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FIA F2 Bahrain

Iwasa "has the talent" to win 2023 F2 title says DAMS owner Pic

DAMS team owner Charles Pic says Ayumu Iwasa “has the talent” to win the FIA Formula 2 title in 2023 with the French outfit.

Ayumu Iwasa, Dams

Former Formula 1 driver Pic bought the team in February 2022 from co-team principals Olivier and Gregory Driot who had been in charge since the passing of their father and team founder Jean-Paul Driot in 2019.

DAMS finished sixth in the teams’ standings last season, with Red Bull junior Iwasa taking fifth in the drivers’ championship after feature race wins at Paul Ricard and Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit.

Though Pic says he was “not completely satisfied” with the team’s 2022 season, he believes the team “has the capability” to win this year and says Iwasa has already proven he has the talent required to challenge for its first title since Jolyon Palmer claimed the GP2 crown in 2014.

DAMS last claimed the F2 teams’ title in 2019, courtesy of Sergio Sette Camara and Nicholas Latifi.

Pic, who made 39 grand prix starts F1 with Marussia and Caterham between 2012 and 2013, said: “I think we have the capability, but we are not the only ones. There are three or four teams that can win the championship.

“The level of competition will be very high, so we will see how many points we have at the end of the season.

“Ayumu has the talent to do it and he proved it in 2022. But there are also four or five drivers who can fight for the championship this season.

“All the top teams in 2023 have someone who has the potential to compete for the title.

“We will approach the year race-by-race and aim to extract the maximum performance so that we’re consistently up there.”

Ayumu Iwasa, Dams, leads Juan Manuel Correa, Van Amersfoort Racing

Ayumu Iwasa, Dams, leads Juan Manuel Correa, Van Amersfoort Racing

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Having taken over the team before the 2022 season, Pic says he was not surprised by Iwasa’s success, with the Japanese driver scoring two wins and six podiums.

The 2020 French F4 champion was the second-highest placed F2 rookie last year behind newly-signed Williams Formula 1 racer Logan Sargeant, and showed strong improvement towards the end of the season.

Asked whether he was surprised by anything in 2022, Pic said: “Not really. Ayumu’s performance might have been a shock for outsiders, but within the team we knew how good he was.

“We immediately felt his potential and knew very early in the season how much talent he had, so we were prepared for his strong performances in the second half of the season.

“We wouldn’t have put him in the car if we didn’t think it was the right choice, we were confident he would piece it all together.”

Iwasa will be joined by FIA Formula 3 graduate Arthur Leclerc in 2023, who finished sixth with Prema last season after winning the Formula Regional Asian Championship.

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Pic added: “The objective for Arthur is for him to progress as quickly as possible so he can compete at the front.

“He has the ability but there is always an adaptation phase at the start of anyone’s F2 career, where he will discover the differences between F3 and F2 cars.

“Arthur and the team will work together to fast-track this learning period, a bit like we did with Ayumu in 2022.”

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