Rookie Watch: How Many Cinderellas?
There are many drivers currently sat waiting for the proverbial charming prince shall come and check to see if the glass slipper fits them. Some of these drivers are older than others but they all have one thing in common; they’ve never been to the F1 ball; or in the case of Kamui Kobayashi someone has stolen their invite. Lets see who is queuing up to see if their foot fits.
If you saw Kobayashi as a potential star before he signed on with Toyota for the last two grands prix to replace the injured Timo Glock you need to call Ron Dennis and name your price. Aside from a winning GP2 Asia campaign in the 2008-9 edition he has done very little in GP2. This year he found himself a rather unimpressive 16th in the final standings.
Then he came into F1 and showed a spark, he didn’t give in to world champion elect Jenson Button in Brazil and fought him hard and fair before dropping down the order. He then came back in Abu Dhabi and drove an impressive one stopper to leapfrog experienced teammate Jarno Trulli at the flag.
God knows which Kobayashi will come out if someone picks him up but I’m excited to find out.
Campos has already decided that Bruno’s shoe fits their slipper so we won’t go into whether or not he will be selected. That said I have no idea how I think he’ll do, at times he’s shown speed but thanks to his name (it would seem) he doesn’t seem to have ever been in less than stellar equipment. Neither was Lewis Hamilton and he’s ready a world champion.
I don’t think Bruno is going to be that good, nevermind Ayrton good but I do think he should do a more than decent job and I expect him to be on the grid for a few years yet.
Who wants some Russian oil rubles? If I was a new team struggling for cash I would, especially when it comes with alongside a guy who doesn’t look he’s going to be the next Alex Yoong. Petrov drove his way into second in this year’s GP2 championship and looks like he has some speed.
How much speed we’ll find out if and when he gets into F1 but if I was one of the new teams and I was offered an oil drum full of cash alongside a GP2 series runner up I would be rubbing my hands. Look for someone to decide their slipper fits Petrov, he makes sense.
Chandhok has been mentioned as a possibility to go in the second seat at Lotus, or Team AirAsia as I have decided to call them. They may call themselves Lotus only when they run in a yellow Camel livery or a black with gold trim John Player Special look. European tobacco advertising bullshit be damned. Chandhok is the right nationality and not entirely devoid of driving skills. He was two wins across his three seasons in GP2 as well as a few other decent results.
I would think of him as an improved Narain Karthikeyan. That said he seems to be a better option than Fairuz Fauzy who Mike Gascoyne is somehow comparing to Fernando Alonso, despite the fact he managed zero points in two series of GP2 in 05 and 06. If Lotus insists on having an Asian driver Chandhok seems like the best of a not talented enough bunch. His foot may fit the slipper by default.
Mike Gascoyne is mental. Mental. I can see why he kept getting fired. How can you compare Fairuz Fauzy to Fernando Alonso? Where is your evidence? Fauzy has admittedly done okay in A1GP and the World Series by Renault in recent years but he is also 27. 27 is one year younger than Fernando Alonso who is about to head into his tenth F1 season and has previously won the world championship. Twice.
If Fairuz Fauzy ever wins the world championship I will join Richard and Lloyd in supporting Red Bull. I do not want to join Richard and Lloyd in supporting Red Bull. I personally think associates of Fauzy have kidnapped a dear relative of Mike Gascoyne’s, that’s the only explanation I can think of for his comments.
If you really want to take someone from A1GP how about Adam Carroll? He’s only looked fast in everything he’s ever been in. He has 14 GP2 podiums which include five wins. He won the A1GP series for Team Ireland this year. Carroll is just like Anthony Davidson except he’s never been given the smallest of chances in F1.
He’s quick, competent and races hard. He’s proven himself competitive in both GP2 and A1GP even when at times he hasn’t had the best equipment. He’s also British and doesn’t come with a fat sponsor. He thoroughly deserves a seat. Will he eventually find a slipper fits him or will a genuine Cinderella be overlooked?
Inaugral F2 series champion. Yawn. I went to the F2 series website and found that Soucek had come in with nearly double the points of his nearest competitor. I then scanned the top ten and realised he’d done this against absolutely no-one.
