long as he picks up the necessary Super License points in Abu Dhabi. Meanwhile, Lawson will be hoping to sneak into F1 for 2024 while performing his duties as the official F1 reserve driver for both Red Bull and AlphaTauri.
Our expectation is that Enzo Fittipaldi will continue his unusual path through the feeder series world and leave Charouz for Carlin. An incredible first full season in Formula 2, including four Feature Race podiums, has left the Brazilian within reach of the top three. If Fittipaldi continues his current form through to next year, a season with Carlin could make him an F1 prospect.
The second seat is almost a certainty, with Zane Maloney returning to Carlin four years after winning British F4 with them. The ‘Boy from Barbados’ overturned a disastrous start to his Formula 3 campaign, with just 29 points in the first five rounds, and went on to score over 100 points in the final four to finish P2 in the standings. After winning each of the last three Feature Races, Maloney has set his eyes on switching back to the team with which he made his open-wheel debut.
Due to Carlin’s immense pace they are a team with much speculation. Their best performing F3 driver, Zak O’Sullivan, looked viable to graduate with the team to partner Maloney, however, he will remain in F3 for a second year. Finally, Dennis Hauger was originally heavily linked to Carlin but is regarded closer with MP Motorsport at present.
Entering this season off the back of two consecutive Drivers’ and Team’s Championships, Prema were certainly the team to beat. However, their combination of experience and youth with Jehan Daruvala and Dennis Hauger has failed by their standards. As a result of this disappointment, Prema will see an updated driver line-up for 2023.
20-year-old Danish Mercedes Junior, Frederik Vesti, has impressed at times throughout his rookie campaign in Formula 2 with ART – a maiden F2 victory in the Sprint Race in Baku being the highlight. A pole in Austria illustrated Vesti’s raw speed, backed up by a Feature Race podium coming a round later in France. With two separate P2 finishes in Monza last time out, the ART driver currently sits eighth in the standings, ahead of Prema’s current rookie and F3 Champion Dennis Hauger. Subsequently, Vesti is believed to be re-joining the Prema squad that he dominated FRECA with in 2019 and made his F3 debut with, before leaving for ART in 2021. As Prema’s more experienced driver, Vesti will enter 2023 as a title contender.
Despite just missing out on the Formula 3 title by seven points earlier this year in an epic title showdown, Oliver Bearman continues his rapid rise through the ranks and will graduate to Formula 2, remaining with Prema. Having won both the German and Italian Formula 4 campaigns in 2021 with Van Amersfoort the Ferrari junior came into the F3 season as a major title contender. Although Bearman had just a single victory all season the 17-year-old’s consistency of eight podiums kept him in the title fight, but following an unfortunate round in Zandvoort, he fell just short of the top spot. Having come so close to the title Bearman will have learned his lesson the hard way this year and will come into Formula 2’s 2023 season as a force to be reckoned with.
Another driver who fell short of the title in Formula 3 was Bearman’s Prema teammate, Arthur Leclerc. The 22-year-old Monegasque was hopeful of following in his elder brother’s footsteps by making the jump to F2 with Prema but his performances in comparison to Bearman have left him looking elsewhere.
Hitech Grand Prix
The duo of Vips and Armstrong for Hitech has been underwhelming this season. A noticeable lack of points for the pair despite their abundance of talent. Both drivers will be moving on, with Armstrong and Vips both looking at IndyCar for the foreseeable future. As a result, Hitech have a fresh start for 2023, and a young exciting pairing to match.
18-year-old French-Algerian, Isack Hadjar, spent most of the first half of his rookie F3 campaign battling eventual champion Victor Martins at the top of the standings. A poor final four rounds saw him pick up just 26 points, with Hadjar throwing away his title hopes following a crash in qualifying during the final round at Monza. Regardless, finishing fourth as a rookie in F3 is no easy feat. With such an excellent start to the year, Hadjar was always on course to graduate straight to Formula 2, and will do just that for 2023, where the Red Bull Junior remains with Hitech. He is held in extremely high regards by Helmut Marko and seen to be a major asset to the future of the Red Bull programme.
Another member of the Red Bull Junior Team who will be graduating to Formula 2 with Hitech is 17-year-old American Jak Crawford. Having made his F3 debut with Hitech in 2021, Crawford will be returning to the Silverstone-based team after making significant progress with Prema last year, where he finished seventh in the F3 standings.
The contrasting mix of Jack Doohan and Marino Sato will remain for 2023, as both drivers stick with for Virtuosi for another year. Marino Sato has now had three full seasons in F2; two with Trident and this year with Virtuosi. The 23-year-old from Tokyo has only managed six points in 2022 and languishes down in P22 in the standings. He will be expected to improve further in order to support his talented Australian teammate.
