Invicta Racing’s 2023 season is best described as one of two halves. It started with them going without a win in the first eight rounds of the year before they turned their fortunes around in the remaining five events.

Jack Doohan’s Feature race victories in Budapest, Spa-Francorchamps, and Yas Marina lifted him up to third in the Drivers' Championship, while also helping Invicta finish fifth in the Teams’ Standings.

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They will be hopeful of carrying that form into 2024 and in their bid to do so, they bring an all-new driver line-up featuring Alpine Academy Driver Kush Maini, who is entering his second season in the Championship, and the reigning Formula 3 Champion Gabriel Bortoleto, to the grid.

In what will be the team’s sixth F2 season, which has seen them finish as the runners-up for three consecutive years from 2019 to 2021, could this new-look line-up be the one that propels them to that elusive first title?

Maini scored his first ever podium in Formula 2 at the Melbourne Sprint race
Maini scored his first ever podium in Formula 2 at the Melbourne Sprint race

Maini’s promising rookie campaign has laid a solid foundation from which he can start from in 2024. His best result came in the Melbourne Sprint race when he finished third and it came midst of a very impressive start to the year in which he scored points in eight of the opening 10 races.

Unfortunately, his results suffered a slight dip as he went without scoring at the next six races in Barcelona, Spielberg, and Silverstone – retiring with damage in the Feature Races in the latter two events after colliding with Dennis Hauger at the Red Bull Ring and with his teammate Ralph Boschung at Silverstone.

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To Maini’s credit his form improved after that, and he ended the year well by returning to his points scoring best in four of the last five rounds – including at the final two events of the season at Monza and Yas Marina.

He’ll be hopeful of carrying that momentum into 2024, although he will be mindful about avoiding a repeat of his form in the middle part of the season.

Maini will also be keen to display his pace, particularly in qualifying where he lined up in the top 10 on seven occasions last year. He also put himself in the mix multiple times for pole position, most notably at Silverstone when he missed out on the top spot to Victor Martins by just 0.1s.

If he can continue to show that pace while also replicating the consistency he displayed in the opening few rounds of his rookie campaign, it would go a long way to helping him in his quest to add more trophies to his and the team’s cabinet this year.

Maini will be hopeful of showing his pace for Invicta in 2024
Maini will be hopeful of showing his pace for Invicta in 2024

As for Bortoleto, consistency was his greatest strength on his way to taking the F3 title. He took the chequered flag at every single event bar the Sprint race at Spa-Francorchamps – where only the slightest of contact with rival Dino Beganovic knocked him out.

Bortoleto, who is now a part of the McLaren Development Programme, notably adapted quickly to life in Formula 3, winning the first two Feature races of the season in Sakhir and Melbourne.

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He then added four more podiums to his tally before the year’s end, as he expertly stayed out of trouble to manage his lead of the Championship while his rivals became involved in wheel-to-wheel tangles and suffered from bad luck.

But just as impressive as his consistency was his pace, especially in qualifying. The statistics show just the solitary pole position in Melbourne for Bortoleto, but what they don’t say is that he was always in the mix in the battle for the top spot and was a constant fixture inside the top10.

Bortoleto makes the move to Formula 2 after taking the F3 title in 2023
Bortoleto makes the move to Formula 2 after taking the F3 title in 2023

In fact, the only weekend where he qualified outside the top 10 was at Spa when he lined up in P15. This was key as it put Bortoleto in great positions to get top results, while also allowing him to stay away from trouble that sometimes occurred in the middle of the pack.

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His next challenge, however, will be adapting to life in Formula 2, as that comes with its own hurdles such as the 18-inch tyres and the pit stops.

However, if Bortoleto shows the temperament he displayed in F3, he could play a major role in Invicta’s season. Only time will tell if he can carry his previous success into the 2024 campaign.