Who deserves an F1 race seat in 2011?

Debates and polls

Nico H?â??lkenberg, Fernando Alonso, Interlagos, 2010

We head into the off-season with several teams yet to confirm either of their drivers for 2011.

Drivers like Nico H?â??lkenberg and Nick Heidfeld already know they won’t be driving for the same teams in 2010.

Do they deserve another season in F1 next year? Who else do you hope will be racing in 2011?

The poll below includes all the drivers who participated in races or practice sessions in 2010 whose seats for 2010 have not yet been confirmed:

Nico H?â??lkenberg – Dropped by Williams after putting them on pole position for the first time in 100 races at Interlagos.

Nick Heidfeld – Made another return to Sauber this season but they’ve filled their seats for 2011. Will another team grab this veteran of 172 races?

Pedro de la Rosa – Returned after three seasons away but was dropped mid-season for Heidfeld.

Vitaly Petrov – A mixed debut season for the Russian driver but ended on a high in Abu Dhabi, out-qualifying team mate Robert Kubica and defending his position from Fernando Alonso for 39 laps.

Adrian Sutil – Sutil could be set for a change of scene after four years with the same team.

Vitantonio Liuzzi – Had his first full season since 2007 this year but his place at Force India could be under threat.

Heikki Kovalainen – A solid season at Lotus where he looks happy.

Jarno Trulli – Frustrated by unreliability at Lotus but does he have any better options for 2011?

Timo Glock – Had few opportunities to shine in the Virgin this year.

Lucas di Grassi – Had to surrender his Virgin seat in first practice on four occasions and did not drive for the team in the post-season test.

Bruno Senna – The HRT driver who made the most starts in 2010, but also had the most failures.

Christian Klien – Made his comeback to F1 following a four-year absence in 2010 but will he get a full season in 2011?

Sakon Yamamoto – The Japanese driver appeared in F1 for a third year but is yet to start a season with a team.

Karun Chandhok – Popular driver who was dropped mid-season but with an Indian Grand Prix on the calendar next year don’t bet against him making a return somewhere.

Jerome d’Ambrosio – Back by Gravity Sports Management who have links to Renault, he drove for Virgin in four practice sessions and for both teams in the post-season young drivers’ test.

Fairuz Fauzy – Could become the second Malaysian to race in Formula 1 after appearing in five practice sessions for Lotus this year.

Paul di Resta – Expected to do 18 practice sessions for Force India before the season began. That became eight, but his appearance at the Pirelli tyre test indicates he is being seriously considered for a race seat next year.

Who deserves an F1 seat in 2011?

Vote for your pick of the drivers below. You can vote for as many of them as you like.

Who deserves an F1 race seat in 2011?

  • Nico H?â??lkenberg (76%)
  • Nick Heidfeld (46%)
  • Pedro de la Rosa (5%)
  • Vitaly Petrov (46%)
  • Adrian Sutil (56%)
  • Vitantonio Liuzzi (7%)
  • Heikki Kovalainen (61%)
  • Jarno Trulli (22%)
  • Timo Glock (47%)
  • Lucas di Grassi (8%)
  • Bruno Senna (25%)
  • Christian Klien (21%)
  • Sakon Yamamoto (3%)
  • Karun Chandhok (40%)
  • Jerome d'Ambrosio (10%)
  • Fairuz Fauzy (2%)
  • Paul di Resta (40%)

Total Voters: 2,662

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Which drivers not on the list above deserve an F1 chance in 2011? Pastor Maldonado? Jules Bianchi? Sam Bird? Who else? Have your say in the comments.

Read more: 2011 F1 drivers and teams

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127 comments on Who deserves an F1 race seat in 2011?

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  1. Tango said on 22nd November 2010, 8:53

    Wow, first to vote :D. Heikki, Pet, Hulk, Sut and Glock for me

  2. If Nico Hulkenburg’s pole doesn’t warrant a 2010 drive, I don’t know what does!

    I’d like to see Nick Heidfeld with a drive, purely because I think he’s one of the fastest drivers never to win a Grand Prix.

