From Wednesday to Friday this week, the 2022 Formula 2 post-season test will occur at Yas Marina Circuit, the Emirati venue that hosted the closing round of the 2022 championship last weekend. With each of the top seven drivers from this year’s FIA F3 season taking part in the three-day test, there is already shaping up to be a lot of movement on the grid for next season’s campaign. F1 Feeder Series takes you through each team’s test line-up and what they might tell us for 2023.
By Tyler Foster
Over the course of the test, a total of 18 hours track time is available to the teams and drivers – six hours per day, with three hours in the morning from 9:00 to 12:00 local and a further three in the afternoon from 14:00 to 17:00 local. There will be a total of eight drivers new to F2 and some all new line-ups throughout the field.
After clinching their first F2 teams’ title in the final weekend of the season, MP will house an all-new driver line-up for 2023, with Felipe Drugovich moving on to his F1 reserve role with Aston Martin and Clément Novalak switching teams for his second year in the series.
For the test, it will be a rather familiar pairing that will take to the track for MP Motorsport. This year’s underwhelming Prema duo of Dennis Hauger and Jehan Daruvala look set to remain together for a second season, both switching from the Italian team to the Dutch champions. It has already been announced that Hauger will be with MP for 2023, though Daruvala’s future is not yet confirmed. If a move to MP does transpire, it will be interesting to see which of the pair adapts best to the switch as they look to maintain MP’s recent winning formula.
Just as with MP, Carlin will also see a new line-up for 2023 after having their best season as a team in F2 since 2018. Liam Lawson will most likely cross over to Japan and Super Formula while carrying out his F1 reserve duties with Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri. Lawson took part in the F1 post-season with the Austrian manufacturer in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. His 2022 Carlin teammate Logan Sargeant was with Williams for the test and will be joining them in 2023 as the first American on the F1 grid since Alexander Rossi in 2015.
For the Formula 2 test, Enzo Fittipaldi – recently announced as a Red Bull Junior Team member for 2023 – and Zane Maloney will represent Carlin. A highly impressive campaign with Charouz helped raise Fittipaldi’s stock, leading him to join the Red Bull Junior Team and Carlin for next year in an exciting step in his career. Maloney, affectionately known as the ‘Boy From Barbados’, is also expected to join the British team after making his F2 debut with Trident, his F3 team, last weekend. Maloney last raced with Carlin in the British F4 Championship in 2019, winning the title on that occasion.
ART Grand Prix
While ART saw second place in the teams’ championship slip through their hands in the final round in Abu Dhabi, Sauber-backed Théo Pourchaire secured second in the standings in what was a mixed year for both team and driver. Pourchaire announced in August that he would not return to F2 for a third season, but he will be staying with ART as part of their test line-up this week. At this point, we expect the 19-year-old to remain in the series for 2023, with Pourchaire also having had the opportunity to take part in the F1 test with Alfa Romeo on Tuesday
Nevertheless, with Pourchaire’s teammate Frederik Vesti switching teams in F2, ART will house a second French driver alongside him for the test. Current F3 champion Victor Martins stays with ART for the test as he is expected to graduate to F2 for next year after two seasons in F3. Neither driver is confirmed for 2023 as of yet, but if it materialises, the line-up would offer an interesting statistic, as Martins is nearly two years older than Pourchaire.
A poor season for the Italian team by their own high standards sees a new driver line-up for the second consecutive season. As Hauger and Daruvala depart, the mixture of a Mercedes and Ferrari junior for 2023 will present perhaps the most threatening duo in F2. Frederik Vesti is leaving ART, with Prema confirmed to be the 20-year-old’s new home. A solid rookie season with one victory and one pole is a good basis on which Vesti can build. Furthermore, the Dane stepped in to the Mercedes for the F1 test on Tuesday – a lucrative opportunity for the most senior Mercedes Junior Team member.
Alongside Vesti will be one of the more exciting youngsters in the world of motorsport, Ollie Bearman. The 17-year-old Briton will most likely be the youngest driver on the grid, but his talent makes it seem as though an F1 charge is only a matter of time. Entering his rookie season next year, Bearman will be under the watchful yet pressurising eye of Ferrari. But for Prema, having both drivers already confirmed going into the test may help alleviate any existing problems from their shaky 2022 season.
Hitech Grand Prix
Another fresh driver pair for the test will be that of Hitech, as both Jüri Vips and Marcus Armstrong move on from F2 in pursuit of futures in IndyCar. After another mediocre F2 season, Hitech will give two Formula 3 drivers the opportunity to test in F2 machinery. Firstly, French-Algerian Isack Hadjar is expected to graduate with the same team with which he raced in F3 as a rookie and finished fourth in the standings.
