Lately, I’ve been following the feeder series into Formula 1 more and more. Not just because it means more racing, but because I forsee a whole host of vacancies opening up on the Formula 1 grid in the future. Barrichello and Trulli are out, and I expect that de la Rosa, Karthikeyan, Webber, and Schumacher will all retire (for good) over the next few years, and I feel that some of the younger drivers aren’t going to last long.
This, naturally, begs the question: where is the next generation of racing driver going to come from? The feeder series, obviously. So, who are you paying close attention to in the junior leagues? Which young drivers do you think have the potential to make it into Formula 1 some day soon?
I, personally, have my eye on a few: Kevin Korjus in Formula Renault 3.5 is one of them, particularly if he beats Jules Bianchi and/or wins the title this year. He’s with a good team, Tech 1, and he’s already had some success in the category already, including three wins in his debut season. Best of all, he is only nineteen, so he can afford to take his time a little – his career isn’t going to take a deathblow if he has a bad year.
I’m also watching Robin Frijns, who is also in Formula Renault 3.5 this year. Like Korjus, he is pretty young, is with a very experienced team in Fortec Motorsport, and has had plenty of success in the lower categories.
Sixteen year-old Sergey Sirotkin is another interesting prospect. He’s very young, and has had plenty of success. His first race at Monza in AutoGP was a disaster, but he did qualify on the front row. If he keeps it up, I think he’s bound to land in Formula 1 sooner rather than later.
Robert Visiou is also sixteen, and looks pretty promising. He defaintely needs some work to refine his racecraft, but I think the potential is there. Jenzer is an okay team for GP3, but with Lotus ART dominating everything, Visiou has his work cut out for him – which might be exactly what he needs.
It’s at this point that I’ve noticed a decidedly Eastern European flavour to this line-up (except Frijns); motorsport seems to have undergone a real renaissance there in the last few years (while it hasn’t in the Middle East or Korea or China … are you reading this, Bernie?), but my final entry is Brazilian Felipe Nasr, who is racing for DAMS in GP2 this season. He has dominated just about everything he has entered, including British F3 and Formula BMW. I think he’s definately being watched by Formula 1 teams, and a strong season in GP2 could make him a suprise entry to the 2013 grid.
So, who do you think has a real chance at Formula 1?