Red Bull has added yet another pilot to their roster as eSports star and 2020 Formula 3 driver Igor Fraga joins their academy.
The Brazilian driver has had an impressive few years. He won the 2018 FIA GTC Nations Cup and the 2019 FIA GTC Manufacturer Series on Gran Turismo. However, it’s his recent performances on real tracks that will have prompted Red Bull to sign him up.
He finished 3rd in the 2019 Formula Regional European Championship: he scored 4 wins and beat 2020 teammate David Schumacher in the championship.
His most impressive campaign came in New Zealand earlier this year, though. He beat fellow Red Bull junior Liam Lawson to the title in the 2020 Toyota Racing Series.
The Championship went down to the last race following a massive fight between the two teammates who fought it out to be crowned champion. Fraga’s victory in the final race after five consecutive weeks of racing with 15 events meant he won it by 6 points.
Fraga wrote on Instagram that he’s ''very happy and honored to join the Red Bull Junior Team! I'm very thankful for the chance and I will make sure to make most of it.’’
🇬🇧 Very happy and honored to join the Red Bull Junior Team! I'm very thankful for the chance and I will make sure to make most of it 😁😁😁#redbull #junior #team #driver #granturismo #grateful #honored #happy #brasil #japan https://t.co/jR3PfcLgST— Igor Fraga (@1gorFraga) March 16, 2020
Where the Red Bull juniors will be racing in 2020 (if they go ahead)
The Estonian is the most likely of all the current juniors to potentially make the step up to Formula 1 in 2021.
He ended up 4th in last year’s FIA Formula 3 Championship behind the dominant Prema team and their three drivers; Vips took three wins along the way. He also finished in 2nd at the Macau Grand Prix in a race he could and probably should have won.
This year he’ll be driving for Team Mugen in the Super Formula Championship in Japan as Helmut Marko decided on that. Can he do what Pierre Gasly did and impress Marko enough to give him a shot in F1? Only time will tell, but the talent seems to be there.
FIA Formula 2
Yuki Tsunoda and Jehan Daruvala
Both drivers step up from Formula 3 and they will be teammates at Carlin this year in Formula 2 if the season does go ahead at some point.
It’s a big year for Yuki Tsunoda and the Japanese driver has one clear weakness at the moment: qualifying. It was a major problem for him during Formula 3 in 2019 (9th in the standings) and in the Toyota Racing Series (4th in the standings) earlier this year.
Tsunoda did win a race in both series’, scored three consecutive rostrum finishes in F3 and showed really promising speed at times, but Marko’s target for him to finish in the top-four of the championship this year seems extremely unlikely, barring a massive qualifying improvement.
Jehan Daruvala joined the Red Bull academy this year after an impressive 2019 in FIA Formula 3. Despite only winning twice, he was very consistent and finished 3rd in the championship, a single point behind highly rated Ferrari junior and Prema teammate Marcus Armstrong. It was an impressive year as he was not spoken of much before the season begun.
The Indian star will certainly fancy his chances of overturning Tsunoda this season and returns to Carlin after previously driving for them in the FIA F3 European Championship. A top-five finish in the standings would do his Formula 1 prospects no harm.
FIA Formula 3
Dennis Hauger, Liam Lawson, Jack Doohan and Igor Fraga
2019 was a very busy and successful year for Dennis Hauger as the 16-year-old competed in the Italian F4 and ADAC Formula 4 Championships.
The Norwegian won twelve races in the Italian F4 Series – including 8 of the last 10 – to win the title by a whopping 136 points. He was also runner-up to Theo Pourchaire in the ADAC series as he missed out on winning a second title by just 7 points.
He’ll be with Hitech Grand Prix and will go up against fellow Red Bull junior Liam Lawson who’s also joined the team for 2020. Hauger will hope to compete for wins and podium finishes this year.
2020 will be Liam Lawson’s second season in F3 and the Kiwi will be hopeful of having a better season. He claimed two podiums on his way to 11th in the standings, ahead of teammate and the 2019 Macau Grand Prix winner, Richard Verschoor.
After winning the Toyota Racing Series on home soil in 2019 by 10 points from fellow Kiwi Armstrong, he’ll have been disappointed not to win it again this year following a difficult final weekend at Manfield where he struggled to find a good balance and lost out to Fraga.
Lawson needs a strong season to keep his Formula 1 hopes alive and to have any chance of Red Bull continuing to support him for a potential F2 campaign in 2021. He definitely has talent and speed, now he needs to show it. With the move to Hitech, he might just be able to do that.
Jack Doohan’s surname means the young Australian will always face big scrutiny no matter what series he drives in. Son of motorcycling legend Mick, he will drive for HWA Racelab in 2020.
To this point, Doohan hasn’t done anything to suggest he’s a future Formula 1 star. While the 17-year-old has finished 2nd in the F3 Asian Championship in 2019 and 2019-2020.
He was a disappointing 11th in the Eurofromula Open Championship with only two podiums from 16 races last year and ended up 65 points behind his teammate Linus Lundqvist.
Frankly, he’s got to find a new level of performance if he wants to be really competitive in F3 this year. The pressure on him is massive, and not just because of his surname.
Igor Fraga’s career has been discussed above, but what would constitute a good 2020 for him?
In Niko Kari, he has a very experienced teammate who’ll be starting his fifth season in GP3/F3 when the season hopefully begins. Fraga’s main goals should be to beat him and impress Helmut Marko.
It would be hugely impressive if the Brazilian could finish in the top 10 in the standings considering his lack of running at the tracks on the F3 calendar.