I've written a 2023 update for William's excellent summary as I thought others would be interested. This is a big one, so stick with me:Red Bull Junior TeamOut for 2023 were
: Jonny Edgar (poor results, partly due to Crohn's disease diagnosis), Jüri Vips (issues with racism, homophobia, crashing), Jehan Daruvala (lack of results in F2), Noel León (had a poor season in FRECA), Yuto Nomura (returned to Japan) and Ren Sato (poor season in Super Formula).Liam Lawson
, 21, New Zealander — Currently 2nd in Super Formula (Mugen)
Frankly, I think not being in contention for the Formula 2 championship last year was a bitter disappointment to both Red Bull and Lawson. As it was, Red Bull picked the Pierre Gasly route for Lawson, and sent him to Japan for a year in Super Formula. And what a superb year he’s had. Thrown into the deep end, in a Championship on tracks he hasn’t raced, against some fiercely competitive and experienced local drivers, Lawson has been brilliant. Granted, he joined the best team in Mugen, but team-mate Tomoki Nojiri is an incredibly fast and polished driver who has taken two dominant championship wins in a row. Yet, Lawson has been matching Nojiri toe-to-toe, winning on début at Fuji, and taking a further two victories at Autopolis and the second Fuji visit to notch up three wins to Nojiri’s two. Granted, Nojiri had to miss the Autopolis round through illness, but it shows just how accomplished Lawson has been in 2023. It has to be said, however, that there are still some rough edges - trying to go around the outside of Nojiri at Motegi caused him to spin and finish outside of the points, which has allowed TOMS’ Ritomo Miyata to steal a march in the championship.
Of course, with Ricciardo breaking his hand, Lawson has already started his Formula 1 career, has been impressive, and has already picked up his first points at Singapore. But, with Tsunoda and Ricciardo being re-signed for 2024, this appears to have left Lawson on the sidelines for another year.Ayumu Iwasa
, 21, Japanese — Currently 3rd in Formula 2 (DAMS)
Despite a surprising promotion into F2, Iwasa was a revelation last year, taking two feature race victories seemingly out of nowhere. That thrust him into the spotlight, and along with it came the pressure of being one of the favourites for the championship in 2023. He has had his moments this year where he has looked nigh-on unbeatable, with an eye on an AlphaTauri seat for 2024 or 2025. However, along with the highs, he has had a tendency to go missing on a few too many weekends to really fight Pourchaire and Vesti for the title. With the logjam at AlphaTauri, it’s likely that there’ll be nowhere to go for Iwasa next year, bar a few possible F1 tests. What does seem likely is a similar trajectory to Lawson, in that he’ll be shipped back home for a year to Super Formula. He’ll need to show similar adaptability to Lawson to prove that he deserves an F1 seat in the future.Enzo Fittipaldi
, 22, American-Brazilian — Currently 7th in Formula 2 (Carlin)
Fittipaldi worked wonders for Charouz in 2022, earning 6 podiums for a team that hasn’t even scored any points at all in 2023. 8th in the Championship was the maximum anyone could have extracted from that car, and joining both Carlin and the Red Bull Junior Team for 2023 looked as though Enzo was primed for a Championship push this year. For whatever reason, however, things haven’t quite gone to plan. Carlin took Lawson and Sargeant to 3rd and 4th in 2022, but things haven’t quite gelled for Fittipaldi, and he’s only one position in the championship better off this year. He has taken his first win this year - albeit in a sprint race - and a further three podiums, but it’s not clear if he’ll even beat his points total from last season. I’m not sure where Fittipaldi can go from here as his momentum appears to have stalled.Dennis Hauger
, 20, Norwegian — Currently 8th in Formula 2 (MP Motorsport)
It looks as though this will be Hauger’s final year with Red Bull. I’ve seen many people on the Internet tout Hauger as the “fastest driver in Formula 2”, but there has been very little evidence of that fact in 2023. Granted, he has had some miserable luck on occasion, but there has been no marked improvement in his second season, despite a move to last year’s champions MP Motorsport. It’s uncertain what the future holds for Dennis.Zane Maloney
, 19, Barbadian — Currently 10th in Formula 2 (Carlin)
Rumour has it that Helmut Marko’s axe will also fall on Maloney at the end of the season, which would seem somewhat unfair. Granted, he hasn’t had the finest season, but there have been four podiums - three in feature races - which show he has potential. A fine end to last years’ F3 season didn’t really generate the momentum he would have liked going into his rookie Formula 2 season, but I would have thought a second season would be the least he deserves. However, it has been posited that Dr. Marko holds Maloney in very little regard, which seems to make his exit from the junior team all the more likely.Jak Crawford
, 18, American — Currently 13th in Formula 2 (Hitech)
I have to admit, I thought Red Bull pushing Crawford into F2 came a season too early. He showed flashes of speed on his way to 7th in F3 last year, along with a host of rookie errors. Whilst 2023 hasn’t been a stellar campaign, I also think Crawford has performed better than expectations. He’s had a sprint race victory, and added four further podiums to his name during the season. I’d say he’s definitely done enough, with minimal expectations, to grant him a stay of execution and another year in F2.Isack Hadjar
