Home Featured GB3 2023 season preview: will this be the closest season yet?

GB3 2023 season preview: will this be the closest season yet?

by Steve Whitfield

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

With a record grid and two overseas rounds, GB3 is set for one its biggest and most thrilling seasons yet in 2023.

A field of 25 cars has been confirmed for this weekend’s season-opener at Oulton Park and, with interest in the two remaining seats, the series could reach its capacity for the first time during the season.

The championship has been granted international series status by the FIA, allowing Zandvoort to be added to the calendar for the first time. With Spa-Francorchamps retaining its place on the schedule and two rounds to be held once again on Silverstone’s Grand Prix layout, half of this season’s eight rounds will take place on current Formula 1 circuits.

The Tatuus MSV-022 chassis, which enjoyed a successful debut in 2022, features a number of upgrades for this year, including updates to the suspension and driveshaft and a re-designed Mountune engine. This could result in lap times being even quicker, with the 2022 pole times at Silverstone, Oulton Park and Donington Park all well beaten in the cool conditions of pre-season testing.

The previous four series champions all currently race in FIA Formula 3 or Formula 2 and, with a prize F3 test again on offer to this year’s champion, the series continues to grow in stature as a step on the single-seater ladder.

That has helped the grid boom in 2023 and unlike last year, when pre-season favourite Luke Browning delivered on that expectation to take the crown, the championship fight appears far more open this time around. The top 21 drivers were separated by 0.9 seconds during Donington Park testing, and many in the paddock believe as many as a dozen drivers are in contention for pole this weekend.

Arden VRD

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Arden has strengthened its ties over the winter with Velocity Racing Development, which has placed two of its drivers in the cars, and the team has filled its third seat for the opening round.

2. Nico Christodoulou Canada, 17
2022: 16th in GB3

Christodoulou joined the team from the third round onwards last year after an early-season switch from Formula Regional Americas, scoring a number of top ten finishes and recording his best result, fourth, at the final round.  He is targeting the title this year, has shown occasional strong pace in testing, but feels there is still more time to find.

3. Noah Ping USA, 20
2022: 3rd in US F4, 2nd in YACademy Winter Series

Ping was originally set to race USF2000 this year with VRD before joining GB3 instead.  He raced in three different F4 series in 2022, winning races in both the YACademy Winter Series and US F4, and scoring a best result of seventh during a two-round stint in USF Juniors. That record should stand him in good stead this season but, having largely tested without a transponder so far, it’s hard to judge his form heading into the first race.

4. James Hedley Britain, 19
2022: 17th in GB3

Hedley has only been confirmed for the first round but is trying to find more sponsorship for the full season, and joined Arden for last month’s tests at Donington Park and Snetterton. He was Ginetta Junior champion in 2019 and came fifth in British F4 in both 2020 and ’21. He made his GB3 debut with Elite Motorsport at the 2021 season-finale and remained with the team for the first four rounds last year, scoring a podium at Snetterton, before a mid-season switch to JHR Developments.

Rodin Carlin

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

A change of name after Rodin Cars acquired a majority stake in the team earlier this year, but expect nothing different on the track for the team that has produced four of the last six series’ champions and boasts another strong line-up this year, with two of its drivers among the title favourites.

27. John Bennett Britain, 19
2022: 8th in GB3

After a short karting career and two years in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge, Bennett was an unknown quantity when he joined GB3 with Elite Motorsport last year. But he immediately turned heads by finishing fifth in his first two starts, going on to score a number of further top six finishes before taking a maiden podium at the season finale. With a switch to Carlin for his sophomore campaign, the Briton is expecting to fight for victories and the crown.

35. Callum Voisin Britain / Switzerland, 17
2022: 4th in GB3

As the highest-placed driver from 2022 to remain in the series, Voisin starts as one of the strong favourites. As well as taking three wins, he scored five poles that earned him the Jack Cavill Cup, and that single-lap pace could be a key strength against a stacked field. “Testing has gone very well,” he says . “Being my second year and a more experienced driver I know what to expect and how to win. There’s stuff to improve on, but even watching my onboards I feel like a more complete driver from 12 months ago.”

43. Costa Toparis Australia, 16
2022: 4th & 8th in Abu Dhabi F4 Trophy, 13th in Motorsport Games F4 Cup

Toparis is the youngest driver in the field – he turns 16 on Thursday – and has far less experience than his team-mates.  He was Australian champion in OK-Junior karts last year and finished 13th while representing his country in the F4 Cup at the FIA Motorsport Games on his car racing debut. He went on race for Carlin in the F4 United Arab Emirates Trophy races at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Some impressive testing times so far suggest he shouldn’t be discounted from scoring some good results. 

Chris Dittmann Racing

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

It was tricky season for the team last year but, having proven capable of fighting for victories in the past, it will be aiming high again in 2023. It is set to start the season with a two-car line-up which includes a sophomore driver and car racing rookie, both who have shown promise in testing.

