I though an interesting part of Alonso’s career was that after his first year in F1 he didn’t get a race seat for next year and took a year out testing for Renault.
Probably a bit unusual for a successful driver. How many other drivers have gone down this route?
I know Mika Hakkinen left a race seat for a test role at McLaren after (I think) two seasons. And, like Alonso, it didn’t do him much harm, did it?!
Presumably you mention this because of Nico Hulkenberg’s situation. I think he should consider moving to Mercedes to be their 3rd driver. OK, so he’ll get next to no test time, but I think it’s safe to assumer Michael Schumacher is closer to the end of his career than the start, and therefore a vacancy that looks like it was made for the Hulk will be coming up in the near future
Felipe Massa was another one – drove for Sauber in 2002, tested for Ferrari in 2003, then returned to a race seat in 2004.
Would it be because the top teams spot talent and recruit them to their team, spend a year or so developing their setup skills and technique as well as forming a good working relationship with engineers. Also, because they are in a top team, they often have a good car underneath them when they get a race seat in that team.
Although I wouldn’t claim he was the best, and his situation was also rather different to those already mentioned, Timo Glock is worth a mention – after making a few stand-in performances for Jordan in 2004, replacing Pantano, he spent a year in Champ Car, two in GP2 of which he won the second, and returned to F1 arguably a better and more mature driver than if he had simply stayed after his debut…
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