, 18, French-Algerian — Currently 14th in Formula 2 (Hitech)
…and somewhat the opposite to Crawford, I think expectations were a lot higher for Hadjar this season. In F3, he showed a huge turn of speed, as well as some fearless overtaking skills, but it hasn’t quite translated into any headline F2 results this year. He’s had a couple of strokes of bad luck - breaking down from what looked like a certain win in Monaco being the lowlight - but he never appears to have kicked on. That’s not to say he doesn’t deserve a second season to show what he can do in F2; it looks as though he’ll also be getting an FP1 drive for AlpaTauri in Mexico. Supposedly, he is Dr. Marko’s golden boy out of the six F2 drivers they’ve had this year, and it looks as if he doesn't mind Hadjar having a learning year…Pepe Martí
, 18, Spanish — 5th in FIA Formula 3 (Campos)
Martí has had a good season in F3, apart from the last two rounds of the season at Spa and Monza, which were… not exactly great showings. Coincidentally, he signed for the Red Bull Junior Team just prior to the Spa meeting. Hopefully he won’t continue like that! I’d expect to see Martí in F2 next year, possibly continuing with Campos.Sebastián Montoya
, 18, (American born) Colombian — 16th in FIA Formula 3 (Hitech)
Montoya was inarguably a flop this year - after looking like he took to F3 like a duck to water in a couple of guest appearances in 2022. He’s never seemed to gel with the Hitech team, and hasn’t really had anywhere near the pace of team-mates Gabriele Minì or Luke Browning (though he only finished one position behind Browning in the championship). The rumour on the street is that he will be staying with Red Bull next year, and possibly moving to a plum Prema seat. Whether he deserves a seat in arguably the best team on the grid is another matter; on the basis of this season, the answer would be a resounding “no”, but perhaps things will pick up for Seb next year.Souta Arao
, 17, Japanese — Currently 24th in GB3 (Hitech)
Expect Arao to be dropped at the end of the year. He’s had an utterly appalling season in GB3, littered with bad luck, crashes, and everything in between. He’s second-to-last in the Championship - only ahead of Shawn Rashid, who had never raced anything prior to this season - and behind the likes of Daniel Mavlyutov, who is, frankly, terrible. I see no reason for Red Bull to keep him on. I assume he’ll return to the Japanese junior racing system.Enzo Deligny
, 15, French-Chinese — Currently 6th in Spanish Formula 4 (Campos)
I think Deligny’s 6th place in the championship belies how good he’s been this year - apart from a wet first weekend of the season, he has the best average qualifying pace; he also had a brilliant weekend at Aragón where he took the most points of anyone. It’s obvious he has good raw speed, so he needs to shape that into consistent results. Deligny has also been running a part-time campaign with AKM Motorsport in Italian F4, which, rather impressively, has yielded 8 points, despite there being 7 Premas and 5 US Racing cars which usually take the lion’s share of the points. None of AKM’s full time drivers have got any points on the board at all! I would expect a second season in F4, probably Italian F4, to be the order of the day for next season.Arvid Lindblad
, 16, British-Swedish — Currently 1st in Italian Formula 4 (Prema)
Lindblad has had stiff competition in Italian F4, even just in his Prema team - the likes of Ferrari juniors Tuukka Taponen and James Wharton, plus McLaren junior Ugo Ugochukwu, have been pushing him hard all season. Lindblad has risen to the challenge perfectly, however, and has so far put together a fantastic campaign that sees him with a comfortable lead in the standings.Enzo Tarnvanichkul
, 14, Thai — Karting
The youngster has been in karting this year, and I’ll admit I know very little about the karting scene currently. I’ll have to leave this to someone who knows karting better than I do! (William?). So far, however, it looks as though Tarnvanichkul has been quick, though he did narrowly miss out on the OK European Championship this year.Ferrari Driver AcademyOut for 2023 were:
Robert Shwartzman (though he continues as a reserve driver), Mick Schumacher (possibly looking towards sportscars), and Laura Camps Torras (poor karting results meant her supposed F4 season never materialised)Oliver Bearman
, 18, British — Currently 6th in Formula 2 (Prema)
Bearman is a big talent, and has risen quickly to become the top Ferrari junior below F1. He dominated both Italian and ADAC F4 in 2021, quickly found his feet in FIA in F3 in 2022 (finishing 3rd in the championship, and the top Prema), and set about solidifying his quickly growing reputation in F2. Indeed, in just his fourth weekend in the series, he completely dominated the Baku round, with a pole position and both sprint and feature race wins. He has had his fair share of rookie errors, however, which have taken him out of the championship fight. Still, he has shown the paddock that there is a lot of latent talent there. I expect he’ll do another season in F2, though the pressure will be on to win it.Arthur Leclerc
, 22, Monegasque — Currently 15th in Formula 2 (DAMS)
