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F2 champion Drugovich: “I couldn’t hold myself anymore”

by Alejandro Alonso Lopez

Photo: ELMS

Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich returned to racing in the European Le Mans Series’ season-opening Barcelona Four Hours this month, as he kickstarted his sportscar career.

It was his first race since the conclusion of his title-winning 2022 F2 campaign, having spent the last 14 months as Aston Martin’s Formula 1 reserve driver. He has done several tests in that time and contested three practice sessions, and Maserati called him up last year to do a Formula E test and practice session.

“I’m enjoying it,” Drugovich said of his racing return to Formula Scout in the ELMS paddock. “It’s another environment compared to what I’m used to. So a lot more chilled and relaxed, I would say. Different experience, longer races. It’s quite fun. It’s also really useful for me to keep sharp for the F1 stuff that I need to do in case I need to replace someone.”

Competing again was “massively important” for the 23-year-old Brazilian, who is driving an Oreca 07 for Vector Sport in the LMP2 prototype class.

“After one year stopped, I couldn’t hold myself anymore,” he admitted. “I needed to do something. So it’s a good opportunity for me just to keep driving and keep sharp. After one year not racing, you can test as much as you want. It’s never going to be the same as racing. So that’s pretty good here.

“You need to adapt quite a lot the driving style. It’s quite different. But it’s also a fast machine, I would say. You are doing Fomula 3 [comparable] laptimes, which for a car that is 300kg more than a F3 is pretty good. So I think it’s a good car to drive.”

ELMS’ pole position time at Barcelona was a 1m28.071s, and when the FIA F3 Championship tested there the week after the fastest lap recorded was a 1m26.646s.

Drugovich still has his sights in F1 and hopes a race seat will arise either with Aston Martin or a rival. He has no private tests planned right now, but FP1 outings are scheduled since teams are required to run drivers with less than three F1 starts in two practice sessions each season.

“I think there is still a chance to be in F1. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be around the paddock. I’m very much pushing for it. And I think with this many drivers switching around for next year, there might be an opportunity,” he reckoned.

“Obviously being reserve driver I follow most of the races, I go to most of the races. I follow the team around trying to learn as much as I can, trying to stay ready as well as sharp as I can in case I need to replace someone.

“Other than that, I follow all the meetings in a race weekend. Just trying to be as close as possible to knowing what’s going on in the car. And I’m looking at all the data, also doing simulator work for the team when I’m not at the races. That’s pretty much the whole job.”