FIA Formula 2 Championship drivers and Red Bull juniors Dennis Hauger and Ayumu Iwasa have said that they are not focussing on the driver market saga in Formula 1 concerning Red Bull Racing and sister team Scuderia AlphaTauri, which recently exchanged Nyck de Vries for Daniel Ricciardo.
Established in 2006 as Scuderia Toro Rosso following a takeover of Minardi, the Faenza-based outfit has long functioned as the traditional landing spot in Formula 1 for graduates of the Red Bull Junior Team, which has operated since 2001.
In recent years, however, a shift in philosophy has meant that the team has drafted several drivers from outside of the programme to fill its race seats.
After Pierre Gasly’s move to Alpine at the end of the 2022 season, AlphaTauri drafted in 2019 F2 champion and 2020–21 FIA Formula E World Champion De Vries, who had scored points on his F1 debut earlier in 2022 as a replacement for the unwell Alex Albon at Williams.
But De Vries’ 2023 campaign with AlphaTauri was not so successful, and he and the team parted ways following the British Grand Prix two weeks ago.
De Vries was replaced by eight-time F1 race winner and Red Bull reserve driver Ricciardo, who had previously raced for Toro Rosso in 2012 and 2013 in the early days of his F1 career. After a five-year stint at Red Bull Racing, the Australian driver moved to Renault in 2019 and McLaren in 2021 for two years each before losing his race seat at the end of 2022.
Ricciardo’s F1 return this weekend means that for the second vacancy in succession, AlphaTauri did not fill the seat with a Red Bull junior.
Yuki Tsunoda in the other AlphaTauri has also not been confirmed for a 2024 seat at the team, which will be rebranding once more as longtime team boss Franz Tost steps down and Laurent Mekies and Peter Bayer take over leadership of the team.
Liam Lawson, last year’s third-place finisher in F2 and a title favourite in Super Formula this year, is hotly tipped to fill one of the two seats at the team next year, and some of Red Bull’s six juniors in F2 are also thought to be under consideration.
Furthermore, Sergio Pérez’s contract with the main Red Bull team expires at the end of 2024, and rumours about his future have likewise swirled following a string of disappointing results in recent Qualifying sessions and races.
After the F2 Sprint Race at the Hungaroring, InsideF2 asked winner Hauger and runner-up Iwasa what they made of the turbulence within the Red Bull ranks.
“We’re focused on our season and the job with the team in F2 to do the best job we can, so we’re not involved in that situation. That’s not in our area at the moment,” MP Motorsport’s Hauger said.
“We work with Red Bull a bit for simulator and stuff like that, but in the end not really any comments about that.
“It’s not my business at the moment. [I’m] just doing my season and working on what I can and hope I can do better in the end of the season, but other than that, just doing my thing.”
Hauger’s comments were echoed by DAMS driver Iwasa, who sits third in the standings with 120 points, 15 behind championship leader Frederik Vesti. That makes the Japanese driver the highest-placed Red Bull junior at the time of writing, 50 points and five positions clear of Hauger in eighth.
“I think one thing is clear: [that] I need to do a good season in F2. Otherwise, if I don’t have enough result in F2, enough performance, for sure I will not get [the] opportunity to be in F1, so I’m trying to do my best,” Iwasa said.
“I’m trying to be better with the team and also in the Red Bull programme, so I’m trying to improve my performance as much as I can. I think that will be the most important in this season.”
Iwasa did not directly answer a separate question from RaceFans about his own chances at the team for 2024, but Hauger conceded that he was ‘not really expecting anything’ given how his 2023 F2 campaign had unfolded.
Image: Formula Motorsport Limited