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Featured On the outside looking in – where will F1’s next-gen be in 2016?

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Ben Stevens, Oct 9, 2015.

  1. Ben Stevens

    Ben Stevens

    vandoorne.JPG With race seats in short supply, whom among F1’s young guns has a realistic chance of lining up on the grid next April?

    If Formula 1 in 2015 has seems to have a shortage of race-winning cars, but one thing it can’t be accused of lacking is a supply of enormously talented young drivers. With race seats up for grabs at Lotus, Manor and new kids Haas – plus several big names coming to the end of their careers – the sport’s next generation is set to arrive. Here’s a look at some of those names, and where they could be in 2016.

    Alex Lynn
    The 2014 GP3 champion, Lynn’s first season in GP2 has seen him claim two victories so far. Having previously been a member of the Red Bull Junior Team, his switch to Williams seems to have been a wise decision with the backlog of drivers building up at the former. However, the 22-year-old’s prospects of a F1 drive in 2016 remain doubtful with both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa returning, but with his continued progress and potential openings for both spots at the team for 2017, the chances of seeing this young Brit on the grid are quite good.

    Prediction for 2016: Another year in GP2 beckons for the Brit, but his chances are good for a Williams drive in 2017.

    Esteban Ocon
    Currently second in the GP3 standings, Ocon is perhaps best known for beating the likes of Max Verstappen to the 2014 European F3 title. A member of Lotus’ Junior Team, the 19-year-old’s name has been bandied-about as a possible replacement there for Romain Grosjean (who is managed by the same company) or in some form of loan deal to Manor for 2016. With the way things are unfolding at Lotus, the young Frenchman might be best positioned of all his peers to make the leap sooner rather than later.

    Prediction for 2016: He may not be the biggest name vying for the seat, but don’t be surprised if Lotus opt for the inside hire to partner Pastor Maldonado.

    Stoffel Vandoorne
    If there’s a young driver who is most deserving of his first F1 drive for the upcoming season, it’s hard to look past the 23-year-old Belgian. His 2015 has been nothing short of blistering, having almost wrapped up the GP2 title with six races to go, and yet it may not be enough to get him to the grid in Melbourne. The presumed heir-apparent at McLaren, his ascension has been delayed for at least one more year with the team confirming 2009 world champion Jenson Button would see out the duration of his contract. As such, his options seem limited by whether McLaren can buy him a seat elsewhere – the two most realistic destinations being Lotus (thanks to his ties with French fuel giants Total) or a Honda-powered Toro Rosso (that is if Ferrari isn't already supplying them). The most likely outcome however, is that the sport’s most F1-ready driver is forced to spend another year adding to his resume.

    Prediction for 2016: The Belgian has certainly walked-the-walk in 2015, but his immediate future remains murky. If he does indeed wrap up the GP2 title, he'll be forced to race elsewhere in 2016. With his F1 chances slim, he could divide his time between Formula E and perhaps some non-open wheel series. In any case, not making the grid next year seems at best a step sideways.

    Kevin Magnussen
    Is there any other driver who has had a rougher time of late than the young Dane? Losing his McLaren seat to Fernando Alonso after just a year in the sport, Magnussen has spent 2015 doing, well… absolutely nothing, and has spent the past month refuting rumours he is out of contract for 2016. Once McLaren’s future, he seems to have ceded that role to the aforementioned Vandoorne, and will have to rely on his own ability to bring sponsors in if he wishes to drive for one of the lesser teams.

    Prediction for 2016: An outside shot to replace Romain Grosjean at Lotus, Magnussen will be hoping to emulate the Frenchman’s career path and earn himself a shot at F1 redemption. As it stands, he will have to wait for both Button and Alonso to move on for another shot at McLaren, meaning he’ll have to content himself with other open-wheel formulae for the time being. Certainly, he’d make a fine addition to the Formula E grid.