9. Zak Taylor Britain, 20
2022: 18th in GB3

Taylor was a race winner in Ginetta Junior and a podium finisher in British F4. He struggled early on after stepping up to GB3 with Fortec last year but scored a podium at Spa-Francorchamps and showed improved form at the final two rounds after switching to CDR. He remains with the team for 2023, and was ninth-fastest at the Donington Park test.

18. Arthur Rogeon France, 16
2022: 23rd in Champions of the Future series, 26th in CIK-FIA European championship and 30th in WSK Euro Series

Rogeon is the most inexperienced driver in the field, making the jump from karting into GB3. He has signed a two-year deal with CDR and is planning to use 2023 as a learning year before a title assault in 2024. He raised a few eyebrows by setting the sixth-fastest time at Donington, so could be a surprise package. “Not all of the drivers go from karting into GB3, so it’s a big step but I think I can do it,” he says. “I need to learn and improve myself in the car.”

Douglas Motorsport

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

After a difficult 2021 campaign, Douglas fared better last term with all three of its drivers taking a race victory. With another exciting line-up for 2023, the team could be in the hunt for wins again.

7. Tymek Kucharczyk Poland, 16
2022: 3rd in Spanish F4

The Robert Kubica protege was a star in karting driving one of the former F1 star’s chassis. He won the 2021 Richard Mille Young Talent Academy shootout which earned him a fully-paid seat in Spanish F4, where he was a race-winner in 2022. But his career was in danger of stalling earlier this year after his sponsor Orlen changed its motorsport strategy. Since securing a GB3 seat he has shown rapid testing pace on occasion which suggests he could be a dark horse. 

11. Lucas Staico Brazil, 17
2022: 2nd in Brazilian F4

Staico enjoyed a highly-decorated karting career, winning over 20 titles in South America. He scored three wins, including two at Interlagos, after stepping up to Brazilian F4 last year and first drove a GB3 car during pre-event testing at the 2022 Donington Park finale. “Its a new car for me, every single track is new, the engine is different to what I am used to in F4,” he says. “But I think I’m going well, setting good times and I’m confident for the season. The team is helping me a lot.”

32. Shawn Rashid USA, 26
2022: 5th National FF1600, heat winner at FFord Festival

Rashid made a late start to his racing career, his debut coming in the 2022 BRSCC National Formula Ford 1600 championship. He made good progress to take a maiden victory at the penultimate round before winning his heat at the FFord Festival. This is a whole other level,” he said ahead of his first season in slicks-and-wings. “I’m happy with where I’m at, I’m not fast enough yet, but I’m working super hard and I know I’ll get there. I just want to be finishing at the front by the end of the season, that’s my goal.”

Elite Motorsport

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

After expanding into single-seaters in 2021, the multiple title-winning Ginetta outfit improved greatly in its second GB3 season last year, with Tom Lebbon finishing third in the championship with the team and recording four wins. This season it will aim to go a step further and fight for the crown.

15. Ayato Iwasaki Japan, 19
2023: 1 round of FRMEC 2022: 1 round of GB3, 2 rounds of Japanese F4, 27th in FRAC

Iwasaki remains with the team after making his series debut at the final round in 2022, taking a best result of sixth in the reversed-grid race. He will benefit from having had a busy winter testing programme ahead of his first full season this term, and has already raced in 2023 – taking part in one round of the Formula Regional Middle East Championship in Kuwait.

16. McKenzy Cresswell Britain, 17
2022: 11th in GB3

After being one of the stars of British F4 in 2021, Cresswell had a largely difficult campaign after stepping up to GB3 last year, scoring one podium at Spa. A switch to Elite for his sophomore season seems to have done the trick, with consistent front-running times during testing suggesting he will be a title contender. “We struggled last year and we felt we needed a change,” said Cresswell. “I’m feeling very confident with the car, feeling really good in the team, we’ve all gelled really well and the car is mega. It is only testing but it’s looking good at the moment.”

17. Oliver Stewart Britain, 16
2022: 10th in British F4

After a decorated karting career, the Scot took one victory during his first season of car racing last year in British F4. He started testing GB3 machinery for Elite last November and has posted some fast times, ending last month’s Oulton Park test third. “We’re getting on well with it, learning a lot and getting closer and closer each time we go out,” he said. 

Fortec Motorsports

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Fortec are well established as one Britain’s leading junior single-seater outfits. Last year Joel Granfors was a title contender with the team until the final round. This term it has strength in depth with a mixture of GB3 experience and F4 graduates in its line-up and will be expecting to be fighting for multiple wins.

20. Jarrod Waberski South Africa, 17
2022: 2nd in GB4

After winning the South African F1600 championship in 2021, Waberski signed to race in GB4 last year on the eve of the season-opener. Despite the lack of preparation, Waberski got up to speed quickly and finished the campaign with four wins. He has shown strong pace in testing which makes him another dark horse. “It makes a massive difference,” he said on having had a full winter of preparation this time around. “I’ll be a lot more prepared than I was last year. Testing has been going really well. Having strong competition pushes all of us to do better.”

