Speeding Towards Success: Meet F1’s Six Lightning-Fast Young Guns Racing for Glory

"Frederik Vesti Nears F2 Championship Victory as Abu Dhabi Showdown Looms"

Irish Journalist: Young Drivers to Watch in Formula 1

Frederik Vesti, Mercedes
The 21-year-old Danish driver, Frederik Vesti, is currently second in the F2 championship, which will be decided in Abu Dhabi. In his second season in the series, Vesti trails Théo Pourchaire by 16 points, with 39 still up for grabs. Vesti has had a strong season, winning six races, including a superb victory in the sprint race on Saturday. He joined the Mercedes junior programme in 2021 and completed a full young driver test for them in Abu Dhabi in 2022. Although his debut on a full grand prix weekend in Mexico was not ideal for showcasing his talents, Vesti had a better opportunity on Friday when he took over Lewis Hamilton’s car and stayed within seven-tenths of George Russell.

Robert Shwartzman, Ferrari
Ferrari’s reserve driver, Robert Shwartzman, is a 24-year-old Israeli with proven credentials. He won the F3 title in 2019 and finished fourth and second in F2 in the following two seasons. Shwartzman has been part of the Ferrari driver academy and has conducted extensive testing with the team. He made his GP debut in practice at the 2022 US Grand Prix and later in another session at Abu Dhabi. He also participated in first practice at the Dutch Grand Prix this season. Alongside his reserve driver duties, Shwartzman has been competing in the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup. On Friday, he put in his most polished performance yet in an F1 car, lapping just two-hundredths down on Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari in Abu Dhabi.

Felipe Drugovich, Aston Martin
Felipe Drugovich, a Brazilian driver, serves as an example of the challenges young drivers face when breaking into F1. With drivers extending their careers and limited testing time, teams highly value competitive experience. The 23-year-old won the F2 title in 2022 and joined the Aston Martin driver development program. He became one of their reserve drivers the following year and has tested for the team. Drugovich entered free practice at the 2022 Abu Dhabi GP and served as Aston Martin’s reserve driver last season. He even stood in for an injured Lance Stroll during pre-season testing. This year, Drugovich took part in free practice at Monza and has been linked to Williams. In Abu Dhabi, he once again demonstrated his skill, posting a time within three-tenths of the fastest car in practice and faster than Stroll.

Zak O’Sullivan, Williams
Zak O’Sullivan, a British driver, secured the runner-up spot in this year’s F3 championship, winning four races. He is set to make his F2 debut with the ART Grand Prix team next year. The 18-year-old from Cheltenham is considered a real talent and joined the Williams driver academy in 2022. O’Sullivan has already made a name for himself, winning the 2021 Aston Martin Autosport BRDC young driver of the year award, the same year he clinched the GB3 championship. James Vowles, the Williams principal, describes him as “a very intelligent driver who knows how to extract the most out of machinery.” Williams allowed him to participate in free practice in Abu Dhabi, where he impressed by lapping within seven-tenths of Williams’ Logan Sargeant.

Théo Pourchaire, Alfa Romeo
Théo Pourchaire is on track to secure his first F2 title. Despite finishing seventh in the sprint race on Saturday, he still leads Frederik Vesti by 16 points heading into the final feature race of the season. After claiming second place last year, Pourchaire has displayed impressive consistency this season for ART Grand Prix, achieving 10 podium finishes. He joined the Sauber junior team in 2019 and currently serves as the Alfa Romeo test and reserve driver. Pourchaire made his first practice debut at the 2022 US GP and had another session at the Mexican GP this year. He believed he had a shot at securing a seat at Alfa Romeo for next season, but the team decided to stick with Zhou Guanyu. In Abu Dhabi, Pourchaire finished practice six-tenths down on Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas.

Oliver Bearman, Haas
Oliver Bearman, an 18-year-old driver from Chelmsford, is currently sixth in the F2 championship in his debut season for Prema Racing. Bearman secured four wins and joined the Ferrari driver academy in 2021. In the 2022 F3 championship, he finished third. This season, Bearman became the youngest British driver to participate in a grand prix weekend, debuting for Haas in first practice. He impressed as the highest-placed F2 driver, finishing in 15th place. In Abu Dhabi, Bearman continued to showcase his talent, posting a time within a tenth of Kevin Magnussen’s, the closest any of the rookies came to an established F1 driver.

These young drivers have shown great promise and potential in their respective careers. As the Formula 1 season comes to a close, all eyes will be on them as they continue to make strides towards their dreams of becoming successful F1 drivers.

Martin Reid

Martin Reid

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