5 Drivers who should be in the grid for 2014 but aren't


No passing through my dirty air please
So a recent conversation on CTA strayed on to the topic of drivers who do not deserve their seats for 2014. This got me thinking about the drivers that do deserve those seats. There are a lot of drivers out there who have the potential to be F1 stars but the drivers I'm thinking of are drivers who have already shown they have learnt their trade and should be firmly in an F1 seat, this is why the likes of Vandorne and Mitch Evans don't feature as they are up and coming rather than proven talent.

This is my list of 5. See if you agree:

1 - Robin Frijns

The Dutchmen may only be 22 but he has more than shown he has earned his place on the F1 grid. He took the Formula Renault 2.0 title in 2011 and then moved over to the Renault World Series 3.5 in 2012 where he took on the much more experienced Bianchi and Bird and came out with the title, the first driver to do that in his rookie year since Robert Kubica. After that banner year budget restraints left him nowhere to go in F1 so he settled for a Sauber test driver role although they offered him no track time. He eventually took a seat in GP2 (a move sideways) with the new Hilmer Motorsport team and streaked to a victory in only his second feature race, taking the win at Barcelona. He followed it up with a 2nd in the reverse sprint race the same weekend. A title challenge wasn't to be though as the new team struggled and Frijns had to make way for a driver with a budget. He missed the round at Hungary, briefly re-appeared for Spa but then was gone for the rest of the season. He was considered for the driver at Caterham for this season but didn't get it with the reasoning being he 'wasn't ready'. I'm pretty sure 'wasn't ready' can translate as doesn't have the funds.

He may be young but there is no questioning the Dutchmens speed and desire to win. Frijns is very much cut in the Schumacher role as anyone who saw his title deciding collision with Bianchi can testify. F1 should be ashamed of itself if a driver of this talent does not get into the sport and its looking increasing more likely. F1 2014 will be a poorer place for not having him.

2 - Robert Wickens

The 24 year old Canadian is currently stuck mixing it up with C-list drivers in DTM and it makes my stomach turn to think of it. Runner-up in Formula 2 in 2009, Runner-up in GP3 in 2010 (narrowly beaten by Bottas), he switched to the 3.5 World Series for 2011 to drive for Carlin Motorsport where his team-mate was the Red Bull backed Jean-Eric Vergne. The two of them dominated the series and it was Wickens who came out on top after an end of season show down. Vergne was rewarded for his exploits with a Toro Rosso seat whilst all Wickens could get was a Marussia test driver spot. With a year out of the limelight and no track time at all Wickens eventually made the decision to go to DTM in 2013 and will stay there for 2014.

It is again very sad that a driver who has shown such potential in single seater has reached the point where he should get a chance at the top level and he has nowhere to go. With the sport crying out for a top North American driver and the talent that his has shown I can't understand why Wickens hasn't been snapped up. Again F1 is a poorer place for missing out on him.

3- Davide Valsecchi

Valsecchi is on my list and if I'm honest I don't even rate him, however he has done all that has been asked of him and its hard to think what more he could do. Valsecchi hardly set his junior series alight but eventually ended up in GP2 in 2008 where he did take a win, his progression through GP2 continued after that. He took the GP2 Asia title in 2009 -10 and was 8th in the GP2 championship in 2011. He eventually took the title in 2012 with some dominated early performances before a mid-season dip and a return to form to take a win at Monza. Valsecchi could not find an F1 seat after this and took the test driver role at Enstone where we sure endless shots of him trying to look happy in the pitlane. When Kimi decided not to show up for the last 2 races we all thought he'd get his chance but sickingly he was made to watch Kovi trundle round for 2 races and was not given his chance.

I don't believe that Valsecchi is a world beater and at 27 he is hardly a whippersnapper young talent. However he went into F1's feeder category gradually improved and eventually won it. There isn't much more he could do to earn his chance in F1 and therefore it stands to reason he should get one and the F1 looks a bit silly when he doesn't.

