Who will get the six new seats in 2010?

Danica Patrick has been linked to a drive for USF1 in 2010

Danica Patrick has been linked to a drive for USF1 in 2010

Three new teams on the 2010 F1 entry list means aspiring F1 drivers have a once-in-a-generation chance to grab six new places in Formula 1.

Promising young rookies and more experienced hands who were recently squeezed out are likely to be at the front of the queue. But who has the crucial combination of talent, connections and sponsorship to make the grade?

Here’s ten names that could be on Campos, USF1 or Manor’s shortlists.

Giorgio Pantano

The Italian is the reigning GP2 champion (the first not to gain instant promotion to Formula 1) and already has F1 experience from a brief stint at Jordan in 2004.

Pantano has been keeping himself race-fit with competition in the Renault Megane championship and Superleague Formula.

Read more: Giorgio Pantano beats Bruno Senna to the GP2 title – but will he reach F1?

Bruno Senna

Bruno Senna - the only driver who can rival Patrick in the publicity stakes

Bruno Senna - the only driver who can rival Patrick in the publicity stakes

Runner-up to Pantano last year and packs a surname that should have sponsors salivating. In limbo having decided not to return to GP2 this year and missing out on a seat with Honda in F1 (before it was put up for sale) and the DTM.

Having already lost a lot of career time to his peers (he was banned from karting after his uncle Ayrton was killed) a year on the sidelines is exactly what he didn’t need.

Read more: Bruno Senna (Meet the rookies)

Christian Klien

Had Red Bull been a little more patient with Klien – in particular, not rushing him into F1 in 2004 at the age of 20 – he might have done rather better. Has held down a test role with BMW since, underlining his potential. Worth another shot.

Read more: Christian Klien biography

Vitantonio Liuzzi

Another driver looking for a second chance at F1. Even before the budget cap row blew up he was tipped to end up at Force India in 2010, replacing Giancarlo Fisichella. The arrival of three more teams offers further opportunities for Liuzzi to get back in the game.

He dabbled in A1 Grand Prix earlier this year, taking pole position on his debut at Portimao in Portugal.

Read more: Vitantonio Liuzzi biography

Danica Patrick

Like Bruno Senna, another sponsor’s dream. An obvious choice for USF1, whose Peter Windsor said earlier this week:

We’re getting near to the point where we start looking at drivers and Danica is on our list for sure, because she’s the best-placed American in the leading single-seater championship of the United States. She’s doing a really great job.

Patrick is tipped to leave the Indy Car series at the end of the season, and has been linked to a move to NASCAR. Although Indy Car has more road and street courses on its schedule these days, Patrick has usually been stronger on the ovals, so for her NASCAR might make more sense than F1.

But there’s no question that F1 having a top American driver – who, of course, also happens to be a woman – would do enormous good for its popularity in the States. Therefore, we can assume Bernie Ecclestone is pulling all the strings he can.

Romain Grosjean

Renault test driver and current GP2 championship leader. Still somewhat mercurial – he has dominated some races this year but at Silverstone having grabbed pole position he then went backwards during the race. Tipped to replace Nelson Piquet Jnr.

Read more: Romain Grosjean biography

Nico H?â??lkenberg

Nico H?â??lkenberg is the reigning F3 Euroseries champion

Germany is not short of F1 drivers at the moment but it could be about to get another one. Without question the top rookie in GP2 so far this year, H?â??lkenberg could even get in the mix for the championship this year.

Like Grosjean he has an F3 Euroseries championship under his belt and a link with an active F1 team – Williams. He won the A1 Grand Prix championship for Germany and impressed in his occasional outings in GP2 Asia last winter. A highly promising prospect.

Read more: Nico H?â??lkenberg (Meet the rookies)

Anthony Davidson

Of the various drivers to have dropped out of F1 in recent seasons, Davidson is probably the one who most deserves a comeback. Impressive and improving at Super Aguri throughout 2007, he was left on the sidelines when the team collapsed in 2008. Drove for Peugeot in the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Read more: Anthony Davidson

Takuma Sato

Davidson’s former team mate has cult appeal among some fans but has had thrtee shots at F1 already – with Jordan, BAR and Super Aguri. Does he really deserve another?

