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

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

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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.

    • Ned Flanders said on 8th October 2009, 21:16

      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?

      • steph90 said on 8th October 2009, 21:20

        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.

    • Ronman said on 9th October 2009, 8:08

      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. Sush Meerkat said on 8th October 2009, 20:46

    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.

    • steph90 said on 8th October 2009, 21:03

      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. sato113 said on 8th October 2009, 21:01

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

    • Scribe said on 8th October 2009, 21:57

      who?

    • 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. striay said on 8th October 2009, 21:02

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

  6. Ned Flanders said on 8th October 2009, 21:06

    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.

    • steph90 said on 8th October 2009, 21:23

      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.

    • 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 said on 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. Chris said on 8th October 2009, 21:54

    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. Daffid said on 8th October 2009, 22:23

    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.

    • 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. Toncho said on 8th October 2009, 23:08

    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. LewisC said on 8th October 2009, 23:19

    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.

    • 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. Harv's said on 9th October 2009, 1:07

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

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