2013 saw ADAC Formel Masters prove its status as one of the top entry-level single-seater categories yet again. The close wheel-to-wheel racing and the emergence of several new talents provided one of the most exciting championships in Europe this past season.
Belgian Alessio Picariello dominated the early stages of the championship and wound up seeing off the challenge from rookie rival Maximilian Gunther, who rounded out a Mucke 1-2.
Belgium, Mucke Motorsport, age 20
388 points, 12 wins, 16 podiums, 5 pole positions, 6 fastest laps
Following on from a successful first season in ADAC Formel Masters, the highly-regarded Belgian returned to Mucke Motorsport for a run at the title in 2014. He flew straight out of the gates in the opening rounds and wound up leaving his competitors trailing in his mirrors as he put together an outstanding campaign.
He followed up a strong showing in pre-season testing with double wins at Oschersleben and Spa-Francorchamps to take a dominant lead in the standings. A further two double victories at the Nurburgring and Red Bull Ring helped hold off a mid-season run from teammate Gunther. Picariello was able to use his experience to out-race the young German, and his consistency as he took 12 out of 16 feature race victories made him a deserved champion.
At this stage, it is unclear what the rated Belgian’s next move might be, although he is likely to be a top candidate to step up to the German squad’s FIA European Formula 3 team. Season rating: 9/10
Germany, Mucke Motorsport, age 16
240 points, 2 wins, 11 podiums, 8 pole positions, 2 fastest laps
After finishing runner-up in the Formula BMW Talent Cup in 2011, the 16-year-old had a gap year and then moved to Mucke Motorsport to put together a strong rookie campaign in ADAC Formel Masters.
He was a consistent top-five finisher at the start before a strong mid-season run, which included a double victory at the Lausitzring, allowed him to pull away from the rest of the pack to finish second. His one lap pace in qualifying was remarkable as he was able to secure more poles than anyone, but in races he was usually overhauled by the more experienced Picariello and, at times, struggled to fight his way through the field in the reverse-grid races.
He looks likely to return for another season in 2014 and have a serious crack at the title. If he can transfer his phenomenal qualifying speed into the races, he will be a dominant force in next year?s championship. Season rating: 9/10
Germany, Schiller Motorsport, age 18
227 points, 1 win, 9 podiums, 2 pole positions, 4 fastest laps
The Deutsche Post Speed Academy driver entered his third season in ADAC Formel Masters, switching to series newcomers Schiller Motorsport after two seasons with Mucke for a shot at the title in 2013.
He used his experience to take the fight to Picariello early on in the season but was unable to consistently match the pace of the Belgian. After a disastrous round at the Nurburgring, which saw him fall behind Gunther in the standings, Kremer was able to bounce back and put together a strong second half of the season to hold on to third place.
It is not yet known where the German will race in 2014 but after three seasons in ADAC Formel Masters, it is likely that we will see him in another category like Formula Renault 2.0 or Formula 3 next year. Season rating: 7/10
Denmark, Neuhauser Racing, age 17
217 points, 2 wins, 8 podiums, 1 pole position, 5 fastest laps
The young Dane made the full-time move to ADAC Formel Masters in 2013 after a part-time campaign the year before and was surprisingly able to take the fight to the lead drivers of the championship.
After a strong start to the season, as he picked up multiple podiums in the opening rounds of the championship, he finally took that breakthrough win in the reverse-grid race at the Nurburgring in August. Beer was subsequently able to finish the season on a high by taking victory in the final race of the season, having shown pace all weekend with the fastest lap in all three races.
A return to ADAC Formel Masters is likely for 2014 and, should he stay, he’ll definitely be one of the chief contenders in his second season in the category. Season rating: 8/10
Germany, Neuhauser Racing, age 16
171 points, 1 win, 8 podiums, 3 fastest laps
Following on from his Formula BMW Talent Cup success in 2012, the highly-rated German made the step up to ADAC Formel Masters with frontrunning team Neuhauser Racing and put together a strong rookie campaign.
He started off the season strong with a podium in race one at Oschersleben and continued to work on his racecraft as he gained experience of fighting at the front throughout. A fantastic round at the Slovakia Ring was the highlight of his season, as he was able to win a race and secure podium finishes in the other two.