Sato’s popularity in Japan and sponsor-friendliness could make him a target for teams that need a paying driver. It almost landed him Sebastien Bourdais’ seat at Toro Rosso this year – and that place could well be up for grabs again in 2010…

Read more: Takuma Sato

Paul di Resta

Linked to a drive at Force India earlier this year via their new engine supplier Mercedes. Di Resta is racing for the company in the DTM, where he has been since beating Sebastian Vettel to the 2006 F3 Euroseries title. He impressed in an F1 test for McLaren and drove for Manor in F3 in 2005 – perhaps a reunion could be on the cards.

Read more: Any truth in the Paul di Resta rumours?

Who else?

Who do you think should be on the F1 grid next year? Which drivers not on this list deserve a shot at Formula 1? Lucas di Grassi? Vitaly Petrov? Kamui Kobayashi? Have your say below.

Read more

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275 comments on Who will get the six new seats in 2010?

  1. As I posted on the Autosport forum this morning, strangely, I could see Jacques Villeneuve end up at USF1. Yes, I know he’s Canadian, but at least he’s a well-known name in the US racing world, plus he’s an IndyCar champion, an F1 WDC, and, even more importantly, an Indy 500 winner. It would be quite a coup should USF1 get him for 2010, perhaps alongside a young American like Jonathan Summerton, who could grow with the team.

    • frecon said on 25th June 2009, 12:38

      Last half season of Jacques on Renault was pathetic, and it was a long time ago. I can believe they are seriously thinking on Jacques.

    • Summerton was exactly who I was thinking of. He should be higher on the list than Danica for USF1, unless they are simply starving for sponsorship dollars.

  2. Lenzo said on 25th June 2009, 12:37

    Will USF1 hamstring themselves by limiting only to US drivers?

    • Nefer said on 25th June 2009, 15:07

      Not if they’ve got any sense… US drivers can only turn in one direction can’t they? ;-)

      Would be great to see a women in the sport though… especially exciting watching the parking in the pit stops. Hehe. Right, I must stop.

    • Gman said on 25th June 2009, 19:40

      I wouldn’t exactly call it hamstringing themselves…it’s just the way they want to do business. If they work better with the guys they pick, that’s what works best in this case.

  3. Emma said on 25th June 2009, 12:44

    Klien has driven for Peugeot at Le Mans (and other events) for a couple of years now, Davidson drove for Aston Martin this year.

  4. TommyB said on 25th June 2009, 12:53

    Surely Marco Andretti would be in the running for USF1?

    Having Jacques and Montoya back would be awesome – they’d show you can overtake in f1!

    • I don’t rate Marco as a driver myself, he seems a bit Jason Plato in terms of his potential for slapping his car into someone else with alarming frequency. Danica seems like a good bet, in terms of the sponsorship she could potentially bring. For the smaller teams, it is often about that, rather than employing the best driver.

    • Travis R said on 25th June 2009, 18:57

      Marco has been mentioned by USF1 in the past, although I don’t think he would do very well. I honestly think he’d be another Nelson Piquet, Jr.

      One person I would recommend for US F1 is A.J. Allmendinger. He was running really well in Champ Car and moved to NASCAR. I haven’t paid much attention to NASCAR in the last year or so, but from what I’ve heard, he struggled at first, but really improved, even in mediocre equipment.

      • Gman said on 25th June 2009, 19:41

        A.J. is a good driver, but I have a friend who is managed by the same group as him, and this guy tells me his wife is a wacky person…surely she’s cause a uproar in the paddock from what I understand.

  5. nelson db said on 25th June 2009, 12:58

    Sorry, but the problem is that probably we’ll have only 2 another sits next year, because Manor and Usf1 aren’t true f1 teams.. Sadly I don’t think they’ll be on the grid, we are talkin’ about nothin’.They probably cannot afford a f1 without budget cap, unless they wont become junior teams..
    Campos prbably will hire Pantano and a paying driver, like Petrov wich is higly supported from russian sponsors..

    • Robert said on 25th June 2009, 13:13

      The people behind USF1 have been planning a team for three years now and made their announcement about applying for a grid slot long before the budget cap fight started. During the budget fight, Peter Windsor kept saying that no matter what the final position on the budget cap ended up being, they were able to race. And I don’t think teams that can’t afford F1 already have a base set up in the US and are in advanced negotiations for a European satellite base.

    • Gman said on 25th June 2009, 19:43

      That’s a real low blow at those two teams….in particular at USF1, who wer eplanning this thing long, long before any discussion on budget caps came into play. They’ve already got all the financing they need, and like it or not, they’ll be on the grid next season….