Unlike his Ferrari stable-mate Bearman, there has been little to shout about this year for the younger Leclerc. He had a good weekend early on in Melbourne, culminating in a feature race podium, but points have otherwise been sporadic in what has proven to be a challenging and inconsistent year. His race pace has been pretty decent - he’s not been particularly far off of team-mate Iwasa - though his qualifying pace has left a lot to be desired. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Leclerc this year, and he’ll likely get another year in F2 to show what he’s made of. Personally, I do wonder whether his lack of grounding in karting, especially when compared to his elder brother, has compromised his racing career.Dino Beganovic
, 19, Bosnian-Swedish – 6th in Formula 3 (Prema)
Beganovic graduated into F3 with a FRECA championship under his belt, and stepping straight into a Prema car made him an instant contender for the Championship. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite turn out that way. Beganovic did have a fair slice of bad luck this year, with mechanical issues in qualifying relegating him to the back of the grid on a couple of occasions. The pace has been there - he was the second fastest driver on average in qualifying after Bortoleto - but there has been both a lack of fortune and race pace. I expect he’ll get another shot at F3 next year, but he’ll need to be there or thereabouts to progress towards F1.Rafael Câmara
, 18, Brazilian — Currently in 4th FRECA (Prema)
Câmara is a great driver, with one very big problem. That problem has been in the neighbouring garage for the last two years now, and goes by the name of Andrea Kimi Antonelli. Câmara came 3rd in ADAC Formula 4 in 2022. A good result - but team-mate Antonelli was the runaway winner. Fair enough, Rafa didn’t run all the races. He was running full-time in Italian F4 anyway, where he was another strong 3rd in the championship, taking two wins in the process. That’s a result that’s not to be scoffed at. But team-mate Antonelli took the championship, and a whole 11 wins more than Rafa.This year, he’s been in good form in FRECA. He’s taken two wins, and currently lies 4th in the championship. But yet again, just across the garage, is Anontelli. And he’s taken 4 wins, and leads the championship. What Rafa needs is a year away from Antonelli, and he might just get that. I expect Câmara in FIA F3 next year.Maya Weug
, 19, Belgian-Spanish-Dutch — Currently 17th in FRECA (KIC)
I think 17th in FRECA belies how good Weug has been this year. She’s had six points finishes in FRECA, which features a thirty-plus-strong grid with some great young talents. Also bear in mind that KIC, the team which Weug drives for, scored a grand total of 0 points in 2022. Her assortment of team-mates this year have also scored nothing between them, so Maya is doing all the heavy lifting at KIC, and then some… I think she’s seriously making a case for being the best female racer in open-wheelers right now. I’d expect to see her in FRECA next year, and hopefully in a better team.James Wharton
, 17, Australian — Currently 4th in Italian Formula 4 (Prema)
Wharton started the year strongly, with a championship win in F4 UAE over the winter break, repaying a little of the faith Ferrari have placed in him. However, this is his second year in Italian F4, and he’s currently a fair way off of the championship battle, which is somewhat of a disappointment. Whilst he’s certainly no slouch, I’m not sure I see a particularly special spark in Wharton’s driving. I expect he’ll be looking towards FRECA next year, though possibly not with Prema.Tuukka Taponen
, 16, Finnish — Currently 5th in Italian Formula 4 (Prema)
Taponen has graduated into cars this year with a strong karting career under his belt. He raced with Prema in UAE F4 during the winter break, and immediately showed he was up to speed - pushing Wharton, already in his second year of F4, all the way to the final round of the championship. Unfortunately, the championship was decided in a clash between the two that put Taponen out of the race, and out of contention. His main focus this year has been on Italian F4, and whilst he’s had his standout moments, the pace he showed in the Middle East has not quite materialised and he’s been somewhat off of the pace of team-mates Lindblad, Ugochukwu, and Wharton. He’ll probably do another year at F4 level next year.Aurélia Nobels
, 16, (American born) Belgian-Brazilian — Currently 24th in Italian Formula 4 (Prema)
Prema’s drivers have scored 825 points so far in Italian F4 this year (with an average of 118 points per driver), plus an additional 275 in the spin-off Euro 4 series. Nobels’ contribution to that 1,100 points total has been… absolutely nothing. Not being able to score in a Prema car in Formula 4 is unfortunately pretty damning. Frankly, she has no place in the Ferrari Driver Academy.Mercedes Junior TeamOut for 2023 was:
Daniel Guinchard (reasons unknown - he wasn't doing particularly poorly)Frederik Vesti
, 21, Danish — Currently 2nd in Formula 2 (Prema)
Vesti has made a good step up compared to last season. Paired with Théo Pourchaire at ART in 2022, he looked somewhat out of his depth at the start of the season, though started stringing together some decent results in the later part of the year as he settled into Formula 2. Moving to Prema this year instantly catapulted him into a position where he was one of the favourites for the title, and it’s safe to say he has, on the whole, delivered. 5 wins is the most of anyone on the grid - compared to, for example, ex-team-mate Pourchaire’s 1 - though 3 of those 5 have been sprint race wins. Vesti has for the most part looked calm, consistent and mature, but has also seen his fair share of bad luck at the back end of the season. There are still some question marks, most notably a silly mistake crashing on the reconnaissance lap at Spa. It’s difficult to see what Mercedes will do with him from here, as it looks like he may be eclipsed in the junior team in the coming couple of seasons…Paul Aron
