Super Licence 2015

Theoretical – What if 2016’s rules applied for the 2015 season?

The regulations for Super Licence eligibility have changed going into 2016.

What would it have looked like had those rules applied going into the 2015 season?

Disclaimer
This is entirely theoretical, applying the new system to results from 2012 to 2014 seasons to illustrate the difference between the new system and reality. In reality, with this system in place over the last few years, some drivers or sponsors might have chosen to take different deals in different series to maximise their chances.

We don’t know who actually has applied for a Super Licence nor who was successful or unsuccessful. I also don’t have a list of who has tested more than 300km in a recent F1 car – this testing doesn’t have to take place on an official F1 Test Day, it can be done away from the public eye. I will exclude test-only drivers but be aware there will be some names I’ve left out – Simona de Silvestro is one that springs to mind immediately.

I have NOT checked the age of the drivers, remember they will have to be 18 before being allowed to make a race start in F1 – so Max Verstappen is ruled out.

Raced In F1

The first qualifier is whether the driver has raced in F1 before.

Drivers with at least 5 starts in 2014 = 22

Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Sebastien Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Valterri Bottas, Jenson Button, Kevin Magnussen, Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg, Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado, Esteban Gutierrez, Adrian Sutil, Jean-Eric Vergne, Daniil Kvyat, Max Chilton, Jules Bianchi, Marcus Eriksson, Kamui Kobayashi;

Drivers with at least 15 starts in the last 3 years (2012-2014) = 33

All of the above plus Mark Webber, Paul di Resta, Charles Pic, Guido van der Garde, Michael Schumacher, Bruno Senna, Vitaly Petrov, Timo Glock, Heikki Kovalainen, Narain Karthikeyan, Pedro de la Rosa;

Formula E Champion = 1

Formula E only crowned its first champion in June 2015 therefore for the first half of the season this point was moot. Nelson Piquet Jr is however now eligible to rejoin F1 for the second half of the season. (It’ll be interesting to see if he gets any offers!)

At Least 40 Points From Other Series = 31

If the driver has not met the above criteria they can now qualify for a SL by accruing points in other series according to this schedule (PDF). These aren’t championship points for those series, they are purely points assigned to the finishing positions by the FIA for Super Licence purposes.

The eligibility period is the last 3 years so the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons combined.

Italic = previously raced in F1 in 2012-2014;
Bold = actually raced in F1 in 2015;

140  Andre Lotterer  (100 WEC + 40 Super Formula)
100  Benoit Treluyer (WEC)
100  Marcel Fassler (WEC)
80  Loic Duval (50 WEC + 40 Super Formula)
80  Scott Dixon (IndyCar)
80  Tim Kristensen (WEC)
80  Will Power (IndyCar)
75  Stoffel Vandoorne (40 GP2 + 25 FR3.5 + 10 FR2.0)
74  Raffaele Marciello (4 GP2 + 70 FIA F3 Europe)
70  Allan McNish (WEC)
70  Helio Castroneves (IndyCar)
65  Kazuki Nakajima (5 WEC + 60 Super Formula)
60  Anthony Davidson (WEC)
60  Sam Bird (40 GP2 + 20 FR3.5)
60  Sebastien Buemi (WEC)
53  Alex Lynn (20 FIA F3 + 30 GP3)
53  Felix Rosenqvist (FIA F3)
52  Felipe Nasr (GP2)
50  Antonio Felix da Costa (35 FR3.5 + 15 GP3)
50  Mitch Evans (20 GP2 + 30 GP3)
50  Ryan Hunter-Reay (IndyCar)
47  Daniil Kvyat (30 GP3 + 17 FR2.0)
46  Fabio Leimer (GP2)
46  Jolyon Palmer (GP2)
45  Esteban Ocon (40 FIA F3 + 5 FR2.0)
43  Carlos Sainz Jr (35 FR3.5 + 8 FIA F3)
40  Daniel Juncadella (FIA F3)
40  Davide Valsecchi (GP2)
40  Esteban Gutierrez (GP2)
40  James Calado (GP2)
40  Kevin Magnussen (FR3.5)

Three drivers raced in F1 in 2013 and/or 2014 so already possess Super Licences:
Kvyat, Gutierrez and Magnussen (highlighted italic). All of them would’ve had enough SL points at the beginning of 2014, too.

Only two of this year’s F1 rookies are on the list:
Felipe Nasr with 52 points and Carlos Sainz Jr with 43 points. (Highlighted bold).

The other newbies failed to score enough:
22  Max Verstappen (20 FIA F3 + 2 CIK-FIA World Karting) – he isn’t old enough anyway.
22  Will Stevens (FR3.5)
20  Roberto Merhi (FR3.5)

Stevens started a race for Marussia in 2014 but under this system he wouldn’t have done!

FIA Discretion

The only other way to get a SL is to bypass all this completely and appeal to the FIA. The old rules had the following clause and I imagine the same or similar still exists:

[Driver must] be judged by the FIA to have consistently demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars, but with no opportunity to qualify under any of c) to e) above. In this case the F1 team concerned must show that the applicant has driven at least 300 km in a current Formula One car consistently at racing speeds, over a maximum period of 2 days, completed not more than 90 days prior to the application and certifi ed by the ASN of the country in which the test took place.

By exception, if supported by the Safety Commission, the FIA World Motor Sport Council may approve the issue of the Super Licence to persons judged by the Council to have met the intent of the qualification process.

Data Tables

My workings are downloadable in a spreadsheet. I’ve saved this in MS Office XLSX format but it was all done in LibreOffice, so if there are any conversion problems that’s probably the reason.

Conclusion

You can see that even though GP2 has a favourable weight, the simple fact the drivers move on after a few years means they don’t dominate the table. To some extent this is offset by adding in their performances in other junior series – and that explains why the step below GP2 is rated highly in the system.

Top WEC and IndyCar drivers tend to have much longer careers and also the top rides are at the front quite often – note the Audi WEC and Penske and Ganassi IndyCar drivers dominate. But the fact is only 4 IndyCar drivers are eligible, and the few drivers in that series with F1 aspirations (Newgarden, Daly, Coletti) are somewhat further down the order. This is clearly ridiculous. One of my complaints about the old system was it prevented such as Marco Andretti or Ryan Hunter-Reay from really trying to get an F1 seat if they wanted to. Nothing has really changed on the IndyCar side.

On the face of it, GP2 positioned artificially high in the points structure looks like cronyism. But it makes sense. The whole idea of the series is to funnel talent into F1, the idea of this points distribution is not to rape other successful series of their top talent but to develop new talent ‘in-house’. Looking at the number of GP2 drivers with 40 points or more this has clearly been achieved – arithmetically, anyway.

Formula Renault 3.5 could do with a tweak for more points in my view yet there are several drivers represented, especially if they’ve only spent a year or two in the series and their older F3/GP3 results are still included.

Looking further down the tiers, Daniil Kvyat proved it is worth dovetailing two Formula Renault 2.0 series at once. In 2012 he finished 2nd in the Eurocup and at the same time he won the ALPS series. This combo is worth 17 SL points – Eurocup champion Stoffel Vandoorne only got 10 points that year.
McLaren development driver Nyck de Vries has gone one better – he won the Eurocup and the ALPS series in 2014 for 20 SL points. He’s in FR3.5 this year and if he finishes top three that’s worth another 20pts – he’ll already have his 40pts.

 

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