There is an old thread on this issue (next 3 drivers) and I was unsure as to whether to revive it.
But with F1 moving to a new turbo V6 era, and seemingly becoming a young man’s game (despite Schumi and PDR’s recent stints), I was wondering who is best placed to join the F1 field, either in talent (or backing, and hence reality).
Given that Webber, 36, and Massa, 31, might retire soon (you would think a year or two tops), the grid may open up slightly, as well as drivers naturally dropping out. We could speculate on Van der Garde, Sutil, Ricciardo etc. but unless we actually know how well backed all the drivers are this is a harder issue.
Age-wise, once the oldest 6 retire, (Webber, Raikkonen, Button, Massa, Alonso, Sutil) we are left with the oldest driver being Hamilton (currently 27 at year start), the head of a group of 8 drivers aged 25 or over (Hamilton, Maldonado, Van der Garde, Rosberg, Di Resta, Grosjean, Vettel, Hulkenberg), with there being 8 ‘youngsters’ (Ricciardo, Bianchi, Bottas, Perez, Pic, Vergne, Chilton, Gutierrez) currently in F1.
Conceivably, 5 seats could have opened up by 2015, one year into the new regulations – Who would be your picks for those seats, and which ones do you think they would be?
My best guesses at the moment are:
Sutil -> Calado
Ricciardo -> Felix da Costa
Webber -> Vergne (Who to replace Vergne? Coletti, Frijns, Evans.. Sainz Jr/Kvyat surely not ready by then)
Van der Garde -> Rossi
Massa -> Hulkenberg, Bianchi to Sauber, Nasr to Marussia
Another question would be: once all 6 older drivers retire, who else can join the F1 rank?
Daly, Sainz Jr, Kvyat, Marciello, Vandoorne, Ellinas…