The Formula One grid will line up at Spa-Francorchamps in two weeks’ time with a strengthened line-up of drivers.
Ocon joins what was already a particularly strong F1 field, boasting five world champions and four other race winners. A raft of champions from junior categories fill the remaining spaces and even those who are known to bring budgets for their seats have won titles in significant junior series:
|Lewis Hamilton||Three-times world champion, 49 grand prix wins|
|Nico Rosberg||19 grand prix wins|
|Sebastian Vettel||Four-times world champion, 42 grand prix wins|
|Kimi Raikkonen||World champion, 20 grand prix wins|
|Felipe Massa||11 grand prix wins|
|Valtteri Bottas||GP3 champion, nine F1 podiums|
|Daniel Ricciardo||Three grand prix wins|
|Max Verstappen||One grand prix win|
|Nico Hulkenberg||Le Mans 24 Hours winner, GP2 champion|
|Sergio Perez||Seven F1 podiums|
|Kevin Magnussen||Formula Renault 3.5 champion, one F1 podium|
|Jolyon Palmer||GP2 champion|
|Daniil Kvyat||GP3 champion, two F1 podiums|
|Carlos Sainz Jnr||Formula Renault 3.5 champion|
|Marcus Ericsson||Japanese Formula Three champion|
|Felipe Nasr||British Formula Three champion, European Formula BMW champion|
|Fernando Alonso||Two-times world champion, 32 grand prix victories|
|Jenson Button||World champion, 15 grand prix wins|
|Pascal Wehrlein||DTM champion|
|Esteban Ocon||GP3 champion, European Formula Three champion|
|Romain Grosjean||GP2 champion, ten F1 podiums|
|Esteban Gutierrez||GP3 champion|
We often look back on past championships as being golden ages for driving talent. But is it time we acknowledged the current crop as being among the best we have seen?
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Only once in F1 history has there been more world champions on the grid. The 2012 season featured six of them: the current five plus Michael Schumacher in his final year of competition.
Schumacher of course ranks among the very greatest but his final years were not his best. And while the sharp end of the field in 2012 was every bit as good as today’s there were a few seat-fillers at the back of the 24-strong grid.
Since then financial pressures have sent two teams to the wall. However with the arrival of Haas bolstering the field this year, it’s clear that having more drivers in F1 needn’t mean sacrificing quality. And the fact there are racers of Stoffel Vandoorne’s class waiting for a full-time seat surely underlines that point.
But it’s often the case that the quality of a field only becomes apparent over time. With the benefit of hindsight the 1979 British Grand Prix at Silverstone deserves a mention as one of the strongest ever seen. Out of 24 starters more than half (13) were already race-winners at the time and seven more went on to win races, leaving just four who never won an F1 race during their careers.
|Alan Jones||Race winner|
|Jean-Pierre Jabouille||Race winner|
|Nelson Piquet||Future race winner|
|Clay Regazzoni||Race winner|
|Rene Arnoux||Future race winner|
|Niki Lauda||Race winner|
|John Watson||Race winner|
|Carlos Reutemann||Race winner|
|Mario Andretti||Race winner|
|Jacques Laffite||Race winner|
|Jody Scheckter||Race winner|
|Elio de Angelis||Future race winner|
|Gilles Villeneuve||Race winner|
|Keke Rosberg||Future race winner|
|Didier Pironi||Future race winner|
|Jean-Pierre Jarier||Never a race winner|
|Jacky Ickx||Race winner|
|Patrick Tambay||Future race winner|
|Riccardo Patrese||Future race winner|
|Jochen Mass||Race winner|
|Jan Lammers||Never a race winner|
|Emerson Fittipaldi||Race winner|
|Patrick Gaillard||Never a race winner|
|Hector Rebaque||Never a race winner|
Hans-Joachim Stuck and Arturo Merzario failed to qualify, and neither ever won a grand prix. We don’t know how many drivers in today’s F1 field will go on to become race winners, so perhaps this is a question we will only be able to definitively answer in a decade or more.
When do you think F1 last had a grid which is stronger than today’s? Which years or decades do you remember for having particularly good driver line-ups?
Have your say in the comments.
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