Franco Colapinto’s preparations for 2024 have already kickstarted in earnest, as he prepares to make his Formula 2 debut at the 2023 season finale in Yas Marina. Already announced to be driving for MP Motorsport next season, the Argentinian steps up off the back of a second Formula 3 season in which he achieved two wins and a further three podium finishes on his way to fourth in the Standings.

Despite the daunting task of diving straight into the Championship, the Williams Driver Academy talent is relishing the chance to get a headstart ahead of his rookie campaign.

“I’m very happy to be here. Very grateful for the opportunity to be racing already for the last race of the season and to experience it is a privilege that not many have. I’m very excited to jump into F2 for the first time, to learn more about the car, about the team and to start to prepare for next season.

“I think it’s very important, it’s the most useful way to do it I think and it’s a good start for us to be ready here working together and getting this experience.”

Flat out since F3 concluded in Monza two months ago, Colapinto has been undertaking extensive work behind the scenes at MP’s base in Westmaas. He’s also combined that with his work as part of the Williams Driver Academy at Grove before his on-track preparation gets underway in Free Practice.

Completing his recovery process from a collarbone injury, he believes himself to be in the best possible position to extract the most out of the weekend.

“It’s been good. I’ve done some simulator work trying to get used to the car and to the track as well because we have limited time before Qualifying. It’s going to be tough, but the key is just to get the most amount of experience and the most out of the weekend we can.

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“I was really focusing as well on my recovery, which went very well also, so I’m happy with that. Thanks to PAP for helping me a lot in that aspect and to Williams as well for helping me get used to the track and the speed, which was very helpful. So, I think I am the most ready I could possibly be and I’m quite happy about that.”

He added: “We’ll see how it goes tomorrow, but I’m just super excited and I cannot wait to jump in the car!”

Colapinto finds himself very much thrown in at the deep end with lots of aspects of F2 to deal with both inside and outside of the car and not a lot of time to get to grips with them. Reflecting on the new demands he faces, the 20-year-old says ensuring he has the endurance for the 33-lap Feature Race will be vital.

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“There are a lot of differences. I think the carbon brakes really make a very big difference compared to what I’m used to and of course, the power/turbo is like 250 horsepower more than what I was used to. It’s going to be a massive difference and a very big challenge to get used to with only five laps before Qualifying.

“As I said before, it’s about the races, getting the experience, going behind other cars that have tyre deg, the pit stops and all these kinds of things that you cannot really practice in a test. So, it’s going to be a very valuable this weekend.

“Physically, it’s going to be a lot harder. A race of almost 40 laps is going to be tough, I’ve never done so many laps in a row, so I guess it will be tricky. Also, physically it will be hard because of the collarbone, but I’m just here to get that experience and to start to work nicely with the team and progress as well.”

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Fortunately for him, the 5.281km Yas Marina Circuit isn’t an entirely unfamiliar prospect, having raced there in Asian Le Mans in 2021. Nevertheless, he isn’t underestimating how demanding his debut will be and rather than focusing on concrete results, Colapinto says the proof will be in his progression every session.

“It’s a very good track, I think I will enjoy it. Of course, it changed a few years ago and I think it was an improvement. I don’t think overtaking is so easy, but we are racing at the hottest time of the day. The track will be super, super hot and that will make tyre deg a massive factor in the races.

“I will need to try to understand how to save these tyres well, but I don’t really know what to expect yet. It’s not the same when you see it on an onboard or in the sim as when you do it in real life, so we’ll see but it looks quite cool.”

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He added: “It’s very difficult to expect something when you don’t really know anything about it, when you don’t really know how it feels and how you can adapt to it. Of course, I will try my best and expect to have the best result possible, but I think first it’ll be step-by-step going into Free Practice, see how everything goes, start to work a bit with the team and try to work to improve myself.

“We know the car is quick, so we’ll see how it goes, but I don’t really have any expectations yet. It’s a bit tricky when you don’t have any kind of experience in this car.”