The 2023 Formula 2 grid will be gearing up for the Sakhir race weekend to kick off the new season, but who will hit the ground running?

All of the drivers will be chasing glory and aiming to succeed Felipe Drugovich as the F2 Drivers’ Champion, and beating your teammate is a good place to start.

Which of the teammate battles should you be keeping a close eye on this season? We’ve taken a look at four that offer plenty of intrigue going into the new season.

PREMA Racing – Frederik Vesti vs Oliver Bearman

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One of several teams on the grid with a brand-new line-up for 2023, PREMA Racing’s duo could be one of the most interesting intrateam battles of all. Frederik Vesti returns for his second F2 campaign while Oliver Bearman graduates from F3 having impressed all season long in 2022.

READ MORE: Fighting back to the top: PREMA Racing testing round-up

It was a tough start to life in F2 for the Dane last year, as things only appeared to click into place after the first third of the year. Bearman’s career has been marked by quick adaptations to whatever he’s driving, evidenced by his P3 finish in Formula 3 last year as a rookie and bid for the title.

Vesti made PREMA’s one and only appearance in the top three across pre-season testing on the morning of Day 2, while Bearman was only in the top 10 twice all week. His 1:42.640 was quicker than his new teammate though when the times were at their quickest. While the caveat of it only being testing remains, it was a solid effort that sets up the opening round nicely as we wait to see who will start the strongest at PREMA.

ART Grand Prix – Théo Pourchaire vs Victor Martins

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The arrival of Formula 3 Champion Victor Martins at ART Grand Prix means it’s an all-French affair for 2023. Théo Pourchaire will be aiming to rebound from a bitterly disappointing 2022 and fight for a Championship that’s well within range, while Martins will be seeking to stake his claim early on.

READ MORE: Pourchaire optimistic his and ART’s work pre-season has paid off after dominating Day 1

Both are F1 junior drivers, Pourchaire signed to the Sauber Academy and therefore with Alfa Romeo links in ’23 while Martins is signed with Alpine’s Academy set-up. They are highly rated, hugely talented and both well capable of wins this season, so who strikes first?

Pourchaire has all the experience heading into his third F2 campaign, but Martins holds the momentum, arriving off the back of a title-winning season in ART’s F3 machine. Pourchaire topped the times in Bahrain on Day 1, but it was Martins who set the quickest time for ART. That margin was tiny though, just 0.017s in favour of the F3 Champion. Times in testing don’t mean much, but scoring the first win of the 2023 season very much will.

Hitech Pulse-Eight – Isack Hadjar vs Jak Crawford

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It’s all change at Hitech Pulse-Eight for 2023 with the arrival of two rookies, both Red Bull Junior Team drivers. The pairing of Isack Hadjar and Jak Crawford are Formula 3 race winners with high expectations arriving in F2. The British team will be aiming to rebound following an up-and-down ’22 campaign, but who will win out in the Hadjar/Crawford battle?

READ MORE: Finding their baseline: Hitech Pulse-Eight testing round-up

Last year, Hadjar was a Championship leader in F3 while Crawford’s season was a little more inconsistent in direct comparison. Both have six days apiece in the car following post-season testing in 2022 and after pre-season in Sakhir last week. When times were at their quickest in Bahrain, Hadjar was the quicker of the two by 0.148s, though there is no real value attached to times during testing.

Will Hadjar carry his F3 speed into this campaign or will Crawford start life in F2 on the front foot?

Trident – Roman Stanek vs Clément Novalak

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One of the interesting fights this year will be fought at Trident. Clément Novalak returns ‘home’ to the team he finished third with in F3 back in 2021. Roman Stanek meanwhile graduates from the Italian outfit’s F3 set-up to partner the Frenchman after a strong campaign last year. Both will be looking to make their mark early on for differing reasons.

READ MORE: Ready to send it: Trident’s testing round-up

For the latter, his F3 season started well, and he led the Championship following Feature Race victory at Imola. Unfortunately, a slip in form was eventually recovered, but it kept him from a stronger title bid. For Novalak, he switches from MP Motorsport, reigning F2 Teams’ Champions, hoping to put together a stronger campaign after his difficult rookie season.

Both have found their strongest form in Trident colours in recent years, so familiar territory could prove to be the right medicine. It makes for an intriguing prospect and dynamic between rookie and returnee.

Rodin Carlin – Enzo Fittipaldi vs Zane Maloney

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Two popular drivers and two drivers with a lot of expectation heading into the 2023 campaign, Enzo Fittipaldi and Zane Maloney each arrive at Rodin Carlin with a great season under their belts. Fittipaldi scored multiple podiums with Charouz Racing System last season, while Maloney put together a late title bid in Formula 3, ending the season with three Feature Races in a row.

READ MORE: Picking up where they left off: Rodin Carlin testing round-up

With both moving over to the British team, expectations will be high following the strong 2022 season Rodin Carlin put together. For Fittipaldi, wins are the next step for him in Formula 2 and he expects a top step appearance from himself sooner rather than later. For Maloney, arriving in F2 after such an impressive F3 season means he is riding on a wave of momentum, and hoping to convert that into immediate F2 success.

Both have been box office to watch over 2022 and there’s no reason to think that will be any different for 2023, but which of the duo will have the best year? It’s set to be a fascinating watch to find out.