Sebastien Loeb tests GP2 car ahead of possible Abu Dhabi F1 debut (Pictures)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastien Loeb could make an F1 debut at Abu Dhabi
Sebastien Loeb could make an F1 debut at Abu Dhabi

Reigning World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb tested a GP2 car at Jerez in Spain today.

The French five-times title winner drove for the DPR team amid rumours he wil drive for Toro Rosso in the F1 season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Loeb was slowest of the 25 drivers in action at the circuit today.

His 1’28.114s lap was 2.2s off the day’s fastest time, set by Swede Marcus Ericcson driving for title-winners ART.

Loeb, however, was driving for a team that hasn’t won a race since 2005. He was 0.8s slower than fellow GPR driver Michael Herck, who has 32 GP2 starts to his name.

Testing a GP2 car is an obvious way for Loeb to get some single-seater mileage ahead of what could be a headline-grabbing one-off appearance in F1, most likely in the place of Jaime Alguersuari.

If he does drive in the race it would be just one week after the title-deciding round of the World Rally Championship. He is one point behind Mikko Hirvonen heading into the Rally of Great Britain.

I don’t believe a reigning or former World Rally Champion has ever competed in an F1 race before, but feel free to set me right on that in the comments! Colin McRae, world rally champion in 1995, sampled Martin Brundle’s Jordan in 1996, but did not compete in a race.

Loeb has gone up against F1 drivers in the past – he beat David Coulthard in the final of last year’s Race of Champions.

And he has already competed against one F1 driver this year – Kimi Raikkonen, who drove in the Rally Finland. Raikkonen had an impressive run before crashing out. Would Loeb do as well in F1? Have your say below.

Sebastien Loeb’s GP2 test

Images (C) GP2 Media Service / Alastair Staley and Malcolm Griffiths

44 comments on “Sebastien Loeb tests GP2 car ahead of possible Abu Dhabi F1 debut (Pictures)”

  1. I like Loeb but any STR drive will be a blatant publicity stunt. If he’s to move to F1 full-time, I’d like to see him do a part-time GP2 season, a full season with a top team if he does well, and then an F1 drive.

    Mind you, when you’re putting Alguesuari and Grosjean in F1 seats already, you can’t say no to someone like Loeb.

    1. Which Toro Rosso publicity stunt would make you want to buy a can of Red Bull more- seeing a multiple world rally champion drive in an F1 race, or seeing Franz Tost drinking Red Bull for the cameras after Alguersairi crashed at Suzuka?

      1. Hmmm Ned hard one, it is the Tost and he drinks from that can with such skill you can’t help but want to be him and have a drink! :P
        So Loeb could be there, Massa could be there, any more little surprises? :)

  2. It would be a good move for Toro Rosso – they’re firmly in last place in the constructors and as such they have nothing to lose, and getting Loeb in would be a fantastic marketing coup for them.

    1. I’d imagine more track time and familiarization with a new circuit would be a priority for Alguesari, since he should be racing with them next year.
      strange this red bull tin business, they seem to give marketing, sports and business a whole new dimension…

  3. Good Luck to him, although i’d rather see Buemi on the side lines.

    But it’ll be great to have another “Seb” in a Torro Rosso, now if it does happen I hope he fulfills the pre-requisite any Torro Rosso driver must do and crash into a Red Bull.

    1. Agreed I’d much rather say Jaime race than Buemi. Buemi has had nearly a year anyway, Jaime considerably less. Very excited to see if Loeb will do it

  4. anyone else here who deosn’t care at all about Loeb potentially coming to F1?

    1. i did after his showing on the barcelona test. But after the manipulation of the rally of cataluña, and the poor showing at the jerez test, i couldn’t care less about him driving in f1.
      I realy hope he loses the wrc in the last race.
      I never liked team orders, and even less when a driver, takes a win they don’t deserve, without any shame.

  5. David price racing team, my friend is friends with David price! …hmmmmm! : hey nick!

  6. I think it’s great that Loeb will get his chance in F1, even if it is only a one off. Unfortunately, I think he’ll be miles of the pace. Being just 2 seconds off first in GP2 testing is obviously mega immpressive, but in F1 2 seconds is a lifestyle, especially with the teams being so close this year.

    What would be great is if they put Loeb in one car and Valentino Rossi in the other, to get a direct comparison between the two of the greatest motorsport champions of all time.

