Back to McLaren, I can’t recall a single junior driver of theirs graduating to F1, with the exception of Lewis Hamilton, and even he was probably lucky that in the year before his debut, Montoya underperformed and walked away from F1, so they chose Lewis over Pedro (I don’t know who else was on their radar).
They used to be quite good towards their test drivers, like Hakkinen, J.Magnussen, de la Rosa and Wurz, so maybe an incident involving Perez or Button could lead to Vandoorne or K.Magnussen, but like you said, it seems to be unlikely they’ll be replacing either driver soon. Maybe if Button were to retire, but then I’d consider a driver like Di Resta or Hulkenberg a more realistic option.
If he keeps his performances up, he will very likely get a drive at Toro Rosso next season, and only then the real work begins. Winning the FR3.5 title in 2013 would be nice, but it will be his performances in F1 that will determine whether he will one day get the car to challenge for the F1 title.
I do think that people doubting Da Costa might be going overboard, but I think there is reason for some concern, but not over his talent. Like I said, it could be pressure or something else between his ears. While I definitely want to see what he can do in a Toro Rosso and subsequently in his F1 career, not working out problems (if he’s having any, of course) could lead to even greater problems in F1. I’d rather see him doing another season in a feeder series, than having to get comfortable in his skin in F1.
(have the tyres changed at all from last year? Or just the opposition?)
To be honest, I have neither read or heard about any changes to tyres, regulations or anything concerning the FR3.5 series.. The opposition is very different, though. Looking at the point tallies of Vandoorne and Magnussen, they’re only 50 points shy of what won Frijns the title last year, halfway in the season.
I guess Coletti’s future rests on how much backing he has, maybe he will do a ‘Valsecchi’ and secure a testing spot somewhere (…) I would have thought Vandoorne might get a look in at Force India, but this is probably a pay seat now and I reckon Calado might have it next year after signing up with Nicolas Todt. Felipe Nasr might also try and get a seat somewhere (and has Brazilian backing), after progressing in GP2, but who knows, maybe this might only happen after Massa leaves F1. (…) which leads us to conclude the same will probably happen with Magnussen (to GT) or Vandoorne (away from their program eventually)
I think the worth of Valsecchi’s move shows in how little people consider him a threat to Grosjean, as opposed to Maldonado. He hasn’t been doing that much testing (of course) and with no racing, he could be a risky shot for 2014. I don’t think any of the drivers would want that. I can’t really imagine how much backing Coletti might have for F1, but if he could find a way into a team, it’d probably be Sauber or Force India. Same goes for the list of Frijns, Calado, Bird or Vandoorne/Magnussen. With Marussia having a development program of their own, as well as Caterham (it’s bound to be Rossi to F1, VDG to Sportscars, or staying where they are), who also have Pic because Renault wants him there, the seats aren’t up for grabs.
If those drivers get to F1 soon, it would have to mean we have to say goodbye to a lot of current F1 drivers who are talented but haven’t shown it yet. Drivers like Grosjean, Maldonado, Perez, Gutierez, Di Resta and Sutil, while also waiting for Button and Webber to retire. But why knows, Sainz Jnr and Kvyat might come knocking by then, as well as drivers who we haven’t heard of by now.
Though I’d be less quick in thinking Kevin Magnussen would move to Sportscars. He seems to be more talented than his father, to be honest, and there are no teams like Stewart (with a clear number 1 driver) in the midfield now. As glad as I am Verstappen got a drive in 1998, he didn’t do any better than Magnussen and constantly complained of having inferior material to Rubens. I think Jan Magnussen’s career could have been very different, in open wheelers.