The 2023 Italian F4 Championship is ready to get underway, with 37 cars on the entry list ahead of the season opener in Imola later this week. With a mix of newcomers and experienced drivers, this year’s championship promises to be one of the closest and most competitive in the series’ history. Feeder Series presents your guide to one of the most prestigious Formula 4 series out there.
By Daniele Spadi
If there’s one place for any young driver to make their mark on their debut in single seaters, it’s Italian F4 – as three of the last five champions of the series are currently on this year’s Formula 2 grid, and other past winners are competing in top-level championships such as Formula 1 and Indycar. Thanks to a very popular calendar and the presence of top-tier teams such as Prema and Van Amersfoort Racing, Italian F4 has quickly gained a huge following for a lower-tier feeder series category.
The championship will keep using the Tatuus F4-T421 – a halo-equipped Formula 4 car that produces 180bhp and weighs less than 600kg, making it a perfect vehicle to start a career in single seaters. The car is relatively easy to learn, allowing it to provide a good platform for drivers looking to step up from karting.
As always, the Italian F4 calendar races on historic Italian circuits, with Imola and Monza being the top two venues of the season. However, the seven-race long calendar features two tracks outside of Italian borders – Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps and France’s Paul Ricard. With such fast, wide and sweeping circuits, you can expect close competition and exciting on-track action in all sessions.
Below is the 2023 Italian F4 Championship calendar:
- Round 1: Imola (Italy), 21-23 April
- Round 2: Misano (Italy), 5-7 May
- Round 3: Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), 26-28 May
- Round 4: Monza (Italy), 23-25 June
- Round 5: Le Castellet (France), 21-23 July
- Round 6: Mugello (Italy), 29 September-01 October
- Round 7: Vallelunga (Italy), 13-15 October
Italian F4 will continue to follow a similar format to the one used in 2022. On Friday, the drivers will have two 40-minute free practice sessions to familiarize themselves with the track, before battling it out in two separate 15-minute qualifying sessions that will determine the three starting grids of the weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, the real action begins, with Races 1 through 3 lasting 30 minutes plus one additional lap.
The grid for Race 1 will be determined by the best times of each driver in the first qualifying session, whereas the starting grid for Race 2 will be based on the quickest times set in the second qualifying session. For Race 3, the second best time of each driver in any of the two sessions will be the one used to set the grid for the final race of the weekend.
However, this traditional format will change if the number of cars expected to race during the weekend exceeds the track limit decided by the organizers. In this case, the drivers will be divided in three groups and will race in two qualifying races in order to be granted access to the final. With 37 cars on the official entry list for Round 1, this revised format is set to make its return for many rounds of the championship – starting with the opening weekend in Imola.
For more information on these format changes, read our analysis here.
Ahead of the first round of the 2023 Italian F4 season, the entry list includes 37 cars – with only one driver yet to be announced. However, this entry list will change throughout the season, with some drivers competing in selected rounds in order to prepare for other championships and younger talents who will be making their debut later in the season due to age restrictions.
The Italian giants start the season once again as the main favourites to win both the drivers’ and teams’ titles. Their impressive line-up is led by 2023 F4 UAE champion James Wharton (#13) , who returns for a second season in Italian F4 after finishing in fifth in 2022. Ugo Ugochukwu (#3) and Arvid Lindblad (#51) both raced in selected rounds of the championship last season, and will be looking to challenge Wharton for the title.
The same goes for Tuukka Taponen (#8): the young Finn, who finished second in this year’s F4 UAE and topped the championship’s rookie standings, showed why Prema was keen on giving him a seat this year – and he could very well be one of the dark horses for the championship.
Prema will also field Nicola Lacorte (#47), who will be eager to learn from his teammates and could challenge for podiums during the season, and Rashid Al Dhaheri (#14), with the driver from the United Arab Emirates making his debut in the series. Last but not least, Prema will also support Aurelia Nobels (#16), with the winner of the 2022 FIA Girls On Track – Rising Stars that will make her Italian F4 debut, after partial seasons in Brazilian, Danish and Spanish F4 last year.
Last year’s second-place finishers in the team’s standings look to be the main threat to Prema’s dominance – and their line-up features some very quick drivers. The first ever Formula Winter Series champion Kacper Sztuka (#37) is back for a third season and will be looking to fight for the championship after a sixth place finish in his 2022 Italian F4 campaign, already with US Racing.
The Pole will have some very capable teammates, such as Zachary David (#20) and Gianmarco Pradel (#12). Both drivers impressed in FWS and will be drawing on their experience with both the F4 car and the team at the start of the year. The Kerpen-based team will also field Akshay Bohra (#31) and Ruiqi Liu (#66), with both of them impressing the German outfit during testing between 2022 and 2023.
