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An Overview of the 2023 Alpine Driver Academy

Written by Sean McKean, Edited by Sameena Khan

The oldest of the Junior academies, the next one of discussion, is the Alpine Academy. Having deep roots in Renault and Lotus, the Alpine Academy has produced an array of talent, including Romain Grosjean, Robert Kubica, and the late Anthoine Hubert. This prospect is no different in the current day.

Jack Doohan

Australian Jack Doohan is the first driver of discussion from the Alpine Academy.

Doohan started his car racing career in 2018 with a trio of Formula 4 series. First, he raced an entire season with Arden in the British F4 Championship, ending with three wins and 12 podiums, finishing P5 in the standings. Second, Doohan also drove partial campaigns in Italian F4 and ADAC F4, which did not grant fruitful achievements. Nevertheless, he achieved the best finish of P6 in Italian and P4 in ADAC.

In 2019, Doohan dabbled in many different categories. He spent the winter doing a few rounds in the MRF Challenge for MRF Racing. Only a little was expected in such a limited schedule, but he still achieved two podiums. For the summer, he also participated in the F3 Asian Championship, gaining more success: five wins, 13 podiums, and P2 in the standings behind Ukyo Sasahara. He doubled this with a Euroformula Open campaign, which yielded little success. It was an overachievement despite finishing P11 in the standings and only getting two podiums, considering he drove for Double-R Racing.

Doohan began the 2020 winter with the freshly rebranded F3 Asian Winter Championship. He returned to his winning ways, finishing P2 in the standings with five wins behind Joey Alders. When the delayed season got underway, he raced a whole campaign for HWA Racelab in FIA Formula 3. This year, in all honesty, was poor. He would finish P26 in the standings with zero points, vastly outscored by teammates Jake Hughes and Enzo Fittipaldi.

In 2021, Doohan would massively step up his game, switching to Trident for a second season in FIA Formula 3. He would ultimately finish as vice-champion behind Red Bull Junior Dennis Hauger in the championship, beating teammates Clement Novalak and David Schumacher with four wins and seven podiums on the year. To end his year, he made six starts in FIA Formula 2 for MP Motorsport. Again, signs of talent showed as he secured a front-row qualifying position in the final round at Abu Dhabi.

For 2022, Doohan switched to Virtuosi Racing in the FIA Formula 2 Championship. On top of this, he was announced as an Alpine Academy driver over the offseason. This time, he had a more successful rookie season, scoring three wins with a P6 finish in the standings. In addition, he destroyed experienced teammate Marino Sato and was the third-highest-ranked rookie.

For 2023, Doohan is pursuing an assault for the Formula 2 title, once again with Invicta Virtuosi Racing. He currently sits P6 in the standings with a best finish of P2 in the Jeddah feature race. He also holds a Reserve Driver position for the Alpine F1 Team if his services are requested. Overall, the future is bright for Doohan.

Victor Martins

A French team housing a French talent is almost something dreams are made of, and it’s something Alpine has had with their longest-housed academy driver Victor Martins.

Martins started his car racing career with four races in French F4 in 2016. Though he was a guest driver and, in turn, ineligible for points, he still got two podiums in his few races. 2017 would see this turn into an entire season campaign, and he would not disappoint. Martins would finish P2 in the standings behind Arthur Rougier with four wins and eleven podiums.

Before the 2018 season, Renault announced that Martins would join their driver academy and an entire season in the Formula Renault Eurocup for R-Race GP. In his rookie Eurocup season, he would rack up two wins and six podiums en route to a P5 finish in the standings, beating current stars such as Oscar Piastri, Richard Verschoor, and Lorenzo Colombo. Alongside the Eurocup campaign, Martins raced in the Formula Renault NEC Championship for R-Race GP. Though he was a guest driver for most of the season, Martins still finished P6 in the overall standings with two victories.

In 2019, Martins would partake in another season in the Formula Renault Eurocup, this time with MP Motorsport. He would improve on a tremendous prior season, taking P2 in the overall standings, only behind Oscar Piastri, with six wins and 14 podiums. Again, Martins performed well in a stacked field containing talents such as Caio Collet and the aforementioned Oscar Piastri. 2020 would be his make-or-break year in the Formula Renault Eurocup, making the switch to ART Grand Prix. This switch gelled, as Martins would take P1 in the championship with seven wins and fourteen podiums, outpacing stars such as Franco Colapinto, Hadrien David, and Alex Quinn.

