RaceFans’ top 10 Formula 2 drivers of 2023

Formula 2

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None of the stars of this year’s Formula 2 grid will be stepping up into a Formula 1 race seat for 2024, after a season in which there were 12 different race winners.

The competitiveness of teams in F2 can change from year-to-year and that had a big influence on which drivers were fighting at the front this season.

Thankfully, in the final season for the Dallara F2 2018 chassis, reliability was less of a talking point than in previous years, meaning fewer instances of drivers losing points to technical problems out of their control. That meant that the battles within teams accurately reflected who was performing strongly and who was not – even if they were mired in the midfield.

RaceFans’ rankings of the top 10 drivers of the season take that into account, as well as the experience of each driver. There were rookies who looked more capable of pole position or winning feature races at multiple tracks than the experienced title contenders, and some drivers who relied too much on reverse-grid races to boost their points haul.

Ayumu Iwasa and Theo Pourchaire are set to race in Super Formula next year, while others will focus on F1 and Formula E reserve driver roles with nothing left to prove – or spend – in F2.

10. Kush Maini

Kush Maini, Campos, Formula 2, Melbourne, 2023
Sprint race second place in Melbourne was Maini’s best result

Podiums: 1
Points: 62

Rookie Kush Maini made good use of Campos’s strong qualifying package to be one of the best qualifiers in the field, even though his best qualifying result – a third place – did not occur until the season finale. He was let down by Campos’ lack of race pace though, which made points finishes scarce as the year went on. To earn his Melbourne sprint race podium he was, at one point, holding off six cars, and another defensive drive the next day in the feature race was only rewarded with ninth place. Aside from the anomaly that was the season-opening Bahrain weekend where he finished fourth in the feature race and team-mate Ralph Boschung won, Kush Maini’s best result on a Sunday was a fifth place.

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9. Enzo Fittipaldi

Fittipaldi’s first F2 win came at Spa

Rodin Carlin
Wins: 1
Podiums: 5
Points: 124

Enzo Fittipaldi is a great example of a driver who clearly improves in his driving year after year, but it has to be considered a slightly disappointing season for he and Rodin Carlin with only one win (although that was enough to put the team third in the standings). He was one of the most consistent points scorers as his qualifying and race pace was rarely strong enough to be at the front but almost always what was required be in the top 10 and resulted in the ‘best of the rest’ position in the points table behind the six big stars of the season.

8. Richard Verschoor

Verschoor and VAR’s best weekend was at the Red Bull Ring

Van Amersfoort
Wins: 1
Podiums: 3
Points: 108

There were 15 drivers who made it onto the podium this season before Richard Verschoor did, but he was still able to finish ninth in the standings and only spent two races outside of the top ten in the drivers’ standings. He scored more than eight times as many points as his team mate, making it the second most one-sided battle on the grid, and on average was the ninth-fastest driver in qualifying and races.

Only four other drivers were able to score back-to-back top-four finishes on more than one occasion, so Verschoor definitely maximised the package he had.

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7. Ayumu Iwasa

Iwasa won the sprint race in Monaco

Wins: 3
Poles: 1
Podiums: 6
Points: 165

Ayumu Iwasa finished the season 38 points behind the champion, but did go into the final round in title contention. The problem was his team had become less competitive by season’s end, so he had to work harder for the top results and there was some notable acts of desperation when trying to overcome a shortage of pace.

All three of his wins came in the first nine races, and three second places were his best results in the rest of the 13-round season. Being overlooked by Red Bull for F1 opportunities until post-season, despite being their lead junior in F2, did not shine well on him either and he’s being sent back to Japan for 2024.

6. Dennis Hauger

Hauger enjoyed as much success as in 2022

MP Motorsport
Wins: 2
Podiums: 4
Points: 113

A mentally taxing season for a driver who joined a team that had dominated F2 in 2022 and therefore had high expectations. Although Dennis Hauger was only four places ahead of his team mate in the standings, he scored almost twice as many points as him. Hauger lacked strong qualifying results but was third-fastest on long-run pace, scoring strongly in sprint races as a result of his qualifying position putting him in a good place on the reversed grids.