    Adrian Sutil certainly has pace, and Tonio Liuzzi has to be the most unlucky driver of 2010!

    Heikki Kovalainen certainly deserves a race seat, his move to McLaren shows how impressive he was in his first years in Formula 1.

    Hispania have changed their drivers around more times than Vitaly Petrov has ruined his Renault this year – and that’s saying something! I think that Bruno Senna and Christian Klien are the fastest HRT drivers, and despite the fact he’s a nice guy, I don’t think Karun warrants a drive.

    • Agree. I voted Liuzzi (some excellent performances, but lacks in consistency), Hulkenberg, Di Resta, Kovalainen, Trulli, Glock (matched often Lotus’ performance). Even Petrov deserves a seat, but for me these are the best.

      • No Liuzzi, We have he seen he has been outpaced by Sutil and even in Pirelli test he was half a second behind Resta.

        I dont think he had done enough. If he had scored some points in first season FI would have been 6th in constructors.

        For me drivers shoud be Hulk, Sutil, Nick, Kovalainen, Trulli, Glock. May be you can add Resta.

        • You mean 2009? Liuzzi was 4th at Monza, before a mechanical problem caused him to retire. He’s like Massa: in some races he’s dominant, in others he is a loser.

  3. rubin said on 22nd November 2010, 8:57

    Wow! First One!

    I think Petrov definately deserves another crack. He showed enough promise in his first year to show he is going to be a decent driver. But he will need to massivly improve on this year to keep it for 2012.

    The Hulk, Heidfeld and Heikki are no brainers I think. Granted they arn’t the best drivers in the field, but they are definately better than the average and deserve waulity drives with teams supporting them.

    From the new boys, I’d like to see Ricciardo in a seat next year. He dominated the YDT and I think he deserves a crack at ‘the big boys’ (as he put it) seat for next year. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sam Bird is offered something as well.

    • Adam Tate said on 22nd November 2010, 9:48

      Got to watch out for those Triple H’s rubin! Any midfeild team or backmarker should fight tooth and nail for anyone of the Hulk, Heidfeld or Heikki’s talent, and 2 of the 3 have proven they are reliable performers even in a top team! I’ll also throw in a vote for poor old Trulli, anyone who can win in Monaco, particularly 04′ and has such experience should be in F1. He may have not enjoyed this year at Lotus much, but if you look back to his performances for Toyota in 09′ they were quite good, especially 2nd place at Suzuka, holding off Hamilton.

      The greatest tragedy of F1 today isn’t money running the show, it isn’t scandal, it isn’t technical squabbles, it’s the fact that we have far more good drivers than we have good cars on the grid.

  4. Some will get chance because of their talent.For me Nico HĂĽlkenberg & Vitaly Petrov sould get a second chance.

  5. Okay, I’m totally biased, but how can Paul not deserve a drive next year? This is the guy who beat the new WDC in F3 in the same team in ’06…

    DTM is so unpredictable, I don’t think you can really judge his talent from that (although to see him drive away at Brands was breathtaking for me sitting in the grandstand), but the F1 practice sessions he’s done this year have been really impressive given he only ever had one set of prime tyres, limited revs, and was working with the knowledge that it wasn’t his car and had to make sure he gave it back in one piece…

    • Seedy001 said on 22nd November 2010, 10:03

      Tell me about it! I cannot believe that Paul has only 44% in that poll whilst Petrov has 47%. I can only assume it is because, as you pointed out, it might have been difficult for some people to see through his limited number of Friday outings due tot eh elss favourable circumstances he found himself in.

      However, he is a proven winner and I think the team have been very impressed. Lets hope that is all that matters.

      • Already a fan then, Seedy? And yeah, you’re right, I’m sure some people won’t realise just how good he is till he’s actually racing… after 2 years of feeling fairly isolated at times supporting him, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s reactions when he starts doing well… I’m trying not to get my hopes up, and I do have times when I fret a lot because of the uncertainty, but when I think about the prospect of him actually getting an F1 race seat I can’t help myself getting carried away

        • Hamish said on 22nd November 2010, 11:10

          I think hes decent, but as an observation – people probably aren’t that much of a fan of him already given hes British so we are literally force fed crap about the guy.

