Who will get the six new seats in 2010?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

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

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  1. 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

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

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

  4. 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.

    1. 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

  5. Mussolini's pet cat
    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.

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

    1. Indeed, he should be on the list. I think there’s a good chance he’ll get a drive with a new team – possibly USF1?

      1. Actually, a Canadian driving for a US team… what am I saying!!!

  7. 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!

    1. Williams 4ever
      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…

      1. If she has issues with Bernie then my opinion of her as a racer just went up a notch.

  8. 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 ;)

    1. Williams 4ever
      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

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

  10. 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.

  11. Klien is a journeyman, he was only given his F1 seat because he happened to be an Austrian. I can’t believe any team would seriously consider him for an F1 seat after he was outclassed by DC – of all people – for the year-and-a-half he spent at Red Bull.

    I have heard that Liuzzi is contracted to drive for Force India next year. If so Fisichella could drop into a new team as an experienced hand, though he might call it a day altogether.

    1. DC got a point by bumping Klien off the track at Canada. Then scored only a podium not necessarily by good driving. I think Klien held his groud pretty well around DC

    2. I’ve heard the Liuzzi-Force India rumour several times as well. Apparently a deal has been lined up for 2010 already.

      I don’t think Liuzzi is nearly as bad as people seem to remember. As soon as he had a decent driver in the other Toro Rosso pushing him on he upped his game and was a match for Vettel towards the end of 2008.

      So I’d definitely give him another pop at F1, either for Force India or one of the other new teams.

  12. What about Gary Paffett? He has done well in DTM and has plenty of experience as a McLaren test driver. He’s only 27 or 28 and I think he deserves a chance as an F1 driver soon before he becomes classed as permanent test driver.

    1. Even as a test driver he isn’t setting the track on fire.

  13. For the USF1 team I could see Alexander Rossi getting a drive, and for marketability in the US, I think they would go after a NASCAR driver instead of one from the IRL, to get some of those NASCAR fans to at least take a look at F1, the name I keep seeing is Kyle Busch.

    1. Rossi is a bit young yet but give him another year and he’ll be a strong candidate for F1. The guy was head and shoulders abover everyone else in Formula BMW last year.

      1. That’s what I was thinking…he’s probably a bit away from being able to get a super license. As for Kyle Busch, I think he’d want to have some titles in the Sprint Cup series before making any move to F1, but down the road it could happen.

    2. How about Robert Doornbos? Was in F1 and did well, ended up in ChampCar to battle with Bourdais and is now in Indycar.

  14. staatskanzla
    25th June 2009, 14:24

    Anthony Davidson drove for ASTON MARTIN at the 24 Hours, not for PEUGEOT…

  15. HounslowBusGarage
    25th June 2009, 14:31

    I thought I remembered Peter Windsor saying that he wanted drivers from America in its widest sense, not just the US. Canadian and South American drivers, too. Maybe I’m wrong.
    This season we have had just one new driver, so we ought to expect quite a few of the current crop being ‘retired’ in November – maybe Trulli, Fisi, Bourdais, Nakajima, Piquet and possibly more. It could be that almost half the grid will be new to F1 next season.
    But apart from that, I’d like to see De La Resta and Bruno Senna in there next year. PDR because he’s defintely good enough and Senna to see if he’s good enough.

    1. De La Resta

      Man.. I just love that! :)

  16. I would like to see Tiago Monteiro again.

    1. He’s running his own GP2 team at the moment, so I doubt he’d be interested in a return.

  17. Of the US drivers Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick are the obvious choises. However, both are without any significant experience on road courses. Doing the GP2 Asia series this winter would be a good preparation before entering F1 in 2010.

  18. I think USF1 is going to have to have at least one American driver. To call a team USF1 and say that it will showcase American engineering, but then have European drivers would be a bit odd.

    While Danica Patrick may not be the best choice for the team, I would like to see a female driver in F1 soon. Fun Fact: The combined points total from all women ever entered in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship is 0.5. (Lella Lombardi scored 0.5 points in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix.)

    1. American Engineering doesn’t build humans yet.

  19. Jacques Villeneuve should return. The man is a former World Champion and knows how to drive!!

    Someone hire him for 2010!

  20. Salut Gilles
    25th June 2009, 14:53

    As much as I’d like to think that USF1 might hire a Canadian like Villeneuve (or Robert Wickens… I hear Windsor is a big fan of his), I really doubt it.

    American names will bring big money and exposure to the team. A Canadian driver, though he would be from right next door, would bring neither.

    When you think about it, Danica Patrick would probably best fufill all of USF1’s goals for heightening F1’s profile in America… but it’s unlikely that she’d want to risk falling out of the American limelight by racing in Europe.

    My USF1 bets are AJ Allmendinger and Scott Speed.

    1. Salut Gilles
      25th June 2009, 15:09

      Well, here’s a list of potential USF1 recruits from Peter Windsor.

      Danica Patrick
      Marco Andretti
      Graham Rahal
      Ryan Hunter-Reay
      Jonathan Summerton

      None of my guesses are on that list, of course.

      I seem to remember Windsor saying that USF1 driver’s would be selected through a reality TV competition. Does anyone else remember that?

      1. Oh, well – in that case it’s got to be Helio. He has form!

      2. “Reality” TV? – please no

      3. Graham Rahal is the best of that lot on road courses. He has done well and one his first ever Indy Car race on his first try

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