Front view of 34 FRECA cars racing down the start-finish straight at Mugello

FRECA: Who’s going where in 2023? (updated)

Friday, 16 December, was the final testing day of the year for the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine (FRECA). In the two months since the last round of the season at Mugello, teams have gone to Monza, Spa, Le Castellet, Barcelona, Spielberg and Zandvoort to test their potential future drivers. Here are the main takeaways from these weeks of testing and what they say about the 2023 FRECA grid.

By Perceval Wolff

Around 50 drivers have been testing for the 12 FRECA teams over the past two months. With only 36 seats available, not all of them will manage to have a full-time seat for next season, but some seem to have done enough to convince teams to sign them.

Prema Racing

This line-up has already been announced and has confirmed what Feeder Series revealed two months ago. Stepping up from Italian and ADAC F4, Mercedes and Ferrari protégés Andrea Kimi Antonelli and Rafael Câmara will join Prema for their rookie seasons. It will be the first time in FRECA that Prema will line up two rookie drivers.

However, the Italian and the Brazilian have already shown that they have the pace to fight for the top positions, especially Câmara, who may have been the most impressive rookie. Antonelli had to miss some precious weeks of testing because of his wrist injury at the FIA Motorsport Games, but he did the final week of testing at Barcelona, even topping one session.

Both drivers will be joined by Lorenzo Fluxá, who will enter his third FRECA season. Twelfth last year with R-ace, the Spaniard was no faster than Antonelli and Câmara in testing despite having much more experience.

R-ace GP

The French team is expected to be led by German driver Tim Tramnitz, who has been their fastest driver in testing. Tramnitz’s 2022 season was affected by the spinal fracture he suffered more than a year ago during 2021 post-season testing, but he got the screws in his back removed at the start of the month. He should now be back to 100% physical fitness.

According to our information, two rookie drivers will join him: Italian F4’s Martinius Stenshorne and British F4’s Aiden Neate. While several drivers were tested for the two seats alongside Tramnitz, Stenshorne and Neate seem to have done enough to convince the French squad. Following Tramnitz’s surgery, R-ace didn’t even bother to replace him for the final tests at Paul Ricard and Barcelona and only tested the Norwegian and the Briton, which supports the notion that they have already made their choice for 2023.

ART Grand Prix

Laurens Van Hoepen is expected to return with ART and seems to have made a leap forward in post-season testing, often putting his name in the top three of each session. Like Grégoire Saucy in 2021 or Gabriele Minì in 2022, he is expected to be the lead driver of the team after a learning season as a rookie within the team.

At least eight drivers have been tested by ART, but two of them, both coming from Italian F4, have tested more than others: Marcus Amand, who was a great surprise, and Charlie Wurz. Some more experienced drivers such as Sami Meguetounif, Javier Sagrera or Matías Zagazeta have also driven for ART. The final decision doesn’t seem to be made, and budget will surely be a key factor in this fight.

Van Amersfoort Racing

Fourth last season, VAR could well fight for the title with not one but two drivers. Kas Haverkort has been the most dominant driver during testing. Having finished fifth in his sophomore year, he would have deserved to step up to F3, but he is instead expected to aim for the FRECA title.

The revelation of the end of the season with three podiums in six races, Josh Dufek will be closely watched. Though he tested for Trident occasionally, he should stick to the Dutch squad. Niels Koolen is also set to join VAR even though the step from occasional Spanish and Italian F4 appearances to a full FRECA campaign seems huge for him.

Trident

Roman Bilinski has not missed a single day of testing with Trident and is logically expected to continue with them in 2023. As we first suggested two months ago, Nikhil Bohra is set to step up from F4 to FRECA with the Italian squad for what could be a two-year contract. A revelation in testing, the Singapore-licensed, New York–born driver of Indian heritage will be keen to continue this good form.

The occupant of the third seat is less certain, but after a year on the sidelines, former Euroformula Open driver Enzo Scionti is the most likely candidate, with Noel León and Piotr Wiśnicki also thought to be possibilities. Owen Tangavelou has intensively tested with the team over the past few weeks with some convincing performances performances that followed an upturn in form after switching from G4 to RPM for the second half of the 2022 FRECA season. After some other talks with Arden in FRECA and an LMP3 team in the European Le Mans Series, he has secured his future in racing, but the deal is yet to be announced.

MP Motorsport

As previously revealed, Victor Bernier is set to join MP for the 2023 season. Dilano van’t Hoff is a prime candidate to race alongside him, as he was due to race with MP in the Formula Regional Middle East Championship (FRMEC) this coming winter. However, his shoulder injury that compromised his entire 2022 FRECA campaign forced him to cancel his FRMEC plans. Another FRECA effort with MP is the plan for him if he recovers sufficiently from this injury.