          Probably not what a whole lot of people want to hear but from the outside looking in it is pretty accurate. Maybe we should ask James Allen for his view on the man.

          Using your guys logic shouldn’t you have suggested Dixon, Franchitti and Castroneves?

          • I don’t claim to be rational when it comes to Paul but I’ll just say I do understand the whole ‘force fed’ thing… I feel that about a lot of other British drivers, and tbh the only reason I paid attention to Paul when I first saw something about him in Nov ’08 was the fact he’d beaten Seb in F3… after that, I slowly found out more about him, and within a few months I was a fan…

            I do understand, tho, the annoyance of the bias in the press

          • Hamish said on 22nd November 2010, 21:04

            Yea as I did mention I think he’s decent and I don’t let nationality determine what I think of a driver.

            I hope all goes well for him.

    • i’m sure Tonio will be replaced by Paul di Resta…

      the other seat maybe filled by Nick Heidfeld..

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd November 2010, 11:18

      I really didn’t like how di Resta ended up in the DTM after winning the F3 Euroseries title. He should have been in GP2 or World Series by Renault – something with more races on more F1 tracks.

      If the money wasn’t there for him to do one of those series it’s a shame because although the DTM is a good championship in its own right it’s not the best route into F1.

      • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 22nd November 2010, 11:55

        Yeah, I agree. Though he was brilliant in his first season in DTM – we’d have all been talking about him had an F1 driver not had an equally amazing rookie year in the same season!

      • likewise can we have a poll on who does not deserve to be in F1 2011 based on their performance relative to their team-mates??

  6. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 22nd November 2010, 9:04

    If it were me, I’d keep Petrov and Hulkenberg from the rookie ranks and Kovalainen, Glock and Sutil from the established runners. Meanwhile, I’d say Heidfeld and de la Rosa would just be taking up space that could be better filled by a younger and faster driver, while Liuzzi has been all over the place (true, Petrov has been scrappy, but at least he’s done stuff), whist Yamamoto is just a pay driver in the Deletraz mould and anyone who takes Fauzy would just be shooting themselves in the foot.

    Otherewise, I don’t mind too much where the rest of them go.

  7. damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 22nd November 2010, 9:15

    I voted HĂĽlkenberg, Nick Heidfeld, Petrov, Sutil, Kovalainen, Glock, Senna, Chandhok and di Resta. I think HĂĽlkenberg deserves his seat because he does have a lot of potential, but it is yet to be realised – although Barrichello was considerably faster than him in most races. Heidfeld deserves a bit of luck for a change. He has always ended up at teams just before their decline from the top/mid-field to the bottom. I honestly have no idea why they chose de la Rosa as his replacement for 2010 in the first place! In 2008, when the Sauber was at its best, he was unlucky not to score a win in my opinion. After Kubica’s Montreal victory they never saw the top step again, which for Nick was unfortunate as he could match his incredibly fast team-mate’s performance most of the time.

    As for Vitaly Petrov, I really do like him. There is obviously a very fast driver hiding within him, but his talent needs nurturing in order to allow him consistent strong results. His performances have been perhaps the most sporadic of anyone this year, and he has caused Renault a lot of trouble with his big accidents, but I honestly expect him to have calmed down by Bahrain. The same can be said of Sutil; another very fast driver that faces the same problems as Vitaly. This year he was a lot more mature and didn’t get himself involved in nearly half as many accidents as in 2009. Now that he has fixed that problem, 2011 should be a strong year.

    Kovalainen isn’t a particularly quick driver, as demonstrated in 2008, but he certainly plays a vital role in the Lotus team and appears to be much quicker than Trulli, who I incidentally omitted from my voting. He is also a refreshing and fun character to have around. I feel almost exactly the same towards Timo Glock, who has also proven himself worthy of a race seat in F1 – and is equally as much a funny guy!

