Frederik Vesti believes that the heavier build of the Formula Regional car will help 2024 FIA Formula 2 Championship rookie Andrea Kimi Antonelli acclimatise to the new F2 car when he makes the leap up from Formula Regional next year, skipping F3 entirely.
Antonelli was signed to a PREMA F2 seat last month, becoming the first driver announced for the 2024 season after two months of rumours about his ascension to the second tier. The reigning champion in both the Middle Eastern and European Formula Regional championships, 17-year-old Mercedes junior Antonelli has become one of the hottest prospects on the junior single-seater scene.
It is widely thought that Antonelli will line up alongside Bearman and replace Vesti, who is currently second in F2 with an outside shot at the title heading into this weekend’s finale at the Yas Marina Circuit. Regardless of the outcome of the title race, Vesti is not expected to return to F2 next year, when the series will adopt its first new chassis since 2018.
Besides both being Mercedes juniors, Antonelli and Vesti also share a commonality in that they both won the Formula Regional European Championship for PREMA. The Danish driver dominated the championship’s inaugural season in 2019, driving the Tatuus F3 T-318 chassis used in the series since. He then one season each at PREMA and ART in F3 before stepping up to F2 in 2022.
Vesti said he had not been particularly present in Antonelli’s adjustment process, but the 21-year-old suggested that it would be made easier by the fact that the F2 and Formula Regional cars shared certain characteristics that their F3 counterpart, the Dallara F3 2019, does not have.
“To be honest, I haven’t been much involved,” Vesti told InsideF2. “Obviously, I’ve been very focused, let’s say, on work in the simulator, et cetera, FPs, so we haven’t actually spent much time together.
“But I think the Regional car is relatively heavy, comparing between downforce levels, which is a similar trend in Formula 2. I think probably the F3 is a bit of an outlier between those three cars, so I think in some ways, actually, that will help him.
“Obviously, it is a big step, and he will have to progressively improve, but it will be exciting to see how he gets on.”
Antonelli is in the F2 paddock at Yas Marina this weekend with PREMA.
Credit: Diederik van der Laan / Dutch Photo Agency