As the silly season is in full stride, this article takes a look at all the drivers who appear to be looking for a seat on the F1 2015 grid; whether they are currently participating in another series, or ousted drivers from 2013. Whatever the case, there are always too many drivers and not enough teams. But here’s a look at who i think is sniffing around the paddock at the moment.
Let’s start with Williams F1 reserve driver and GP2 Championship contender, Brazilian Felipe Nasr.
Nasr has had a strong 2014, scoring his first few wins in the GP2 series and pulling off some great battles on his way to 2nd in the Championship at the moment. Also participating in selected Free Practice 1 sessions with Williams, he has shown strong and consistent lap times, similar to that of the race drivers. However, it looks likely that the Grove team will stick with their line up of Massa and Bottas, making it harder for Nasr to break in next year at least.
Susie Wolff is next on my list. The former DTM driver and current Williams test driver has had an exciting first half to the season. Driving in her first ever FP1 sessions at the British and German rounds, with the latter being more useful, she finished only a few tenths down on experienced race driver Felipe Massa. However, a race seat doesn’t look likely, with Wolff not having much recent race experience and no sponsorship. Although Bernie Ecclestone is pushing for a drive for the female Scot, there just isn’t any movement in her current team at least to slot her in the cockpit. One things for sure, she is paving the way for young female racers to look towards a brighter future in F1.
Daniel Juncadella maybe struggling in the DTM series at the moment but his role as Force India reserve driver is proving him capable. After several practice outings, the Spaniard has proved not to be too shabby. A race seat at the Silverstone based team however is almost completely off the cards with Hulkenberg and Perez set to stay. Another year for Mercedes in DTM it appears to be then.
After being unceremoniously dumped by the Force India team last year, Paul Di Resta returned to Mercedes and the DTM series. However, it’s clear his passions still lie with F1. Having been seen in Silverstone and Monaco as a guest of his former team, he has clearly been chatting to a few important people. It is, however, very obscure as to who these people are. If he were to make a comeback, it would almost certainly be with a Mercedes powered team. At the moment, the only likely ones appear to be McLaren but what about Lotus if Romain Grosjean does indeed leave the team, or even a new F1 team? Stranger things have happened, that’s for sure.
Stoffel Vandoorne is another of McLaren’s young guns and is doing a great job in GP2, winning in his first race in the series. A McLaren drive is on the cards with rumours circulating around Jenson Button’s future. But i think we’ll have to wait a while before McLaren announce anything.
Carlos Sainz Jr next in line in Red Bull’s driver programme. On top in the Formula Renault 3.5 series and already being talked about as a mid season replacement for one of the Caterham drivers. One things for sure, Jean Eric Vergne’s future looks bleak.
Max Verstappen is hot property at the moment. At the age of 16 he is owning in Formula 3 and has had several meetings with F1 teams with his father, Jos Verstappen confirming that he could be in a Toro Rosso as early as next year. Contradiciting reports he has signed as a Mercedes backed driver. Time will tell but the young Dutchman has a bright future.
Charles Pic has spent 2014 testing for Lotus. He has a small chance with them for next year if Grosjean does leave but with money in his pocket, it wouldn’t be completely surprising if we saw the frenchman back in the cockpit next year.
Sergey Sirotkin and his Russian backing still look good for a drive soon, although all the Sauber talk has died down. Doing a good job in the Formula Renault 3.5 he looks to be an appealing option for Sauber.
Giedo Van der Garde might be perhaps the bets option for Sauber. With money, experience and a likeable personality as well has considerably more FP1 and testing outings than most reserve drivers, he looks to be the best placed for Adrian Sutil’s seat.
Simona de Silvestro had tested a lot recently with the 2012 Sauber car. The former IndyCar was supposedly being prepped for a 2015 drive and with the backing she has its not out of the question, but still looks unlikely. Perhaps some FP1 runs next year first.
Robin Frijns is perhaps the most underrated driver of the past few years. However, now at Caterham and with dutch compatriot Christijan Albers at the helm floating the idea of some more FP1 sessions before a drive next year. Things are looking up.
Alexander Rossi now the Marussia F1 reserve driver and with John Booth promising FP1 runs and keen to explore the American markets, the American is in a much better position than when he was at Caterham 3 weeks ago.
Jolyon Palmer is doing everything right at the moment. Leading the GP2 driver standings and saying all the right things as well as having a decent sponsorship package. However, he has no obvious links with any F1 teams which makes it ten times harder to get a drive.
Alex Lynn is thrashing the majority of the competition in GP3 at the moment. The Red Bull-backed driver is looking to do exactly what Daniil Kvyat achieved last year, winning the GP3 series and jumping straight into Formula One.
Then again, it is silly season and anything can happen in this crazy world of Formula 1 racing.
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