Ex-Red Bull Junior Team member: "My chances are better now'


Ex-Red Bull juniors see improved F1 chances
17 March at 17:00
  • Nicole Mulder

Red Bull Racing decided to change the Red Bull Junior Team at the end of 2023. Helmut Marko showed Jak Crawford and Zane Maloney the door after they made a dream start to the current Formula 2 season by winning both races in Bahrain. Both drivers believe that their chances of advancing in motorsport and perhaps even reaching Formula 1 are now better than before.

Maloney joined the Red Bull Junior Team in late 2022 and also became a reserve driver for Red Bull's F1 team, only to be sent away again just a year later. Outside of four podium finishes in 26 races, 2023 was a lacklustre first F2 season for the driver from Barbados. Yet there was still confidence: Maloney was accepted into the Sauber Academy and is a reserve driver for Stake F1 from this year.

Maloney sees better F1 chances after Red Bull exit

Maloney may no longer be part of Red Bull Racing's extensive training programme, but he says his chances of eventually reaching Formula 1 have only improved. "I do think my chances are better, but because I feel that I'm a better driver and I'm doing a better job," he replied to a question from GPblog.

"The chance is better if you do a better job in F2. So that's really my goal. I mean, my goal is to get to Formula 1, of course. But it's really easy to look in the future. And as any driver down the grid, you want to look to the future, but it does take away from the present. So I'm completely focused on the present. I know my management is completely focused on the future and we'll keep it like that, really," he added.

Dream start for Maloney in F2 season 2024

Maloney backed up his words by making a dream start to the F2 season: in the opening weekend in Bahrain, he won both the sprint and main race. A week later in Jeddah, there was no podium in it for the 20-year-old Rodin Motorsport driver, but by posting consistent results despite a disappointing qualifying (P4 and P7 from P16 and P15) he still leads the championship after the first two race weekends.

However, he will have to reckon with Oliver Bearman this season, who did not score any points in Bahrain but would start in pole position in Saudi Arabia. Whether the 18-year-old Briton would have cashed it in remains a question mark as he unexpectedly made his Grand Prix debut in Formula 1 as a replacement for Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz.

Crawford also sees better chances without Red Bull

Crawford echoes the words of his colleague: he too thinks his chances have improved since he left the Red Bull Junior Team at the end of 2023 after four years. "[To get to] F1, you have to perform and you have to perform well. We've seen the last three F2 champions not even make it to F1 in their first year, so it's still not guaranteed. Obviously, that's the goal," says the 18-year-old American.

Crawford, who will race for DAMS this year, was recruited by Aston Martin following his departure from Red Bull. "It's a bit like starting a new part of my career. I was obviously with Red Bull for a very long time and it's all I'd known for a bit. I've already had lots of people come up to me and say I look weird in green because they're not used to seeing me in this colour. But, yeah, it's been going really well," he says of his experience with the Silverstone-based team.

Crawford also started the F2 season strongly with a second-place finish in the sprint race. However, the main race disappointed him due to technical problems that ended his race early. In Saudi Arabia, he recorded fifth and fourth places in the sprint race and main race, respectively. He currently holds seventh place in the championship.