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Aston Martin launches F1 academy with F2 champion Felipe Drugovich

by Ida Wood

Photo: Aston Martin F1

Newly crowned Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich has been signed by the Aston Martin Formula 1 team as the first member of its young driver development programme.

The 22-year-old Brazilian won the 2022 F2 title at Monza last weekend, and his third season in the category with MP Motorsport has resulted in five wins and four pole positions so far.

He signed with Aston Martin after he became champion on Saturday, and in addition to becoming an F1 junior he also joins Nico Hulkenberg as one of Aston Martin’s F1 reserve drivers with an anticipated free practice debut at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“Becoming a member of the Aston Martin F1 Driver Development Programme [AMF1 DDP] is a fantastic opportunity for me – and only adds to what has been an extremely enjoyable and successful 2022 season,” said Drugovich.

“Winning in F2 has long been regarded as the best possible launchpad into a career in F1, and I see my role at AMF1 as giving me all the tools to take that crucial next step.

“For me, 2023 will be a learning curve: I will be working with the F1 team, but my primary goal is to learn and develop as a driver. I hope that will give me an opportunity to race in F1 in the future.”

Following his likely FP1 appearance in Abu Dhabi, where the plan is for him to take over the car of Lance Stroll in what will be his first taste of F1 machinery, Drugovich will then do the post-season test at the circuit too before embarking on an “extensive test programme” in Aston Martin’s 2021 F1 car and attending several grand prix in a team role in 2023.

“Felipe has shown incredible talent, determination, and consistency to win this year’s FIA F2 championship – I particularly remember his fantastic sprint and feature victories at Barcelona in May, which were hugely impressive,” Aston Martin’s team principal Mike Krack said.

“We are delighted that he is joining us as a member of our DDP, and we look forward to welcoming him as part of our team in Abu Dhabi this November.”

Lawrence Stroll, the executive chairman of the team and father of Lance, added: “I am hugely proud to have inaugurated the AMF1 DDP: I am a big believer in rewarding young talent, and this is a fantastic way to help develop the next generation of racing drivers.

“We have watched and admired Felipe’s path to success in F2 this year, and we aim to provide him with all the skills and experience necessary to be able to take the next step in his career. In the fullness of time, it would be the ultimate validation if he were to become a F1 driver, joining the great pantheon of Brazilian racing drivers such as Emerson Fittipaldi and Ayrton Senna.”

Aston Martin has already created several initiatives to support rising driving talent, but they have all been in GT sportscars, and it also sponsors the Autosport BRDC Award.