Meanwhile, Jack Doohan is right at the top of the F2 food chain. It could be considered unlucky that Doohan wasn’t promoted by Alpine into F1 for next year in the way that Logan Sargeant was with Williams. At the age of 19, Doohan certainly has time on his side, but with Alpine having both Ocon and Gasly contracted until 2024, there are reduced options for the Aussie. Either way, he will enter the 2023 season with Virtuosi as a title favourite.
This historic French team have seen a decent amount of success this year with Ayumu Iwasa. The Red Bull Junior has surprised everyone as a rookie, with a Feature Race win and a pole position to his name. On the other hand, Roy Nissany has had his strongest year in F2 but is still off the pace compared to his Japanese teammate. We expect Iwasa to stay at DAMS for 2023 where he will be their star, however, he will be partnered with a new driver.
It is finally time to announce where we expect Arthur Leclerc to race next year. The younger Leclerc will be moving away from Prema for the first time since 2019, and expected to join forces with DAMS as he finally graduates to Formula 2. The 22-year-old is still a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy and a strong rookie season could see him move ever closer to F1, however, he is not expected to fight for the title.
Two Israeli drivers have also been connected to DAMS: Roy Nissany and Ido Cohen. At the age of 28 Nissany will be in his fifth season of Formula 2 come 2023. Ido Cohen has had two seasons in F3 and made minor progress last year. With a 26th place finish in the FIA F3 standings this year it may be a little premature to promote Cohen to the next rung on the feeder series ladder.
Charouz Racing System
Unfortunately for fans of the team from Czechia, little is yet known about their driver line-up for 2023. Following the unsavoury exit of Cem Bölükbaşı mid-way through the season the squad from Prague have been very tight lipped. One assumption that we can draw, is that if Enzo Fittipaldi does join Carlin and none of their other drivers from this year (Cem Bölükbaşı, David Beckmann and Tatiana Calderón) will return in a full-time capacity, both seats at Charouz are currently vacant.
This Italian team have had their most successful F2 season to date, having won the opening race before going on to take two Feature Race podiums. Richard Verschoor has impressed and is only a couple points behind Marcus Armstrong in 12th, while Calan Williams has shown glimpses of raw speed. However, it is looking likely that Trident will house an all new line-up for 2023.
Clément Novalak has struggled at MP Motorsport in comparison to his rookie counterparts. Despite an excellent season of consistency in 2021, which saw Novalak finish P3 in the F3 standings with Trident, the Frenchman has been unable to adapt quickly in Formula 2 since changing team. Nevertheless, Novalak is expected to be reuniting to Trident where he will be the more experienced driver.
To partner Novalak, another driver who saw success in Formula 3 with Trident will be joining him. 18-year-old Roman Staněk will graduate to F2 after his impressive third season in F3 which saw him finish fifth in a competitive field. The Czech racer has demonstrated vast amount of progression in the last twelve months and will be looking to surprise everyone as a rookie in 2023.
After the death of team founder, Adrián Campos, in 2021, it has been Ralph Boschung who has given the team their biggest successes. Despite missing over half of the season due to facet syndrome, Boschung still has been able to score two podiums and perform well for the team. Subsequently, the Swiss 25-year-old is likely to return with Campos for a sixth season of Formula 2 and his fourth full-time year with the Spanish team.
Due to Boschung’s injury, his teammate, Olli Caldwell, has had three different partners over the course of this season. This instability certainly hasn’t helped the Alpine Academy driver, who has only scored on two occasions. With Caldwell strongly linked to a move to Charouz, a new teammate for Boschung seems possible.
The frontrunner at the moment for Campos’ second seat is Kush Maini. The 22-year-old Indian from Bangalore had a mixed rookie campaign in F3 with MP Motorsport, but was unfortunate not to score more points from his strong performances. Other than Maini, another contender for this seat is Trident’s Richard Verschoor. The Dutchman won the opening race of the F2 calendar and would be looking at changing team for the third consecutive year.
Van Amersfoort Racing
The second Dutch team in F2 may be last in terms of points scored, but have shown that they are not a ‘weaker’ team. Van Amersfoort would have achieved more in their first F2 season if they had a strong driver line-up, which they are looking to sort for 2023. With Jake Hughes having left halfway through the year, there is a seat vacant there. However, whoever takes it is almost certain to be alongside Amaury Cordeel, who is heavily expected to stay with the VAR team for his second season in the series.
It is Juan Manuel Correa who is currently our frontrunner for the other seat at VAR. If true, the 23-year-old would complete his remarkable comeback following his life-changing crash at Spa three years ago, and return to F2. The American from Quito would be a great partner due to his experience in racing compared to the younger Cordeel.
However, there are a multitude of other drivers who have been linked to the VAR team for next year. In no particular order, these include: Richard Verschoor, Olli Caldwell and Alexander Smolyar.
Header photo credit: Dutch Photo Agency
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