    1. That would be great! Think Rossi would win but would maybe support Loeb in that case. Sorry Sato, I’m quite excited but would hardly be devastated if it didn’t happen. It’s one race would just be nice to see the difference, like when watching Kimi rallying.

    2. i think loeb would win, he has always been good in the tarmac rallies, would be very interesting though.

  7. well i rather leob than Jaime Alguersuari. even if it is only 1 week.

  8. StrFerrari4Ever
    8th October 2009, 21:37

    Mmm that would be brilliant to see Loeb finally get a go in an F1 car he needs more single seater experience and as long as he gets that when he possibly gets into F1 he’ll be pretty much up to speed. Toro Rosso should take him as it will be a great marketing move and would generate some interest around the team.
    I’d want him to drive with Buemi as Buemi can provide setup information and as they both speak french the communication wouldn’t be a problem.

  9. Loeb tested a RB4 back in November 08, he didn’t seem too shabby then (7th out of 17) http://newsonf1.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1980
    I seem to remember an F1 driver at the time saying they thought Loeb would be much likely to be competitive in F1 than Rossi would be. Sorry, can’t remember who it was, possibly DC.

  10. A shameless plug: Pictures from Abu Dhabi HERE

  11. I’m sure he’d have been fantastic in F1… if he’d started sooner. But will he be fit enough for a full race distance in F1? And he’s probably too old to start now. With DC, Trulli, and (probably) Rubens all getting the shove from their teams and Fisi jumping before he was pushed, what F1 team is going to want to hire a 35 year old except as an experienced F1 hand who can help with car development? Doesn’t make any sense unless Toro Rosso reckon he can be a team leader while Buemi matures and want to test him at the sharp end. But if he does race in Abu Dhabi he’ll finish a very sorry last, which would be embarrassing for a great champion.

    1. Rally is hardly a walk in the park and while perhaps not as punishing on the neck, certainly much harder on the back. Kimi seemed to think it might be harder to switch to rally from F1 than the other way around, although he did say it’s hard to tell having only one frame of reference.

  12. Would the FIA be willing (or even able) to grant Loeb a superlicence? If you look through the criteria listed in the regulations (Chapter 1, Article 5 in Appendix L of the International Sporting Code, available on the FIA website) the procedures for issuing a superlicence are pretty stringent, and in particular require the driver to have recent and extensive single-seater experience.

  13. I can not thinking about any WRC racing a F1 but I do remember Carlos Sainz testing FA’s Renault in 05 or 06. I think this is just marketing, afterall Loeb main sponsor with Citroen is Red Bull

  14. Loeb wouldn’t be successful in F1. He’d be fast – his car control is brilliant.
    But WRC doesn’t expose you to the g-forces of F1 and it’s not ‘racing’, it’s just seeing who can cover the same ground fastest. He’d have to learn how to race wheel to wheel – and F1 is not the place for that.

    1. Agreed. The safety aspect must be the most important, and putting a driver with little to no (that I am aware of, anyway) open wheeler racing in an F1 race just seems to be begging for trouble. I’d love to see Le Seb in an F1 car, but only if & when he is ready for it.

  15. Imagine F1, but F1 with all the F1 drives replaced with WRC drivers and MOTO GP riders. that might create some interesting races!

    1. haha, i like your thinking

  16. Serbian Kimi
    9th October 2009, 1:16

    Methinks Sebastien loeb will be exceptional on his debut, simply because he fared so well in last year’s testing with Red Bull. Let me remind all naysayers that he was 8th in a very competitive field at Catalunya, having leapfrogged several F1 stalwarts.

    In a nutshell – it will be a cracking debut and a stepping stone to a short but brilliant F1 career:)

  17. I think it would be fantastic. He, along with all rally drivers, is fantastically skilled across all surfaces whilst taking in a constant stream of information. I hope he does get the chance, even if he’s off the pace, at least he will have done it. You only live once, and it is better to die with memories than regrets.

  18. Florida Mike
    9th October 2009, 2:35

    So STR wants to try a 30-something Frenchman named Sebastien, whose a current Multi-Year Champion in a leading racing series. At least Bourdais had single-seat, wheel-to-wheel, Hi-G, Hi power-to-weight experience. There might not be a better way to show the world how special F1 is than to give the “best of the rest” a chance.