Hauger also spent 2022 with a team that had been dominant the year prior, in that case Prema, and it’s hard to plot his personal growth this season given MP Motorsport really was considered the team to beat at the start of the year and ended up actually being the sixth best.

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5. Frederik Vesti

Vesti fought for the title until the bitter end

Wins: 6
Poles: 1
Podiums: 10
Points: 192

Despite taking the title fight to the final race and being the fastest driver on long-run pace, the fact that Frederik Vesti was the top scorer in the reverse-grid sprint races, and his rookie team mate won more feature races than him, makes his campaign look less impressive.

On qualifying pace, he was the fourth fastest driver over the season, and that meant he was relying on his race pace to climb up the order on Sundays. However he did win six races, a feat only achieved six times in GP2/F2 since 2005.

4. Victor Martins

Martins’ single win came in Silverstone

Wins: 1
Poles: 3
Podiums: 9
Points: 150

Victor Martins went on a 12-race scoring run, the longest by any driver since 2021, took three poles and was the fastest qualifier on average, and went into the final round of his rookie season in contention to be championship runner-up. Only Vesti beat him on race pace and sprint race points, but Martins only led 31 laps this year which was fewer than seven other drivers. He lost ground repeatedly in feature races and did not actually score in one until round five. That put him on the back foot when his form through the rest of the year showed he could have been a title contender.

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3. Theo Pourchaire

Pourchaire celebrates his sole win of 2023 at Bahrain

Wins: 1
Poles: 2
Podiums: 10
Points: 203

Theo Pourchaire improved just enough in the areas he needed to become champion in his third attempt at the Formula 2 title, but he was outshone by Martins in qualifying and on race pace too. Pourchaire just did a far better job – better than anyone – in converting his inherent pace into points.

To win only one race in his title-winning campaign is a standout stat from a season where he was not often the standout driver. But he got the job done with plenty of podiums and far better mental composure than in 2022.

2. Oliver Bearman

Bearman won four races as a rookie

Wins: 4
Poles: 3
Podiums: 5
Points: 130

Ferrari academy driver Oliver Bearman’s rookie exploits in F2 were so impressive they earned the 18-year-old two Friday practice runs for Haas towards the end of the season. He won both races in Baku, which were just his seventh and eighth starts in the championship, and two further feature race wins showed how impressive he could be. A lack of consistency and some typical rookie errors left him sixth in the standings, and behind his Prema team mate in several other key comparisons, but his confidence in the car showed that he is already the 2024 title favourite even though he is yet to confirm who he will race for next year.

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1. Jack Doohan

Doohan celebrates his Spa feature race win

Wins: 3
Poles: 2
Podiums: 5
Points: 168

Jack Doohan got one podium in the first 14 races of 2023, but he won three of his last four feature races in F2 in a team that was very much dependent on him for points. That put him at a disadvantage against the super-talented Prema and ART line-ups, but he rose to the challenge and also adapted better than other drivers in switching from F1 practice outings back into the F2 cockpit.

After six rounds he was 70 points off the points leader, and in the seven rounds that followed he scored 128 points, which was 23 more than anybody else. His feature race wins at the Hungaroring, Spa-Francorchamps and Yas Marina – low, high and medium-speed tracks, respectively – equated to 75 of those points and two of those wins were from pole. That meant he qualified at the front more times this year than Vesti, and as many times as the champion.

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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10 comments on “RaceFans’ top 10 Formula 2 drivers of 2023”

  1. Doohan top? No that doesn’t feel right. The first half of his season was too poor to merit this.

    Bearman had fantastic pace but his result were all over the place. Even for a rookie it usually gets more consistent towards the end of the year.

