2023 F1 Driver Academies: Who are F1’s Junior Drivers?

F1 Driver development programmes are growing. When driver changes need to happen on short notice, the benefit of having junior drivers shows. Who are F1 teams’ current Junior Drivers?

F1 teams usually have a pool of drivers at their disposal to choose from at short notice, or when they want to change their line-up for an upcoming season. The junior drivers of these teams usually get first priority in such cases. Not every team has a young driver programme, but it is a growing initiative in the sport.

Oracle Red Bull Racing

Super Formula

  1. Liam Lawson – The New Zeeland driver is into his fifth season as a Red Bull Junior. Liam finished ninth in the 2021 F2 Championship and third in the 2022 F2 Championship. He also joined his 2021 F2 campaign with a drive in DTM and finished as runner-up against more experienced drivers. This year, he is racing in Super Formula in Japan with Team Mugen, currently sitting P2 in the standings with one race to go. He participated in several F1 free practice sessions last year; two for Alpha Tauri and one for Red Bull. As a replacement for Daniel Ricciardo who broke his hand during a practice session last weekend at Zaandvort, Liam Lawson was called up. Liam Lawson took part in FP3 (P18), qualifying (P20) and the race (P13) on Sunday. He will race again this weekend, with Ricciardo still out, and with Lawson’s drive impressive enough to continue.

Formula 2

  1. Jak Crawford – The American is for the first time, competing in F2 this season with Hitech GP. He finished 7th in the standings at the end of the 2022 F3 season. Earlier this year, Crawford raced in the Formula Regional Middle East Championship before focussing on his F2 campaign.
  2. Enzo Fittipaldi – Enzo joined the Red Bull Junior team in 2023. He is currently in his third season of the F2 championship, driving for Carlin now. The F2 driver is sitting 6th in the standings with 2 races to go.
  3. Isak Hadjar – Isack was one of the seven drivers in Championship contention right up to the final race of the F3 season. The Frenchman ended up finishing 4th in the championship. His impressive spell in F3 got him promoted up to F2 where he is currently racing for Hitech. Isack is 14th in the standings with 2 races to go in his first F2 campaign.
  4. Dennis Hauger – The Norweigan had a very dominant run in the 2021 F3 season where he was crowned champion as a Prema racing driver. He then raced for Prema again in the 2022 season, but in F2 instead, where he finished 10th. Now racing for MP Motorsport, he is currently 10th in the standings for the F2 Championship, with 2 races to go.
  5. Ayumu Iwasa – Japanese driver Iwasa won the French F4 title in 2020. The talented driver then moved on to F3 in 2021, finished P12, and moved immediately into F2 in 2022 where he finished P5. With two wins and one top-three finish in the 2023 F2 season, he sits in P3 in the standings.
  6. Zane Maloney – He was just five points away from winning the F3 Championship in 2022. The Barbadian’s electric F3 performances got him promoted into F2, where he is currently P9 in the standings as a Carlin driver.

Formula 3/GB3

  1. Sebastian Montoya – The Colombian F3 driver made his first F3 appearance as a replacement for Hunter Yeany at Zandvoort in 2022. He finished 8th in both races, earning him points on his debut, and a full-time race seat for the 2023 F3 season. He is now racing for Hitech, with 1 race to go is sat at P15 in the standings.
  2. Souta Arao – Red Bull’s second Japanese junior driver is currently competing in the F3-style GB3 Championship in Britain with Hitech GP. He had an impressive year in the French F4 racing series where he finished 3rd in the standings. In this year’s GB3 Championship, he is currently P22 in the drivers’ standings with 3 races to go.

Formula 4

  1. Arvid Lindblad – The British driver was involved in a big karting accident at the Franciacorta Karting Track in February 2022. Fortunately, he recovered quickly and made his F4 debut when he turned 15 and quickly settled in. He is currently in Italian F4 and first in the Championship as it stands, with one race to go.

Karts

  1. Enzo Tarnvanichkul – At 14, he is the youngest of the Junior Team. The Thai driver is currently racing in the Karting FIA European and World Championships with Prema Academy.

