We got a first glimpse at this year’s Formula 2 field earlier this week with three action-packed days of testing around the Bahrain International Circuit.
For a grand total of nine drivers it was their very first time wringing out their new rides round the iconic Bahraini circuit, with the rest of the field looking to make improvements on their performances in 2022.
The F2 Report analyses the stand-out showings and moments from 2023 pre-season testing and what we can expect from another year of racing action going forward.
Day 1: Pourchaire puts on a show
The first day of pre-season testing was dominated by the ART Grand Prix driver of Theo Pourchaire, who topped the timing sheets in both the morning and afternoon sessions.
Already in his third full season in the Formula 1 feeder series, Pourchaire will be looking to mount a Championship Title-fight in what many believe is a make-or-break year for the Frenchman. 2022 proved to be a somewhat disappointing year for him; despite finishing second in the F2 standings he was simply outclassed by eventual Champion Felipe Drugovich.
For this reason, Pourchaire will hope to hit the ground running immediately in 2023, to give himself the best shot at securing the crown.
The morning session was more of a taster for the drivers; it was in the afternoon when times really began to tumble. Yet Pourchaire still held onto the top spot, a 1:42.165 more than a tenth faster than the VAR of Richard Verschoor in second place.
The two DAMS drivers of Ayumu Iwasa and Arthur Leclerc impressed with fifth and third positions respectively. Another noteworthy showing was by Ralph Boschung, who slotted in fourth after finishing third in the morning session, a consistent solid result from a reliable veteran in the series.
Day 2: Verschoor and Vesti on top
Frederick Vesti of Prema Racing was seemingly the only driver pushing on the morning of the second day, setting a time almost two seconds quicker than the next fastest lap. He also has a lot to prove this year; although he managed a victory in his debut season in F2 last year he suffered from a lack of consistency.
The Dane has a tough job on his hands this year; his teammate at Prema will be the 17-year old Oliver Bearman who is touted by many as a potential future World Champion.
The afternoon session saw drivers pushing on soft tyres yet again, and it was much closer on the timesheets. Verschoor topped the session with a 1:42.140, just eight milliseconds ahead of reigning F3 Champion Victor Martins in the ART Grand Prix car. This time proved to be the fastest time over the three days, just over a second slower than the pole lap in 2022 on significantly higher fuel loads.
Day 3: A new name tops final day of F2 testing
A fresh face took the spotlight on the final day of pre-season testing, with the Campos car of Kush Maini posting a 1:42.623 to oust long-standing Roy Nissany in the new team, PHM Racing by Charouz by almost three tenths in the afternoon.
Maini’s teammate Boschung on the other hand was quickest in the morning by over two seconds with a 1:45.027, where race-pace runs were prioritised by all the teams.
And with that, our excitement for the opening round grows ever stronger. All nine debutants have now had ample opportunity to get to grips with their new toy and will be raring to go, while the returning drivers will be determined to improve on previous seasons.
The first race in F2 for 2023 will take place at Sakhir on the fourth of March, make sure not to miss it!
Day 3 Sakhir F2 Pre-Season Test Session 1 Best Times
|1||Ralph Boschung||Campos Racing||1:45.027||28|
|3||Victor Martins||ART Grand Prix||1:47.054||39|
|4||Roy Nissany||PHM Racing by Charouz||1:47.223||46|
|5||Frederik Vesti||PREMA Racing||1:47.264||34|
|6||Richard Verschoor||Van Amersfoort Racing||1:47.335||39|
|7||Théo Pourchaire||ART Grand Prix||1:47.426||40|
|8||Jak Crawford||Hitech Pulse-Eight||1:47.512||44|
|9||Jack Doohan||Virtuosi Racing||1:47.900||35|
|10||Juan Manuel Correa||Van Amersfoort Racing||1:47.912||30|
|12||Oliver Bearman||PREMA Racing||1:48.145||34|
|13||Brad Benavides||PHM Racing by Charouz||1:48.239||31|
|15||Dennis Hauger||MP Motorsport||1:48.747||45|
|17||Jehan Daruvala||MP Motorsport||1:48.988||42|
|18||Amaury Cordeel||Virtuosi Racing||1:49.149||27|
|19||Kush Maini||Campos Racing||1:49.245||36|
|20||Enzo Fittipaldi||Rodin Carlin||1:49.295||33|
|21||Isack Hadjar||Hitech Pulse-Eight||1:49.557||23|
|22||Zane Maloney||Rodin Carlin||1:49.730||38|
Day 3 Sakhir F2 Pre-Season Test Session 2 Best Times 2
|1||Kush Maini||Campos Racing||1:42.623||34|
|2||Roy Nissany||PHM Racing by Charouz||1:42.905||20|
|3||Théo Pourchaire||ART Grand Prix||1:42.905||45|
|4||Enzo Fittipaldi||Rodin Carlin||1:42.971||15|
|5||Dennis Hauger||MP Motorsport||1:43.020||19|
|6||Zane Maloney||Rodin Carlin||1:43.094||19|
|8||Brad Benavides||PHM Racing by Charouz||1:43.226||23|
|9||Jehan Daruvala||MP Motorsport||1:43.300||19|
|10||Richard Verschoor||Van Amersfoort Racing||1:45.545||41|
|11||Amaury Cordeel||Virtuosi Racing||1:45.587||30|
|14||Ralph Boschung||Campos Racing||1:46.718||43|
|16||Frederik Vesti||PREMA Racing||1:47.171||43|
|17||Victor Martins||ART Grand Prix||1:47.308||45|
|18||Jak Crawford||Hitech Pulse-Eight||1:47.436||47|
|19||Jack Doohan||Virtuosi Racing||1:47.572||40|
|20||Oliver Bearman||PREMA Racing||1:47.668||42|
|21||Isack Hadjar||Hitech Pulse-Eight||1:47.945||51|
|22||Juan Manuel Correa||Van Amersfoort Racing||–||–|