    Pourchaire was consistent but it’s hard to look passed that 1 win at the first race stat.

    Martins had some good consistency and pace, but failed to really convert those poles into wins.

    Vesti I would say say was probably number 1 this year, but he also made too many silly errors at crucial times, notably at Spa and Zaandvort.

    Hauger I don’t see why he should be ahead of Iwasa, he was quite anonymous for a lot of the season and unsurprisingly dropped by the Red Bull driver academy.

    Iwasa ultimately his qualifying lets him down, he is great wheel to wheel, but rarely troubled the front row of the grid. But I personally think he deserved to be higher up the list.

    As for Verschoor, Fittipaldi and Maini they could easily have been switched around with others as most everyone else struggled to be a regular points threat.

    Overall I guess what I’m getting at is I was a little underwhelmed by the F2 field this year, and can see why no one was promoted to F1 again. No one really stood out, everyone had some significant draw backs in their season that would make any team hesitate in promoting them. That top 7 on this list are all good drivers, but none of them have made a strong enough case compared to those around them.

    From what I’ve seen I am impressed with Bearman’s speed, but he makes to many errors.
    Vesti impressed me too there were just too many silly errors thrown in there that he needs to cut out.
    And Iwasa was the other driver that I liked the look of but ultimately his qualifying kept letting him down.

  2. Weird rankings, especially for Pourchaire & Vesti.

  3. Bearman and Martins are the most promising drivers in the field for next year. They have the speed so if they can find consistency and cut out the misstakes they should have a future in F1.

    1. This. Both exciting future prospects.

  4. This list makes quite a bit of sense to me. Of all the top driver’s Doohan had the poorest team and teammate. Virtuosi were not providing the best equipment at the start of the year for Doohan.

    Vesti didn’t qualify well enough to win feature races and without reverse grids would not have been a championship force. Pourchaire won through consistency which is at odds with his raw speed as evidenced by his earlier F2 campaigns.

    Bearman has a lot of potential and as a rookie has more upward potential than Martins. The oddest person on this list was Kush Maini. I don’t think he will factor at all next year.

  5. I really can’t see Vesti positioned that low. He outperformed most drivers ranked higher than him, both in pace and race results. I don’t see what other objective measure can be more relevant. I find it easier to agree with lower than higher rankings. Bearman seems to be a great talent, but he didn’t deserve this position, not with his driving at least. Potential is also hard to judge objectively, but if that is what matters the most here (and results and actual driving in F2 don’t), than I can see him and Doohan sharing top positions. If I was considering drivers to hire for my new F1 team or something, those two would be amongst my own top 3 or 4 for sure; if not the very top 2.

    1. I think Vesti is about the same quality as Mick Schumacher… average.

  6. It was fun how people are saying MP was the team to beat, it was pretty clear that Prema problems were their drivers and MP was carried by Drugovich.

  7. In F2, points earned are based on actual ability, which makes this article itself ridiculous.
    In particular, it makes no sense to put Hauger above Iwasa.
    Iwasa Wins: 3 Podiums: 6 Points: 165
    Hauger Wins: 2 Podiums: 4 Points: 113
    Can’t you count?

    1. If you think points in F2 are based solely on ability and the quality of the team plays no role and also experience plays no role then you know nothing about F2. Ability plays a significant role but the other 2 factors are just as important. The cars are built identical but the gap in the level or preparation and execution between top and bottom F2 teams is quite large. Also mastering this car as a rookie is extremely tough and rookies who perform well are elevated in the rankings justly so. Martins and Bearman by fighting at the front from the start proved more about their ability than any 3rd year driver ever could. And those rare drivers who win it as rookie. Well that’s a sure fire proof of potential greatness or at the very least F1 material. Just 5 have done it in 19 seasons of F2/GP2. Hamilton, Hulkenberg, Leclerc, Russell and Piastri. I’m sure you’d heard about them.

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