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As F2 heads to Imola next for the fifth round of the season, we take a look at how things are shaping up so far in 2023.
The 2023 Formula 2 season began in Sakhir at the Bahrain International Circuit. The current championship leader and last years runner up Theo Pourchaire started the weekend of strongly as he went fastest in Free Practice and claimed the first Pole Position of the new season in Qualifying.
However, for the first race of 2023, it would be Swiss driver Ralph Boschung who would take victory in the Sprint Race. For the Feature Race on Sunday, Pourchaire would round of a great weekend by winning in Bahrain and would lead the Championship after round one with 32 points.
For round two, F2 headed to Jeddah for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. British driver Oliver Bearman went fastest for PREMA Racing in practice. In Qualifying, the 2022 F3 world champion and F2 rookie for this season Victor Martins would take pole for the Feature Race.
Japanese driver Ayumu Iwasa took victory in the Sprint Race after an excellent driver around the Jeddah Courniche Circuit. Sunday’s Feature Race would see another winner in 2023 as Denmark’s Frederik Vesti was victorious in Jeddah. The PREMA driver took home 25 points across the weekend. After two rounds, there was a new championship leader in Boschung on 33 points as Pourchaire picked up no points in Saudi Arabia.
F2 headed to Melbourne for round three of the season. Albert Park was a new venue on the 2023 calendar as F2 prepared for its inaugural weekend in Austrailia. Alpine’s academy driver and fellow Aussie Jack Doohan put up the best time in practice. In Qualifying, Dams driver Iwasa claimed Pole Position in a rain and red flag defined session. He would line-up at the front of the grid for the race on Sunday.
However, another Red Bull academy driver would take victory in the Sprint Race as Dennis Hauger claimed his first win of the season. For Sunday’s Feature Race, Iwasa would convert his pole postion as he picked up his second win of the season in what was a dramatic race. The result moved Iwasa into the lead of the championship on 58 points, eight points ahead of Pourchaire in second.
Round four saw F2 head to Baku for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The weekend was dominated by one man only as Bearman picked up the maximum 38 points available for a driver. The 18 year old went fastest in practice and claimed pole for the Feature Race in Qualifying.
He would then go on to win his first race in the series as he claimed victory in the Sprint on Saturday. The Ferrari academy driver would then follow this up by winning back-to-back races in Baku to round of a perfect weekend for Bearman and PREMA. The result moved him up to fourth in the standings on 41 points.
The current standings
After four rounds in 2023 so far, Pourchaire leads the Drivers’ Championship with 65 points. Vesti sits in second only three points behind the Frenchman and Iwasa rounds out the top three on 58 points. PREMA Racing lead the Constructors’ Championship with 103 points. Dams currently are only 11 points behind the leaders in second. ART Grand Prix complete the top three on 82 points.
With this in mind, which drivers are doing well or even exceeding expectations so far this season? And which drivers appear to be struggling and underachieving in 2023?
The drivers on form in 2023 so far!
When looking at drivers in form, you can’t start without talking about the current championship leader. Pourchaire has picked up three podiums so far in 2023 including a victory in the Feature Race at the season opener in Bahrain. The Frenchman’s most recent result was a third-place finish at Baku.
Despite not picking up points in half of the races this season, he still sits at the top of the standings. The Sauber academy driver hopes of making it to Formula 1 in the near future. If Pourchaire can keep up this momentum of scoring big points, it could lead him to a championship at the end of the season and put himself in contention for an F1 seat in 2024.
Another driver that is in form at the moment is the man sat in second and only three points behind the leader. Vesti has picked up 62 points across the last three race weekends after scoring no points at all in Bahrain. This includes a victory in the Feature race in Saudi Arabia. The Danish driver has contributed significantly in PREMA Racing being at the top of the Constructors’ standings.
Vesti is a part of the Mercedes academy and is seen as an integral part of Mercedes’ exciting future. Vesti hopes to drive for the team one day in F1. If he keeps up this sort of form across the full season, Mercedes won’t be the only team interested in him.
Both Iwasa and Bearman have impressed this season. The two drivers have the joint most wins in 2023 with two each so far. Despite Iwasa struggling last time round in Azerbaijan, he is one of the stronger drivers in F2. Last season, the Japanese driver finished fifth in the standings and is looking to improve on that in this campaign.
Bearman you could argue is the most in form driver at the moment after winning both races in Baku. Despite being 24 points away from Pourchaire, the 18-year-old has the capability and talent to go far in the sport as he hopes to ignite a title challenge in his first F2 season.
Kush Maini of Campos Racing and Arthur Leclerc of Dams are also having good seasons. Maini has contributed to 41 of Campos Racing’s 74 total points so far. The Indian driver sits in fifth in the standings and is level on points with Bearman. Maini is also outscoring his team-mate Boschung in 2023, who was leading the championship at one point this season and is the most experienced F2 driver on the grid.
For Leclerc, this is his debut season in F2. He has scored 34 points so far and currently sits in seventh in the championship. His best result in 2023 came at the Feature Race in Melbourne where he finished on the podium. The Monegasque driver is hoping to impress this season as he looks to emulate the success of his brother by making it to the pinnacle of motorsport in the future.
The drivers that are not doing so well!
There are three drivers that have not scored a single point this season in F2. This includes both PHM Racing By Charouz drivers Roy Nissany and Brad Benavides, and Invicta Virtuosi Racing driver Amaury Cordeel. The three drivers will have to pick up points sooner rather than later if they want to remain in the category next year.
The more surprising driver that isn’t doing too well this season is Cordeel’s team-mate Jack Doohan. Despite picking up all of Virtuosi’s 24 points so far in 2023 and claiming second place in the Feature Race in Jeddah, the Aussie has been struggling for confidence in his car. Doohan finished last season in sixth place in the championship in his rookie season in F2.
His performances in 2022 impressed Alpine so much that he joined their academy and got to make his Free Practice debut in F1 at Mexico City. The 20-year-old has failed to live up to the expectations in 2023 that he set in the year prior. However, Doohan is a talented driver and has plenty of races remaining in this campaign to kick his season into life.
What’s up next?
After nearly a month of no action, F2 heads to Imola next weekend for the fifth round of the season. Before then though, there are three days of testing in Barcelona starting from tomorrow and concluding on Friday. The drivers and teams will get the opportunity to test out different setups to their cars in preparation for the upcoming race weekend.
Feature Image Credit: (Photo by Joe Portlock – Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images)