Next era of F1 drivers (2014-)

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    Iestyn Davies

    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…


    R.J. O’Connell

    Amongst the FR3.5 field: I’d be shocked if neither Vandoorne or Magnussen get a look for 2015 at least. Da Costa seems like a shoe-in at this point for an STR seat, though not by mid-2013 as many had pretty much guaranteed would happen (surprise, Vergne and Ricciardo weren’t mistakes!)

    In GP2/3, Nasr is a slam dunk. Frijns should be, but he needs sponsorship – I don’t care if it makes him a “filthy, nasty pay driver” in the process. Juncadella isn’t a serious threat unless he starts showing signs of life in DTM. I’d love to see Alex Rossi in at Caterham, but his ceiling looks a little low. Conor Daly is seemingly being groomed for an Indycar career, unfortunate because he looks like a better American prospect for F1 than Rossi. A title win could do Stefano Coletti good, but in the eyes of many he is still not a bonafide F1 prospect. James Calado could probably use another year.



    If Frijns doesn’t make it, I’m gonna lose a lot (not all) faith in F1…


    Iestyn Davies

    I wonder if Calado could be doing a di Resta – FP1s throughout 2014 before a 2015 drive. But in GP2 this year, he’s been outshone by Nasr, who’s come on strong after learning GP2 last year, and that bodes well for him. Daly seems to be straddling both well, if he can have a GP2 shot next year and do well then F1 is on, despite his Indy back up plan also going well. He’s also done Force India aero tests…

    Rossi’s way looks blocked by Van der Garde’s cheque book at the moment, and he’s made his Le Mans debut – he’s a sure fit with Caterham, perhaps in a change of direction if the rest of the GP2 year and maybe next year don’t go to plan. Frijns, well yeah you’d think he deserves a shot, but rejecting RB (blows any chance of Toro Rosso after Vergne moves to RB?), and being stuck behind Hulk/Gutierrez doesn’t bode well. At least he’s now impressing in GP2, might be able to finish the year, do a YDT and impress. Strangely, I think he has more money than most in junior racing too, Coletti I imagine is probably well off (Monaco citizenship, same with Riquelmi, and Cecotto Jr isn’t using PDVSA sponsorship??), as I’ve heard he has family businesses, but doesn’t want to whittle it all away on motor racing I assume, though you’d think he has a real shot of making it with some backing. Same with Vandoorne, glad he got picked up by the McLaren junior team at least. De Vries is having a shaky patch at the moment it would appear too.

    Juncadella, all of the DTM Mercedes drivers, seem stuck in DTM at the moment; not sure why they can’t impress as Di Resta and Paffett did in DTM atm. I’ve got my eye on Pascal Wehrlein – only 18, he could really do a di Resta if he can find pace there. Surely it would have been harsh on Ricciardo to have given him less time than Alguersuari!



    At the moment I think and hope Vandoorne, Magnussen, da Costa, Frijns, Nasr and Evans could all be in F1 soon (debuting in 2014, 2015 or 2016).


    Prisoner Monkeys

    @fastiesty – I think VDG’s days at Caterham are numbered. The team opted for money over talent, and it’s really showing. They need a stronger driver. Or two.



    Frijns will be at Sauber next year, I’m fairly certain. Sauber have always had a sharp eye for great talent, plus Frijns is once again doing well in yet another feeder series.

    Vandoorne is another one who deserves a shot, as does Magnussen, Da Costa, Nasr, and Evans.

    To be honest, I’ve noticed that the top GP2 drivers are generally older than the top F3.5R drivers. The majority of the current GP2 top drivers are about 23-24, while the F3.5R top crop is around 21-22.


    R.J. O’Connell

    American open-wheel hasn’t graduated a driver to F1 since Bourdais, and what is now Indycar (the former IRL) never has – they’ve all gone via CART/Champ Car.

    Do you see anyone hopping to F1 via Indycar in the near future?



    About American open-wheelers.

    I think it would need someone under 25 to be a real championship contender. Current under-25s (Rahal, de Silvestro, Vautier, Newgarden) don’t fit that category. If Munoz becomes regular next year and will be contender soon he might be one.



    @bleu I can see Vautier having some success in the future. He has been quite imperssive so far in his rookie year.



    I fail to see why Alexander Rossi would be a better pick than Vd Garde. To me, both seem decent drivers that are regular podium contestants in the feeder series, but nothing spectacular.



    I know I’m not talking about the lower formulas here but I’m certain Bottas and Bianchi will be the ones to look out from 2015+ They are the two drivers that genuinely excite me. Also I don’t see Grosjean being around much longer so the prospect of Kubica could add experience and be also a potential Championship contender 2014+ if hes fit enough.
    But I agree with most the comments, Vandoorne, Magnussen, Da Costa, Frijns and Calado all look like they may get their chance in a few years time.


    Alex Russell

    I’d personally love to see an F1 team take on Jolyon Palmer. His overtaking is sensational and anyone who follows him on twitter will know he’s not just another media drone.
    I may be biased though, having supported Palmer for years!

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