    Senna is a driver who deserves another chance in F1, preferably in a car that is capable of proving his capabilities. Looking at the statistics page, it appears to me that Bruno was perhaps the unluckiest driver in the field, having retired from a large percentage of the Grands Prix this year through no fault of his own. His original team-mate is one driver I really like. Despite having never turned a wheel before qualifying in Bahrain, he quickly came to grips with driving an F1 car and immediately started challenging and, more often than not, out-qualifying or out-racing his team-mate, although that isn’t really a fair comparison given Senna’s reliability issues. He also appears to be a very nice guy. I think Chandhok is just what F1 needs.

    I voted for Paul di Resta as my wild-card. I don’t know all too much about him, but in his limited running this year, he impressed me. Of all the potential new F1 drivers, he strikes me as the most worthy recipient of a race seat.

    • Nice to hear that Paul managed to impress someone who didn’t know much about him :) It’s always harder to impress people who aren’t actively looking to be impressed

    • Feynman said on 22nd November 2010, 9:38

      >>As for Vitaly Petrov, I really do like him.

      Me too … I hope he gets another year to knock the rough edges off, (as opposed to keep knocking the car’s corners off).

      But he looked feisty and fast to me, and I’d take fighting spirit over a few rookie mishaps anyday.

    • Adam Tate said on 22nd November 2010, 9:40

      Greetings from Texas Damon, and I must say I agree with you! Especially in concern to Nick Heidfeld, he has always caught bad luck and you are right about 08, he finished on the second step of the podium 4 times that year. He is a driver who definitely deserves another shot. Shame it won’t be alongside Kobayashi at a resurgent Sauber. I’d love to see him in something like a Mercedes, I think he would have shown quite well this year there, but no one should pass up on Schumacher, no matter how old he gets.

    • Kovalainen in a quick driver, why doesn’t anyone remember 2007?..at McLaren he got bogged down as there wasn’t enough chemistry between himself and the team and he was uncomfortable, just like Frentzen at Williams

  8. Burnout said on 22nd November 2010, 9:20

    It’s quite easy to pick the drivers who definitely deserve the boot. Yamamoto and de la Rosa. Shame about dlR, but I guess he’ll be of much more use to F1 as a tester for Pirelli.

    Likewise the drivers who deserve a seat without a second thought are Hulkenberg, Kovalainen, Glock, Sutil and Klien.

    I haven’t seen d’Ambrosio, Fauzy and di Resta in a racing situation, so I can’t comment on how well they’d drive.

    The rest have all had their good moments and bad moments this year. I suppose that’s where personal biases will show up in voting. And being Indian, I’d really like to see Chandhok back in a racing seat next year!

  9. Surprised not to see Alonso in the list. He deserves another chance to win the title next year, despite his last grand Prix of 2010.

  10. Prof Kirk (@prof-kirk) said on 22nd November 2010, 9:27

    Why did we exclude Daniel Ricciardo?

    Fastest in the young driver test by no less than 7 tenths, Faster than Vettel’s pole time by over a full second. Sure the track had more rubber and was faster but how much faster we will never truly know, despite this it was obviously a strong effort by the Australian. Contracted to RedBull, this suggests potential drives would include: RedBull, Torro Rosso, Lotus (RBR technology and renault engines), Renault (Share engines with RBR).

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd November 2010, 9:31

      The poll below includes all the drivers who participated in races or practice sessions in 2010 whose seats for 2011 have not yet been confirmed.

      • Prof Kirk (@prof-kirk) said on 22nd November 2010, 9:45

        Apologies for my ignorance,

        Interesting how Lotus are yet to confirm either driver of whom appear to be established racers. Personally I would keep Heikki based on his experience but consider replacing Trulli if necessary based on his age and potential ability. Although, I am sceptical and do believe that Lotus will and should persist with their current drivers to maintain a consistent level of development to build the team up.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 22nd November 2010, 9:36

      Fastest in the young driver test by no less than 7 tenths, Faster than Vettel’s pole time by over a full second. Sure the track had more rubber and was faster but how much faster we will never truly know, despite this it was obviously a strong effort by the Australian. Contracted to RedBull, this suggests potential drives would include: RedBull, Torro Rosso, Lotus (RBR technology and renault engines), Renault (Share engines with RBR).

