Which young drivers deserve race seats in 2013?

Debates and polls

With Michael Schumacher on his way out of F1 a space has opened for a driver who isn’t currently on the grid.

There’s no shortage of talent out there looking for an opportunity. But in tough financial times sheer ability may need a bit of cash to go with it.

F1′s Young Driver Tests ended in Abu Dhabi yesterday and several of the top racers from championships such as GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 were in attendance.

But who will claim a place on the 2013 grid? Here are 20 drivers who’ve impressed in the leading feeder series recently:

Davide Valsecchi

Davide Valsecchi, Lotus, Yas Marina, 2012CV: 2012 GP2 champion, 2009 GP2 Asia champion
Age: 25

Valsecchi took the DAMS GP2 seat vacated by outgoing champion Romain Grosjean and delivered the title himself. But it took the five-year veteran of the category until the final weekend in Singapore to do it, and a tally of four wins (three at the same track) from 24 races showed it was not an emphatic triumph.

Still he got the job done, and few are the drivers who’ve finished in the top two in GP2 and not progressed to F1. Worryingly for Valsecchi, the only two who have are fellow Italians Giorgio Pantano (in 2008) and Luca Filippi (last year).

Valsecchi might not be the third – he is known to F1 teams having tested for HRT in 2010, Lotus (now Caterham) in 2011 and the other Lotus this year. But as with so many drivers at this level he’s likely to require a budget to progress further.

Luiz Razia

CV: 2012 GP2 runner-up, 2006 F3 Sudamerica champion
Age: 23

Razia led much of this year’s GP2 championship, only to falter in the final rounds and end up second-best to Valsecchi.

He drove in two first practice sessions last year and has already made Young Drivers’ Test appearances for Force India (at Magny-Cours) and Toro Rosso (at Yas Marina). The latter declared themselves happy with his progress but with two drivers already confirmed for next year and a third waiting in line (see below) there’s no room for Razia there.

Esteban Gutierrez

Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, Yas Marina, 2012CV: Third in GP2 this year, 2010 GP3 champion, 2008 Formula BMW Europe champion
Age: 21

Gutierrez is following Sergio Perez up the ladder on Mexico’s Escuderia Telmex driver programme. He’s considered Sauber’s most likely choice of driver to partner Nico Hulkenberg next year (see today’s round-up).

This is despite a somewhat disappointing second season of GP2 this year. Gutierrez gave Jules Bianchi a run for his money at ART in 2011 but this year rookie team mate James Calado often outshone him, and the pressure that brought seemed to provoke over-driving.

Max Chilton

CV: Fourth in GP2 this year
Age: 21

Max Chilton didn’t place higher than ninth during his first season of GP2 last year, but showed considerable progress in 2012. He began the year as a regular visitor to the points, and although that tailed off on he did land a pair of feature race wins.

This timely success and the backing of insurance company Aon (who his father Grahame sits on the board of) may help him land a seat at Marussia next year, having made his practice debut for them in Abu Dhabi last week.

Robin Frijns

Robin Frijns, Sauber, Yas Marina, 2012CV: 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 champion, 2011 Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup champion, 2010 Formula BMW Europe champion
Age: 21

Frijns stepped up from karting to to Formula BMW Europe in 2009, winning a race in his first season. He’s won a championship every year since, starting with the last Formula BMW title in 2010, then Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup the next year. From there he stepped up to Formula Renault 3.5, with its considerably quicker 2012 machines, and spent most of the year leading that championship.

The title nearly slipped from his grasp after a poor weekend in France. He bounced back in Spain and eventually claimed the championship after a controversial clash with rival Jules Bianchi.

That earned him a test for Red Bull and he also drove for Sauber in Abu Dhabi. Frijns brings little backing but he’s clearly got potential.

Jules Bianchi

CV: 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 runner-up, 2009 F3 Euroseries champion, 2008 F3 Masters winner, 2007 Formula Renault France champion
Age: 23

Bianchi has probably still not come to terms with losing the Formula Renault 3.5 title to Frijns yet. “I?d be lying if I said that what happened two weeks ago in Barcelona is now all behind me,” he said last week.

He has been a Ferrari test driver for four years and has driven in nine practice sessions for Force India, who have a vacancy at their team for next year. Now is surely the time for Bianchi to make the move up.