, 19, Estonian — 3rd in FIA Formula 3 (Prema)
Aron put together a quietly confident and consistent rookie year in F3 this year. He posted only one retirement, and finished in the points on all but three other occasions. Both his qualifying and race pace was right up the sharp end where it needed to be, so he’s plenty impressive enough. The only downside is that he was rarely posting big headline results - he only took one win, in the Red Bull Ring sprint race - and coming off of two years of 3rd places in FRECA, there may still be questions over his ultimate speed. Silly things like squabbling with team-mate Beganovic for a second year in a row may also raise questions, but I would like to see Aron in Formula 2 next year as I think he deserves a move up to the next tier.Andrea Kimi Antonelli
, 17, Italian — Currently 1st in FRECA (Prema)
Antontelli could very possibly be the best driver in this whole list. Since he stepped up into cars from karts, in every championship he has competed full time… he’s won. 2022 ADAC F4 - 15 starts, 9 wins, championship trophy. 2022 Italian F4 - 20 starts, 13 wins, championship trophy. This season, he stepped up into Formula Regional machinery. Over the winter break, he took part in the Middle East. 15 starts, only the 3 wins, but still - a championship trophy. In FRECA, it took him a few rounds to bed in completely - it was only the 8th race of the season, the wet Spa day that unfortunately claimed the life of Dilano van ‘t Hoff, where Antonelli finally stood on the top step. Since then, he’s added another three wins to his tally, and with 4 races to go, finds himself in an all-too-familiar place - at the head of the championship, with a comfortable gap to second place. The rumour mill is swirling that Toto Wolff will be sending Antonelli straight to Formula 2 next year. It’ll be sink or swim, but based on current evidence, Antonelli is a better swimmer than most. If there is any chink in the armour, it’s wheel-to-wheel racing - something that he doesn’t have to do a whole lot of. When pushed by Taylor Barnard in the Middle East this year, there was a hint of desperation in Antonelli’s driving… who knows what the future will bring, but there’s no doubt he’s Mercedes’ golden child.
Mercedes have a few karting youngsters on their way up. Alex Powell
(16, American-Jamaican) was 2nd last year in the European Karting Championship, OK class, and a runner up this year in the Karting World Cup in KZ2. Cui Yuanpu
(15, Chinese) is running at a similar level to Powell, but lacks results compared to his stable-mate. Luna Fluxá
(13, British-Spanish) has been putting together good results at junior levels, and as the Fluxá family is not short on money, she’ll likely have the means to keep moving up the ladder. Kenzo Craigie
(13, British) was a runner-up in his class in the British karting championship, and is now looking to expand to the International circuit.McLaren Driver Development Programme
In and back out as quickly as he came was:
Álex Palou (what is a contract?)Pato O’Ward
, 24, Mexican — 4th in IndyCar (Arrow McLaren)
The mercurial Mexican is still at the top of McLaren’s fledgling programme. This has probably been O’Ward’s most consistent season in terms of speed, but he hasn’t quite had the big results he’s had in previous seasons. Starting a minor beef with both Scott Dixon (a somewhat careless collision at Long Beach) and Marcus Ericsson (in the closing stages of the Indy 500) during the course of the year was probably a lowlight; 7 podiums were a highlight, but it obviously rankled with O’Ward that he couldn’t quite clinch a win. He’ll be back again in force next year, but first will get another run in the F1 car at Abu Dhabi. Of course, one thing O’Ward has going for him at McLaren is loyalty… let’s leave that one there.Ugo Ugochukwu
, 16, Italian-American — Currently 3rd in Italian Formula 4 (Prema)
The best thing about Ugochukwu is that he has been exciting to watch this year. The worst thing is that he has been exciting to watch this year! Though he is now a fair way behind Lindblad in the championship fight, Ugochukwu has been fighting up the sharp end all season, with two wins and a further six podiums to his name. As fast as he has been, however, he has been somewhat volatile - he has been getting into a lot of scrappy fights and has often been coming off worse through damage or penalties. The speed is there, but he needs to rein in some of the wilder driving - I expect he’ll be looking to run another F4 season next year if FRECA is out of reach.Ryo Hirakawa
, 29, Japanese — Currently 4th in Super Formula (Impul), 1st in WEC (Toyota)
When I was reviewing the F1 academies to make this list, I have to admit that it completely passed me by that Hirakawa is a McLaren junior - and that he’s supposedly the reserve driver for next year! This development has only come this previous weekend, but one has to think that Hirakawa is a curious choice - after all, he’s a good deal older than anyone else on this list! He is a seasoned campaigner in his native Japan; this is his 9th season in Super Formula and he has 4 wins to his name with a best championship finish of 2nd in 2020. Still, Hirakawa is more known for his sports car exploits, with the 2022 WEC title and a Le Mans win to his name. The link up may be a precursor to a McLaren return to Le Mans - I would be very surprised if we ever see Hirakawa racing a McLaren in F1, but his experience may be of use to the team in terms of development in both F1 and sports cars.Alpine AcademyOut for 2023 were:
