Franco Colapinto made his FIA Formula 2 debut this weekend in Yas Marina in place of Jehan Daruvala for MP Motorsport.
The Young Argentine will drive for the team in 2024, but made full use of the F3 championship finishing in September, and used the time to get a head start.
InsideF2 writer, Michael McClure has been busy keeping up with Colapinto’s progress over the course of the weekend.
Colapinto broke his collarbone in August and had undergone surgery after finishing the Formula 3 championship in Monza, where he won the Sprint Race (still with the injury).
Before his F2 debut this weekend, he has been undergoing intense training to make sure he was fit and ready to get back in the car.
His First Day: Practice and Qualifying
“I felt good jumping back into a car. F2 is much more physical than F3 as well but it was alright and I felt almost at my 100% so that was good after the recovery of my collarbone.
“My team were working hard to put me in the race at Abu Dhabi and luckily, they gave me the opportunity to give me the experience that I need and to start working with the team before the test and I have some targets already when the test starts to see and to know already what to work on.
“It didn’t surprise me really. I knew it was heavy and that it was going to be a difficult car to drive. I just need to keep driving and keep getting used to it and keep learning with the team. It’s very fast in the straights and the braking is very efficient but it’s also a very heavy car so I have a lot to work on.
“It’s very difficult with not many laps. We had the limit of the car and the limit of myself but I’m still working on improving in many aspects. It’s just the first weekend so I’m lucky to have many professional people and people with a lot of experience in Formula 2 around me which is helping me to get up to speed quicker.”
The Sprint was fairly steady for him. He finished P19 and without any penalties or incidents.
Unfortunately for the rookie, the Feature Race was one to forget. A technical issue saw him pull into the pits to retire the car on Lap 16. He did come back out for a few laps just to gather extra knowledge on the series and its car before ultimately retiring for good on Lap 22.
We asked him how he found the overall experience and all of the F2 specifics which he wouldn’t have had before:
“It was good. Obviously I can’t be too happy with the [Feature] Race. It was good for me to get the experience to know how it’s going to work in the test… it has helped to get up to speed fast and it went really well today, I think.”
“My first stint of the options was quite fast… I was struggling a little bit at the end with the options but I was glad to be able to do the pit stop and do the pit exit and push a little bit on the new tyres. These things I’m not really used to. I think it was a great experience.”
Colapinto has just stepped up from Formula 3 where they don’t do pit stops in their Feature Races, so this was another new experience to add to the list for him.
“I love the car and I love the championship. It’s been a great weekend. Unfortunately I couldn’t finish the race because of a sensor problem.”
Sprint Race: P19
Feature Race: DNF
Beyond Abu Dhabi…
James Vowles, Team Principal of Williams has set the expectations high for his Academy Driver for his debut season which will start in Bahrain, March 2024. He wants Colapinto to be fighting for the championship in his rookie F2 season, something that has only been done successfully by Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Oscar Piastri.
Michael asked him about this and he affirmed that he has the best people around him to make it possible.
“I think I’m surrounded, as I said before, with great people, very professional… they are really, really, really good and really nice to work with. I’m very happy to be here in MP I would say they are like my family, we started in F4, I mean almost every year with them…
“It’s been a very positive weekend I think where I learned a lot about the car or the engineers there about how I felt the car or my technique. We had a nice couple of days to learn and [I’m] excited to keep working with them in 2024.”
Image: Dutch Photo Agency