Not enough seats to go round

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Super Aguri are gone and the F1 field has shrunk down to 20 cars, increasing the competition for any seats that might become available.

That’s bad news for some of the promising drivers squeezed out of the sport who might have hoped to get back in – to say nothing of Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson, left without drives following the loss of the team.

Which of F1’s recently departed drivers do you think deserves to get back in Formula 1? Here are my pick of the drivers who do, don’t and might deserve an F1 seat.

Worth another shot

Justin Wilson, Jaguar, Hungaroring, 2003, 470313

Justin Wilson
Minardi 2003, Jaguar 2003

Thought Lewis Hamilton’s start at Sepang last year was good? At the same track five years ago Wilson started 19th and by the end of the first lap was eighth. His tall frame made finding F1 cars that fit him a challenge and he headed off to Champ Car after being dropped by Jaguar in favour of…

Christian Klien
Jaguar 2004, Red Bull 2005-06

Red Bull rushed the Austrian into F1 in 2004 at a cost of $20m when the Austrian plainly wasn’t ready. Considering he was a gearbox failure away from beating team mate David Coulthard to third in the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix, I think they dumped him with unnecessary haste as well.

Vitantonio Liuzzi
Red Bull 2005, Toro Rosso 2006-07

Another victim of Red Bull’s peculiar approach to driver management. Showed flashes of promise (remember his pass on Michael Schumacher?)

Anthony Davidson
Minardi 2002, BAR 2005, Super Aguri 2007-08

Takuma Sato may have scored the points at Super Aguri last year but Davidson impressed me more. Unfortunately his strong qualifying performances usually put him in harm’s way on the first lap.

Franck Montagny
Super Aguri 2006

Solid French talent who only got seven races for Super Aguri in 2006 before getting dropped for not being Japanese.

Over and out

Takuma Sato, Honda, 2005, 470313

Takuma Sato
Jordan 2002, BAR 2004-05, Super Aguri 2006-08

Ollie’s running a poll about the Japanese driver on his blog. I wrote on there: “He had a chance for Jordan. He had a chance for BAR. And he had a chance for Super Aguri. Most people don?t get one chance, never mind three.” I think the most telling thing about Sato is that he’s started 90 Grands Prix, every one of them with a Honda engine, and yet they didn’t think he was good enough to put him in their works team. ‘Nuff said.

Zsolt Baumgartner
Jordan 2003, Minardi 2004

He plugged away to get a point at Indianapolis in 2004 but… no.

Ralph Firman
Jordan 2003

Comfortably handled by Giancarlo Fisichella.

Antonio Pizzonia
Jaguar 2003, Williams 2004-5

Williams rated him as a test driver but his race performances left a lot to be desired. Made an embarasingly awful return to the European scene in GP2 last year, and was dropped by Giancarlo Fisichella’s team after scoring one point in five races.

Sakon Yamamoto
Super Aguri 2006, Spyker 2007

Apparently he’s a good DJ.

Christijan Albers
Minardi 2005, Midland F1 2006, Spyker 2007

Considerable self-belief undermined by errors of the ‘left pit lane with fuel hose attached’ variety.

Giorgio Pantano
Jordan 2004

Has now started 64 GP2 races in addition to his 34 F3000 starts. If he was F1 material, someone would have twigged by now.

Maybe, maybe not

Tiago Monteiro, Midland F1, 2006, 470313

Tiago Monteiro
Jordan 2005, Midland F1 2006

My impression of him is permanently skewed by the fact he was smiling on the podium at Indianapolis in 2005. He might have been better than I allow myself to think he was, but judging by his alarming WTCC performance at Valencia the other week, perhaps not.

Gianmaria Bruni
Minardi, 2003-04

In his brief F1 career he suffered a pit fire at Monza and had a wheel fall off his car twice at Shanghai. Come the 2004 season finale in Interlagos he refused to get in the car at one point during qualifying. Subsequent strong performances in GP2 and the FIA GT championship suggest he deserved better.

35 comments on “Not enough seats to go round”

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  1. Jonesracing82
    29th May 2008, 8:11

    i’d give markus winklehock another go, he did lead his only race in a spyker! in a race where many others fell off the road!

  2. A mate of mine, who works in a lower formulae of motorsport, told me at the time that the Race Engineer of the second Jaguar F1 car wasn’t all that highly regarded.

    I don’t know how true that is, but if it is then it certainly accounts for the F1 racing careers of Wilson, Pizzionia and Klien.

    Justin Wilson, I thought, always got a bad deal. He came into F1 with no funding and, along with Jonathan Palmer, came up with the unique solution of selling shares in his own career to raise money for an F1 seat.
    Wilson did a lot of good things in F1 that seemingly didn’t get noticed by other teams.