 

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Formula 2

  1. Frederik Vesti – A Prema driver in F2 and Danish by nationality is Mercedes’ oldest junior driver, at 21 years old. He joined the junior team at the start of 2021, just as he was beginning his second season in F3. Just like the year prior, he finished 4th in the standings in both years he competed in F3. He joined F2 in 2022, racing for ART, and finished P9. In 2023, he switched to Prema and is currently sitting at a promising P2 with 2 races to go.

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Formula 3/FRECA

  1. Paul Aron – The Estonian driver joined Mercedes in 2019. In that same year, he competed in ADAC where he finished P7, and in Italian F4 where he finished P3. The following year, 2020, he competed in the Formula Renault Eurocup where he scored one podium and finished P11 in the standings. The series rebranded to the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine (FRECA) and Aron stayed in the competition, finishing third in both 2021 and 2022. In 2023, he advanced to F3 where he is now P2 in the standings whilst driving from Prema with one race left till the end of the season.
  2. Andrea Kimi Antonelli – Wonderkid and fan favourite Antonelli has been part of the Mercedes Junior Programme in April 2019. At the end of 2021, he raced in the last few rounds of Italian F4, scoring several podiums. Antonelli then moved on to compete in both ADAC and Italian F4. He won the Drivers’ Championship in both ADAC and Italian F4. His team, Prema, also took the Constructor’s title in both competitions. As of 2023, he is competing in FRECA. He is currently P1 in the Drivers’ Championship.

Karting

  1. Kenzo Craigie – The British driver is the latest addition to the Mercedes Junior team. In 2022, he was a multi-champion and vice-champion. In 2023, he stepped up to the Junior class, competing in the UK, International Rotax, and IAME categories.
  2. Yuanpu Cui – Chinese driver Yuanpu Cui joined the Junior Programme in 2021. He is racing in OK for 2023 after a successful run in 2022, and successful years in the Junior series during 2020 and 2021 where he scored victories and podiums as well as top-three finishes.
  3. Luna Fluxá – Having impressed in Karts, she was called up to the junior team in 2022. Constantly appearing in finals, and having wins to the Spaniard’s name has now gotten her to continue in Junior OK as a Mercedes Junior driver.
  4. Alex Powell – The Jamaican joined the junior team in 2019. Also competing in OK this year, he has several titles and wins tied to his name over the years, having made his karting debut in 2015.

 

Scuderia Ferrari

Formula 2

  1. Oliver (Ollie) Bearman – British talent only joined the Ferrari junior team in 2022. In 2020 he raced in ADAC and Italian F4 and finished P7 and P10 respectively. The following year, he finished both competitions as Champion, as did the team he moved to for 2021, Van Amersfoort Racing. Also in 2021, he competed in GB3, finishing P14 after participating in only a few races. When it came to 2022, he moved to Formula Regional Asian Championship where he competed in the last two rounds and F3 where he did the whole season. P15 was all he could manage for the Asian competition but P3 was his achievement for his rookie F3 season, as well as lifting the Constructors trophy with his team, Prema. While still under Prema, he is now competing in F2. Bearman is currently P7 in the standings with 2 races to go.
  2. Arthur Leclerc – Brother to current F1 Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc is also a part of the Ferrari family, having joined in 2020. It was P6 for Leclerc in the 2018 French F4 Championship. 2019 ADAC was a P3 bronze medal and a Constructors’ title with his team US-Racing CHRS. Leclerc called the Alpine Elf Europa Cup and FRECA home in 2020. He was ineligible to score points in the former but managed P2 in the Drivers’ Championship for FRECA, as well as a Constructors’ title win for his then-team, Prema. He was then promoted to F3 for 2021 where he raced even in the 2022 season. It was P10 and P6 in those two seasons for the final Drivers’ standings. He was crowned Champion in the 2022 Formula Regional Asian Championship before finally moving to F2 for the 2023 season. Currently, he is driving for DAMS and sits P15 in the F2 Drivers’ standings.