He may have lost out to his fellow Formula BMW graduate Gunther in the overall standings but he would surely continue at the front if he were to return next season. At the same time, has already tested Formula 3 this off-season with Van Amersfoort Racing at Spielberg, so a move to the German championship is possible. Season rating: 8/10
The Netherlands, Lotus, age 21
137 points, 2 wins, 4 podiums
The young Dutchman returned to Lotus for a second season in ADAC Formel Masters, after finishing seventh with the squad in 2012, and was able to put together a campaign to go one better in sixth.
He continually fought at the front, taking wins at Oschersleben and the Red Bull Ring, and scoring a further two podium finishes. His remarkable consistency saw him finish in the points in all 24 races this season, a feat only achieved one other time in ADAC Formel Masters history. His consistency and pace brought stability to what must be considered a disappointing season for the German squad, after the success they had with Marvin Kirchhofer in 2012.
After two seasons in the category, Dontje will likely move on, possibly stepping into the German squad’s ATS Formel 3 Cup team. Season rating: 7/10
Switzerland, Team KUG Motorsport, age 16
122 points, 1 win, 6 podiums, 1 fastest lap
Another Formula BMW Talent Cup graduate, the 16-year-old Swiss driver was able to manage a very strong rookie campaign in ADAC Formel Masters, despite not really being among those in a frontrunning seat.
At the beginning of the season he understandably lacked the pace to keep up with fellow Formula BMW men Gunther and Dienst, but he slowly refined his race skills, working his way up the grid and finally being rewarded for his work with a win at the Slovakia Ring in September. He was let down by several retirements, but could be very proud of his year overall.
This Swiss youngster’s next move is yet to be determined but a second season in ADAC Formel Masters would be ideal and if he can continue his steady improvement trend over the winter, there is no reason why he won?t be fighting at the front for the title in 2014. Season rating: 8/10
The Netherlands, Lotus, age 18
117 points, 1 win, 2 podiums
The highly rated 18-year-old returned to Lotus for a second season after a promising 2012 was derailed by a hand injury. This year she came in looking for a potential title shot as a fully-fledged member of the Red Bull Junior Team.
Unfortunately for Visser, a poor start to the season for both her and the team derailed her title ambitions and left her fighting in the middle of the pack. She was able to turn the campaign around with a win in the rained out Sachsenring sprint and a subsequent strong points scoring run to finish the season. She consistently had the upper hand in the inter-team rivalry with fellow Red Bull junior Callan O?Keefe, but will be disappointed with being unable to fight at the front.
It was recently revealed the Red Bull Junior Team had released her after a disappointing season. After two years in ADAC Formel Masters, it seems likely she will move on to Formula Renault 2.0, having tested with several teams so far over the winter. Season rating: 7/10
Germany, Mucke Motorsport, age 19
106 points, 1 win, 3 podiums, 1 fastest lap
The 19-year-old German returned to Mucke for a second season in the ADAC Formel Masters and, having finished 11th in his rookie year, fought his way to a ninth place finish in 2013.
He had some strong runs early on, punctuated by his victory in one of the feature races at the Sachsenring, but he often seemed to lack the consistency to challenge for podiums and was left fighting in the midfield for the rest of the season. At times he was let down by his qualifying efforts and he had two disastrous non-points scoring rounds.
After two years in the ADAC series, it remains to be seen what the 19-year-old will do next season. He’s gone on record saying that he’ll be starting university, but has expressed the will to continue racing and is perhaps well-suited to stay on in Formel Masters for another year. Season rating: 7/10
Denmark, Lotus, age 18
94 points, 2 podiums
The? quick Dane made the step up to ADAC Formel Masters with championship-winning squad Lotus after a strong karting background and put together a stellar first rookie season in car racing that wound up rather under the radar.
He showed good pace throughout the season despite the Lotus struggles, taking his maiden podium in the reverse-grid race at Spa-Francorchamps. He often saw himself let down by poor qualifying efforts, but the foundations were clearly there for him to be a star in the championship next season.