After making their debuts in F2 and F3, PHM is ready to come back to a championship they know and have had moderate success in, with three podium finishes in the 2022 season. Valentin Kluss (#10) will be the team’s main man in 2023; the German, who was quick in pre-season testing, will be looking to make his mark this season. He will be racing alongside Victoria Blokhina (#78), who returns back for a second season after showing signs of progress in this year’s F4 UAE championship.
Nandhavud Bhirombhakdi (#57) and James Egozi (#48) complete PHM’s line-up – the former is gearing up for his first full season in the championship after having taken part in eight races with Jenzer Motorsport in 2022, whilst the latter will be keen to make his debut in single-seater racing.
Van Amersfoort Racing
VAR will be looking to improve on their rather disappointing 2022 Italian F4 campaign – and their line-up could help them go back to the front of the pack. Brando Badoer (#15) was one of the quickest drivers in this year’s pre-season tests, and he will be leading the charge for the Dutch team after finishing a promising sixth in F4 UAE earlier this year.
Brazil’s Matheus Ferreira (#7) and Portugal’s Ivan Domingues (#17) will race alongside Badoer and will be helping VAR to take the fight to Prema and US Racing. Jack Beeton (#45) and Ismoilkhuja Akhmedkhodjaev (#11) round up the Dutch team’s line-up, with both of them expected to fight for points in every race weekend.
The French outfit is set to race with three cars in this year’s Italian F4 season. Raphaël Narac (#76) will be their leading driver after testing countless times for the team during the off-season, and expectations will be high for the talented Frenchman.
Matteo Quintarelli (#93) and Matteo De Palo (#85) will complete the French outfit’s line-up: the former is fresh off a full F4 UAE campaign with Yas Heat, while the latter is ready to impress after starting his 2023 season by winning one of the two races he entered with Campos in the Formula Winter Series. De Palo has only been confirmed for the first round for the moment, as he has already been confirmed with Campos for the full Spanish F4 season.
Jenzer Motorsport didn’t take the step forward they wanted to in 2022, as they finished only eighth in the teams’ standings. To turn things around this season, the Swiss team has selected Ethan Ischer (#27) and Kim Hwarang (#26) to lead the charge. Ischer returns for a second season of Italian F4 with Jenzer despite failing to score points in 2022, whilst Hwarang had some good races with BVM last year and is ready for his first full season in the championship.
Ariel Elkin (#29) is the third and final driver that will race for Jenzer, as the 16-year-old Israeli makes his single-seater debut.
BVM could potentially be one of the surprises of this year’s championship thanks to their star driver Alfio Spina (#9). Not only does the Italian already have one full season of experience in the championship, but he has also looked quick in testing, too. Only time will tell whether Spina will be able to convert these promising performances into strong championship results.
Andrea Frassineti (#18) is set to race alongside Spina for the entire season. Jesse Carrasquedo (#19) will also be joining the team in Imola; however, he is not scheduled to compete in other rounds of the championship, as he will be racing in Spanish F4 throughout 2023.
A popular team for off-season testing, AKM is set to make inroads after finishing in tenth place in the 2022 teams’ championship. Leading the team will be Tina Hausmann (#21): the Swiss driver competed in the first two rounds of Formula Winter Series with the team, grabbing a third place finish in race two around Jerez and becoming the first ever woman to step on the podium in the championship.
Hausmann will be joined by Davide Larini (#5) – son of Nicola Larini, former F1 driver between 1987 and 1997 – and Australia’s Griffin Peebles (#88). Enzo Deligny (#22) will also be racing in Imola; however, the young Frenchman will be using the opening round of the series as preparation for his Spanish F4 campaign with Campos.
Many drivers were in consideration for a seat in Italian F4 with AS Motorsport, particularly during the Slovenian team’s off-season tests. In the end, Manuel Quondamcarlo (#62) was selected by AS Motorsport, after already driving for the team at two rounds last year. The Italian will race in Imola alongside ADAC Formel Junior Team driver Finn Wiebelhaus (#61), who made his single-seater debut two weeks ago in French F4.
A new entry to the Italian F4 championship, Airflow Racing is a small Italian team that is set to make their motorsport debut in the series. The team from Tuscany will race with only one car, with Guido Luchetti (#63) behind the wheel of their sole entry. The Italian, born in 2005, will make his debut in single seaters after months of preparation in the simulator and on-track testing in a Dallara F308, under the guidance of Team Principal Roberto Generini.
While it may be difficult to predict where Airflow will stand after the first round of the season, the addition of a brand-new team to one of the most competitive Formula 4 championships out there will certainly make them worth keeping an eye on. There’s no doubt that the 2023 Italian F4 Championship will be one of the closest yet.
Header photo credit: Italian F4
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