I think it’s important to stay a little bit grounded. Yes, there are lots of drivers in the mid field (and below) who are making good impressions with the occasional flash of good driving. This doesn’t mean that these drivers would be capable of coping with the pressure of driving for a front running team, or that they would be able to consistently deliver that level of achievement when it counts. It’s easy to look good in the mid field, because generally you get praise for your good races, and your weaker ones are ignored. Compare that to the drivers in the top teams, where a poor showing can result in a huge amount of negative press. Look at how the pressure to succeed has all but killed off the career of Felipe Massa, and that’s a man who a few years ago was beating Raikkonen and challenging for a championship.
It’s not to say that the likes of Hulkenberg and Perez wouldn’t be able to do it, but I think it’s too early to tell for sure. To pick logically, you should really consider the drivers who are already in the top teams, who might be in with a shout of winning the championship this year. Namely, Webber, Rosberg, Grosjean and Massa. The latter of which I think can probably be discounted. Webber does seem to have all the credentials, but it’s hard to see him realistically beating Vettel over the season. That leaves Rosberg and Grosjean. Rosberg being a former race winner, and having a wealth of experience to draw upon, not to mention a good network of people around him to help him deal with the pressure of mounting a challenge. Grosjean has proven in GP2 that he certainly has the speed, and has a reasonably mature approach, but is perhaps still a little bit wet behind the ears for this year to be his year.
So, what I’m saying is, the most likely new champion is Rosberg. This year. Who knows how the driver line ups will shuffle next year.