  3. Jones – Agreed on Winkelhock!

  4. Robert Mckay
    29th May 2008, 8:51

    Ah, Tiago, celebrating that podium in the Indy 6 car race like a victory was misguided, to say the least. In an ideal world a lot of those names would get another shot, but we need some more cars for that…if I have to pick just a couple Wilson and Davidson definitely deserve another shot, though I suspect only the latter really has a chance.

    And can I add Robert “Doorknobs” Doornbos to the maybe, maybe not list?

  5. Cooperman – That’s very interesting about the engineer…

    Robert – I liked Doornbos in Champ Cars because of how he wound up Bourdais, and his win at Mont Tremblant in the wet was excellent.

  6. Franck Montagny topped the timesheets last year in ralf schumachers toyota.
    the man clearly deserves a seat.

    chortle chortle at doorknobs, you’ve made my day.

  7. Anyone remember Alex Yoong, Minardi.??

  8. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr
    29th May 2008, 10:00

    i think wilson does deserve a shot again, he did well for jaguar.

    i think sato proved he wasnt really top f1 standard in 2004 when jenson button finished 3rd in the WDC with something like 8 podium finshes and 1 pole position (i think) he ended up 8th in The WDC with 1 podium. not good enough with the then 2nd best car on the grid.

    i think ralph firman was shocking and alot of the other drivers you mentioned were only there because they brought sponsors to teams struggling for money, like jordan and minardi

  9. Pizzonia clearly deserves another chance ahead of Davidson – Pizzonia used to regularly outpace Ralf and One-Problem during testing for us, befoe being screwed over by Jaguar and then being used as a half-term replacement by us, whereas Davidson has done virtually nothing except be fast as a third driver (where he could use full revs while everyone else was limited)

    Still think we should have given him (Pizzonia, that is) the drive ahead of Heidfeld for 2005.

  10. Also, what about Narain Karthikeyan – he outperformed Monteiro until Kolles decided he didn’t like Narain. Maybe he’s an outside bet for the Force India seat should they drop Sutil/Fisi retire any time soon?

  11. Narain Karthikeyan?
    he’s rubbish, he can pull out some fast laps, just not consistently.

  12. What about Cristiano Da Matta? His first year was good.

  13. From the drivers listed above I would like to see Liuzzi getting another chance.

    I am not sure what to think of Davidson, he never really impressed me but I admit I never paid that much attention to him.

    I do miss Sato, we do need some entertainment :-) .

    So, whom from he recent F1 drop outs we haven’t listed here yet:

    Patrick Friesacher – hm, no …
    Nicolas Kiesa – hm, no …
    Yuji Ide – :-)
    Alex Yoong – he is better commentatator than driver

    How about these guys:

    Scott Speed
    Ralf Schumacher
    Juan Pablo Monoya

  14. Rohan do you work for Williams? What do you do there?

  15. Robert McKay
    29th May 2008, 12:04

    Good call on da Matta, James B. He was better than that year at Toyota suggested. As was, in my opinion, Allan McNish.

  16. How about Danica Patrick?
    She didn’t test well for Minardi a couple of years back but it must have been a publicity shot by Paul Stoddart – how many drivers used to test well for the Minardi team?

    Danica’s just started winning in the US. If Bernie’s intent on peddling F1 around the world to increase audiences, he could do worse than get some female F1 drivers involved.

  17. Robert McKay
    29th May 2008, 12:10

    …and milos, Scott Speed should be brought back for the brilliant Team Radio comments that guy gave us, at the very least :-D

  18. Cooperman – I was mainly thinking of drivers who’d already been in F1 but had been dropped. I’m going to do something on other drivers who should be in F1 soon. (You’re thinking of Katherine Legge with the Minardi test by the way).

    Of the new suggestions so far I think:

    McNish – Maybe
    Da Matta – Maybe
    Karthikeyan – No
    Speed – No
    Yoong – Do you have to ask?
    Ide – Stop it! You’re killing me…

    Milos – I’d ignored the older ‘retirees’ but as I’ve said before it would be great to have Montoya back.

  19. Keith, alas I don’t work for Williams. I’ve just taken to saying “us” (meaning Williams) as one would when talking about the football club one supports.

  20. I think everybody is being pretty harsh on Tiago Monteiro. Yes, the USGP of 05 was hugely embarassing for the sport in general, but Tiago raced his Jordan to third on merit. It wasn’t his fault that the Michelin runners weren’t able to compete.

    Good on him for making the most of a result that will never come his way again.

    And lets not forget, in his rookie season, he brought the car home to be a classified finisher in just about every Grand Prix. More than can be said of many fresh fish.

    As for the rest of the list, Liuzzi and Davidson definitely deserve another shot.

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