    On the other hand, maybe STR thinks Loeb will be better at staying away from the walls; last week had to be expensive for all of the Red Bull flavors.

  19. I have offened wondered how a Fighter pilot would handle an F1 car, and then I found this:
    http://www.videosift.com/video/RAF-Pilot-Drives-A-Williams-Formula-One-Car

  20. I think would very interesting, loeb is very skillful, why not give him a shot?

  21. I think this is more an effort to have only Sebastians driving for them. That almost makes as much sense as some of the driver decisions they have made in the past.

    1. Maybe. Along similar lines, I’m beginning to wonder if some fortune-teller told Ron Dennis he would only win WDCs if he employed a Finn.

  22. Do you have to be called Sebastien to drive for Toro Rosso? I mean really!

  23. I’d love to see him try a race, but I have a major concern: imagine the title isn’t decided in Interlagos. The result and the race in Abu dhabi would be crucial. What if Loeb is involved in some crash or trouble involving either Barrichello, Button or Vettel ?
    Wouldn’t that feel quite disturbing ?

    1. CovertGiblets
      9th October 2009, 10:13

      Those were exactly my thoughts Gwenouille!

      I do think he’ll be quicker than the current crops of rookies though.

  24. Colin McRae, world rally champion in 1995, sampled Martin Brundle’s Jordan in 1996, but did not compete in a race.

    The poor devil. No wonder he didn’t bother again.

  25. I’d love to see Loeb race in F1, being clearly the best in rallying perhaps he’s exceptional enough to even do resonably well in F1. Very few drivers have even competed in both world class rallies and in F1…. and the only successful one that springs to mind is Stirling Moss who successfully competed in many rallies early (and late!) in his career with probably his best finish being 2nd in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1952

  26. Can’t wait to see Loeb in F1.
    On other note, I am sure Rossi would have done as good job as fisichella if not better. At least for the last race, Ferrari should give the car to Rossi.

    1. I sorry JUGNU (and others) but this talk of Loeb and Rossi before that coming into F1 is utter rubbish. These guys are gods in their chosen profession and given time would be competitive in F1 but they don’t have time on their side. Loeb would be one of the oldest out there and Rossi is the same age as Kimi (150 GP starts, countless thousands of KM of testing IN ALL WEATHERS!). Rally drivers and motorcycle riders will never make a successful leap into F1 late in life, no matter how good they are. They won’t compete with drivers who have come up through the single seater ranks and F1 testing.
      There’s no way on this planet Rossi would better Fisi in the Ferrari. I seriously doubt he’d even worry Badoer’s pace.
      These guys (Rossi and co) are now so marketable that running around in the F1 midfield for 2 or 3 years would be disasterous for them when fans have such massive expectations of them coupled with complete ignorance of what it takes to race these machines.

  27. Mark Hitchcock
    9th October 2009, 19:21

    Not really fair on whoever he replaces if this does happen.
    ALG and Buemi both need experience of Abu Dhabi if they’re gonna be racing next year and considering how difficult it is to get and keep an F1 drive these days I certainly wouldn’t want to give up my seat so that some hotshot from a different category could give it a go for the fun of it.

  28. For sure, this is just a Red Bull publicity stunt. We are going to see old Loeb (and he is quite old too), sampling the likes of DTM cars, NASCAR cars, motorbikes and even airplanes before he finishes his rallying career.
    I think his most sensible move would be to attempt the Paris-Dakar…..

  29. Well, I am a F1 enthausiast, and I can’t bear any un-genuine F1 driver, running in it! It feels like taunting, under-estimating F1.
    But, mentally, I believe Rally and F1 are completely different. U are a rally legend, so u could handle a 2 hour competition, managing tires, but u need to learn how to push a rear driving axle car to the limit in comparison to a 4wd; need to learn how to be sharp sharp in handling those small kerbs and turns like Japan’s, in a car double the hp, and 5G cornerings, WITHOUT those usual over-steerings in a rally car. Would U attack like the hell, and yet not making mistakes to get into top 10s?

  30. Sorry but he just won’t be competitive, people keep mentioning the Barcelona test where he finished 8th, but it was an end of season test where some cars (including Loebs) were running last years higher downforce spec, some this years low downforce and some a mix of both. It wasn’t a true representation of his or anyone’s pace. Given more testing I’m sure he could be competitive but on this occasion it’d be for publicity

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