Caio Collet (though he is technically still affiliated, money issues), Hadrien David (money issues), Olli Caldwell (talent issues) and Oscar Piastri (Otmar Szafnauer terrible at job issues)Unknown status
: Aiden Neate (Has dad Andy crashed into his racing career, like he's crashed into everything else?)Jack Doohan
, 20, Australian — Currently 4th in Formula 2 (Virtuosi)
Frankly, this season is a “what-might-have-been” for Doohan. A strong second half to the season has somewhat saved face, but for whatever reason, Jack was simply missing in the opening part of the year. “Missing” in this case is possibly generous - Doohan was outqualified twice in the first five races on merit by Amaury Cordeel. Thankfully for Jack, whatever issues he was having at Virtuosi seemed to have blown over by midway through the season, culminating in two feature race victories in a row in Hungary and Belgium, reminding us all that on his day, Doohan is unbeatable. But the damage had already been done, and he’s arguably in danger of being overtaken in the Alpine pecking order by Martins. I expect a few more F1 tests are on the cards, but Doohan needs to watch his back. It’s unclear whether he’ll be doing a third F2 season currently, or focusing on test and reserve duties for the F1 team.Victor Martins
, 22, French-Portuguese — Currently 5th in Formula 2 (ART)
Martins has possibly been the outright quickest driver in Formula 2 this year. His raw pace has been staggering, and he’s outqualified highly-rated team-mate Pourchaire 6-5 (and leads him 10-9 in fastest race laps to boot). What’s clear is that when Martins gets all his ducks in a row, he can take on anyone in Formula 2 and beat them. A dominant pole position, win, and fastest lap in the Silverstone feature race has shown that. What Martins has also shown this year, however, is a somewhat volatile, immature flip side. Too often he has been making borderline dangerous moves - Monaco possibly being the most egregious example, when he was perfectly happy attempting to put his team-mate in the wall, or recklessly ignoring waved yellow flags when marshals were on the track. He’s likely to get a second season in F2, and if the Dr. Jekyll half of Martins is the dominant half, he’ll more than likely be the man to beat.Gabriele Minì
, 18, Italian — 7th in FIA Formula 3 (Hitech)
A difficult season for Minì, one in which he showed great potential, but occasional hot-headedness. 7th in the championship was a disappointment, though some of the blame has to be shouldered by Hitech, who looked lost for a big part of the season. Monaco was easily the highlight, with Minì taking his first F3 win. However, he scored more than half of his points in the first half of the season, with a mediocre second half putting paid to any championship chances. 2024 will be a big year for Minì, and I think he’s ready to step up and deliver given the chance.Nikola Tsolov
, 16, Bulgarian — 22nd in FIA Formula 3 (ART)
A disappointing year, but Tsolov was (and will likely remain) the youngest driver on the F3 grid. This was always likely to be a learning year, after all, it is a big step up into FIA F3 straight from F4. His dominant performance in Spanish F4 in 2022 was a big reason he was pulled straight into F3; a double pole position and podium last weekend on début in Eurocup-3 shows his speed hasn’t gone anywhere. Will need to string together some consistency and speed next year, especially with a year of experience with it.Sophia Flörsch
, 22, German — 23rd in FIA Formula 3 (PHM/Charouz)
I did question Flörsch’s decision to come back to F3 this year. She had started to build a decent career in sports cars, and wasting a year driving a Charouz at the back of the F3 grid seemed like a waste of time and money. However, she was by far and away the best driver in her team, and managed to pick up points on both of the occasions luck presented them to her. Unfortunately, the first of these occasions ended in a disqualification for a technical infringement, but when another opportunity arose at Spa, she took it with both hands and scored a 7th place. Those six points were enough to ensure the team finished ahead of Carlin in the final standings, which is a big result for PHM/Charouz. If another F3 season beckons, I hope she’ll be able to find a better seat in the series; though I think despite her heroics this year, she has lost the title of best woman in single-seaters to Maya Weug.Matheus Ferreira
, 16, Brazilian — 16th in Italian Formula 4 (Van Amersfoort)
Ferreira’s first season in cars has been somewhat trying, and he has been a fair way off of his more experienced team-mates in Brando Badoer and Ivan Domingues. I expect he’ll return for a second season in Italian F4 to try and build on this year’s experience.Abbi Pulling
, 20, British — Currently 5th in F1 Academy (Carlin)
Considering she often looked one of the fastest drivers in W Series, I think this has been a poor year for Pulling. She’s had no wins this season and has been thoroughly outperformed by fellow W Series veteran Marta García. Some of this may be down to team performance, as Carlin are the only team without a win this season. In that sense, she has been well ahead of team-mates Jess Edgar and Megan Gilkes, but her good momentum from W Series has somewhat stalled. If she gets another year in the series, the pressure will be on.
