With the end of the 2022 season on the horizon, the time has come for Helmut Marko and his contingent of Red Bull Academy drivers to decide where they will be headed for the following campaign.
It is no secret that Red Bull have been left somewhat disappointed by their Academy output this year, which was made clear after their decision to sign Nyck de Vries for AlphaTauri next year.
Speaking to Auto Motor und Sport, Dr. Marko recently revealed where the vast majority of the Austrian outfit’s Formula 2 and Formula 3 drivers will be racing in 2023.
This F2 Report will go through each of those, and determine where their future lies.
Dennis Hauger: F2, F1 reserve driver
Hauger was the first driver to be confirmed for the 2023 F2 lineup, having been slated to drive for incumbent Constructors’ leaders MP Motorsport for the upcoming season.
Despite his complete domination of the 2021 F3 Championship, F2 has so far been a very different story for the Norwegian. His 2022 has been full of unlucky retirements and poor strategic decisions, with just a handful of race victories and podiums smattered throughout.
It’s safe to say that Hauger has not lived up to the high expectations he set for himself in the previous year, and therefore he will not be moving up to F1 as quickly as quite a few expected. However, he has been fortunate enough to land himself a role as reserve driver for both AlphaTauri and Red Bull, so expect him to rock up to a few Free Practice sessions in 2023.
Liam Lawson: Super Formula, F1 reserve driver
Sharing the reserve driver role with Hauger will be New Zealander Liam Lawson. A change of scenery could prove beneficial for him, as two seasons in F2 hasn’t yielded the Drivers’ Championships that many were expecting of him when he arrived on the FIA scene in 2019.
He will be driving alongside Tomoki Nojiri for Team Mugen in next year’s Super Formula series, which Marko believes will be an exciting yet difficult challenge for Lawson, stating: “Lawson was very fast at his F1 test… He will drive in Japan next year and be one of our reserve drivers for Formula 1.”
Lawson will be hoping to challenge for the Title next year before returning to the F1 feeder series full of confidence to compete for the top spot in the final Standings.
Jehan Daruvala: F2
The poster child for India’s F1 hopes has been signed to race with fellow Red Bull Academy driver Hauger for MP Motorsport for 2023.
Overlooking his popularity in his home country, this year has been nothing short of disastrous for Daruvala.
Currently languishing in fifth in the Drivers’ Standings when several figures thought he would challenge for the Title, it now seems as though the driver from India is destined for F2 forever, especially considering he is now 24 years of age.
If his results don’t improve in 2023, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if Daruvala makes the switch to endurance or GT racing in the future.
Ayumu Iwasa: F2
While no team has confirmed him for next year, Dr. Marko himself has stated that Iwasa will be driving in F2 in 2023.
The young Japanese driver had a solid debut campaign driving for DAMS. A Feature race victory at Paul Ricard and a flurry of podium finishes in other events have been the highlights of his 2022, but the higher-ups at Red Bull have decided that Iwasa needs another year in F2 to show off his true abilities.
Whether he will improve next year remains to be seen of course, but having a year of experience under his belt should help him to finish higher in the Standings and put him in contention for a seat in the pinnacle of open-wheel motorsport later on.
Enzo Fittipaldi: F2
The grandson of multiple F1 Champion Emerson Fittipaldi is Red Bull’s latest addition to their Academy, having been signed just a few days ago.
Just a few years ago in fact, Fittipaldi Jr.’s chance to get into F1 looked all but over after a couple of fruitless seasons in F3. But the Brazilian driver has come back fighting in 2022 and is currently in fifth in the Drivers’ Standings in F2.
Consistency has been the key to Fittipaldi Jr.’s success; he is yet to get that elusive first win, but he has been in the points more often than the majority of the grid.
If his rapid recent progress is anything to go by, another full season in F2 should propel him even higher up the Standings, and a race victory should come sooner rather than later in 2023.
Jonny Edgar: F3 (probably)
A driver who was strangely missing from Marko’s recent statement was Jonny Edgar. Whether this means he will no longer be a part of the Red Bull Driver Academy we don’t know yet, but the Briton is likely to spend a third consecutive season in F3.
2022 was a marked improvement for the 18-year-old despite missing two whole rounds due to illness, but his achievements were ultimately overshadowed by the better results attained by the other Academy drivers in the same series.
He is still a teenager and thus has a lot of time on his hands, but at the current rate of progress he can say goodbye to his dreams of racing in F1.
Jak Crawford: F3
The 17-year-old American driver came seventh in this year’s F3 Standings in what was a very tight battle for the lead in the Championship. With a victory to his name already, it seems inevitable that Crawford will make it to F2 and beyond in no time.
However, Dr. Marko has confirmed that Crawford will remain in F3 next year. His tender age probably had something to do with this decision; another year in F3 would be useful in helping him mature as both a driver and a person.
As long as he continues to improve at the rate that he is at the moment, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if he takes home the Drivers’ Title in 2023.
Isack Hadjar: F2
Perhaps the biggest piece of news from Marko’s announcement was the promotion of French star driver Isack Hadjar to F3 from F2.
He finished fourth in the 2022 FIA F3 Championship, but this fact actually underplays how impressive his performances were this season, especially considering it was his first campaign in the series.
He was leading the way in the Championship for much of the year; a downturn in results towards the end of the season was what prevented him from taking the Title at the first time of asking.
Hadjar has warranted himself a step up to F2, where he will be looking to perform just as strongly as he did this year.