Sam Bird

CV: Third in Formula Renault 3.5 this year
Age: 25

Bird joined Bianchi in switching from GP2 to Formula Renault 3.5 this year, which promised quicker cars, F1 tracks to race on and the possibility of dovetailing a race programme with appearances in F1 practice sessions. But unlike Bianchi, Bird hasn’t had that kind of seat time.

It’s easy to overlook that he ended the season just ten points behind Frijns. Bird won brilliantly in Monaco and has tested for Mercedes several times. But it’s hard to see where he might fit into the 2012 F1 driver line-up.

Antonio Felix da Costa

Antonio Felix da Costa, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2012CV: Third in GP3 and fourth in Formula Renault 3.5 this year, 2009 Formula Renault NEC champion
Age: 21

Red Bull-backed Antonio Felix da Costa had a solid season in GP3, winning three times and ending the year third.

But it was in Formula Renault 3.5 that he impressed most, finishing the season fourth overall despite only joining the category at round six. He out-scored Bird, Bianchi and Frijns throughout those races and his last five starts yielded four wins and a second.

Da Costa will surely be the next talent to find himself at the wheel of a Toro Rosso, the question is when? This is the guy Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne have to be wary of.

Kevin Magnussen

CV: Seventh in Formula Renault 3.5 this year, 2011 British F3 runner-up, 2008 Formula Ford Denmark champion
Age: 20

Magnussen excelled in qualifying in Formula Renault 3.5 this year but only had one win to show from his efforts – though he also retired while leading in Hungary.

The son of former F1 driver Jan Magnussen is on McLaren’s driver development programme and drove for the team in Abu Dhabi.

James Calado

CV: Fifth in GP2 this year, 2011 GP3 runner-up, 2010 British F3 runner-up, 2009 Formula Renault 2.0 UK runner-up
Age: 23

Calado was pipped to the GP3 title last year by ART team mate Valtteri Bottas. While Bottas was snapped up by Williams, Calado moved up the ladder to GP2 where he enjoyed almost immediate success, winning in Abu Dhabi at the end of the year.

He won again in the second race of this year, holding off team mate Gutierrez. Calado was a regular fixture at the front of the field and was robbed of a likely win in Valencia by poor strategy.

He slipped from third to fifth in the championship standings over the final four rounds in which he failed to score, partly due to racing while ill in Singapore. Nonetheless Calado was clearly the top rookie in GP2 this year. But where is the interest from F1 teams?

Giedo van der Garde

Giedo van der Garde, Caterham, Yas Marina, 2012CV: Sixth in GP2 this year, 2008 Formula Renault 3.5 champion
Age: 27

Finishing outside the top five in GP2 this year (though level on points with Calado) was a poor return on the experience van der Garde has accumulated at this level.

Nonetheless he has had plenty of F1 track time with Caterham lately and may be in with a shot of landing a seat for next year. He has prior F1 experience too, having tested for Spyker as long ago as 2007.

Johnny Cecotto Jnr

CV: Ninth in GP2 this year
Age: 23

Could Venezuela have two F1 drivers in the near future? Johnny Cecotto Jnr had a mixed season in GP2 but impressed with a feature race win in Monaco.

He drove for Force India in last year’s Young Driver Test and turned out for Toro Rosso in Abu Dhabi this week. But was this a case of them sizing up a potential talent of the future or tapping into a source of quick cash?

Felipe Nasr

CV: Tenth in GP2 this year, 2011 British F3 champion, 2009 Formula BMW Europe champion
Age: 20

Last year’s British F3 champion had the highly experienced Valsecchi to learn from at DAMS and made clear progress throughout the season: he scored 28 points in the first half of the season and 66 in the second.

Alexander Rossi

CV: Eleventh in Formula Renault 3.5 this year, 2009 Formula BMW Americas champion
Age: 21

Caterham’s American test driver Alexander Rossi had a tough year in Formula Renault 3.5 with Caterham, then was soundly beaten by Da Costa when he arrived. He drove in first practice for the Spanish Grand Prix, appeared at the Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test and has also tested for Caterham’s GP2 squad.

Rio Haryanto

CV: 2009 Formula BMW Pacific champion
Age: 19

Haryanto tested for Marussia at Silverstone in July. The highlight of his GP2 season was taking pole position in a wet qualifying session at Spa. He ended the year 14th, but he looks like Indonesia’s best prospect for its first Grand Prix driver.