The team also has Kean Nakamura Berta
(15, British born Slovakian-Japanese) in karting.AMF1 Driver Development ProgrammeFelipe Drugovich
, 23, Brazilian — Currently 1st in twiddling his thumbs in the Aston garage
Er, not much to report here. The runaway F2 champion from last year has been polishing his trophy, and not much else. The closest Drugovich has been to racing this year was almost getting a go in the first race of the season after Lance Stroll broke his wrists, but since then hasn’t really had a look in. He’s turned down a test in IndyCar (why? Just do it for the fun of it!), though could now possibly be in the frame for a Williams drive next year if they dump Sargeant. If that doesn’t come to pass, it’ll be another year hanging around in the Aston garage waiting for Lance Stroll to give up or something.Sauber AcademyOut for 2023 were:
Zachary David (unknown reasons) and Roberto Faria (perhaps they knew he was going to have an utterly absymal F3 campaign?)Théo Pourchaire
, 20, French — Currently 1st in Formula 2 (ART)
This is Pourchaire’s third season in F2, and as everyone said at the start of the year, he really needed to ace it to stand a chance of graduating to Formula 1. Ace it, he hasn’t - but he’s still done enough to hold a decent championship lead with one round to go. When he’s on it, he’s unstoppable - for example, completely crushing the rest of the field in Qualifying at Bahrain, and taking the feature race victory - but other than that first weekend, he’s not had another win all year. What Pourchaire has been doing is keeping his head on fairly straight and collecting points when all his rivals have been having off weekends. Whereas Iwasa has the tendency to go missing, and Vesti has had a mix of bad luck and mistakes, Pourchaire has been quietly going about his business. Team-mate Martins probably has more outright pace, but right now he’s even less of a finished article than Pourchaire - and thus it seems likely that Théo will pull through and take the championship. Where this will land him, however, is another matter - Sauber have re-signed Bottas and Zhou for 2024 - so it is just as possible Pourchaire may end up finding a home in sports cars. I certainly think he deserves a tilt at Formula One, but fate may dictate that this isn’t Théo’s destiny.Marcus Amand
, 17, Finnish-French — Currently 24th in FRECA (ART)
Amand is a curious case. He finished well behind his US Racing team-mates Alex Dunne and Kacper Sztuka in the Italian F4 standings last year, but it was he and other team-mate Nikhil Bohra who got the promotion into FRECA, whilst Dunne was shipped off to GB3 and Sztuka another year in Italian F4. Yet, his qualifying pace was right up there with both Dunne and Sztuka. His somewhat premature promotion to FRECA has yielded only 6 points this season, though he has shown an occasional turn of speed - he topped his qualifying group for Race 1 at the most recent round in Monza, netting him a front-row start - which he promptly squandered. There’s speed there, but he needs to unlock it more consistently. Another season in FRECA expected.Léna Bühler
, 26, Swiss — Currently 2nd in F1 Academy (ART)
Bühler has been a surprise for me in F1 Academy this year, but on the same hand, she should be up there in terms of results as she has a good deal more experience than most of the grid. In previous years, Bühler has been somewhat hopeless in FRECA, which meant expectations were somewhat minimal. She raced in F4 UAE over the winter break and never troubled the points, so I didn’t expect much of her. However, she’s leveraged her experience and taken two wins in F1 Academy - against some much younger competition with more recent experience in F4 cars. She’s a fair way off Marta García in the championship, and will need García to have an awful weekend in Austin to dethrone her, but she has kept herself in the reckoning nonetheless. What this means for next year is unclear - but I wouldn’t be surprised to see her back in FRECA, maybe at a better team. The jury is still out whether she can show any better.