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Formula 3/FRECA

  1. Dino Beganovic – The F3 Swedish-Bosnian driver has been part of the academy since 2020. In the same year, he competed in ADAC and Italian F4, finishing P16 and P3 respectively. His team Prema took the Constructos’ title in Italian F4 that season too. Dino was then promoted to FRECA in 2021, ending the season in P13 in the standings. In 2022, he continued in FRECA and enjoyed a better season where both he and his team were crowned Champions in both Championships. Also in 2022, he competed in Formula Regional Asian Championship and earned P5, with his team taking P1 in the Constructors’ Championship. Before beginning his F3 2023 campaign, he competed in only two rounds of the Formula Regional Middle East Championship finishing P11 after two race wins. With one race left till the end of the F3 season, he sits in P6 in the standings.
  2. Rafael Camara – The Brazilian was added to the junior team in late 2021. In 2022, he competed in the Formula 4 UAE Championship, ADAC and Italian F4. Respectively, he claimed P2, P3 and P3 in each, with his team, Prema, taking the Constructors’ title in all three Championships. As of 2023, he is still a Prema driver and is sitting P5 in FRECA with 4 rounds to go.
  3. Maya Weug – The Dutch driver is the first woman ever to join the Ferrari Driver Academy. She competed in ADAC and Italian F4 in 2021. Weug was ineligible to score points in ADAC but she got P35 in Italian F4. She competed in both competitions again in 2022. She was again ineligible to earn points in ADAC but was able to finish P14 in the standings for Italian F4. Weug is now a FRECA driver. With 4 rounds left of the season, she stands at P12 in the Drivers’ Championship.

Italian F4

  1. Aurelia Nobels – The 16-year-old Brazilian is the second Ferrari Academy driver. In 2022, she raced in Danish F4, Spanish F4 and Brazilian F4. However, she only raced in a few rounds of each, which affected her position in the standings. As of 2023, she is racing in Italian F4.
  2. Tuukka Taponen – After a successful last few years of karting the Finnish driver is now an Italian F4 driver. He is currently 5th in the standings after competing in all the rounds thus far, with 2 to go.
  3. James Wharton – The Prema driver is currently P4 in the 2023 Italian F4 Championship. In 2022, he finished 5th in Italian F4, ADAC and Formula 4 UAE

 

BWT Alpine F1 Team

Formula 2

  1. Jack Doohan – The Australian is yet another promising young talent, and he is part of the Alpine family. In 2018, he was the best of the rookies, having finished P5 in the Drivers’ Championship in the F4 British Championship. He went on to finish P11 in the 2019 Euroformula Open Championship. He was then runners-up in the 2019-20 F3 Asian Championship. In 2020 he joined F3 and finished the season in P26 but went on to improve in 2021 where he claimed P2. In 2022 he was promoted to F2 where he ended his rookie season in P6. Now in 2023, he is still in F2, in P4 in the standings as the season nears its end.
  2. Victor Martins – The French driver was the French F4 Junior Champion in 2017. Martins was only good enough for P6 in the 2018 Formula Renault Northern European Cup and P5 for that same year’s Formula Renault Eurocup. He improved his form in 2019 and finished an impressive P2 in the Formula Renault Eurocup and was eventually crowned Champion of the competition in 2020. The Frenchman got called up to F3 in 2021 where he accomplished P5 in his rookie season. 2022 was a better year for him. He was named F3 Champion, earning him a promotion to F2. P5 is where the Frenchman has found himself in F2 thus far, but the season isn’t over yet.

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Formula 3

  1. Gabriele Mini – In his rookie season, the Italian driver won the Italian F4 Championship. He then moved on to FRECA for 20211 and 2022 where he finished P7 and P2 respectively. Before the start of his 2022 FRECA campaign, Mini spent the first few months of the year competing in the Formula Regional Asian Championship and finished P4. Mini is now competing in F3. The season is about to come to an end, with the rookie in P7 in the standings.
  2. Sophia Floersch – She is the only woman competing in the current F3 season. In the 2019 Formula Regional European Championship, she claimed P7, after never failing to score points and finish a race that season. In 2021 she was a participant in DTM and FIA World Endurance Championship. With 2 rounds to go, she is currently P22 in the 2023 F3 standings.
  3. Nikola Tsolov – The Bulgarian had an impressive 2022 season. In just his rookie season in the F4 Spanish Championship, he won 13 out of 21 races and was crowned Champion of the season. This earned him a promotion into F3 for the 2023 season. Unfortunately, his debut F3 season has been the opposite of his previous streak of wins, as so far he has only managed to finish in the points. He sits at P23 in the standings.