Edoardo Mortara

Edoardo Mortara, Lotus, Yas Marina, 2012CV: Fifth in DTM this year, 2010 F3 Euroseries champion, 2009 and 2010 Macau Grand Prix winner
Age: 25

Mortara did the double in Macau in 2009 and 2010, but has been racing in the DTM since then. It’s a path used by a few drivers to reach F1, notably Paul di Resta and Christijan Albers, but will it work for him?

In the ten-round series Mortara stood out by being the only driver to win for Audi – twice – ending the year fifth overall. Lotus gave him a test in Abu Dhabi and he admitted: “it was pretty tough – I?ve come from a car which is a lot slower and the first laps were certainly an eye-opener.”

Robert Wickens

CV: 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 champion, 2006 Formula BMW USA champion
Age: 23

What of last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 champion? Robert Wickens tested for Virgin (now Marussia) at the end of last year but joined Mortara in the DTM. He didn’t enjoy as successful a year with Mercedes, two seventh places the highlight for him.

Luca Filippi

CV: 2011 GP2 runner-up, 2005 F3000 Italy champion
Age: 27

Still among the ranks of Italy’s upcoming drivers trying to get an F1 break is Luca Filippi. He appeared in the final two GP2 weekends this year and impressed by winning at Monza on his return and claiming pole position in Singapore.

But if it hasn’t happened for him by now you have to wonder if it’s ever going to. IndyCar may be a more likely destination.

Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Hockenheim, 2012CV: 2011 GP3 champion
Age: 23

Last year’s GP3 champion has driven in most first practice sessions for Williams this year, invariably at the expense of Bruno Senna. He is strongly tipped to take over Senna’s race seat next year.

In his 14 practice appearances he’s impressed the team with his speed, outpacing Pastor Maldonado six times.

But is a year out of competition really the best way to prepare for an F1 race seat?

Fabio Leimer

CV: Seventh in GP2 this year, 2009 Formula Master champion, 2008 Formula Master runner-up
Age: 23

Leimer tested for Sauber last year but wasn’t in action at the Young Driver Tests this year after a somewhat disappointing GP2 season for Racing Engineering with no wins.

Over to you

Which of these drivers deserves a place on the 2013 grid? Cast your vote below – you can pick as many drivers as you like.

Which young drivers deserve race seats in 2013?

  • Davide Valsecchi (29%)
  • Luiz Razia (11%)
  • Esteban Gutierrez (20%)
  • Max Chilton (5%)
  • Robin Frijns (44%)
  • Jules Bianchi (29%)
  • Sam Bird (7%)
  • Antonio Felix da Costa (41%)
  • Kevin Magnussen (12%)
  • James Calado (11%)
  • Giedo van der Garde (12%)
  • Johnny Cecotto Jnr (1%)
  • Felipe Nasr (6%)
  • Alexander Rossi (5%)
  • Rio Haryanto (2%)
  • Edoardo Mortara (6%)
  • Robert Wickens (10%)
  • Luca Filippi (6%)
  • Valtteri Bottas (59%)
  • Fabio Leimer (1%)

Total Voters: 287

Loading ... Loading ...

An F1 Fanatic account is required in order to vote. If you do not have one, register an account here or read more about registering here.

Who else should be considered for a 2013 race seat? What about former F1 drivers such as Jerome D ‘Ambrosio, Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi – or even the injured Robert Kubica?

Have your say in the comments.

See the list of 2013 F1 drivers and teams

Debates and polls

Browse all debates and polls

Image ?? Lotus F1 Team/LAT, Sauber F1 Team, Sauber F1 Team, Red Bull/Getty images, Caterham/LAT, Lotus F1 Team/LAT, Williams/LAT

Advert | Go Ad-free

102 comments on Which young drivers deserve race seats in 2013?

1 2 3 4
  1. Oblong_Cheese (@oblong_cheese) said on 9th November 2012, 8:07

    Bottas -> Williams.
    Da Costa should get put into a HRT by Red Bull like Ricciardo was.
    And get rid of Petrov and put Frijns there.

