Mercedes junior Frederik Vesti will pilot one of many group’s Formulation 1 vehicles within the post-season Abu Dhabi Grand Prix check however can he comply with within the footsteps of George Russell and progress to F1?
Danish driver Vesti will get his first style of F1 equipment within the Yas Marina check at which present Mercedes reserve Nyck de Vries is ready to make an early debut for his 2023 employer AlphaTauri.
Vesti joined the Mercedes junior programme off the again of his rookie FIA Formulation 3 marketing campaign in 2020 the place general he fell in need of his extra skilled Prema team-mates Oscar Piastri and Logan Sargeant, who’re each headed for F1 in 2023 with McLaren and Williams respectively though Sargeant’s deal is but to be confirmed and he requires tremendous licence factors.
Though he couldn’t be part of them within the title combat and was typically third-best amongst them, he did match and outshine them every now and then.
He remained in F3 for 2021 and switched to a different junior single-seater behemoth ART Grand Prix however a title problem didn’t materialise, and he completed fourth for the second consecutive season with a single victory.
Vesti then stepped as much as Formulation 2 with ART, racing alongside Sauber protege Theo Pourchaire who, together with Piastri and Sargeant, had overwhelmed Vesti in F3 in 2020.
Pourchaire leads that intra-team combat as he runs second within the drivers’ championship heading into the Abu Dhabi finale whereas Vesti is eighth however solely 9 factors adrift from fourth place.
Following a tough begin the place he was point-less within the opening 5 races, Vesti seemed critically fast in the midst of the season.
He picked up his maiden F2 win in Baku, certified on the entrance row at Silverstone after which was on pole on the Purple Bull Ring.
That Austrian GP function race was a catastrophe as a tardy begin was adopted by penalties for leaving the observe and gaining a bonus and observe limits violations that left Vesti empty-handed from a weekend the place he seemed so sturdy.
Extra point-less weekends would come later within the yr at Spa and Zandvoort however this was adopted by a superb brace of second place finishes at Monza, such has been the rollercoaster nature of Vesti’s season.
Consistency over a season has been missing for Vesti since he gained the Formulation Regional European Championship in 2019 in a discipline that hardly ever exceeded 11 vehicles.
It’s hardly been as convincing an increase up F1’s ladder because the likes of Russell who gained GP3 (now F3) and F2 in back-to-back years, however not each future F1 driver has to boast that sort of report.
This yr’s F2 season has been one of the vital weird, inconsistent and laborious to learn within the championship’s historical past.
Vesti has in no way stood head and shoulders amongst that discipline this yr however equally, he’s not been far off star rookie Sargeant and Jack Doohan, each of whom have been proper amongst F1’s 2023 foolish season.
Vesti will seemingly reunite with Prema – chargeable for 4 of the final seven F2/GP2 champions – for a second yr of F2 in 2023 so he ought to have the proper instruments to ship a possible title problem.
There’s little rapid competitors throughout the high ranks of the Mercedes junior programme – though 16-year-old Andrea Kimi Antonelli would possibly simply be the following large factor – so Vesti was the apparent alternative for the younger driver check with De Vries leaving for AlphaTauri.
It’s nonetheless a small vindication for the laborious work he’s put in behind the scenes on Mercedes’ simulator this yr.
Clearly, Mercedes has little room inside its personal F1 group with Russell thriving since he joined firstly of the yr and Hamilton prone to prolong his present deal past 2023.
However Vesti can nonetheless put himself within the dialog for a 2024 F1 seat someplace on the grid if he can excel in F2 subsequent yr towards some stiff competitors together with seemingly returnees Doohan, Pourchaire and Dennis Hauger in addition to his possible new Prema team-mate: highly-rated Ferrari junior Ollie Bearman.
Comparisons to Russell are optimistic at this stage of Vesti’s profession, he’s proven flashes of actual velocity however he’s but to string it collectively in a convincing sufficient vogue to demand promotion to F1 in the identical manner Russell’s outcomes and work with Mercedes did all through 2017 and 2018.
It’s all the way down to Vesti to alter that in Abu Dhabi and in 2023.