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???lkenberg

Nico H???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???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???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. 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.

    • Oliver said on 25th June 2009, 16:12

      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

    • 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.

  2. CRM said on 25th June 2009, 13:51

    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.

  3. Choltz said on 25th June 2009, 14:05

    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.

    • 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.

      • Gman said on 25th June 2009, 19:45

        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.

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

  4. staatskanzla said on 25th June 2009, 14:24

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

  5. HounslowBusGarage said on 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.

  6. allskin said on 25th June 2009, 14:33

    I would like to see Tiago Monteiro again.

  7. Sven said on 25th June 2009, 14:35

    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.

  8. Robert said on 25th June 2009, 14:44

    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.)

  9. GST said on 25th June 2009, 14:47

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

    Someone hire him for 2010!

  10. Salut Gilles said on 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.

    • Salut Gilles said on 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?

  11. Marco has sharp elbows, but any would-be team boss only needs to look at how he was outclassed in A1GP – the talented racers regularly beat him and he was left duking it out with a rag-tag of milk float drivers. And that’s without his recent hissy fit where he whined about how Danica hadn’t pulled over to let him through when they were racing for position.

    All the arguments against Danica going to NASCAR are doubly true as arguments against her going to F1. Her personal brand has everything at the moment except wins, and she won’t get those trolling around in a newbie F1 team or in a NASCAR development deal. The only smart career move for her is to take her sponsorship and her improved results this year and use them to get into Ganassi.

    My tip for the next woman to score points in F1? Ana Beatriz / Bia Figueiredo (depending on which version of her name you want to use). That’s if F1 can prise her away from American racing, of course.

    If I were USGP I’d be looking at trying to get Villeneuve and JR Hildebrand. Though I’m sure I remember reading somewhere they had half an eye on Adam Carroll.

    Hope so, anyway – Carroll was almost a dead cert for a Lola drive if they’d made it in.

    Sato’s unlikely to be in the frame for a drive. Current word is that Formula Dream will pull its IRL sponsorship off Hideki Mutoh and switch it to Sato in a car run by Gil de Ferran.

    I personally think some of the six new places may well get filled by veterans who lose their seats at established teams, while the newcomers go straight into teams like Renault and Williams.

    • Gman said on 25th June 2009, 19:49

      Spot-on in regards to Danica and her “brand”- a drive in either NASCAR or F1 would just expose her for the poor-quality racing driver she is.

      Hildebrand is a good name to consider, but I believe he’s on the books at AGR for the moment. Still, he put in one of the best drivers of the A1GP season for Team USA.

  12. Leaf said on 25th June 2009, 15:06

    View from America
    Danica needs to do F1. Yes, it would be pretty much marketing. I don’t think she would be very successful and therefore IF she decided to do it it would’nt last more than a season. Two tops. Anyone ever see how ****** off she gets when someone closes the door on her? Can you imagine how many miles she would walk in F1 up and down pit lane bitching at the other drivers for the normally aggressive driving you get in F1?!
    Also, Marco Andretti, as cool as it would be to see the name in F1 again, is not ready. He would struggle I believe. Villeneuve will not be back. Montoya for sure will not be back. Anyone see him lately? He would have difficulty fitting into the car. Anthony Davidson for sure needs a ride. He’s good and deserves another chance. The new teams are going to be small operations, at least initially. They are going to get “small” drivers, entry level people, not big name drivers. The only possible exception, maybe, will be Fisichella who will be dropped by Force India in favor of Liuzzi at years end. He’s experienced and might be able to help develop a car.

  13. chill said on 25th June 2009, 15:12

    maybe Marko Asmer will get a seat?
    I think he is currently BMW-s 4-th backup driver? Not sure though if he has got any chance to drive an F1 car lately. http://www.markoasmer.com/

  14. dmw said on 25th June 2009, 15:20

    Andretti. Maybe Hunder-Reay.

    I think Villenueve would definitely come back. He has unfinished biz. But he is too old. Montoya is enjoying his lifestyle and doesn’t care to run around in the back if he’s going to not see his kids at night.

    Marco is a better choice than Patrick. Having a silver and red helmet poking out of a car is going to do more for the team PR wise than having a driver who will strip to her drawers for a lad mag. Marco may not be objectively more talented than Patrick from what we have seen but he has come up through karting and he is openly committed an FI career. And he’s young enough to want to run around the back for 3 years without storming off to NASCAR. Hunter-Reay has his own sponsor (Izod), he has a billboard-scalable face, and he is pretty quick.

    The other U.S. brand names—Dixon, Wheldon, Franchitti—I think they are too set in their Normal Rockwell lives to spend their next 4 years living in empty industrial parks in India, China, and other desolate places Bernie wants to go.

    • Dougie said on 25th June 2009, 15:29

      Having a silver and red helmet poking out of a car is going to do more for the team PR wise than having a driver who will strip to her drawers for a lad mag.

      Really!?! :-D

      Seriously though, I do disagree with this statement.

      If they are both running midfield or worse, Marco’s PR will be a lot less than Danica stripping off…

      If they are both winning races and maybe even the championship (unlikely in both cases) then I see Danicas PR being more than Marcos.

      • TommyB said on 25th June 2009, 15:41

        Yeah Danica gets her clothes off at every photo shoot

        • Dougie said on 25th June 2009, 16:34

          Sorry TommyB, that wasn’t what I meant when I said “Really!?!”.

          It was referring to Marcos stock, grandaddy Mario or not, being stronger than Danicas.

          • TommyB said on 25th June 2009, 17:42

            Oh i thought you were excited and just about to go do a google image search :-D

          • Dougie said on 26th June 2009, 13:18

            LOL! No, I’ve done plenty of those already since she joined the IRL :-D

    • Gman said on 25th June 2009, 19:50

      Best summary of the American drivers so far…those IZOD commercials are pretty good.

    • Russell said on 25th June 2009, 21:44

      The other U.S. brand names—Dixon, Wheldon, Franchitti—I think they are too set in their Normal Rockwell lives to spend their next 4 years living in empty industrial parks in India, China, and other desolate places Bernie wants to go.

      Scott Dixon is a Kiwi, although moved to race in the States in 1999, where he has twice won the IRL, in 2003 on his first attempt and again in 2008. He won the Indy 500 in 2008 from pole position. He’s tested for BMW and Williams.

      Yep, it would be great to see him get a seat, along with Red Bull and Toro Rosso reserve driver Brendon Hartley, with or without his stupid haircut.

      • And the other two are Brits, of course…

        You really get the impression from the likes of Justin Wilson and Darren Manning that once a European driver goes to the US they take one look around them and decide they must have been mad wanting to be in F1.

        • Williams 4ever said on 26th June 2009, 13:49

          once a European driver goes to the US they take one look around them and decide they must have been mad wanting to be in F1.

          Add SeBass to that list. Just because certain Italian Managing a French Squad didn’t like him, Bourdais’s just claim to the race seat on back of good start in European series was thwarted and he had to swim across the pond(and now has to put up with unreasonable and fickle minded Tost)

  15. Ukyo Katayama!

    Even good ‘ol Murray Walker thought he was the best driver F1 has ever produced!

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