Sauber’s karting roster contains Taym Saleh
(14, German) and Miguel Costa
(14, Brazilian-American). Neither have any attention-grabbing results so far, but Saleh seems to have the better CV currently.Williams Driver Academy
Out for 2023 were:
Logan Sargeant (into the big boy car) and Roy Nissany (unfortunately not kicked out of range of racetracks in general)Zak O’Sullivan
, 18, British — 2nd in FIA Formula 3 (Prema)
I predicted at the start of the season that O’Sullivan would be the runaway winner in F3. He’d had a good rookie season in a fairly recalcitrant Carlin, so I thought with a year’s experience and a Prema, he’d be right at the front fighting for the title. Oddly, it felt like O’Sullivan took a while to bed in with his Prema team. Rather than dominating rookie team-mates Aron and Beganovic at the start of the season, with them coming back at him at the end of the season, it almost felt like this was reversed - O’Sullivan looked like he lacked pace against the two newcomers at the start of the season, before getting into his stride later on. Some of this could be down to being new in the Prema system, whereas Aron and Beganovic already had plenty of time with the team, but either way it was a somewhat underwhelming start to the season. It was the middle part of the season where O’Sullivan took his best results, and ultimately steered him towards his runner-up spot in the championship, though a long way behind Bortoleto. Zak will now look at moving to Formula 2, though I expect it will be with a lesser team, and not Prema.Franco Colapinto
, 20, Argentine — 4th in FIA Formula 3 (MP Motorsport)
A sophomore season in F3 for Colapinto yielded 4th position, and an improvement of 5 places on the previous season. The record books will show he took the same number of wins as he did in 2022, though he was disqualified from the sprint race victory he took in Melbourne this year. As it was, this result is what separated Colapinto from the runner-up place in the championship that stable-mate O’Sullivan snatched out from under him instead. However, Colapinto has probably looked the more assured driver this season, often with class and consistency, with points in all but three races (bar the disqualification). I’m sure he’d like to step up in F2 next season. Perhaps MP Motorsport will be able to accommodate him?Luke Browning
, 21, British — 15th in FIA Formula 3 (Hitech)
Last year’s runaway GB3 champion had a fairly middling Formula 3 season. It’s clear Hitech have lost something, but Browning was a little too wild on too many occasions, and had a fair share of silly incidents. Like a lot of other drivers on this list, he has plenty of speed when he hooks it all up, but those moments were all too fleeting this season. Another season in F3 beckons.Oliver Gray
, 18, British — 28th in FIA Formula 3 (Carlin)
…though I don’t think another season in F3 beckons for Gray. Granted, Carlin were either the second worst or outright worst team on pace this season, with only 2 points scored by Ido Cohen. But there were no highlights for Gray. Whereas Flörsch coaxed a couple of good results out of the PHM car, and Carlin team-mate Ido Cohen managed a fortuitous 9th at Silverstone despite spreading bits of Dallara in every possible corner of the world, Gray did absolutely nothing of note. Only three full-time drivers didn’t score this year - the out-of-his-depth Tommy Smith, the bizarrely off-the-pace Roberto Faria, and Gray. Why Williams picked him over any number of better British or Irish prospects – hello, Alex Dunne, Taylor Barnard - is beyond me. I assume it rhymes with “honey”.Jamie Chadwick
, 25 British — 12th in Indy NXT (Andretti)
A hugely disappointing season. Every driver below Chadwick in the standings missed one or more races. She was the second slowest full-timer in both one lap and race pace. She was nowhere near her team-mates - not even James Roe, who had a similarly poor rookie season last year. It looks likely Jamie will get a second season, but she needs to pick up her game - and fast.
The team also has Oleksandr Bondarev
(14, Ukrainian) on their books in karting. Bondarev was having a good season last year, until he broke his leg in a nasty accident in May. This year, he has taken a European championship in his class, and will be able to progress into cars if possible once he turns 15 in April next year.Haas Driver Academy
404 Error: Not foundOther Academies
Outside of the F1 Team-affiliated academies, there are a few names affiliated with F1 drivers.
Fernando Alonso’s A14 Management
is the largest of these, and some of his drivers are already linked to other academies (Martí, Tsolov). Outside of those two he manages Clément Novalak
(currently 17th in Formula 2), who has had an immensely underwhelming season and I would expect him to leave the F1 ladder. One man who hasn’t been underwhelming this season is Gabriel Bortoleto
(1st in FIA F3) who took the F3 title with poise, speed, and maturity unmatched in the rest of the field. A step up to F2 is all but assured, and maybe a stronger tie-up with one of the F1 academies - perhaps Aston Martin? - is also on the cars. Alonso also manages Han Cenyu
(35th in Formula Regional Middle East) and Carl Bennett
(11th in US F4) who aren’t exactly the brightest prospects in junior formulae and I'm assuming have deep enough pockets to attract Fernando's attention.
