Floersch lands late place on Alpine Academy as Doohan becomes F1 reserve driver

2023 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by and

Sophia Floersch has been named as a ninth member of Alpine’s junior academy, just two days after the team announced a roster of eight drivers.

The team has also confirmed Jack Doohan will carry out reserve driver duties for its F1 team this year.

Floersch’s signing forms part of Alpine’s RacHer programme aiming to improve diversity and representation of women in motorsport by offering support for young female drivers. The 22-year-old will return to race in the FIA F3 championship this season.

She survived a horrifying accident during the 2018 Macau Grand Prix which left her hospitalised with a spinal fracture. She returned to compete in FIA F3 in 2020 before later moving into endurance racing and the DTM.

Alpine A523 liveries, 2023
Pictures: Alpine reveal A523 in regular livery and pink colours for first three races
“Joining the Alpine Academy is an honour and a major opportunity in my career,” said Floersch. “I have great ambitions and I am sure by applying the knowledge and expertise from Alpine, it will only help me grow. I can’t wait to start this new chapter and represent the Alpine brand on the global stage.”

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer said the team’s support for Floersch is “more than a sticker”, and she will receive the same level of support of her fellow Academy drivers, including Doohan and Abbi Pulling. The latter will compete in this year’s new F1 Academy series for women.

“It’s support of our academy, just like Abbi Pulling will get,” Szafnauer told media including RaceFans at the Alpine A523 launch.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“We will help her with any technology that we can help her with. We’ll help with the human performance programme that we’re putting in place and any other area. She can drive our simulator, we run old cars as well and we’ve got a decent amount of engineers that understand racing too. So we’ll help her best we can.

Jack Doohan, Alpine, Yas Marina, 2022 post-season test
Doohan tested for Alpine in F1 last year
“She’ll be competing against the boys in a very competitive formula, Formula 3 is not easy. So we’re going to help her to to achieve.”

Doohan’s appointment as reserve driver was widely expected as he has completed multiple days of Formula 1 testing with the team’s 2021 A521. He also had two Friday practice runs towards the end of the season in Mexico and Abu Dhabi in Alpine’s 2022 car.

He takes over reserve duties from Oscar Piastri, who departed Alpine controversially at the end of last year after signing a race drive with McLaren.

Szafnauer announced Doohan’s new role during the launch of Alpine’s A523 for the 2023 F1 season in London. “Although he can’t be with us here tonight – because he’s in Bahrain getting ready for the F2 championship where he should be, testing – we would like to announce to all of our Australian friends here and others that Jack Doohan will be our reserve driver for 2023,” he said.

View the current list of 2023 F1 drivers and teams

Bringing the F1 news from the source

RaceFans strives to bring its readers news directly from the key players in Formula 1. We are able to do this thanks in part to the generous backing of our RaceFans Supporters.

By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the equivalent in other currencies) you can help cover the costs involved in producing original journalism: Travelling, writing, creating, hosting, contacting and developing.

We have been proudly supported by our readers for over 10 years. If you enjoy our independent coverage, please consider becoming a RaceFans Supporter today. As a bonus, all our Supporters can also browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 F1 season

Browse all 2023 F1 season articles

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

16 comments on “Floersch lands late place on Alpine Academy as Doohan becomes F1 reserve driver”

  1. Funny how her last name is spelled ‘Floersch’ but Nico is ‘Hulkenberg’ and not ‘Huelkenberg’.

    1. I never understood why this is seems to be standard practice in the English-speaking world. So stupid.
      If you can’t use the correct spelling just use the letter without umlauts. Florsch may not be correct but still closer than adding an extra letter…
      Same with how they say Schumacher “Shumakker”.

      1. That is not correct. “ö” is literally “oe”. Her website is https://sophia-floersch.de/, her Instagram sophiafloersch. I think she would know how to spell her name.

        1. Exactly. A non-German explaining how to spell in German. Nice.

        2. That is simply wrong as evident from the spelling of other names with same characters. F1 world has traditionally simply translated ö to o and ä to a, however, in some other sports they would be translated to oe and ae.

          Transliteration also varies from language to language as it is essentially about fitting foreign words into mouths of non-speakers.

  2. A surprising addition.

  3. Szafnauer announced Doohan’s new role …– we would like to announce to all of our Australian friends here and others that Jack Doohan will be our reserve driver for 2023,”

    I wonder if Jack knew, or if we should expect a Oscar style rebuttle :)

    1. I don’t think Otmar will be the ‘nod’s as good as a wink to a blind horse’ type any more.

  4. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
    17th February 2023, 11:13

    Flörsch already has almost a full season of FIA F3 racing under her belt. She scored no points and finished 29th out of 35 drivers in 2020. She also took part in the 2018 F3 European Championship, where she scored one point and finished 22nd out of 26 drivers. (Incidentally, that championship was won by Mick Schumacher, whose F1 career has so far been less than impressive.) In DTM, her best result is a pair of ninth places.

    Can she improve with more experience? Probably. Is she a future F1 driver? I don’t see it.

    Therefore, the decision by Alpine to induct her into their driver academy seems … strange to me. Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to see a female driver in F1, if she’s fast enough. However, I think it’s already abundantly clear that Flörsch is not that driver.

    1. When has any Alpine or Renault academy driver ever moved up to a race seat in F1? They tried with Piastri and only because Alonso forced their hand, and when that backfired they still didn’t hire from their junior drivers. Alpine know she’s never getting on the grid and Sophia probably does too.

      1. Fair points.

        So, if thats the case, this is a publicity stunt.

      2. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
        17th February 2023, 18:27

        Dane, I just had a quick look at the Alpine Academy’s Wikipedia page. The page lists 64 different drivers who either are or, at some point in their career, were members of the academy in one of its various guises. Of those 64 drivers, there are 13 (14 if you include Piastri) who have started at least one F1 race. That’s roughly one out of every five academy drivers – a minority, obviously, but to imply – as you do – that it hardly ever happens, seems a bit of a stretch.

        Anyway, I stand by my point. I think Alpine’s decision to choose Flörsch for their academy is strange. And I’m left wondering if they really couldn’t find a more worthy female driver to support.

    2. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken I’ve seen it suggested elsewhere that this may not be looking at an F1 program, but potentially more focussed on Alpine’s upcoming Le Mans Hypercar project. She’s done a few endurance races in the past, with mixed success, including a couple of podiums and a few other strong results, mixed with a fair dose of bad luck (which admittedly is fairly common across all teams in endurance racing). And as Dane says, Alpine don’t usually promote their junior drivers (partly, you might say, due to the lack of a second or even engine customer team), this makes me wonder if Alpine do indeed have one eye on the WEC with their rather large academy for only two F1 seats.

      I will add this is pure speculation, nothing rooted in fact, just ideas I’ve seen elsewhere.

      1. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
        17th February 2023, 18:31

        RandomMallard, see my reply to Dane above.

        As for your hypothesis that Alpine could be interested in Flörsch, not as a future F1 driver, but rather as a future Hypercar driver, I guess that could be the case. It would certainly make more sense than the alternative. But then I have to wonder if sticking her in an open-wheel racing series is the best way to prepare her.

  5. Her accident at macau still makes me shiver when i think about it.

  6. Brilliant news that Sophia Flörsch will race in F3 this seaso. What are Charouz like? Bottom of the pile?

Comments are closed.