This is how F1 teams work with F2 and F3: 'Nice to see drivers move on'

This is how F1 teams work with F2 and F3: 'Nice to see drivers move on'

24 February at 18:00
  • Ludo van Denderen

At one time, Red Bull Racing were considered a forerunner. The Austrian team considered it their duty to prepare young drivers for Formula 1 and added one talent after another to the Red Bull Junior Team. By now, every F1 team has a lot of juniors under contract who need a place in a class like Formula 2 and Formula 3. For the teams in the junior classes, it is now a challenge not only to manage these drivers, but certainly also the F1 teams they represent.

Oliver Oakes laughs and, first of all, responds wittily to a question from GPblog on how working with the Formula 1 team goes: "They are a pain in the ass!" before continuing on a serious note. "The sort of honest answer is they all work very differently. I don't think there's any silver bullet as a right and wrong sort of structure, actually," said the British team boss of Hitech, who have Luke Browning (Williams) at their disposal in F3.

"Some [teams] are quite hands-on in terms of someone being in the paddock, keeping an eye on them. Some prefer to let the drivers get on with it and almost want to see if that driver can get a team built around them, taking responsibility on their own. So it's really different."

Prema works with Ferrari and Mercedes

Prema's Rene Rosin adds: "Each academy has a different way of working. Each academy has their own principles. Some are more involved with the drivers day by day, some are a bit less but each one has their own method and at the end it proved that all of them has been successful so far," said the Prema owner, who has Mercedes talent Kimi Antonelli and Oliver Bearman from Ferrari at his disposal in F2.

Dutch MP Motorsport has built a relationship with Red Bull Racing in recent years, where Helmut Marko is in charge of the junior programme. In '24, MP has Tim Tramnitz and Kacper Sztuka from the Austrians for the F3 team. In F2, Williams' Franco Colapinto drives.

"The F1 teams are always involved with the drivers to a greater and lesser degree but even when you work with the same association from one year to the next, on occasions the input increases sometimes," explained team manager Jeremy Cotterill. "If the F2, teams from what I’m seeing, are taking more interest. Taking it more seriously if you like in terms of their development and their involvement. Things are evolving. Certainly our drivers are quite heavily involved with Red Bull."

A place in Formula 1 is the ultimate reward

Ultimately, the aim of junior teams is to get their pupils ready for the big time; Formula 1. "What's changed the last few years is obviously you see, particularly the F2 drivers, they're getting thrown in the F1 car for an FP1 straight from Formula 2," says Hitech team boss Oakes. "And that's quite nice to see, because I think we get to see how well we've prepared them and also the F1 teams tend to have more of a look on actually the job we're doing in terms of inside the team with the drivers."