      There’s one very important factor you’ve forgotten to mention: Ricciardo wasn’t under an ounce of pressure. We’ve seen strong drivers like Grosjean fold as soon as they get in a Formula 1 car. We’ve seen the Sauber set fast times through winter testing and then falter in the actual races. Testing doesn’t mean anything. It means less than FP1 times on a Grand Prix weekend. Ricciardo might have set the fastest time in testing, but it’s proof of nothing. Because when you look at his WSR results, he can’t even beat Mikhail Aleshin, who has been in the category four years and was cut loose from the Red Bull driver program.

      • you really do have something against Ricciardo

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 22nd November 2010, 23:18

          No, I just think people are jumping to conclusions. He sets one fast lap time in testing, and all of a sudden, people are tipping him to be the Next Big Thing in Formula 1. It’s a bit like the way people were giddy for Hulkenberg when he took pole in variable conditions in Brazil. That one lap seemed to exonerate him from a very scrappy season, but people were quite happy to forget about all of his mistakes and hail him as the next Vettel.

          A little perspective is all I ask for: Ricciardo set those times on a circuit that had an entire Grand Prix’s worth of rubber on it, for a team he was inherently familiar with against drivers who were mostly getting into a Formula 1 car for the first time. When was the last time testing was indicative of anything? Like I said, everyone expected Sauber to be a force to be reckoned with this year because of their winter testing times, but when it came to the actual races, they were nowhere. Ricciardo has never driven a lap in anger and has never experienced the pressure of a Grand Prix. To say he is ready is more than premature. After all, look at Jules Bianchi – he dominated Formula 3, but struggled in GP2. And he wasn’t even racing against the regulars like Hulkenberg and Petrov and di Grassi, who had been miles ahead of Maldonado and Perez in 2009.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd November 2010, 23:53

            look at Jules Bianchi – he dominated Formula 3, but struggled in GP2

            Third in the championship and top rookie is “struggling”?

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 23rd November 2010, 1:22

            Struggling in comaprison to F3. Sure, he had pole his his first race, but he retired from it. He’s only been on the podium four times, and hasn’t won a race. And on a few occasions, he’s been so far back – 12th in Spain, 13th in Turkey, 4th in Belgium and 18th in Abu Dhabi – that you have to wonder who has been driving the car on occasion. The point is that Bianchi was touted as The Next Big Thing based on his sheer domination of Formula 3, and there were great expectations of him in GP2. But he only picked up two pole positions, four podiums and no wins. I think “struggling” might have been the wrong word to use. “Disappointing” might have been a better choice.

            My point in all of this is that Bianchi went from nine wins, three podiums and a thirty-point margin over Vietoris in the F3 Euroseries to a winless season in GP2. I don’t see people raving about him and tipping him for a Formula 1 drive in 2011. Ricciardo, on the other hand, is getting all manner of super-positive press for a couple of lap times. Bianchi might have dominated F3, but Ricciardo lost the WSR crown to Mikhail Aleshin by two points, largely because he spent a season yo-yoing between the front and the back of the grid. At the very least, Ricciardo needs a season in GP2 before anyone starts thinking about promoting him to Formula 1. Perhaps he could join a GP2 team, do half a season, and if he’s still carrying the momentum after half a season, Toro Rosso could drop whichever one of their drivers is underperforming and let Ricciardo do the second half of the Formula 1 season.

            The point is that to suggest Ricciardo deserves a Formula 1 seat based on a lap time he set in testing is ridiculous.

          • I wasn’t only talking about the testing

            anyway, I don’t condone the hype around him either, I’m just not that vocal about it until I will have seen him in a properly competitive environment

  11. Why is no one voting for Yamamoto?

    His performance at the Japanese Grand Prix was excellent – well deserving of another year in F1.

    • Jarred Walmsley said on 22nd November 2010, 9:37

      I can only assume that thats sarcasm as surely no-one thinks Yamamoto could be deserving of a 2011 driver.

      *Checks poll results*

      No, apparently Yamamoto has created 7 accounts on here and has voted for himself 7 times.