41. Edward Pearson Britain, 16
2022: 12th in British F4

Pearson started out in karting before moving into Ginetta Junior in 2021 and scoring a podium at the final round. Last year he raced in British F4, again taking his best results at the finale with a pair of fifth places. “With my age, experience and from speaking to the team, honestly the important thing for me is improvement at every event, he said. “If we can get to the end of the season and be fighting for podiums, I’ll be loving it.”

42. Max Esterson USA, 20
2022: 7th in GB3, Formula Ford Festival winner

Esterson made a strong start on his step up to GB3 from FF1600 last year, and had looked a potential title contender after scoring a maiden win during the third round at Donington Park. He added another podium at Spa before his form slightly tailed off in the final three rounds. A strong performance during an FF1600 cameo at the end of last year – which included victory at the FFord Festival – will bring added confidence and his sole aim is to fight for the title after switching to Fortec for his sophomore season.


Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

After a single-car entry in 2022, Hillspeed are set to head to the Oulton Park opener with two cars and are in talks to fill its third seat. The team have forged a link with the newly-created Hitech GP academy, of which both of its current two drivers are members.

39. Gerrard Xie Hong Kong, 16
2022: Chinese F4 champion, Formula Renault Super Challenge champion

Xie has enjoyed a highly successful start to his single-seater career after making the step up from karts last year. He dominated the Formula Renault Super Challenge and also did the same in Chinese F4, taking 12 wins from 14 starts and was runner-up at the Macau GP.  He won a scholarship to race in Formula Regional Middle East earlier this year but was unable to get a deal done in time to use it.

99. Daniel Mavlyutov Britain / Turkey, 19
2023: 32nd in FRMEC   2022: 15th in British F3, 36th in Spanish F4

Like Xie, Mavlyutov is a member of the Hitech academy. He made his racing debut at the 2021 Formula Ford Festival before racing with Hitech in British F4 last season with a best finish of ninth, and also raced with the team in the 2023 Formula Regional Middle East championship.

Hitech GP

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Hitech were the team to beat last year, winning both the drivers’ crown with Luke Browning as well as the teams’ title. And it looks set for another strong campaign in 2023, with the reigning British F4 champion and a Red Bull junior in its ranks.

21. Souta Arao Japan, 17
2022: 3rd in French F4

After finishing runner-up in the Japanese karting championship, Arao was awarded a Suzuka Racing School Formula scholarship, with two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato part of the judging panel. He won three times in French F4 last year and, as a Honda and Red Bull junior, choosing GB3 for the next step of his career is another example of the series’ growing reputation. He has looked on similar pace to his team-mates so far and will be expecting to fighting near the front.

22. Alex Dunne Ireland, 17
2022: British F4 champion, 2nd in Italian F4

After dominating British F4 with 11 wins last year and finishing second in the highly-competitive Italian F4, Dunne will be considered another of the strong favourites as he attempts to emulate Browning. He has looked competitive in testing so far. “Staying with Hitech was the best move for me after what we did last year,” he said. “I definitely don’t think I’m going to do what I did in British F4. I think this year it’s going to be really, really close. Obviously it’s a new car and a new championship for me but I’m feeling really confident.”

23. Michael Shin South Korea, 18
2022: 11th in British F4, 29th in UAE F4, 23rd in Motorsport Games F4 Cup

The Callan O’Keeffe protege had just over a year of karting experience before moving into car racing last year, making his debut in F4 UAE before a full season in British F4 that included a win and a further podium. He also represented his country in the F4 Cup at last October’s FIA Motorsports Games.

JHR Developments

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

The championship-winning British F4 team expanded full-time into GB3 last year, starting the season with one car before adding a second driver to its line-up for the final four rounds. With a three-car entry full of experience, JHR look set to be a serious force in 2023.

5. Matthew Rees Britain, 17
2022: 6th in GB3

After winning the 2021 British F4 title with JHR, Rees stepped up to GB3 with team last year. There were some mixed results early on, but he hit form late in the season, scoring both a maiden pole and victory at Brands Hatch. He enters his sophomore campaign as one of the favourites, especially after showing some very strong testing form. “Things are looking good,” he says. “Testing has been solid. We’ve been on the pace at most circuits we’ve been to.”

77. David Morales USA, 19                                                                                                                              2023: 6th FROC   2022: 22nd in GB3, 33rd in FRAC

Morales moves to JHR after three seasons with Arden in British F4 and GB3. He finished on the podium in his first weekend of GB3 at Oulton Park in 2022 and earlier this year scored a maiden single-seater victory in New Zealands’s Formula Regional Oceania series. He looks set for a much stronger campaign this term after setting the fourth quickest time in three of the four official tests in March.

84. Joseph Loake Britain, 17
2022: 5th in British F4, 27th in UAE F4

Loake remains with JHR for a third year after two race-winning seasons with the team in British F4. Prior to that he was a dominant force in Fiesta Junior in 2019 and 2020, winning the championship in the latter. “[It’s been going] really well,” he said after showing some strong pace in testing. “It’s a tricky car to get used to. I want to continue that good form we finished off with [in British F4] into GB3, so we’ve been putting a lot of work in at the racetrack and away from it as well. We are well prepared for the season.”