Alongside Hadjar for the test will be another Red Bull junior, 17-year-old American Jak Crawford. As part of the winning Prema squad, Crawford improved in his second F3 season and finished seventh. Having been with Hitech as a rookie in F3 in 2021, Crawford returns to the British team for the test and is also expected to join them in F2 for next year.
Under new management, the French team have taken two victories this year courtesy of Japanese driver Ayumu Iwasa. The 21-year-old Red Bull junior won two feature races, including the final one of the season last weekend, and rose to an excellent P5 in the championship as a rookie. He will remain with DAMS for the F2 test and is expected to stay for a second season, having developed a close relationship with the team.
As Roy Nissany views a switch in teams after two years with DAMS, Arthur Leclerc will join the French outfit as he graduates after two seasons with Prema in F3. Leclerc, the younger brother of F1 runner-up Charles, is 22 years old and a part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, meaning that he will be expected to perform from the start. For him, the test will be crucial in getting a strong connection with his new squad after being with Prema for the previous three years of his racing career.
With two new drivers for 2022, Virtuosi took a step back from their second-place finish in 2021. While Jack Doohan showed glimpses of title-challenging potential as a rookie, Marino Sato’s struggles in the series continued as he scored just six points all season. It may be no surprise that Doohan will stick with the Virtuosi squad for the F2 test and is expected to be a part of the team’s plans in 2023. He would enter it as a title favourite, with additional confidence being given to the Australian from his opportunity to represent Alpine in the F1 test.
However, an unexpected name will be seated in Virtuosi’s second car this week. Twenty-year-old Belgian Amaury Cordeel started the F2 season in an uninspiring way, scoring no points before the summer break, but he made a noticeable improvement and finished the year with three straight points finishes. Though he has been continually linked to VAR for 2023, Cordeel will switch to Virtuosi for the test with a chance of replacing Sato permanently.
Charouz Racing System
The Czech squad saw major success with Fittipaldi this year but struggled to have a consistent second driver. With Fittipaldi joining Carlin for the test, two new drivers will jump in the Charouz vehicles this week. Roy Nissany may be seeing his time at DAMS come to an end, but Charouz has emerged as a possible option for him to continue in the series for a fifth full-time season. The 27-year-old Israeli will make up one half of their test line-up.
The other half of the line-up will be experiencing F2 machinery for the first time, as American F3 driver Brad Benavides is set to test with Charouz after his rookie F3 season with Carlin. The 21-year-old managed one points finish in an underwhelming year but may be looking at an early graduation despite his lack of experience.
After winning the opening race of the season, Trident have disappointed compared to their F3 counterparts. In the end, Calan Williams dropped out of the series for the final round and was replaced by F3 runner-up Maloney. Their race winner from this year, Richard Verschoor, will be testing for a different team, which leaves both seats vacant at Trident.
Clément Novalak was confirmed on Tuesday to be switching from MP Motorsport back to the Trident team with which he finished third in F3 in 2021. Novalak experienced a difficult rookie season alongside Drugovich this year and was unable to make any significant improvements over the year. This reunion will offer the Frenchman the chance of a fresh start for 2023. He will be testing for Trident with another driver who performed well with the Italian team in F3, Roman Staněk. Having finished fifth this season in F3, Staněk is expected to graduate with Trident and continue his impressive year-on-year growth.
Van Amersfoort Racing
Another new driver pairing will give the chance for Van Amersfoort to access their options as they enter their second season in Formula 2. Despite finishing second to last in the teams’ standings, VAR have shown themselves to be on the pace throughout the campaign and will be looking at strengthening their line-up for 2023. Their only full-time driver from this season, Cordeel, will be testing for Virtuosi.
Taking the role of VAR’s experienced driver in the test, 21-year-old Dutchman Richard Verschoor is looking to keep his F2 career alive and may move to the Dutch team for a third consecutive year in the series. Aiming to make the step up to F2 is Rafael Villagómez, who will partner Verschoor for the test. The 21-year-old Mexican has had two years of F3 and will hope to impress in order to increase his chances of graduating for next season.
Finally, Campos are one of only two teams, the other being Prema, to have already fully announced their F2 line-up for next season. After suffering from facet syndrome complications that kept him out for nearly half of the 2022 F2 season, Ralph Boschung will return to the Spanish team for a sixth full-time season in the series. The 25-year-old Swiss driver will be one half of their test pairing.
The second driver confirmed for the test and for 2023, though an unknown to some, is Kush Maini, who showed promise as a rookie this season in F3. Despite finishing 14th with MP in that championship, the 22-year-old Indian can be considered a strong driver on the basis of his junior career and has the opportunity to partner with one of the most experienced drivers in F2’s recent history. The test will be key for Campos to rebound after a difficult season in 2022 in which they finished last in the teams’ standings.
Header photo credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd
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