  2. Bob (@bobthevulcan) said on 9th November 2012, 8:10

    If you squint looking at that picture, da Costa somewhat resembles Vettel in his Red Bull garb. Talk about grooming a successor… Da Costa has both strong potential and a powerful backer, so I’d rate his chances are pretty highly.

  3. JerichoKane (@jerichokane) said on 9th November 2012, 8:17

    In the poll question it should say 2013 :)
    I hope Felix da Costa, Frijns and Gutierrez get their chances next season.

  4. I think the below would happen in 2013
    Esteban Gutierrez –> Sauber
    Jamie Alguersuari –> Force India
    Robin Frijns –> Sauber or FA reserve
    Antonio Felix da Costa –> Toro rosso Reserve
    Valtteri Bottas –> Williams

  5. Ryan Williams (@ryanwilliams) said on 9th November 2012, 8:25

    Went for Razia, Gutierrez, Chilton, Bianchi, Bird, van der Garde & Bottas.
    I feel all of these drivers have a realistic chance to progress to F1 based on their experience, talent and backing. Of them I think only Gutierrez and Bottas are likely to be on the F1 grid next year.

    I’ve left out Frijns and Felix da Costa as I think they need more time to grow before being put into an F1 seat. We’ve seen what happens when a driver is put into an F1 car too early and with such mega talents as Frijns and da Costa, another year in junior formulae will not do them any harm

  6. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 9th November 2012, 8:25

    I think Frijns is the only driver who really deserves a shot. Bottas might get one, but if he really was as highly-rated as Williams make him out to be, they would have ditched Senna long ago and put Bottas in his car full-time. The rest have either taken too long to become competitive (ie Valsecchi), need more work (Nasr), don’t really have any options for race seats (da Costa), have suffered phenomenal bad luck in the timing of their career choices (Wickens), or have already risen as far as they are going to (Cecotto Jr.).

    • OllieJ (@olliej) said on 9th November 2012, 10:44

      +1. da Costa and Bottas probably aren’t quite ready, but Frijns looks outstanding. I would be disgusted if he doesn’t get a seat but Giedo van der Garde buys his way in at the expense of Kovalainen, the man has been hanging around for years like a bad smell that won’t go away. I have to admit I was happy to have less manufacturer involvement in F1, but with drivers now needing to bring money to get a seat it seems to be affecting the merit of the grid quite badly.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th November 2012, 4:11

        @olliej

        Frijns looks outstanding. I would be disgusted if he doesn’t get a seat but Giedo van der Garde buys his way in at the expense of Kovalainen, the man has been hanging around for years like a bad smell that won’t go away.

        Frijns’ rise through the ranks has been astronomical, but I think it might be too soon to put him into a seat. A bad debut season with no sponsorship to his name could kill his career. A smarter option would be to draft him in as a third driver and give him regular runs in free practice with a view to putting him in a seat full-time seat from 2014. This would make him an all-round smarter and faster driver. Frijns is still young; he can afford to take his time.

        Giedo van der Garde buys his way in at the expense of Kovalainen, the man has been hanging around for years like a bad smell that won’t go away.

        I have heard that Kovalainen could be on his way out at Caterham. Apparently Tony Fernandes offered him a multi-year deal, but Kovalainen only wanted a one-year extension. I’ve also heard he looked elsewhere – namely Force India – but was told he needed sponsors, and by the time he came back to Caterham, their patience was wearing thin. Giedo van der Garde would replace him, with Charles Pic taking Petrov’s seat. I have reason to question this entire story though, because it is founded on talk (supposedly from people in Renault Sport F1) that Vitaly Petrov would move to Williams, taking Maldonado’s seat. Quite what happens to Maldonado in this case is unresolved.

        I don’t think Kovalainen is as bad as you make him out to be – I just seem him as a driver condemned to the midfield. He has enough talent to be an asset to smaller teams, but not enough to cut it at the front end of the grid. His problem is his race pace; he might be out-qualifying Petrov, but Petrov is out-racing him.

        • OllieJ (@olliej) said on 10th November 2012, 19:16

          Sorry @prisoner-monkeys I don’t think i phrased my reply very well. I meant to say that van der Garde is the one who’s been hanging around GP2 too long and isn’t worthy of an F1 drive (I may have phrased it harshly though!) I think Kovalainen is a decent driver and respect what he’s done at Caterham in poor equipment. I hadn’t noticed that he was being outraced by Petrov though, that could cost him dearly.

