The new Formula 2 champion, Felipe Drugovich, finally secured a Formula 1 affiliation this week when Aston Martin took him on as a development driver.
Many teams on the grid, such as Red Bull, Alpine and Ferrari, all passed on the opportunity to sign the hugely talented Brazilian driver, but their loss is Aston Martin’s gain.
All told, Drugovich has won five races in the feeder series so far in 2022, and did not even have to be on the track to claim the crown during the sprint race at the Italian Grand Prix.
The 22-year-old picked up damage on the opening lap of Saturday’s race, but it mattered not as second-placed Theo Pourchaire ended up 17th.
Somehow, the MP Motorsport driver had gone the whole season not being noticed by any teams on the grid in the pinnacle of motorsport, until now.
Having already acquired Fernando Alonso to replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel, team owner, Lawrence Stroll, has conducted his latest bit of business by signing the man who takes the F2 title from Oscar Piastri.
The Australian is set to race at McLaren alongside Lando Norris next year having taken a season out, so this will give Drugovich hope, perhaps even expectation, that he can find a place on the grid for 2024.
Aston Martin intend to run their new driver in the first practice session of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the final round of the year, before promoting him to the role of test and reserve next season.
“As a member of the programme, Felipe will become one of the team’s reserve drivers,” they said in a statement.
“The team’s intention is for him to drive in FP1 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (substituting for Lance Stroll) and to also take part in November’s young driver test at the Yas Marina Circuit.
“For 2023, he will undertake an extensive test programme behind the wheel of the 2021 AMR21 car and will attend selected Grands Prix as a member of the team.”
Drugovich is delighted at his arrival in Silverstone, and he hopes that this is the start of a flourishing F1 career.
“Becoming a member of the AMF1 Driver Development Programme is a fantastic opportunity for me – and only adds to what has been an extremely enjoyable and successful 2022 season,” he stated.
“Winning in Formula 2 has long been regarded as the best possible launchpad into a career in Formula One, and I see my role at AMF1 as giving me all the tools to take that crucial next step.
“For me, 2023 will be a learning curve: I will be working with the F1 team, but my primary goal is to learn and develop as a driver.
“I hope that will give me an opportunity to race in Formula One in the future.”
Drugovich is the sixth F2 champion since it adopted its new name in 2017, with Charles Leclerc, George Russell, Nyck de Vries, Mick Schumacher and Piastri coming before him.
MP Motorsport, meanwhile, still have a battle on their hands at the Yas Marina Circuit in November to beat ART to the teams’ title.