Juan Manuel Correa is set to return to Formula 2 in 2023, four years on from the accident in the category that left him fighting for his life.
The American-Ecuadorian was involved in the fatal collision with Anthoine Hubert at Spa-Francorchamps in 2019, and had to have multiple surgeries after a spell in an induced coma to repair his legs. At the time, both drivers were rookies in F2 and Correa has since returned at Formula 3 level as he worked to rebuild his racing career, but is poised to step back up to F2 machinery.
“It actually feels really big,” Correa told RACER. “One thing, symbolically, to be back in F2 is big for me. It means a lot. It’s a category that is quite special — it has some very good memories, other really bad ones as well, but I feel like it’s a challenge I need to overcome and get back into it.
“But also I must say from a career perspective, opportunities that are coming and appearing, the level where I see myself driving right now I think is the highest it’s ever been, to be very honest. I always said I want to get back to the high level I was at before the accident. Well, I think I’ve surpassed that level right now and by quite a margin, in many areas.
“That for me is the most exciting part, where I’ve had weekends like now in (ELMS) endurance where I am really able to show that and I am so comfortable and feel like I am growing massively as a driver. To be heading back into F2 with this new kind of profile as a driver, for me that’s really exciting.”
Currently a member of the Sauber Academy but with no confirmation on if he’ll be retained next year, Correa also says getting the right F2 seat is crucial to his future ambitions, as RACER understands he could even make his return at the final round of the season in Abu Dhabi.
“We have been talking to more than one team — we’ve talked to a lot of teams, actually — and there’s been a lot of back-and-forth, yes/no, offers coming, offers going… I think it’s probably one of the silliest F2 off-seasons I’ve seen. Just more drivers than seats, and actually a lot of drivers have big budgets — it’s surprising.
“But also, teams like to play the game and drivers play the game — some people confirm, then they don’t sign and then sign with somebody else, so it’s been really stressful.
“What I will say is if it does happen with the team I’m negotiating with, it’s an exciting program. It’s going to be a challenge, for sure, but I feel like it’s the right program for where I am at right now as a driver. It’s a fresh challenge for me and I think it’s a challenge that suits me with my personality and trying to help a team grow up and become a front-runner is always appealing for a driver, so that’s what I’m aiming to do next year.”
Correa raced in the European Le Mans Series on two occasions for Prema in LMP2 this year, winning in Portimao 10 days ago, and says more outings could be on the cards in similar categories.
“It’s verbally agreed (in F2), we are just trying to thin out some of the details, but it should be a done deal and I think we’ll probably have a signed contract in the next week or two. We’re kind of counting on that going through, so that’s exciting.
“Then there’s also a lot of talks at the moment with endurance, so I might end up doing a double program like I did this year. So that would be a busy year — it would mean F2 and potentially some WEC races and some IMSA races, so we’re seeing the possibilities. It’s been one of the most stressful but exciting off-seasons in a while.”