Nico Rosberg also has a major talent on his books - Taylor Barnard
(10th in FIA Formula 3). Barnard ran Antonelli close in Formula Regional Middle East this year, and finished a frankly astonishing 10th in the championship driving for Jenzer, who have generally been the worst team on the F3 grid. As William said in last years' update, I really think one of the bigger academies need to look at picking up Barnard.
The French motorsports body, the FFSA, run an academy system, too. The FFSA Academy runs French F4, and will lend support to some drivers who win and graduate from there, such as Théo Pourchaire, and last years’ French F4 champion Alessandro Giusti
(Currently 6th in FRECA), who has been a revelation in the last few rounds of FRECA this year. Giusti has minimal backing outside of the FFSA, so hopefully his speed will help him find more backing (hello, Alpine).Non-affiliated drivers
Here are some free agents to look out for:FIA Ladder
Outside of the FIA ladder
- The highest non-Academy drivers in F2 are Richard Verschoor in 9th, who has taken Van Amersfoort Racing's maiden Formula 2 win this year, and Kush Maini in 11th. Despite coming in with low expectations, Kush has actually had a decent rookie season, and it’ll be interesting to see how he develops.
- The highest non-Academy driver in FIA F3 was 8th placed Oliver Goethe. Though it hasn’t been a stellar season, Goethe has a good turn of pace on occasion, and took a pole position and a win during the season. He has the backing of Gulf, so perhaps a Williams association isn’t out of the question.
- The surprise of the junior season so far for me has been Martinius Stenshorne in FRECA (currently 2nd). He came into the season with good, if not great, results in F4 (though it can be tough in F4 when you don’t have a Prema!). The young Norwegian has generally had the better of R-ace team-mate, the highly rated Tim Tramnitz, and arguably looked more at home as a rookie in FRECA at the start of the season than current championship leader Antonelli.
- Italian F4 has a raft of F1 juniors in Premas vying for the title, but amongst them is US Racing’s Kacper Sztuka (currently 2nd). The Pole is fighting valiantly against the might of Prema, and most recently took a maximum points haul away from Paul Ricard, winning all three races.
- French F4 is going down to the wire, with two drivers, Enzo Peugeot and Evan Giltaire, fighting for the title. Giltaire’s performance is arguably more impressive, as it is his début season compared to Peugeot’s second.
- British F4 also has two championship contenders, separated by just one point going into the final round this weekend. One is Kiwi Louis Sharp, driving for Carlin, the other Will Macintyre, for Hitech. Sharp has taken five wins to Macintyre’s two, but Macintyre also has eight runner-up positions to his name compared to Sharp’s one.
- The leader in Spanish F4 has been quietly putting together an outstanding season. Spanish F4 is all about two strong 6-car outfits hoovering up the majority of the points - and both are big names in junior formulae in MP Motorsport and Campos. Despite this, Théophile Naël is soaring ahead in the championship, driving for Saintéloc - only in their second season of single-seater competition. There are rumours Alpine are interested in the young Frenchman…
- Marta García looks dead-set to win F1 Academy. If only we could watch the races!
- Outside of the big F4 championships, Honda-backed Yusuke Mitsui leads in Japan; Macau’s Tiago Rodrigues leads the Chinese series; Pedro Moreno (no relation to Roberto) is dominating the Mexican series; Canadian Patrick Woods-Toth is at the head of the US championship; Mikkel Pedersen is the leader in Denmark; Vinícius Tessaro in Brazil; and Reno Francot leads the poorly-subscribed Central European championship. I wouldn’t expect any of these names to be on the European radar any time soon, though Honda tend to send their winners to Europe à la Tsunoda and Iwasa.
- In GB3 (ex-British F3) the top three in the championship have all been impressive at times. They are Callum Voisin, Joseph Loake, and Alex Dunne. Dunne has been a big miss for the academies in the past, but I’m not sure a year in GB3 has done much for his reach, sadly.
- Euroformula Open, or ex-Spanish F3, has been dying for the past couple of years, sadly. Ex-Red Bull man Noel León leads, but there will be little in the way of interest towards the series.
- Eurocup-3 is another Spanish F3-level series that came into existence this year. The points leader is Esteban Masson, a former French F4 champion, who, like León in EFO, flunked out of FRECA last year. He has returned to FRECA part-time this year, however, and has occasionally impressed, such as taking Saintéloc’s first podium in the series
- The Road to Indy ladder is a different beast, and likely has no interest from F1 teams. Still, just for posterity:
- Indy NXT was won by Christian Rasmussen, but it is not looking likely at this stage he’ll be getting into IndyCar.
- USF Pro 2000 went the way of the impressive Myles Rowe, who has backing from IndyCar’s Will Power, and he’ll be in NXT for HMD next year.
- Simon Sikes was the winner in USF2000.
- Nicolas Giaffone was the winner in USF Juniors.
Edited by Frood, 26 September 2023 - 15:14.