This week’s Thursday Thoughts question comes from RG of The Northern Waffler, who asks:
Which young driver, who is currently not in Formula 1, would you like to see in the series in the next few seasons?
This is a great question. When I’m asked about drivers who should be in F1, the default position is to look straight at GP2 – and if this had been asked three months ago it would have been a case of “well, pick one of these” from Lucas di Grassi, Nico Hülkenberg and Kamui Kobayashi (and he only on the strength of those stand-in drives at Toyota, his GP2 career was not great). Now each of those has been signed, to Virgin, Williams and Sauber respectively! So who’s left?
Frankly the remainder of the GP2 pack hasn’t yet impressed me enough, though I grant you I hadn’t kept up with GP2 very well in 2009. Paster Maldonado is fast and furious yet has apparently calmed down a bit, could he now be ready? What of Jerome D’Ambrosio and Giedo Van Der Garde? I like both of them and I would really like to see them in F1. Romain Grosjean was fantastic in GP2 but hopeless at Renault, does he deserve another shot in a different environment?
This question can’t pass without a nod to the oft-discussed Anthony Davidson and Paul di Resta, the Brits seemingly having lost their deserved F1 opportunities to an era when test drivers were ample and race drives were few. With the situation reversed they seem to have been passed over for drivers behind them on the escalator. The same could be said of Adam Carroll. I’d love to see Adam in a Formula 1 car. I think these are probably too old to be considered ‘young’ drivers now, but they should be there.
I was going to go for Ryan Hunter-Reay. The man is fast on the IndyCar road courses and is the perfect fit for F1 in terms of speed and image, and he should be in a McLaren or a MercedesGP (but not a USF1.. yet). Unfortunately at age 29, for the purposes of this question he is too old (as are some of the other names above).
Then there are the Red Bull proteges Daniel Ricciardo and Jules Bianchi, both are hotly tipped and I’d be very surprised if they didn’t make it to F1 eventually, Brendon Hartley could be another. I think they are a while away yet though and to be fair I don’t know enough about them.
So who do I pick?
After a lot of deliberating I’m going to go for Vitaly Petrov. I’ve been watching him for a while and I think it would be very interesting to see him in a Formula 1 race. He finished 2nd in the GP2 points last year and has scored some wins over the last couple of years, and while he may not be the out-and-out fastest driver around he is a fighter, and I do like to see a fighting racing driver – that’s something that seems to have been missing lately in F1 aside from Hamilton (no I’m not saying he’s as good as Lewis), look at Vettel who is a great lap-time driver yet seems to have an aversion to overtaking anybody. I think Vitaly is your classic underdog and I always love to root for that kind of driver, even if it rarely pays off.
Of course I could be proven wrong when I eventually get around to watching last year’s GP2..