    • HUHHII (@huhhii) said on 9th November 2012, 10:57

      @prisoner-monkeys I believe Williams have needed all the cash Senna has brought to the team, so dropping him in the middle of the season never was an option even if they wanted to do that. And he hasn’t been that bad recently, so I don’t see any reason to drop him now.

    • Victor. (@victor) said on 9th November 2012, 12:03

      Agree on Frijns, Valsecchi, Nasr (whom I rate less highly than Calado) and Cecotto, but don’t agree on Bottas as I believe the guy is outstanding (his CV is mighty impressive). No option for a race seat for da Costa is hardly a reason to vote against him, although I think he could do with winning either GP2 or FR3.5 next year. Regarding Wickens, I’d like to see him in F1 but really can’t see it, unless in a Gary Paffett sort of role or after a few seasons a la di Resta.

  7. apole said on 9th November 2012, 8:27

    too much drivers, noth enough seats available.

  8. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 9th November 2012, 8:52

    Frijns, Bottas and Costa as far as Im concerned.

  9. William Brierty said on 9th November 2012, 9:13

    I don’t understand this Da Costa mania. OK, he was fast in the 2nd halves of both the GP3 and World Series this year, but in the first halves he has been at best average and at worst inconsistent. Razia, Valsecchi, Frijns, Bianchi and Bottas are the only drivers good enough, at the moment, to earn a F1 drive on pure talent. And where is GP3 champion Mitch Evans in the list?

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 9th November 2012, 9:27

      Da Costa had a few mechanical problems throughout the GP3 season. It was only bad fortune that robbed him of a shot at the title, even if he was only an outside chance going into the Monza round.

      As for his Formula Renault campaign, I would hardly say he was average, considering that he stepped into the car halfway through the season, but started scoring point at a rate that suggested he easily would have won the championship if he had had the chance to race for a full season.

      • Of course, one should always temper one’s expectations. Many have come to F1 with perfect CVs and have been out of depth with the competition at the top level. Having said that, I think da Costa’s been pretty impressive this year, although strangely his upswing in form came right after Red Bull snatched him. I remember Will Buxton saying that da Costa’s first feature win at Hungary would be ‘hard for him to repeat’, but he’s done that many times over. I guess the Red Bull management(Formula One’s You-Know-Who) have worked towards maybe changing his mindset towards racing, as a result of which they have been able to bring out his till-then untapped potential.
        However, fast-tracking a driver to F1 generally yields poor dividends. I know it is tempting for Red Bull, but I’m sure they’ll let better sense prevail and let him have a shot at the FR3.5 series title. If he shows the kind of pace he showed this year, he’ll end up dominating the series and then they can bring him to F1. Thus, 2013 will be a real test for the young Iberian. I wish him the very best.

    • KateM (@katem) said on 9th November 2012, 9:38

      I agree that da Costa is overrated in the sense that every young driver is is suddenly ‘the next big thing’ is inevitably subject to hyperbole. And I don’t really agree with PM that bad luck cost him the GP3 title because I don’t think his luck was substantially worse over the year than his competitors (bar maybe Abt, who I still think was a bit lucky to get as close to the title as he did). However, they guy is clearly very talented and hugely fast, as his quick adaptation to WSbR showed. Personally I found him more impressive in that series than GP3, which can only be a good sign given that it’s a much more powerful car. Whether he can replicate that when the pressure is on next year is another question, but the potential is clearly there for a title win and Toro Rosso seat.

      As for the second part of your post, I think the phrase ‘leading feeder series’ in the introduction answers it. GP3 is turning out to be a good stepping stone but it isn’t a direct step before F1. The only driver on Keith’s list not to have done either GP2 or FR3.5 is Bottas, who has spent the year driving FP1s. And even in his case I still question the wisdom of not racing for a year and getting the experience of a faster car in anger.

    • William Brierty said on 9th November 2012, 10:51

      I watched the GP3 series this from start to finish, and Da Costa was nowhere at the start of the season, and only picked up that monstrous pace towards the end of the season, too late in other words. Evans was better over the season as a whole. Fact. And yet he’s not on the list? @keith_collantine, how can you include Felipe Nasr and Fabio Leimar without including GP3 champion? I know what you will say, that he’s not yet ready for F1, but saying that is like saying Cecotto and Nasr is!