    Pascal Wehrlein
    World Champions Mercedes’ own highly-touted junior, Wehrlein finds himself in perhaps the most difficult situation of any F1 hopeful. Despite proving his ability to mix it up with seasoned racers in DTM – a series he currently leads – Wehrlein could be left waiting quite a long time for a promotion. With two very capable drivers only just pushing 30 in Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, the unfortunate reality for Wehrlein is that being nine years their junior may simply not be young enough. It’s not all doom and gloom for the young German however, as Manor’s move to Mercedes power should go a long way to getting him a race seat, even if it is at the other end of the grid.

    Prediction for 2016: Seems a lock for one of the Manor seats. The question is, just how long will he stay there?

    Jean-Eric Vergne
    Not exactly a member of the same generation as the other drivers on this list, Vergne gets a mention as his name always comes up in these sort of discussions, and deservedly so. Closely matched with Daniel Ricciardo during their years at Toro Rosso, his move to a reserve role at Ferrari has put him in contention for a drive at Haas, while his French ties make him a sleeper pick for the Lotus/Renault spot as well. Would be great to have back on the grid, if for no other reason than so we can find out exactly how good he really is.

    Prediction for 2016: Competing with Ferrari stable-mate Esteban Gutierrez for the Haas drive, his superior ability remains unlikely to overcome the latter’s Mexican connections – both as a fanbase and financially. His role at the Scuderia should keep him in contention for the team’s 2017 drive, but he’ll be competing with some serious star-power for that spot, and at 26, the sad truth is Vergne may remain a forgotten talent in Formula 1.

    Carmen Jorda
    Just kidding.

    Which of F1’s next-gen do you think will make the grid in 2016? How do they compare to F1’s current young-guns at Manor, Sauber and Toro Rosso? Are there any world champions in their midst? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2015
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  2. Why does Vergne not look for another series to race in? I don't think that at the age of
    26 and a year without a drive he has much of a chance for a competitve seat to keep him in
    the sport for years.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. He does. He is a Formula E driver. That doesn't mean he is going to give up on F1, especially as he has the talent.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  4. Honestly if Vandoorne doesn't get a seat, then maybe GP2 should be scrapped. The past 3 champions haven't got a seat with one of them going into obscurity. If Vandoorne doesn't get a seat, the series has failed and honestly there is no point in it. The only drivers that have made it into F1 full time in recent years are;

    Marcus Ericcson- Pay Driver
    Felipe Nasr- Pay Driver
    Esteban Guiterrez- Pay Driver
    Giedo Van Der Garde- The only half decent driver to make it to F1
    Max Chilton- He turned about to be a fast driver...

    Three of these drivers don't even race in F1 at the moment and none of them will ever stand a chance at winning a championship

    So of GP2 can't get any decent drivers into F1, then maybe its time for it to go
    • Agree Agree x 2
  5. A F1-seat for Vandoorne:) do not think that's gonna be next year.
    Maybe a spot in the DTM series?
  6. That would completely kill his career
  7. Why, look @Wehrlein.
    A year as test-driver then?
  8. Wehrelin didn't go from GP2 to DTM. Its a step forward. GP2 to DTM is a step back and it could kill his career

    Possible as being a test driver but its not what you want to be
  9. I'm spanish and I find that "Carmen Jorda... ... just kidding" is the funniest thing I've read this week.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. Enzo Fazzi

    Enzo Fazzi
    Always sideways Premium Member

    We need even less text about Carmen Jorda and more pictures!
    • Haha Haha x 1
  11. Verstappen is very quick but i think Stoffel and Pascal will be faster. I've seen them two race and they are both good enough for world championships. Vergne won't return to F1 for a few years at least. Sainz Jr hasn't really shown us all he is capable of, the Sauber and Manor young drivers aren't good enough, i think Magnussen will go to IndyCar
  12. Ole Marius Myrvold

    Ole Marius Myrvold
    JWB 96-13 Staff

    Strange to think that, when he is 6 years younger than Damon Hill was when he debuted. Things have really changed.
  13. In my mind, I see sports car racing as a better place for drivers to climb a ladder from feeder series to works teams or compete in privateer teams. Competition is tough but even and it is a true testament to driver skills. F1 is still good but more political than ever. The drivers on this list are basically piggy banks for the teams to lean on.. If a team wanted them, they'd have a seat.