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Ex-F2 stars feel F1 teams prioritise experience, but 2025 will have rookies

by Alejandro Alonso Lopez

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Both of Prema’s current Formula 2 drivers are set for Formula 1 seats in 2025, but opportunities still have not appeared for the top drivers from the last two seasons.

Formula Scout understands that Ollie Bearman will race for Haas in 2025 after impressing on his debut with Ferrari at this year’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix standing in for Carlos Sainz Jr, while Mercedes-AMG has successfully got the FIA to lower the minimum age for the superlicence required to race in F1 to 17, opening the door for its junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli – who is Bearman’s Prema team-mate – to also debut this year ahead of an anticipated full-time step up to F1 next year.

But F2’s dominant 2022 champion Felipe Drugovich and 2023 runner-up Frederik Vesti are still working hard to make F1’s grid. Both hold reserve driver roles, at Aston Martin and Mercedes respectively, and have been used in tests and practice sessions but feel they are being denied deserved opportunities to race.

“What is concerning is that the F1 teams continue to focus so much on experience, on experienced drivers in F1,” Vesti told Formula Scout prior to the FIA changing its superlicence requirements.

“All these people coming from F2 are continuously proving themselves. And I think there needs to be more eyes on F2 and even more focus on how difficult F2 is. And if you can do a good job in F2, you are more than ready to F1.”

Having made his point, he added: “It seems difficult sometimes to reach F1. On the other hand, it’s the choice of the teams and they need to maximise their seasons as well. But as a junior driver, it can be quite frustrating to be on the side and seeing very experienced drivers still going in F1.”

Vesti said Mercedes “have the right to put me in the car first” over an experienced driver when choosing who to replace the departing Lewis Hamilton in 2025 since the team has been “investing money into my career” and would therefore want a return on investment.

“I think that’s how it works,” he dwelled, although his competition for a seat now is with the even less experienced Antonelli.

“It’s not a concern. It’s just sad, I would say,” Drugovich said of his F1 chances. “You fight your whole life to be in that position and then if you don’t win F2, it’s not good enough to be in F1. But then once you win, you know you’re left aside. I would say it’s a bit sad to feel [left out], just not be put in a car.

“I think that’s a bit weird. Because you focus your whole life to doing that, and then you get there. I would agree if you don’t win [it counts against you], but if you win, I think you should have a place there. And it’s a bit frustrating, but it is what it is. And we just keep fighting for a seat.”