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NEXT GEN: 20 of the most exciting up-and-coming talents on the road to F1 in 2023

F2 & F3 Writer

Jake Williams-Smith
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The world of junior racing is filled to the brim with exciting young talent. Formula 1 teams are always scouting for the next superstar driver in the making, and we’ve compiled a list of who the hottest prospects that are making their names known. Whether it’s racing in the junior single seater categories or even karting hotshots, here are the names you’ll want to keep an eye on in 2023...

Ayumu Iwasa

Age: 22

Nationality: Japanese

2023 plans: FIA Formula 2 with DAMS

Building on an impressive first year in FIA Formula 2, Ayumu Iwasa showed in 2022 why he is such an exciting prospect and knocking on the door of F1 opportunity. The 22-year-old capped off the year with a brilliantly measured drive to hold off F2 champion Felipe Drugovich for victory at Yas Marina, combining his speed with astute defensive driving.

F2: Iwasa beats Drugovich in final lap battle for victory at Yas Island as Sargeant ensures F1 promotion

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Iwasa scored an impressive win in the final Formula 2 race of 2022 in Abu Dhabi

Enzo Fittipaldi

Age: 21

Nationality: Brazilian

2023 plans: FIA Formula 2 with Carlin Racing

Enzo Fittipaldi’s fightback from injuries he sustained back in 2021 in Jeddah has been nothing short of remarkable. Using the early rounds to find his way again in F2, the Brazilian shone on several occasions in 2022, earning multiple podiums along the way. His efforts have earned him a spot on the Red Bull Junior driver roster, and there’s no reason to think he can’t go even better in 2023.

READ MORE: Red Bull Junior Team announce F2 and F3 seats for 2023 line-up

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Fittipaldi's form in 2022 earned him a spot on the Red Bull Junior driver roster for 2023

Victor Martins

Age: 21

Nationality: French

2023 plans: FIA Formula 2 with ART

It was a hard-fought campaign for Victor Martins in FIA F3 last year. The Frenchman had the vital ingredient that his closest rivals lacked: a calmness amongst the unpredictability. His maturity proved pivotal, as he kept his cool in a nail-biting finale at Monza to secure the championship and has his sights on even bigger things in 2023, having confirmed he'll be racing in F2 with the ART team.

F3: Martins wins championship after Maloney Monza victory

Victor Martins' road to F3 glory

Jack Doohan

Age: 20

Nationality: Australian

2023 plans: FIA Formula 2 with Virtuosi Racing

At times in 2022, it felt like if Jack Doohan didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all. The Australian came through the turmoil that blighted his ’22 season and proved his speed hadn’t diminished in the slightest. Three pole positions should have resulted in more wins, but misfortune got in the way on more than one occasion. Expect the Alpine Academy driver to come back with a vengeance in 2023.

READ MORE: Szafnauer sets 'really good' Doohan target of claiming F2 crown in 2023

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Doohan scored three pole positions in Formula 2 in 2022

Theo Pourchaire

Age: 19

Nationality: French

2023 plans: FIA Formula 2 with ART

His name will be known well by now, but it’s easy to forget that Theo Pourchaire is still just 19 years old. The Frenchman was a victim of misfortune in his title fight against Felipe Drugovich, but still finished a comfortable second in 2022. If he can enjoy a less eventful year in 2023, then the Sauber Academy driver will be hard to stop, especially with him out for redemption and targeting the title he will feel is overdue.

READ MORE: FP1 debutants Pourchaire, Palou, Sargeant and Shwartzman reflect on 'amazing' first session in Texas

2022 United States GP FP1: Pourchaire thanks Alfa Romeo for F1 experience

Zane Maloney

Age: 19

Nationality: Barbadian

2023 plans: FIA Formula 2 with Carlin Racing

The surprise of 2022, Zane Maloney burst onto the Formula 3 scene in some style. The Bajan driver was an unstoppable force by the end of 2022, winning three consecutive Feature Races, and in doing so, almost claimed the F3 crown against the odds. Signed up to the Red Bull Junior Team and serving as F1 reserve in 2023, Maloney is certainly a talent worth watching this year.

READ MORE: Red Bull sign F3 championship runner-up Zane Maloney as F1 reserve driver

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Maloney impressed in Formula 2 last season earning him a spot on the Red Bull Junior Team and as the team's reserve driver for 2023

Dennis Hauger

Age: 19

Nationality: Norwegian

2023 plans: FIA Formula 2 with MP Motorsport

Promotion from FIA F3 as champion brought great expectations for Dennis Hauger but there’s still plenty more to come. Changes he requested on the car following the summer break clearly benefitted him, and consistent top-five finishes followed through to the end of the year. It’s now up to Hauger to put it together in his second campaign, just like he did in F3 on the way to winning the title in his second year.