Italian F4

  1. Matheus Ferreira – The young Brazilian is currently racing in Italian F4 where he is P16 in the Drivers’ Championship. He is driving for Van Amersfoort Racing in the Championship.

F1 Academy

  1. Abbi Pulling – She is a British driver, and one of the only two F1 Academy drivers to be part of an F1 team’s Junior programme. In 2021 and 2022, Pulling raced in the W Series. P7 was what she managed in her rookie season and an improved P4 was hers to take in the next. F1 Academy is her racing home for 2023. She’s had 6 podiums so far and has found herself P5 in the standings with one round to go.

Karting

  1. Kean Nakamura – The Japanese driver is currently competing in the FIA European Championship for Kart Republic.

 

Williams Racing

Formula 3

  1. Zak O’Sullivan – He is a British F3 racing driver currently racing for Prema. 2020 was a successful year for the driver as he enjoyed the spoils of being runners-up and of his team, Carlin winning the Constructors’ title during the F4 British Championship. 2021 was an even more successful year as both he and his team, Carlin, took the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles in the GB3 Championship. He then got promoted to F3 in 2022. Zak completed that season in P11. He made the switch to Prema in 2023 and is now P4 in a tight battle for P2 in the Drivers’ standings with only 2 rounds left.
  2. Oliver Gray – The British driver competed in the F4 British Championship in both 2021 and 2022. He earned P7 in his rookie season and climbed up the ladder for his next season where he finished P2, and his team Carlin took the Constructors’ title. He joined F3 in 2023 as a Carlin driver. P26 is his position in the standings after a difficult first season.
  3. Franco Colapinto – Franco is an Aregentine-Italian driver who is currently competing in FIA Formula 3 for MP Motorsport. He won the 2019 F4 Spanish Championship with a huge margin as did his team, Drivex School. He is enjoying his rookie season in F3, currently battling out for P2 in the Drivers’ Championship – he is P5 as it stands.
  4. Luke Browning – 2020 was quite the year for the British racing driver. That year, he won the F4 British Championship as well as the GB3 Championship. After joining F3 in 2023, he is now P14 in the Drivers’ standings.

Indy NXT

  1. Jamie Chadwick – Three-time W Series Champion has been part of Williams’ Academy since 2019. After three very successful seasons in the W Series, she now races in Indy NXT for Andretti. She is in P13 in the Drivers’ Championship standings with two rounds to go.

 

McLaren F1

IndyCar

  1. Alex Palou – The Spaniard won the 2021 IndyCar title by a somewhat comfortable margin. He was 5th in his next season but is now back at the top, currently leading the championship as the 2023 season nears the end. However his feature in the academy seems to be near it’s end, after Zak Brown sued Palou for breach of contract due to IndyCar contract matters.
  2. Pato O’Ward – In his rookie year, he was the Champion of the Indy Lights 2018 season. In 2021, as an Arrow McLaren driver, he finished P3. In 2022 he dropped down to P7, but as of this year, he is P4 in the standings.

Italian F4

  1. Ugo Ugochukwu – He was good in British F4 last season and is now competing in Italian F4 with Prema.

 

Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake

Formula 2

  1. Theo Pourchaire – The Frenchman was the winner of the 2018 French F4 Junior Championship as well as the 2018 ADAC F4 Championship. He was an impressive F3 rookie in 2020, finishing P2 in the standings. Fortunately for him, he earned a promotion to F2 for the 2021 season, and he claimed P5 in the standings. Pourchaire climbed to P2 in 2022 but is now the leading driver in the Championship this season.

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FRECA

  1. Marcus Amand – The French driver has been a part of the academy since the start of 2023 and is racing for ART and sits in P23 of the standings.

F1 Academy

  1. Lena Buhler – The Swiss driver is only the second driver belonging to a junior programme of an F1 team. With one round left to go in the F1 Academy calendar, she sits at P2 in the standings.

Karting

  1. Taym Saleh – Taym joined the academy in 2023 as well. The German is currently competing in the CIK-OK Championship.

 

Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team

No race programme

  1. Felipe Drugovich – He was last year’s F2 Champion, in his 3rd season of the competition. Despite a new title to his name after a dominant performance, he has had no race seat for 2023. It is still unknown whether he the Brazilian will be racing in 2024, and where exactly.

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