His plans are not yet set but he has stated that a return to the series would be likely. Should he stay on with Lotus, who would like nothing more than to return to the front, he could very well play a part in the title fight. Season rating: 7/10
Germany, Schiller Motorsport, age 16
82 points, 1 race win
The young German made the move to the ADAC Formel Masters after several seasons of karting in his homeland and the rest of Europe. With a new team behind him, he looked good in his rookie year and managed a standout victory in a reverse-grid race at Lausitzring.
Schiller started off his car-racing career with two points scoring finishes at the first round at Oschersleben and was able to gain valuable input from the the experience provided by his teammate Kremer, which seemed to help him with progress, leading to the memorable win.
Another season in ADAC Formel Masters will do him wonders as he is still quite a raw racer and if he can continue his growth, he will improve his position in the championship and challenge for race victories in 2014. Season rating: 7/10
Austria, Neuhauser Racing, age 18
60 points, 1 podium
The 18-year-old Austrian was the first driver announced for the Austrian squad that took Gustav Malja to second place in 2012. With Neuhauser, Riener was able to enjoy a successful first-year campaign, putting in several performances of note.
Deeply in the midfield early on, he was able to improve leaps and bounds throughout the season, managing to fight his way through the grid several times to points scoring finishes and punctuating the effort with a second-place finish at Lausitz. There were numerous retirements but the speed and will are there for him to turn into a strong driver.
A sophomore year would seem likely, where he can continue to improve in a championship that continues to churn out stars of the future. Expect him to be towards to front if he chooses to return in 2014. Season rating: 7/10
South Africa, Lotus, age 17
The Red-Bull backed South African entered ADAC Formel Masters with champions Lotus and seemed to set quite high standards for himself. Unfortunately, his season didn?t quite go to plan with him eventually losing out to fellow Red Bull junior Visser in the championship standings and finishing last of the Lotus drivers.
His campaign got off to a steady start with points scoring finishes at Oschersleben and Spa-Francorchamps, however, a mid-season slump saw him fall down the standings and he never seemed to follow up on the early form. Still, he continued to reliably add point after point and eventually amounted to a somewhat respectable tally.
Like Visser, he was let go by the Red Bull Junior Team after the season and has since tested Formula Renault 2.0. However, he has stated that he would love to return to the series for another season to prove that his performance was just a one-off and that he can mix with the best. Season rating: 6/10
Germany, Mucke Motorsport, age 16
24 points, 1 podium
Another karting graduate to join the Mucke Motorsport squad for 2013, the youngster put together a consistent first season and wound up claiming a surprise podium finish in his maiden season in ADAC Formel Masters.
After making his debut, he was able to build on a good foundation from karting to grow in the highly competitive field. As his two teammates were fighting it out at the front end, he was rather reliably on the outskirts of the top ten, but wound up producing a surprise drive to the reverse-grid podium at Spielberg.
A fine first season where he showed good potential and necessary confidence to fight at the front means that good things can be expected from him next year. He has stated that he’d like to return to the series and that definitely seems like the right move. Season rating: 6/10
Germany, Team KUG Motorsport, age 20
17 points, 1 fastest lap, 9/24 races
The 20-year-old returned to the championship for a second season, switching from Mucke Motorsport to Team KUG Motorsport after a decent rookie year with the former.
His season didn?t get off to the greatest of starts after he failed to score points in the first two rounds. He was able to turn it around at the Sachsenring, taking points in all three races. However, this would be the German’s final appearance of 2013.
It is unclear if Herzog will return in 2014 after pulling out of the championship early so only time will tell what his next move might be. Still, if he finds another drive, he clearly has potential to perform at this level. Season rating: N/A
Motopark’s Visser wasn?t the only female racer in the field this time with Stephane Kox enjoying a decent first season in the championship with Team KUG. JBR Motorsport & Engineering trio Benedikt Gentgen, Kim-Alexander Giersiepen and Hannes Utsch fought it out for seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth respectively, while Mucke’s Giorgio Maggi had a learning year with a best finish of twelfth. Kuwaiti driver Zaid Ashkanani made a guest appearance at the Red Bull Ring and also wound up recording a personal best in twelfth, while Martin Gatz and part-timer Marcel Lenerz saw their results peak at thirteenth.