Amaury Cordeel says he’s been working with a mental coach as he looks to hit the ground running in Formula 2, explaining that a successful end of season test with Van Amersfoort Racing led to his earlier than expected promotion into the second tier.

The 19-year-old Belgian spent his rookie season of Formula 3 with Campos Racing and went close to scoring points on several occasions, with a highest finish of 11th.

Originally, Cordeel says he’d planned to run a second season in F3 but changed his plans following the three-day stint with VAR.

“Yes, normally I would have done another year in F3 at a top team,” said Cordeel. “But we had talked with Van Amersfoort and decided to do the test in F2 to see how the car was. After the tests, it was really positive, and the team were happy with me.

“I was happy with the team and how they worked, so after the tests, we sat at the table and discussed everything. We decided to make the move to F2, instead of spending another year in F3. The test was pretty positive. We had some problems on the first day, and on the second day there were some braking issues, but apart from that, it was a really good test.

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A successful test with VAR led to an earlier than expected promotion into F2
A successful test with VAR led to an earlier than expected promotion into F2

“From the second day, I was close to Jake (Hughes). I had a good feeling with the car. I actually had a better feeling with the F2 car than the F3 car in terms of how it reacts and things like that. The carbon brakes are a bit difficult, you have to heat them up differently and keep the temperature during cool-down laps, so some things are more difficult, but driving wise, it is a bit easier than F3.”

Van Amersfoort will be a new addition to the Formula 2 grid this season and have recruited experienced racer, Jake Hughes, to partner Cordeel.

As well as stints in both F2 and F3, Hughes has also held roles as a reserve driver for ROKiT Venturi Racing in Formula E and as a simulator driver for Mercedes’ Formula 1 and FE outfits.

Having spent three days working alongside Hughes in Bahrain, Cordeel believes that both he and the team can learn a lot from the Briton.

“He is a great person,” said Cordeel. “Jake is really nice, and his feedback is really precise. He knows what he wants to change on the car and the way that he gives feedback is different from what I have done in the past. So already from the test, I have learned a lot from him. He has a lot of experience.

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Cordeel spent his rookie season of Formula 3 with Campos Racing
Cordeel spent his rookie season of Formula 3 with Campos Racing

“The atmosphere within the team has to be right. You need to be working well with your mechanics and engineers. Van Amersfoort are really nice people, so I think I will work well with them. They had a great mentality. Some of them speak the same language as me as well, so that is also very good.

“I know Van Amersfoort are going to be a top team in their first year. I think we'll have our struggles, but also some good points. I think I can prove myself this year and I am working really hard to prove it."

Cordeel has had to be a quick learner throughout his career, having never karted professionally. The Belgian made his single-seater debut at the age of 14 in the 2017 French Formula 4 series. A switch to Spanish F4 the following season led to his first title, as he won four times and took 12 podiums.

Competing on three fronts in 2020, Cordeel gained experience in Formula Renault Eurocup, the Castrol Toyota Racing Series and F3 Asia, before his move to FIA F3 in 2021.

Asked how he will be preparing for the step-up, Cordeel said: “A lot of simulator work and some karting. I am training every day physically so that I can be as sharp as I can be at the beginning of the season. I want to prove myself in F2.

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Cordeel says hes been training hard ahead of the pre-season tests
Cordeel says he's been training hard ahead of the pre-season tests

“I think that I learned a lot last year. I think that I learned a lot with (Lorenzo) Colombo, who is a very fast driver. The battle with Lorenzo taught me a lot. Feedback wise, I learned a lot, from Colombo and from the team. I learned how to give feedback, how to react to problems, and how to not overreact.

“My approach in the F2 test was already different mentally and that is helping me. I am working with a mental coach now, so that is helping me a lot to be mentally stronger. I think that will help me to put everything together in one lap."