Oh, those poor group of drivers. Rubens Barrichello, David Coulthard, Ralf Schumacher, Giancarlo Fisichella, and Jarno Trulli. Poor because they were never given a championship shot. At the end of 2000, these drivers were right behind Schumacher and Hakkinen in the pecking order.
However, for one reason or another, they never became world champion. Schumacher went on to dominate the next 5 years, and once Michael and Mika were finished (Well, Hakkinen was sort of finished in 2000 anyway), a new young force of Alonso and Raikkonen would dominate the next 3-4 years, and eventually all these men would sink into insignificance.
I’ve actually said this a number of times on Dutch forums. Guys like Fisichella and Trulli, but even guys like Panis and Alesi were all said to be future world champions at some point in their careers. I think it’s also one of the reasons I’m not too happy about Vettel winning 3 times in a row. People usually diminish Schumacher’s competition (and those drivers’ careers) in every aspect, but I’m sure Mika Hakkinen wasn’t the only guy out there who could beat Schumacher in equal(ish) cars.
This has me thinking that a large portion of the current crop, such as Perez, Hulkenburg, Grosjean, Rosberg, Maldonado and Di Resta; who are today seen as logical choices for future champions, will for one reason or another never reach their full potential anyway.
While I agree it might be hard for them to win titles, I think some drivers might fill the gap Alonso, Raikkonen and Button are bound to leave in 3-5 years time. I think guys like Di Resta, Rosberg, Bottas, and anyone entering the mid-field the coming years might be able to win races at least. Vettel and Hamilton are bound to stay for a while, but Perez, Maldonado, Hulkenberg and Grosjean seem like the kind of drivers who might string a championship season together at a top team.
As for other series, I think guys like Frijns, Bianchi, Razia might end up winning races at midfield teams and moving to top teams if they’re not too old when the current crop leaves, but I’m absolutely certain Da Costa will be a successful driver. If he can take Vettel’s spot or challenge him at RBR, he might very well ensure I’m completely wrong about the other guys winning races.