In 2021, it was only logical to make the next step up, as Martins would debut in the FIA Formula 3 Championship with MP Motorsport. Again, he would have a decent rookie season, marking one win, six podiums, and P5 in the championship. With this, he was the highest-ranked rookie in the standings, with the next closest being fellow teammate Caio Collet, 38 points behind in P9.

Everybody expected Martins to make the step up in performance for 2022, seeing as he was joining ART Grand Prix for an assault at the FIA Formula 3 Championship title. This expectation was delivered upon, as Martins would take the title in the final round at Monza, ending the season with two wins and six podiums.

For 2023, Martins is stepping up to FIA Formula 2 for ART Grand Prix. Though the results don’t look great on paper, his performance in Jeddah would have likely been a race win had he not spun. Martins is a title threat alongside academy compatriot Jack Doohan. It will be exciting to see them battle it out this season.

Nikola Tsolov

Perhaps one of the more hyped Alpine Academy drivers, Bulgarian Nikola Tsolov, came on the scene with a bang and is rising quickly.

Tsolov stepped up to car racing in 2022 in the F4 Spanish Championship with Campos Racing. From the start, it was evident he was the favorite, and he proved that to be the case. Tsolov finished his first season in cars as the F4 Spanish Championship Champion with 13 wins, 15 poles, and 18 podiums. To top off his fantastic year, he was announced to A14 Management to be coached by two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso.

Before 2023, Tsolov announced he had wholly joined the Alpine Academy and took on the FIA Formula 3 Championship season with ART Grand Prix and some select Formula Regional Middle East Championship starts with R&B Racing. In FRMEC, Tsolov took part in the last round of the championship of Abu Dhabi, scoring finishes of P9, P6, and P15. Even though the results don’t look impressive, Tsolov was the only driver to score points in R&B Racing. Though his season hasn’t started well on the Formula 3 side of things, everybody is confident he will bounce back and make a challenge for the title.

Sophia Florsch

One of two female drivers in the academy, German Sophia Florsh, could be the most experienced of her fellow junior drivers. Florsch started her car racing career in 2015 in the Ginetta Junior Championship in Great Britain. She made history in the series, becoming the first female driver to win a race in the championship. She ended that season with two wins, four podiums, and a P11 finish in the overall standings.

In 2016, she changed to single-seaters, making her ADAC F4 debut for Motopark. Unfortunately, this season wasn’t spectacular; she finished P19 in the overall standings with 25 points. She would improve in performance in 2017, doing a second year in ADAC F4 with Berlin-Brandenburg and making select starts in Italian F4. In ADAC F4, Sophia finished P13 in the overall standings with two podiums to her name. In Italian F4, she scored 28 points in her nine races with Mucke Motorsport, achieving the best finish in P7.

In 2018, Florsch would step up into Formula 3 European with Van Amersfoort Racing. Unfortunately, this season wasn’t as fruitful as the previous one, scoring only one point in Spielberg. The poor season was capped off with a significant accident in the Macau Grand Prix, where she fractured multiple vertebrae in a violent crash. After recovering, she switched to Formula Regional European Championship, staying with Van Amersfoort Racing. This season would be a bit better, as she finished P7 in the overall standings with a best finish of P4 in Imola and the Hungaroring. This season was great for her for another reason: consistency. She would score points in every single race that season, an impressive feat. A year after her violent crash, she returned to the Macau Grand Prix but suffered from a DNF.

In 2020, she returned to F3 in the rebranded FIA Formula 3 Championship with Campos Racing. It was a primarily unimpressive season, finishing P29 in the standings with a best finish of P14. Formula 3 wouldn’t be her only racing venture, though, as she competed in European Le Mans with Richard Mille Racing Team for three rounds. She would score two points for the team with her duties. Finally, she competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing P9 in the LMP2 class.

In 2021, Florsch doubled down on her endurance ventures, racing in the World Endurance Championship with the Richard Mille Racing Team and the 24 Hours of Le Mans and participating in DTM with Team Abt. In WEC, she achieved a best finish of P6 at Portimao, ending the season P13 in the standings. Unfortunately, her 24 Hours of Le Mans race wasn’t much better, as she would DNF from the event. However, her DTM venture was okay, finishing P18 on the season with a best finish of P9 at Assen. Florsch also made a one-off appearance in ELMS for Algarve Pro Racing at Portimao, finishing P3 in the LMP2 class.

In 2022, Florsch made select starts for Algarve Pro Racing in ELMS and another 24 Hours of Le Mans start in the LMP2 class. In ELMS, Florsch would finish a career-best P2 at Le Castellet, and in Le Mans, she would finish P5 in her class. Before 2023, it was announced that Florsch would join the Alpine Academy on top of a drive for PHM Racing in the FIA Formula 3 Championship.