  6. Alex Bkk said on 25th June 2009, 13:04

    I doubt the Americans are of much value to F1…I remember Michale Andretti, Alex Zanardi, J.P.Montoya…These guys did wonders in CART, but never really seemed to adapt to F1. So when you say an IRL driver…umm Dancia Patrick…I’m pissing my pants laughing!

    Some good results from former F1 drivers that went to Cart…but the reverse hasn’t been true. I guess Montoya did the best. You have to go way back to the stone age to get an american driver that figures out F1…Would that be Mario?

    As far as many of the other drivers you mentioned…I haven’t a clue, but as an semi educated guess…I suspects that they would do better than just about any American.

    Ummmm….I happen to be an American!

    Cheers, Alex Bkk

  7. persempre said on 25th June 2009, 13:06

    For the smaller & newer teams it may all be down to which driver can bring the team the most money.

  8. Alex Bkk said on 25th June 2009, 13:07

    My comment is awaiting moderation? Have I been that naughty?

  9. PJA said on 25th June 2009, 13:09

    Unless their results pickup in the second half of the season I don’t think Piquet, Bourdais or Nakajima will be at their current teams next year (although Nakajima will still be at Williams if the Toyota engine deal depends on it), and I wouldn’t be surprised if Force India change one of their drivers. So potentially we could have 10 drivers in F1 who aren’t on the grid this year.

    I would have thought that the new teams would want at least one of their drivers to have some F1 experience so some of the drivers who lose their seat this year may still be able to stay in F1 next year.

    I would say USF1 will be the best of the new teams, but I seriously doubt any of the them will be quick next year and the best any of them could probably hope for is to luck into some points in a few races, (but this will be harder than when the likes of Jordan and Stewart started out in the 1990s due to the increased reliability we have in F1 now).

    Although there will be plenty of takers for the vacancies I wouldn’t be surprised if some drivers may be put off making their debut in F1 with one of the new teams next year as it may damage their reputation and ruin their chance of success in the long term, if they are constantly at the back or retiring.

    • I agree, although I’d add Fisi to that list. And what about Kimi, or have the Kimi-to-retire rumours had the kibosh put on them?

      It’s entirely possible we may have 5 or 6 new (or recycled faces) on the grid next year.

      Here are the drivers I’d like to see on the grid next year, in order of preference:
      Di Resta

  10. Mussolini's pet cat said on 25th June 2009, 13:10

    from a selfish point of view, i hope Anthony Davidson doesn’t get a drive because he’s excellent on R5 Live. Love the practice sessions on the old Red Button.

  11. From a purely jingoistic point of view, I’m hoping for Jacques Villeneuve so I can wave my Canadian flag.

  12. DGR-F1 said on 25th June 2009, 13:28

    Hmmmmm, does Bernie still have issues with Danica? Or is it Danica having issues with Bernie? Anyway, I think last year Bernie was asked about her joining F1 and didn’t like it at all…… Perhaps USF1 might not have such an easy time as you imagine.
    I’d like to see PDLR back again. He may be old, but he does know one end of a car from the other. And Anthony Davidson too, of course!

    • Williams 4ever said on 25th June 2009, 21:22

      Hmmmmm, does Bernie still have issues with Danica? Or is it Danica having issues with Bernie?

      Whoa that would be some news. Bernie having issues with Danica. That would make him eligible for Guiness Book of Records place, as Guy who had “Issues” with Way Taller and way shorter women then himself. With amount of his fortune he can have “Issues” with anyone…

  13. I’d quite like to see Gary Paffett get a chance. He was fantastic in some of the other series and has never really had a fair shot in f1 ;)

    • Williams 4ever said on 25th June 2009, 21:32

      McLaren took him for a ride didn’t day.. he became innocent victim remaining associated with McLaren-Mercedes. He waited for that call and the phone never rang.. My sympathies

  14. Erico said on 25th June 2009, 13:31

    A season with the following would be fantastic
    Villeneuve, Montonya, Schumacher, Alonjo & Hamilton .

  15. Ronman said on 25th June 2009, 13:34

    Montoya and Villeneuve should defeinetly come back. and cosidering the 3 teams are new, they will need as much experience on the track as possible, so it makes sense to hire one rookie, and one veteran,

    the veterans i would like to see are the two guys above plus Davidson (he deserves a chance). the other 3 should be Senna, Klien and Hulkenber.

    on the other hand, i think fissichella will be on his way out as well as possibly Barrichello, and who knows who else.

    but if there is one driver in the list up there that shouldn’t be, it’s Sato.

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