The final spot in the MP line-up is a big unknown, but Sami Meguetounif could ultimately be staying with the Dutch squad and would then, as in 2021, have Bernier – one of his best friends – as a teammate. Scionti, Josh Mason, José Garfias, Kirill Smal and Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak have all been testing for MP. But FRECA may not be the only option for these drivers, as MP is also participating in the forthcoming Eurocup-3 series that will use a car with the same basis as the FRECA one.

Arden Motorsport

The British team, founded by Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner and his father Garry, will try to fight back after a hard 2022. Joshua Dürksen is a favourite for a second year with Arden after a strong rookie season with the team. Many drivers have tested for Arden alongside the Paraguayan, but GB3 race winner Tom Lebbon is very likely to join the British squad.

The third seat is less sure, but Levente Révész from Hungary looks the best placed for a drive following a complicated rookie season with VAR. Zagazeta is also believed to have a chance.

RPM

After a surprisingly strong first round with RPM at the season finale at Mugello, Santiago Ramos is strongly expected to continue with Keith Donegan’s team for next year. The Mexican has been one of the quickest drivers in testing, confirming the amazing progression of his team in such a short period of time. He could be an underdog for wins and podiums.

The Irish team owner has made it clear that he wanted a driver from his country on his team. And this could be a chance for Adam Fitzgerald, who has spent the whole autumn with RPM after his British F4 campaign, slowly getting closer to his testing teammates like Ramos. The third seat could be a fight between José Garfias and Macéo Capietto. The latter has dominated several sessions for RPM but lacks budget.

Monolite Racing

The only driver to score points for Monolite this year, Macéo Capietto is a clear favourite to stay with the Italian team next season. However, the Frenchman has also been intensively testing with RPM and Saintéloc and has been praised by both outfits for his technical feedback. If he manages to gather enough budget, a move to RPM or Saintéloc would be logical, and Monolite would lose its main driver.

Giovanni Maschio, who was far from the points in Italian F4 this year, has been tested by Monolite, as has Lucas Medina from NACAM F4. Both drivers were quite far behind the rest of the field.

KIC Motorsport

The Finnish team experienced the worst season of its history in 2022 and will try a recovery operation next year. Italian F4 Maya Weug has constantly been in the top 10 for her testing appearances with KIC. She was set to be the fourth Prema driver after two seasons with Prema-affiliated Iron Lynx in Italian F4 but a rule change that limited teams to a maximum of three cars has jeopardised this move.

Coming from Formula Academy Finland, Iker Oikarinen was entered by KIC at every testing session and was closing the gap to the rest of the field despite his lack of experience. Besides Weug and Oikarinen, only two other drivers have been tested: ADAC F4 privateer Michael Sauter and Ukrainian Alex Partyshev.

G4 Racing

Reigning French F4 champion Alessandro Giusti has already been announced by G4 Racing and has surely been one of the strongest rookies of the field during testing. He is set to be joined by his former French F4 rival Pierre-Alexandre Provost, who, like Oikarinen with KIC, was with G4 for every single testing session.

The third seat could see the return of the man who made G4 familiar with race wins one year ago: Michael Belov. After trying to leave MP for G4 in the middle of 2022 but being unable to do so, the 21-year-old Russian could be a great leader for the team and a mentor for his younger teammates.

Saintéloc Racing

Though he considered stepping up directly to FIA F3, Emmo Fittipaldi should make his FRECA debut with Saintéloc, the team taking over FA Racing’s entry. The French team trusted Macéo Capietto to set up the car, and the Frenchman could well become the natural leader of the team if he does not end up elsewhere.

Cenyu Han has also been tested several times by Saintéloc, while Francesco Braschi has also driven for them once.

Header photo credit: Diederik van der Laan, Dutch Photo Agency

  • A red car faces the camera with green grass to the right and hazy trees in the background
  • A black and white car emerges from the mist
  • A white and black car drives to the left with greenery behind
  • A black and orange car driving toward the camera, with hazy trees behind
  • A blue, red and white car driving toward the left of screen with an Italian tricolore stripe on the inner edge of the track next to the gravel bed
  • An orange car driving with trees in the haze behind
  • A red and white car driving with mostly empty seats in the background
  • A green car with orange and white stripes drives to the left edge of screen, away from the camera, with racetrack and grass in the distance
  • A black car with red accents driving past the Italian tricolore and gravel bed nearest the camera with buildings and trucks blurred in the background
  • A black and red car dips its left-front wheel in the gravel with stones flying through the air, obscuring the blue and yellow barrier in the background
  • A black and white car drives past the Italian tricolore on the circuit exterior while hugging the inside kerb
  • A blue car with black accents exits a left turn with high lateral loading

Slideshow photo credits: Italian F4 (1), Diederik van der Laan, Dutch Photo Agency (2–10), FRECA (11), Saintéloc Racing (12)

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