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Five F2 drivers who need a good 2023

With all the seats now confirmed for the 2023 Formula 2 season, RacingNews365 takes a look at five drivers who need to impress this year if they are to stand any chance of graduating to F1.

Jack Doohan

Son of motorcycle World Champion Mick Doohan, Jack joined Alpine's Academy in 2022, reasoning that an F1 testing programme and potential opportunities within the firm's WEC programme would open many doors for him in future. But midway through his 2022 F2 campaign, the young Australian found himself in serious consideration for a 2023 F1 drive, when the defection of both Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri suddenly left Alpine short of options to partner Esteban Ocon this year. Ultimately, the French outfit elected to buy Pierre Gasly out of his AlphaTauri contract rather than promote Doohan, who ended up sixth in the F2 standings in his first full season in the category. Having recently appointed the Australian as their test and reserve driver for 2023, Alpine have also stated their intention for Doohan to win this year’s F2 championship, and the Australian will need to remain upwardly mobile as he seeks an F1 ride for 2024 and beyond.

Theo Pourchaire

Heading into his third full season in F2, Pourchaire is a driver whose star has waned slightly in recent years. A member of the Sauber Academy, Pourchaire was a favourite of erstwhile Alfa Romeo team boss Fred Vasseur, who in 2021 touted the young Frenchman for an F1 race seat in 2022. Ultimately, that drive would go instead to the well-connected Zhou Guanyu, and though Pourchaire finished second in the 2022 F2 championship, he failed to seriously challenge for the series title, ending the year with just two points finishes from the final eight races. Though Pourchaire had announced midway through 2022 that this would be his last season in the category, a lack of appealing alternatives saw the Frenchman elect to remain with ART for a third season. But with Vasseur having now left Alfa Romeo, and the team in the process of transitioning into Audi's factory effort, Pourchaire may find any potential avenues to a race seat there have been closed off, and the Frenchman badly needs to challenge for the 2023 title to prove himself worthy of an F1 seat.

Dennis Hauger

Having beaten Jack Doohan to the 2021 Formula 3 championship, Hauger came into F2 last year amid much fanfare, but will have been disappointed to have ended the season only tenth, especially when a title challenge may have put him in contention for the vacant AlphaTauri seat for 2023. Red Bull would ultimately look outside the firm's collection of junior drivers for that seat, instead hiring Nyck de Vries, and Hauger will need to show that he has what it takes if his Red Bull backing is going to stretch into a sixth year in 2023. The Norwegian's F3 title triumph came in his second year in that series, and Hauger will be hoping for a similarly successful sophomore year in 2023, as he bids to become his country's first ever F1 driver. Beating MP Motorsport teammate and fellow Red Bull junior Jehan Daruvala would be a good place to start.

Richard Verschoor

Verschoor shot to prominence in 2019 with victory at that year's Macau Grand Prix. The young Dutchman's win was all the more surprising given the unremarkable nature of his season to date, having finished only 13th in that year's F3 championship. After a ninth-placed finish in 2020, Verschoor graduated to F2 for 2021, but has yet to break into the championship's top ten after two seasons at this level. The success of Max Verstappen means F1 and motorsport are currently booming in the Netherlands, with Nyck de Vries making it two Dutch drivers on the F1 grid in 2023. Verschoor has shown a turn of speed in F2, winning Sprint races at Bahrain and Silverstone over the last two years, and the early signs for 2023 are promising, with the Dutchman topping the timesheets in this season's pre-season test in Bahrain. But unless he proves himself capable of mixing it at the front on a regular basis in 2023, his F1 prospects look toast.

Ayumu Iwasa

Having finished only 12th in F3 in 2021, Iwasa's accession to F2 last year was not greeted with much fanfare. Yet the Japanese proved a revelation in the higher category, overcoming a tricky start to the year with two wins and four more podium finishes seeing him home fifth in the standings. Notably, although he was not the year's top rookie – Logan Sargeant claimed that accolade – Iwasa was nevertheless given the 2022 Anthoine Hubert Award, and impressed many with his approach. Honda’s reversal of their previous decision to leave F1 may work in favour of Iwasa, who enjoys the patronage of both the Japanese firm and Red Bull. Should Iwasa's compatriot Yuki Tsunoda suffer a poor year at AlphaTauri, and if Iwasa shows F2 title-challenging form in 2023, an opportunity may arise for Red Bull to replace one Japanese with another in 2024.

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