Could we see rookie champions in Formula 2 and Formula 3 this season?
There are ten rookies in Formula 2 this year, making up almost half of the grid. In Formula 3, over half of the drivers are rookies.
As always, some rookies will shine and others… not quite so much. While it’s always a bit of a guess as to who will do well and who won’t, let’s take a look at some of the most promising rookies and interesting stories on the F2 and F3 grids this year.
Oliver Bearman (Formula 2)
Bearman joins Formula 2 as a Ferrari junior and is already as a champion of multiple categories. Having won both ADAC Formula 4 and Italian Formula 4 in 2021, he came into his rookie Formula 3 season as a promising talent.
Bearman joined PREMA Racing in 2022 in Formula 3, where he beat both of his more experienced teammates. He scored a total of eight podiums, one of them a race win, and finished third in the championship, just seven points off the title.
After such a successful rookie campaign, it wasn’t a surprise that PREMA opted to promote him to their Formula 2 team, signing him alongside Frederik Vesti. 2022 was a tough season for PREMA’s Formula 2 outfit, finishing fourth in the team standings after two years of winning. They’ve changed their driver lineup completely for 2023 with Vesti and Bearman, two drivers who have past experience with the team.
Bearman has to experience the learning curve that comes with coming into a new series, but being a rookie hasn’t stopped him from succeeding in the past. He could very easily be contending for the title with some of the more experienced drivers, and will definitely be one to watch in 2022.
Victor Martins (Formula 2)
Martins is coming off the back of winning the Formula 3 championship, which means expectations are high. He’ll be staying with ART Grand Prix, the team that led him to not just one, but two titles in the past. After winning Formula Renault Eurocup in 2020 and Formula 3 in 2022, Martins and ART know they have a strong partnership.
The French driver is one of the rookies with the toughest tasks, as he’ll have to contend with a formidable teammate in Theo Pourchaire as well as a fellow Alpine Academy member in Jack Doohan. Both drivers have already proven their ability to win races and be title contenders in Formula 2, and both of them are drivers that Martins will need to perform well against for a chance at a Formula 1 seat.
With a lot to prove but also a lot to offer, Martins’ season could go either way. He’ll have the cushion of being a rookie, but he’ll also want to get up to speed as quickly as possible. Will he come close to Pourchaire and Doohan’s level during the season?
Isack Hadjar (Formula 2)
Hadjar has won at least one race in every single-seater category he’s completed a full season in, which is five series since 2019.
Most recently, he won three races in his rookie season of Formula 3. He also scored a pole position and ended the season in fourth place overall. That’s an impressive task for a rookie, but even more so when you consider that his team, Hitech Grand Prix, doesn’t always perform to that level in Formula 3. The only other driver to finish that high in the standings at Hitech was Juri Vips in 2019.
Hadjar is one of six Red Bull juniors on the 2023 Formula 2 grid, and one of three that are rookies. Along with his Hitech teammate Jak Crawford and Carlin’s Zane Maloney, Hadjar will want to impress against the more experienced academy members on the grid.
He’s optimistic about his chances, having already mentioned that he’s aiming to have a Formula 1 seat by 2024. It’s not an impossible goal either, so watch out for Hadjar to see if he keeps up his impressive record in 2023.
Gabriele Mini (Formula 3)
Not many drivers win the first single-seater championship they race in, but Mini managed to do so in the Italian Formula 4 Championship in 2020. He went on to finish second in his second season of the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine in 2022.
Mini also competed in the 2022 Formula Regional Asian Championship, coming in a close fourth. He finished only four points behind Hadjar in the standings, despite missing three races mid-season.
The 17-year-old Italian will be a Formula 3 rookie with Hitech Pulse-Eight this year, as well as a brand-new addition to the Alpine Academy. Now with a Formula 1 team behind him, Mini will be a rookie to keep track of in 2023.
Oliver Goethe (Formula 3)
Goethe comes into Formula 3 as a rookie and as the reigning Euroformula Open Championship, having won 11 out of the 26 races and never finished lower than sixth in a race.
The Danish-German driver has already competed in a round of Formula 3, filling in at Campos Racing for two rounds in 2022. In those two rounds, he had a best finish of fourth and scored a total of 15 points, which put him ahead of several full-time drivers in the standings.
Goethe is the only driver on this list that isn’t part of a driver academy, but it’ll be no less interesting watching him at Trident this season, one of the top Formula 3 teams.
Could 2023 be the year for rookies? It’s a definite possibility according to F2 and F3 CEO Bruno Michel, who told FormulaNerds: “We’ve seen in the past that when you have completely outstanding drivers coming from Formula 3 as a rookie, they can win in Formula 2 in the first year, and that’s something that we might see this year so let’s follow that up but it’s going to be interesting.”
Feature Image Credit: Joe Portlock – Getty Images
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