Soucek might be the second coming of Fernando Alonso but how on earth can we tell that from some middling GP2 results and beating the crap out of a field of nobodies? He never finished outside the top two steps of the podium all year. Call me when he does something in a championship anyone actually cares about.
Lucas di Grassi
Lucas di Grassi deserves an F1 chance. He has forever been mentioned with Renault vacancies without seeming to get his chance. As if they couldn’t demote Grosjean for the Brazilian GP and give di Grassi a chance? Oh wait, this is Renault, the grids biggest joke. In his last three seasons in GP2 di Grassi has never finished outside the top three in the final standings, he even missed the first three rounds in 2008. He has 21 GP2 podiums which include five victories.
I haven’t heard di Grassi mentioned often with regard to any of the new teams but some teams should start thinking of him, he’s a much better option than many of the others out there. Sadly it looks like this Cinderella will have to cry in the corner and wait for next year’s ball.
The first thing I will say is that I know absolutely nothing about Alexander Rossi outside of the following. He’s young (turned 18 two months ago), American and finished his first GP2 Asia weekend with a fourth and a fifth. Not too shabby.
He could be in a USF1 next year and I’d much rather he was the American face of the team over past it Jacques or average Scott Speed. Even despite the fact he would take his lumps. The Alexander Rossi for USF1 campaign starts here.
Despite the fact Bernie would love to have her, that she’s young, American, female, good looking and eminently marketable it looks like Danica Patrick is headed on an eventual path to NASCAR. Which is a shame as it would have been nice to see what she could do in an F1 car. She came out 5th in this years IRL championship, ahead of many more illustrious names including Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon and Marco Andretti.
No-one has any idea if Patrick would perform at all in an F1 car but it would have been nice to find out. Sadly it looks like she’s following the likes of Sam Hornish and Dario Franchitti in making the jump to stock cars, albeit while dancing around her IRL schedule for the first few years. A shame.
Too Many Princesses
In this version of Cinderella there’s room for more than one princess in the pumpkin but that still doesn’t leave enough room for everyone. Bruno Senna has already reserved his ticket and Danica Patrick has gone off with a foreign prince. So we’re left with eight drivers fighting for at most four but probably more like two or three tickets for the ball.
Vitaly Petrov is probably going to find a way to buy his way in but everyone else is sat waiting to see if the slipper fits. Noone has heard of F2 and because of that noone visited to check if Andy Soucek wanted to try the slipper on. Fauzy’s associates are still working on their list of demands for the return of Gascoyne’s loved one.
Alexander Rossi is a name I’ve never heard of but USF1 needs an American. There are better options than Karun Chandhok but not with the right passport. Their nationalities sadly mean they have far more of a chance than the far more deserving Carroll or di Grassi.
That leaves Kobayashi who could be the genuine Cinderella of the pack. No-one ever considered him for the ball until he was given a lucky chance to try on the slipper as someone else couldn’t make it. He had an invite to the pumpkin carriage but lost it, let’s hope he gets another.
Dream Teams / Real Teams
So this is the end of my three part series and at the end I’m going to do my best to put the drivers I’ve named into the ten seats available. I’m going to go with two different sets, what would happen if I was czar of F1 driver appointments and what I think might realistically shake out by the time 2010 testing rolls around.
- Sauber Phoenix: Heidfeld/Wurz
- Air Asia: Trulli/Petrov
- Manor: Davidson/Carroll
- USF1: Fisichella/Rossi
- Campos: Senna/de la Rosa
- First two subs: Kobayashi, di Grassi
- Sauber Phoenix: Heidfeld/Petrov
- Air Asia: Trulli/Chandhok
- Manor: Carroll/Sato
- USF1: Villeneuve/Speed
- Campos: Senna/de la Rosa
I actually struggled with the realistic teams, I genuinely have very little idea outside of Campos and Air Asia as to who might go where. I’ve ranted on for the past three columns about who I would go with but now I want to hear your thoughts. Is Takuma Sato actually competent? Is Formula 2 relevant? Who would your dream teams be for next year? Get replying, in the comments below, on twitter, on my personal page, on the F1 Fans page, wherever.
This is the silly season, let’s get silly.