READ MORE: Red Bull junior Dennis Hauger moves to MP Motorsport for 2023 F2 season

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Hauger will be driving for last year's Formula 2 champions MP Motorsport for the 2023 season

Franco Colapinto

Age: 19

Nationality: Argentinian

2023 plans: FIA Formula 3 with MP Motorsport

Newly minted Williams Racing Academy driver Franco Colapinto was another rookie in F3 that stole his fair share of headlines. Taking pole on his debut in Bahrain, Colapinto went on to secure two wins in his first season. A switch to MP Motorsport for 2023 should provide him with the tools to go even better this year and make a push towards being a title contender.

READ MORE: Williams sign F3 talent Franco Colapinto to Driver Academy

Formula 3: Colapinto claims Sakhir pole on debut

Dino Beganovic

Age: 19

Nationality: Swedish

2023 plans: FIA Formula 3 with PREMA Racing

Four wins and eight more podiums were the foundation to a dominant season in 2022 for reigning Formula Regional European Champion Dino Beganovic. Winner of karting championships in Sweden and Italy, he was snapped up by the Ferrari Driver Academy in 2020. In 2023, Beganovic will tackle FIA Formula 3 with PREMA Racing, and arrives fresh from his finest season in single seaters yet.

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Beganovic has been a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy since 2020

Abbi Pulling

Age: 19

Nationality: British

2023 plans: TBC

Following a switch from British F4 to W Series, Abbi Pulling has made tangible progress. She was signed up by Alpine to its Affiliates programme, intended to provide a route to the team’s Academy in the longer term. Taking part in an FIA F3 test last year at Magny-Cours and still just 19, she remains one of the brightest female talents and strongest prospects in single seaters.

READ MORE: Aseel Al Hamad and Abbi Pulling become first women to drive an F1 car in Saudi Arabia

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Pulling has made progress while competing in the W Series

Isack Hadjar

Age: 18

Nationality: French

2023 plans: FIA Formula 2 with Hitech Grand Prix

There has been positive noise out of Red Bull surrounding the team’s French star in the making, Isack Hadjar. The 18-year-old was a strong contender for the 2022 F3 crown until late-season heartbreak in the finale at Monza ended his hopes. With plenty of speed in combination with daring overtaking prowess, there’s always tangible excitement when watching Hadjar race – and in 2023 he'll be doing so in Formula 2 this year, making the step up with the Hitech team.

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Hadjar was a contender for the F3 title in 2022

Oliver Bearman

Age: 17

Nationality: British

2023 plans: FIA Formula 2 with PREMA Racing

Oliver Bearman will gear up to take on FIA Formula 2 this year with PREMA Racing. After becoming the first driver to secure the Italian and German F4 crowns in the same year, he jumped up to FIA F3 and made the leap look easy. He has maturity, consistency and daring in equal measure, a combination that guided him to third in his rookie F3 year, just seven points from the title.

READ MORE: Ferrari Driver Academy announce 2022 line-up as Arthur Leclerc and Oliver Bearman graduate to F2

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Bearman will race for Prema Racing in F2 in 2023

Zak O’Sullivan

Age: 17

Nationality: British

2023 plans: FIA Formula 3 with PREMA Racing

It was a tough but impressive first year in F3 for Zak O’Sullivan – but the Williams Academy driver switches to PREMA Racing in 2023, which should lead to more impressive results. His one-lap pace was evidenced with an against-the-odds home pole at Silverstone, while his risk-taking earned him a memorable P4 finish in a wet-to-dry Budapest Feature Race. He enters the 2023 F3 season as one of the favourites for the title.

READ MORE: British teen racer Zak O'Sullivan joins Williams Driver Academy

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Williams-backed O'Sullivan is one of the favourites for the F3 title this season

Gabriele Mini

Age: 17

Nationality: Italian

2023 plans: FIA Formula 3 with Hitech Grand Prix

An immense karting talent in Italy and on the CIK-FIA stage, Gabriele Mini has been one of the most successful Italian drivers in recent seasons. Taking the Italian F4 title in his first year of racing cars in 2020, he moved to the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, and after one year of bedding in, finished as runner-up in 2022. Still 17, Mini will tackle FIA F3 this year with Hitech Grand Prix.