      • Burnout said on 23rd November 2010, 18:11

        Heads up, Yamamoto is up to 68 votes. And apparently 3% of those who voted think he should be back.

        Not that I want him back. A pay driver with two seasons under his belt who’s outraced by a rookie teammate most definitely doesn’t deserve a seat next year.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 22nd November 2010, 9:39

      Surely you jest!

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 22nd November 2010, 9:55

      Right, just as deserving as Fairuz Fauzy is.

      There have certainly been a lot worse pay drivers in the past, but i seriously hope no team will need it that bad next year.

  12. Pablo2008jedi said on 22nd November 2010, 9:35

    Nico HĂĽlkenberg hasn’t been all that spectacular. Even his pole in Brazil was just pure luck.

  13. I voted HĂĽlkenberg, Petrov, Sutil, Liuzzi, Kovalainen, Glock, Chandhok, d’Ambrosio and di Resta.

    Of the established drivers, I think Sutil, Kovalainen and Glock are more or less no-brainers. Liuzzi could do better I think if he wasn’t constantly on edge about losing his seat. Again. But then perhaps there is no such thing as a safe seat in F1.

    HĂĽlkenberg and Petrov have done enough for me to convince me that they have a good shot at becoming decent drivers at the very least. HĂĽlkenberg has done a decent season with flashes of brilliance, but Petrov has done an amazing season given his background (or lack thereof). Chandhok hasn’t really had a decent shot this season, Senna has and has been shown up time and again. Even by Yamamoto, who is by pretty much all standards not quite good enough.

    I voted in d’Ambrosio and Di Resta because I’d like to see more fresh blood rather than the stale old blood of Heidfeld and Trulli. I think that leaves one more seat for which I’m out of ideas because I don’t follow all the feeder series. So I guess whoever could do worse than Klien. But there are so many German drivers already :p

  14. Ben N said on 22nd November 2010, 9:45

    Whoops, I miss understood and only selected 1 – di Resta…

    But I think plenty of them – Heidfeld, Hulkenberg and Chandhok all deserve another shot to be honest!

  15. Daffid said on 22nd November 2010, 9:45

    The fantasy question would be – not who deserves a drive, but whom do they deserve a drive for? Petrov’s done enough I think, but I don’t see why he’s learning the ropes at a top team. Even Alonso had to start at Minardi and then spend a year as a tester. Conversely, Sutil needs a drive for a better team now or never, were he at Merc or Renault we’d really get to see if he had it or not. Etc.

    I think Lewis’s dĂ©but season has warped the minds of the teams into thinking every young gun must immediately be thrown in with a proven brilliant driver as a team-mate and expected to keep up, but not all thrive under that ‘march or die’ philosophy, some need to come on more gradually (Massa being a good example). I think Renault should farm Petrov out to Lotus for a year on loan as part of the engine deal (goodnight Mr. Trulli) and hire either Sutil to push Kubica, or Heidfeld to harvest team points while Kubica goes for the title.

    • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 22nd November 2010, 11:58

      Remember that the Renault was perhaps the worst car on the grid at the end of 2009, and there was real concern about their future leading into 2010. I don’t think for a moment Renault believed they would be fighting the likes of Mercedes for most of this season. So when you look at it that way, putting a rookie in the second car doesn’t seem like such a daft idea.

      My only concern about Petrov is that he doesn’t seem to have improved a whole lot over the course of the season. He was still crashing as much at the end as at the start. Never mind, Massa spent much of his rookie year in the barriers and ended up challenging for a world title. Whatever the case, I think Petrov deserves another chance.

      • Malcom said on 22nd November 2010, 18:13

        Petrov’s performance fending off Alonso, surely should make him to be considered for another year. Hulkenberg’s pole at Brazil say’s he’s more than qualified, and Paul di Resta beat Vettel to win the F3 championship in 2006.

    • Adam Tate said on 22nd November 2010, 21:48

      I’ve been advocating that same suggestion this season Daffid. Were Heidfeld in that second Renault alongside his old team mate they would have over hauled Mercedes for 4th in the standings this year.

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