At this point in 2023, MP Motorsport were heading into the Formula 2 season for the first time in their history as the reigning Champions. One year later, they have gone from being the hunted to the hunters after their title defence ended with them in sixth.

But with Dennis Hauger and rookie driver Franco Colapinto in the cockpit this year, could MP be set to make a return to F2’s summit?

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Entering last season, the Dutch squad brought an all-new driver line-up in the form Hauger and Jehan Daruvala – replacing Champion Felipe Drugovich and Clément Novalak. As a duo, they showed strong pace, but different circumstances throughout the year meant their results were up and down.

But MP have made it clear that their pairing for this year is all about consistency. In Hauger and Colapinto, they have opted for known quantities with the former a race winner last year for the team, while the latter achieved the same in Formula 3.

Their hope is that both drivers' familiarity with the team will be helpful in the early development of the car and will put them in a great place to hit the ground running in 2024, especially while their rivals get to grips with their new surroundings.

Hauger and Daruvula were MPs driver line-up for the 2023 season
Hauger and Daruvula were MP's driver line-up for the 2023 season

It could especially help Hauger achieve the regularity in points that he did not get in 2023, with bad luck often the chief architect of his inconsistent results. The most memorable example of that was in Baku.

The Norwegian ace took the lead of the Sprint Race on the opening lap and looked set to take the victory, but struggles after the Safety Car restart ultimately ended with him in the barrier at Turn 1 on Lap 19 of 21.

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He can also point to Melbourne, when he was forced to retire after a collision with Victor Martins late in the Feature Race. He was then involved in an unfortunate Lap 1 tangle with Ayumu Iwasa on the opening lap of Sunday’s race at Spa-Francorchamps.

A few weeks later at Zandvoort, after starting on the front row, the unfortunate timing of the Safety Car ended his hopes of victory in the Feature Race. The common factor is that all these unfortunate incidents happened while he was set to finish in the points.

Hauger suffered from his fair share of bad luck during the 2023 campaign
Hauger suffered from his fair share of bad luck during the 2023 campaign

But staying out of trouble and scoring points regularly is something Hauger has shown he can do before. In his 2021 Formula 3 title winning campaign in seven rounds of three races each, he attained points finishes on 17 occasions, while also taking four victories and eight podiums.

That is the same tally of wins and trips to the rostrums that he has achieved across his two seasons in Formula 2. It shows Hauger is not only capable of scoring consistent points but that he also has the pace to fight at the sharp end of the grid.

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What he will want to improve is his one lap performance as shown in his Qualifying results. In 2021, he achieved four pole positions to go along with five front row starts, but despite his best efforts, that form has not translated to Formula 2.

He is yet to qualify on pole position in F2, with his second-place effort in Zandvoort last year his only front row start in the Championship. If he can do that while also staying out of trouble, it could prove to be vital to MP’s hopes of climbing up the order.

Colapinto makes the move up to F2 after finishing fourth in the Formula 3 standings last season
Colapinto makes the move up to F2 after finishing fourth in the Formula 3 standings last season

Consistency was Colapinto’s most improved upon attribute in Formula 3 last season. The Argentinean’s pace was always clear to see but in 2023 he impressively paired that with an ability to finish in the points with great regularity.

This was shown by the fact that in his rookie campaign in F3, he achieved two wins alongside five podiums, but ended the campaign ninth in the championship with 76 points in 2022. He accomplished the same number of wins and podiums last season but finished fourth in the standings with 110 points.

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What changed was, in 2022, he did not score points on 10 occasions but showed great maturity last year to impressively reduce that number to just four. He will be hopeful of continuing that trend in Formula 2, as it would allow him to take advantage of his and the team’s pace.

But, like Hauger, Qualifying is an area the Williams Academy protégé will want to improve upon, as he went without scoring a single pole position in 2023. In fact, his lone F3 pole came back in the first round of his rookie year in Bahrain. However, there is no doubt he will be focused on trying to score more pole positions in 2024.

So, MP head into the season with two drivers who have their strengths and their weaknesses, but both Hauger and Colapinto have shown that they possess the skills needed to help the Dutch team get back up the Championship order.