Formula 2 makes history this weekend, the series making its debut in Australia with the Formula 1 feeder series on the bill in Melbourne over the next three days.
After two rounds in the 2023 FIA Formula 2 Championship, some of the top contenders for the Championship have already been revealed.
For the third round of a record-breaking 14, we will be heading to the sunny streets of Melbourne to see 22 rising stars in open-wheel motorsport duke it out around the Albert Park Circuit.
In this F2 Report, let’s remind ourselves of the big news leading up to this weekend of racing, as well as who and what we can expect to perform in the Land Down Under!
A new location for F2
The famous Albert Park street circuit has been a staple for F1 for almost two decades now. However, 2023 will be the first year that the F2 grid will be flying over to the Australian continent. In fact, it will be the first time that F2 has ever taken place in the Southern Hemisphere, let alone in Australia.
While this is no doubt an exciting announcement to many, the decision has also been met with significant criticism from teams and fans alike. The disagreement revolves mainly around the added cost and environmental impact of travelling so far from the rest of the locations touted to be on the calendar for 2023.
However, F2 CEO Bruno Michel stressed that the new location hasn’t affected the budget of the teams. He told RaceFans before the start of the season: “We’ll make sure that it’s not going to impact the budgets of the teams, and therefore the budgets of the drivers. And so far we’ve managed to do that.”
All that’s left to do is to enjoy an action-packed weekend of close-knit racing, as Melbourne has often showcased in the past. Think back to Jacques Villeneuve on his debut race against Damon Hill at the inaugural race in 1996, or Brawn GP’s equally impressive team debut in 2009.
F2 Championship too close for comfort
Of course, the season is still young, and the balance of both the F2 Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships can swing at any moment. But it’s great to see such a tight tussle at the top of the Standings at this stage.
The top three drivers are separated by just two points. Leading the charge is veteran racer Ralph Boschung, who attained his maiden victory in the feeder series in the first round in Bahrain.
Then there is Theo Pourchaire, who pulled out a stellar all-weekend performance around the Bahrain International Circuit but faltered at the next round in Jeddah, ceding his lead in the Championship.
Just another point down is Japanese driver Ayumu Iwasa, who is mounting an impressive threat for the F2 Drivers’ Title thanks to consistent points finishes. In fact, he is the only driver who has scored in each of the four races we have seen so far.
Doohan on home turf
There is only one Australian driver on the F2 grid this year. Jack Doohan will be hoping to take victory on home soil this weekend, especially after a somewhat lacklustre start to the season.
A pointless opening round was improved upon with double points finishes around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, including second place in the Feature race. But for a driver who stated himself that he is “expecting nothing else but to dominate the Championship”, 2023 hasn’t started in the right fashion for Doohan.
A race win with a fervent Aussie crowd cheering him on could very well be exactly what Doohan needs for him to join the likes of Pourchaire, Boschung and Iwasa in the battle for the F2 Title.
Who do you expect to win in the maiden F2 race around the Albert Park Circuit? Make sure to watch the races between 1st-2nd April to find out.