      • Bosley (@bosley) said on 9th November 2012, 11:42

        This is a list generally consisting of Reserve, GP2 and WSbR drivers, which would explain why Evans isn’t on the list.
        He’s no where near ready for it anyway.

      • KateM (@katem) said on 9th November 2012, 13:25

        Not entirely true that he was nowhere, he may well have won the title if he hadn’t jumped the start at the first race. His mistake and his fault, but his pace wasn’t the problem.

        Evans is good but he’s too young and inexperienced for this poll – which is about *next year*

      • Pedro Costa (@pnunocosta) said on 9th November 2012, 15:55

        William Brierty

        The portuguese driver had a few issues in the first part of the season:
        In the first race he made the pole, but was found penalized due to a arguable false start, that ruined his second race too.
        Then in Valencia a technical infringement sent him to the back of the grid, he was making a fantastic recovery but crashed when overtaking I think Suranovich. In the second race another strong race from the back finishing 8th over all. I think this was when RB got impressed.
        Another bad race was at Hockenheim when started to rain just before the start and some drivers had to pit for wets including himself. When recovering he had a wheel bang with another driver and retired, again the second race compromised.
        Finally in Monza when he was fighting at the front he had to stop the car and reset it because of gears problems.
        So he had a few problems in the first part of the season but the pace was always there.
        If you followed closely GP3 you will notice that two teams had supremacy (I don´t believe that it was due to have the best drivers)- Lotus and MW Arden – and only one driver sistematically brought the fight to them – António Felix da Costa.

      • Will Buxton said on 10th November 2012, 8:04

        Are you sure you watched the whole GP3 season? Da costa wasn’t nowhere in the early races, he was quite certainly somewhere… like on pole position in Barcelona for Race 1. He made a silly jump start, but without that he could and should have been leading the championship after that first weekend. I’ve made the point in this month’s GPInternational mag (excuse the blatant plug) that for me, Da Costa has been the driver of 2012, in any championship. Doubling up championships as he did, and impressing so instantly in WSR was brilliant to watch. And Red Bull were hugely, and I mean hugely, impressed with him in Abu Dhabi this week. His out and out pace is quite staggering. I have a very good feeling about Antonio.

  10. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 9th November 2012, 9:18

    You could fill up the entire grid with these hopefuls :-) If F1 were in the business of giving guys a chance, then surely quite a few of the above names would deserve a seat. Not to mention that Alguersuari, Buemi, Sutil, etc. also ‘deserve’ another shot. Of the drivers I think actually have a shot:

    Gutierrez to Sauber: he’s clearly got some talent, and some experience too, and his sponsor is already on the car.
    Bianchi to Force India: he looks very fast, has plenty of experience, though he should still reduce the number of silly mistakes he makes.
    Bottas to Williams: it’s a shame Williams didn’t put Bottas in GP2 or WSR 3.5 this year, it would have been better for all involved. Bottas could have kept racing and rack up some experience, while Bruno Senna would have had a better chance of getting to grips with his car. Nevertheless, he’s been consistently on the pace of Maldonado in FP1 this year, so Williams should stop dawdling and put him in the car.
    Van der Garde to Caterham: I think Guido did a good job in the YDT for Caterham, and I think he can do a reasonable job for Caterham in 2013, but he’ll only get the seat, I think, if he brings enough money.
    Valsecchi to Caterham/HRT/Lotus: in case Lotus decide they have had enough of Grosjean, they might try the next GP2 champion instead. What impressed me about Davide in this year’s GP2 season was the maturity of and intelligence of his driving. He stayed out of trouble, and was able to make better use of his tyres than many of his rivals; perhaps this is just the sort of ‘number 2 driver’ that Lotus are looking for. Whether he is quick enough to keep up with Grosjean or Raikkonen is another matter of course.
    Chilton to Marussia: I didn’t actually select Chilton as one I think deserves a seat, but he might get one anyway…
    Someone to HRT: I have no idea who HRT are eyeing to partner De La Rosa next year.