Her record may not be spectacular, but it is evident to the paddock and Alpine that the talent is there.

Gabriele Mini:

The last of the Alpine Juniors in Formula 3, Italian Gabriele Mini, could be the next young prodigy.

Gabriele debuted his car racing in 2020 with the Prema Powerteam in Italian and ADAC F4. He started strong, taking the Italian F4 title in his rookie year with four wins, 12 podiums, and beating big names such as Gabriel Bortoleto and Jonny Edgar. In ADAC, though he only made six starts, he still achieved one win and four podiums.

In 2021, he made the step up in machinery in the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine for ART Grand Prix. Unfortunately, Gabriele didn’t replicate the success he had his rookie year, only achieving four podiums and a P7 finish in the standings.

It was expected for Gabriele to improve in performance for 2022, and he did precisely that, helped by participation in the Formula Regional Asian Championship in the winter. He finished P4 in the FRAC standings with two wins and four podiums. For the summer, he did another FRECA season with ART Grand Prix, achieving three wins, nine podiums, and a P2 finish in the standings behind Dino Beganovic.

In 2023, it was not only announced that he would participate in FIA Formula 3 and FRMEC, but he would also join the Alpine Academy. In FRMEC, he would only do six races and score ten points with a pole position. In Formula 3, his season has begun well, scoring six points and getting a pole position in Bahrain. As it stands, Gabriele could be on for a fantastic rookie season.

Abbi Pulling

The last of the female drivers in the Alpine Academy is British Abbi Pulling.

Abbi started her car racing career in 2018 as Sophia started: Ginetta Juniors Cup. However, she only did a partial season, scoring 62 points in seven races. In 2019, Abbi did an entire season in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge, though she finished very low in the standings with no points to her name. In 2020, Abbi made her single-seater debut in the F4 British Championship. She would succeed more here, finishing P6 in the championship and scoring four podiums for JHR Developments. Abbi also made two starts in the Formula Renault Eurocup, though she only had a best finish of P15.

For 2021, she would do yet another season in the F4 British Championship, but it wouldn’t yield as much success this time. She would finish P18 in the championship with 97 points to her name. However, her future success would be found in the W-Series, making her debut at Silverstone. Though only doing half the races, she would get a podium in the second race at Circuit of the Americas.

Abbi would do an entire season in the W-Series in 2022 and would do well. She would finish P4 in the standings with two podiums to her credit. In 2023, Abbi will be competing in the all-new F1 Academy Championship. Given the promise she has shown in the past, it is easy to see that she will do well here.

Aidan Neate

Whereas most juniors know precisely what they will do this season, the same cannot be said about British Aidan Neate. Aidan started his career in car racing in 2021, taking part in British F4 and French F4. In British F4, he finished P9 in the overall standings with three podiums. He took part in four rounds in French F4, only achieving 30 points in his time there with the best finish of P4.

In 2022, Aidan began the winter F4 UAE for Prema Powerteam. He had a decent season, ending P3 in the standings with nine podiums to his credit. For the summer, he would participate in an entire season of British F4, achieving two wins, five stages, and a P6 finish in the standings.

For 2023, Aidan has not confirmed where he’ll be racing. Still, he is rumored to partake in the Formula Regional European Championship.

Matheus Ferreira

The last of the car racing drivers, Brazilian Matheus Ferreira, will be partaking in Italian F4 this year for his single-seaters debut.

Matheus started his karting career in Europe in 2019. Still, his first significant success wasn’t until 2021, when he was crowned OK-Junior Vice-Champion in the WSK Super Master Series and FIA European Karting Championships. In 2022, it was announced Matheus would join the Alpine Academy.

For 2023, Matheus will make his F4 debut in the Italian F4 Championship for Van Amersfoort Racing. Given the results and promise he has already shown, he will be a shoo-in for the title.

Kean Nakamura-Berta

The last of the Alpine Academy drivers is Japanese karting driver Kean Nakumura-Berta. Kean made his karting debut in 2018 in the Kartmasters British Cadet Grand Prix, finishing an impressive P4.

In 2019, he continued to move up the European ladder, taking wins in the Motorsport UK Kartmasters Grand Prix, the IAME Cadet series, and the IAME International Final. When 2020 came, he continued his accent up the ranks, finishing runner-up in the WSK Super Final Series and Euro Series.

2021 would mark his most outstanding achievement yet, winning the title overall in the FIA Karting World Championship - OKJ. In 2022, Kean was announced as an Alpine Junior and a driver in the FIA Karting European Championship. In this season, he finished P2.


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