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.