The 2023 vintage of the Red Bull junior team includes twelve drivers. Six of them will compete in Formula 2 next season. Talent scout Helmut Marko reveals who has the greatest potential for promotion to the premier class.
Almost every Formula 1 racing team now has its own junior program. When the Red Bull junior team was founded at the beginning of the millennium, it was something extraordinary. Professional support through all junior categories, with the realistic prospect of eventually ending up in the premier class, that was only available at Red Bull at the time.
The success proves those responsible right. With Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen, the program has already produced two world champions. Grand Prix winners such as Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly also found their way into the premier class thanks to Red Bull's support.
Lawson is moving to Japan
Helmut Marko is responsible for selecting the drivers. The most important criterion: "To be supported by us, a driver must have the potential to win a Grand Prix at some point," explains the Austrian. Of course, that doesn't mean that everyone will make it into Formula 1 in the end. Many talents fall through the grate early on.
Liam Lawson is currently the closest to the premier class. The New Zealander should be known to the general German public primarily through his appearances in the DTM. Here the 20-year-old just barely missed the title in the 2020 season. In the pre-season, Lawson was able to complete a number of test and training sessions for Red Bull and Alpha Tauri and was able to convince those responsible.
After two years in Formula 2, which he finished third last year, Lawson will compete in the Japanese Super Formula series in 2023. The detour via Japan had already led Pierre Gasly to the premier class. Marko knows about the challenge: "There are many local drivers in the Super Formula who have been there for a long time and who know all the tracks very well. You don't just beat them like that."
Special praise for Hadjar
When asked by auto motor und sport which of his talents he would choose if he were only allowed to keep one, Marko gave a different name: "For me, Isack Hadjar has the greatest potential. What he does with turns on the car is extraordinary." The first 18-year-old Frenchman finished fourth in his Formula 3 rookie season in 2022 – but only 16 points behind champion Victor Martins (Alpine).
With a bit more technical luck and a better team, the title would have been possible at the first attempt. You know that at Red Bull too. That's why the reward was promotion to Formula 2, where he will form a pure Red Bull team at Hitech in 2023 together with the American Jak Crawford.The 17-year-old Texan was also able to show his talent again and again last year in Formula 3, but ended up "only" in seventh place.
For both Hadjar and Crawford, the first thing to do in Formula 2 is to beat internal Red Bull competition. There is a third F2 rookie who has just joined the Red Bull junior team in Zane Maloney. The 19-year-old from Barbados won the last three Formula 3 races in 2022 and ultimately missed the title by just five points. He will compete in Formula 2 for the Carlin team in 2023.
Red Bull six times in Formula 2
But the three rookies only represent half of the Red Bull armada in the highest junior class. With Enzo Fittipaldi (Carlin), Dennis Hauger (MP Motorsport) and Ayumu Iwasa (DAMS ) there are three other RB talents in Formula 2 who already have more than a year of experience in the second division. If they want to continue dreaming their Formula 1 dream, they should at least fight for the title in the end. Helmut Marko is not known for being patient with his protégés.
Those who can present themselves in Formula 2 in the coming season have a good chance of being promoted to the Alpha Tauri cockpit. After Gasly's departure, Red Bull had already been looking for a replacement for 2023. But because no one had imposed themselves, they resorted to Nyck de Vries, who went through the Mercedes school. Yuki Tsunoda is particularly under pressure. The little Japanese recently showed an increasing learning curve, but has not yet made the big breakthrough. In his third year in the premier class, he no longer enjoys puppy protection.
Souta Arao and Sebastian Montoya are a little further away from the premier class. Arao is scheduled to compete in British Formula 3 in 2023. Montoya will enrich the field of the international FIA Formula 3 Championship. The son of seven-time Grand Prix winner Juan Pablo Montoya had already competed in two races in the third division at Zandvoort last season and set an impressive pace right from the start.
Super karting talent from Thailand
The only 14-year-old Frenchman Enzo Deligny and the 15-year-old Briton Arvid Lindblad represent an even riskier bet on the future. Both teenagers have to show their talent this season in different Formula 4 series put it to the test before hopefully moving up the career ladder.
The youngest member of Red Bull's junior pool is called Enzo Tarnvanichkul. The 13-year-old super talent can already call himself European and world champion in karting. The promotion to Formula 4 is still a bit early in 2023. That's why the Thai will add another karting season to it. Tarnvanichkul is personally supported by the Thai Red Bull owners. So F1 fans should better remember the name.