    My predictions leave Frijns, Razia and Bird and others without a drive next year. I’d like to see Frijns land a drive in GP2 next season (if indeed he doesn’t make it into F1). It’s a sideways step in terms of the performance of the cars, but it’s a good opportunity to gain experience on F1-relevant tracks and F1-relevant tyres (because he admitted to finding the Pirellis difficult to drive with). For Sam Bird, it’s less obvious what his next move should be. The problem of being affiliated with a team like Mercedes is that, unless you’re obviously a superstar, you’re never going to get a race seat with them, and no Friday practice sessions either. As for Razia, perhaps he can still emulate Bird and Bianchi and switch to WSR next year.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 9th November 2012, 9:23

      The problem of being affiliated with a team like Mercedes is that, unless you’re obviously a superstar, you’re never going to get a race seat with them, and no Friday practice sessions either.

      Except for that time they placed di Resta at Force India. They probably would have promoted him when Schumacher retired if Hamilton had stayed with McLaren.

  11. Kimi4WDC said on 9th November 2012, 9:19

    Bottas Williams
    Magnussen FI or Sauber with Kaumi

  12. MNM101 (@mnm101) said on 9th November 2012, 9:21

    what about nicholas prost ?

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 9th November 2012, 9:24

      What about him? He’s in his thirties, so he’s probably too old to make his debut, but even so, he hardly blew everyone away at the Young Driver Tests.

    • Ral (@ral) said on 9th November 2012, 9:31

      Even his dad is quoted as saying his career is probably in touring cars now. He’s simply too old.

      His dad also said though that his son is “the only driver to have gone to Columbia”, referring to the university rather the country ;) Different priorities.

  13. Bottas, no question. Felix Da Costa has managed to impress me with his speed as well, while I always had a soft spot for Van Der Garde.

    However, I don’t know what to make of those impressions as I have a strong feeling Gutierrez and Chilton might get a seat before these guys.

    • I agree with pretty much all you have said but honestly I think Gutierrez hasn’t been good enough to deserve a race seat. I would love to see Da Costa driving next year but it’s unlikely given Toro Rosso have confirmed their driver line-up already, unless he goes to HRT for a year.

      • @vettel1 – I kind of share your opinion on Gutierrez. I don’t think he hasn’t been good enough of he doesn’t have potential. I just think a season as a test/reserve driver for Sauber with a solid FP1 outings programme might help him better understand how that F1 car behaves on track and help him get his driving right. He’s just too inexperienced for a full season seat with probably the best midfield team.

        Da Costa and Frinjs might just be Torro Rosso’s 2014 line-up. Unless Webber retires and Red Bull have a different plan in store for Da Costa.

        I have a feeling that HRT seat is Ma Qing Hua’s already…

        • @tony031r – I doubt Da Costa would be driving for HRT anyway; I was merely suggesting possible race seats for him! I could imagine that one of the current Toro Rosso drivers will take Webber’s race seat (if he retires) in 2014 who will probably be pairing Vettel (as honestly at this stage I can’t see him leaving the current top-team in F1 to pair with Alonso of all people), which obviously would leave at least one seat vacant at Toro Rosso (which I’d expect Da Costa to take).

          Frijns I’m not so sure of. I don’t think he’d join the Red Bull young driver’s squad given the comments he has supposedly made about that but he has got a chance of joining Sauber (and hence possibly Ferrari). I can only speculate though as I honestly don’t have a clue what his intentions are!

        • Pedro Costa (@pnunocosta) said on 9th November 2012, 21:27

          Antonio Nartea
          “Da Costa and Frinjs might just be Torro Rosso’s 2014 line-up.”

          I trully believe that Frijns blew his chances with RB or STR with his statements regarding RB young driver program management.

  14. melkurion (@melkurion) said on 9th November 2012, 9:42

    Frijns is the obvious one for me. But he won’t get a seat sadly :( Valsechhi is pretty decent and will probably land a seat, only to lose it again after 1 year. Da costa is fast but needs another year in FR 3.5 and clich the title. Bird , I’m not impressed with. Bottas I think will get Williams, but I fear he’ll dissapoint after a year spent mostly on the sidelines. Esteban will get Sauber, Carlos slim has bought his seat. razzia i think is out of luck.

    the other ones….don’t think so

  15. MW (@) said on 9th November 2012, 9:54

    Hope Frijns gets a drive.
    Question: Do the teams use a completely new engine, gearbox etc. for the young drivers test?
    If so are there rules stating how similar these components need to be to those used during the season?

1 2 3 4

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.