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Mini will drive for Hitech Grand Prix in F3 this season

Sebastian Montoya

Age: 17

Nationality: Colombian

2023 plans: FIA Formula 3 with Hitech Grand Prix

Yes, the same Montoya family you’re thinking of, Sebastian has been making progress in recent years in the junior formulas around the world. Fourth in Italian F4 back in 2021, Montoya made a one-off appearance at Zandvoort in FIA F3 with Campos Racing last season. He scored points in both races and never looked out of place, fighting tooth-and-nail with eventual Champion, Victor Martins. Can the newly-announced Red Bull Junior follow up those performances in 2023?

READ MORE: Juan Pablo Montoya’s son Sebastian joins Red Bull Junior Team and sets ‘ultimate goal’ of F1

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Newly-announced Red Bull Junior driver Montoya made a one-off appearance in F3 last season

Andrea Kimi Antonelli

Age: 16

Nationality: Italian

2023 plans: Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine with PREMA Racing

Arguably the jewel in the Mercedes Junior Team crown, Andrea Kimi Antonelli’s list of achievements is staggering for a 16-year-old. Twice a CIK-FIA European Karting champion, he followed that up by becoming the second driver to win the German and Italian F4 titles in the same season in his first full campaign in cars. This year he will race in Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine with PREMA Racing. Keep an eye on Antonelli in 2023.

BUXTON: My just-for-fun prediction of what the 2025 F1 grid will look like

Nikola Tsolov

Age: 16

Nationality: Bulgarian

2023 plans: FIA Formula 3 with ART Grand Prix

Nicknamed ‘The Bulgarian Lion’, Nikola Tsolov has been catching the attention of plenty, including two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso. Seventh in the CIK-FIA World Karting Championship in 2020, Tsolov joined Alonso’s A14 Management as one of the Spaniard’s proteges. He dominated Spanish F4 last season and claimed the title in his first season in car racing, and will now step up to FIA Formula 3 with ART Grand Prix.

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Tsolov will be driving for ART in F3 this season

Ugo Ugochukwu

Age: 15

Nationality: American

2023 plans: Italian F4 with PREMA Racing

McLaren Racing’s only current signing in their Young Driver Programme, Ugo Ugochuckwu continues to make waves in junior racing. 2020 FIA OKJ European champion, the American finished third overall in British F4 in 2022 before making appearances in Italian and German F4, taking six podiums in total. This year, he’s set for a full season in Italian F4 with PREMA Racing and possesses plenty of potential.

READ MORE: McLaren sign long-term deal with 13-year-old American karting ace Ugo Ugochukwu

Louis Sharp

Age: 15

Nationality: New Zealand

2023 plans: British F4 with Carlin

Ineligible to race from the start of the 2022 British F4 season by virtue of being too young, Sharp went on to take two wins and 10 podiums. He finished the year fourth in the standings, before winning both F4 UAE Trophy Races on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix support bill in November, beating 2022 British F4 Champion Alex Dunne in the process. He will remain with Carlin this season for a second campaign in British F4.

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Sharp will be racing with Carlin for a second season in British F4.

Enzo Tarnvanichkul

Age: 13

Nationality: Thai

2023 plans: TBC

Thailand’s second FIA Karting champion and Red Bull’s youngest ever signing to its Junior Team programme, Enzo Tarnvanichkul is just getting started. He won the CIK-FIA Junior karting title last year and was snapped up by the F1 champions ahead of 2023, receiving his championship trophy at the FIA Gala from Max Verstappen. Might we see the two battle in F1 in the future?

Honourable mentions

Paul Aron will be tackling FIA Formula 3 with PREMA this season. The Estonian remains part of the Mercedes Junior Team, and finished third last year in FRECA. New Ferrari Driver Academy member Tuukka Taponen might be the next Flying Finn after his 2021 FIA World Karting title. He’ll be racing in Italian F4 this year.

UAE F4 is a popular destination this winter, and Bianca Bustamante will be racing there after her W Series exploits in 2022. Aforementioned British F4 Champion Alex Dunne graduates to GB3 in 2023 with Hitech GP.

READ MORE: Maya Weug named as first female member of the Ferrari Driver Academy

Flying the flag for Jamaica and part of the Mercedes Junior set-up, Alex Powell missed out on the CIK-FIA European title by just two points in 2022. Maya Weug’s Italian F4 season was a marked improvement on her debut campaign in 2021, meanwhile. She will step up to FRECA for 2023.

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