4 - Fabio Leimer

At first glance you would say that Leimer's story is very similar to Valsecchi however a closer look shows that the 24 year old Swiss driver seemed to skip a massive amount of categories to jump straight into GP2. In 2009 he was the champion of a series called International Formula Master (he was runner-up in 2008) and then jumped straight into GP2 for the 2010 series. Leimer took a win in only his second GP2 race in 2010 but other than that his results weren't great finishing 19th in the series. He secured a victory in 2011 as well but whilst his results were improved he was still only 14th in the championship. 2012 was the first season Leimer had in GP2 where he scored no wins however perversely it was the year he finally showed potential as he consistently finished within the top 8 at nearly every race earning 152 points and a 7th place championship finish. 2013 was to be his year as he went into the GP2 season at Bahrain and Malaysia being head and shoulders above the rest taking both feature race victories. His form dipped shortly afterwards but he steadily began to recover and started scoring consistent podiums. He took another victory at Monza and then diced with Sam Bird where he finally secured the title in the feature race at Abu Dhabi.

Leimer is a classic example of someone who has learnt their trade in GP2. He entered the series at 19 and in four years graduated from runner at the back to champion. It is again a sad day for F1 when someone can work their way through the feeder series like that and not find a seat on the grid. I would have liked to see how Leimer would have gone in 2014 and I certainly think he earned the chance to show us.

5 - Sam Bird.

Poor old Sam Bird. I can't help but think that every time I see him. How that man could even bare to watch the likes of Chilton and Di Resta going round in F1 cars without throwing up in disgust I do no know. Bird is easily Britians 3rd best single seater racer and just does not seem to be able to find a way into F1 to show us if he can improve on that. At 27 its now becoming less and less likely that he ever will. Bird has been competitive in every series he has ever raced in. He mixed it up with Maldonado and Perez in GP2 in 2010. Took on Grosjean and co in GP2 2011. He then switched over to the World Series for 2012 where he narrowly missed out on the title to Frijns and Bianchi before switching back to GP2 at the very last minute (literally 2 days before the season started) in a brand new team with no testing for 2013. Bird won in only his 4th race for the team and ended up with 5 victories to his name by the end of the year, once again narrowly missing out on the title.

Sam Bird seems to have the luck of someone followed around by black cats who likes to walk under ladders but there is no denying his speed. His relationship with Merc seems to have born no fruit for him as yet and you have to wonder if he had a famous manager, massive budget or a famous Indy Car racing cousin if Merc might not have been pushed into finding him a seat already. Another prime example of a driver without a budget who should be on the gird. Again I think F1 2014 will be a much poorer place without him.

So have I missed anyone off? Disagree with my choices?
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Not sure I agree with Valsecchi and Leimer, but you certainly make interesting cases for the other 3, in particular Wickens and Frijns. Interesting read :thumbsup:
I would love to see another talented brit on the grid with Sam Bird. You make a good case for all of them. The real reason they aren't driving is there aren't enough teams.

Hopefully next year Haas Racing will expand the grid and the cost cap will see some 'pay drivers' being dropped for drivers with actual talent instead of a big wallet.
I can't spot my name, WTF is going on! F***ing Max Chilton in F1. I'd be faster than him reversing around the circuits.

Honestly, I think you missed James Calado, I rate him higher than Sam Bird although he has a lot of experience under his belt and could help a team like Marussia.
I did consider putting Calado on there but he's still a bit 'cannonball' to me and I'd like to see him get another year of experience (hopefully a successful one) under his belt before he comes into F1. He is someone who is def pushing for a place.

As he's managed by Nicholas Todt though I'm sure he'll find and easier path in than the 5 listed.
I was more aiming at drivers who haven't had their chance in F1.

As far as I'm concerned Di Resta had 3 years to impress and didn't really give us too much to get excited about. I understand other people have a different view but I'd rather see the 5 mentioned in the article get their chance rather than Di Resta get another go.
Great article... I am buying a lottery ticket later today... If I hit the jackpot I will set up a company called Clip The Apex Developments ... Fund it with $100 MM and get Frijn's a $30 MM purse to dangle in front of Lotus for when Maldonado spears three cars off the start in five races...
I think "Should be." is rather too strong a word as the matter is subjective and therefore it boils down to personal opinion, I think it would be easier to say which drivers "Shouldn't be." in F1 which would allow room for some of the more talented drivers out there to have a chance but can't because the pay drivers are clogging up seats with more money than talent, this is the whole crux of the matter.

If it were not necessary for teams to give seats to pay drivers I can think of at least two drivers that definitely should not be in F1 as for the ones that could make it but haven't there are too many to mention and not enough seats to go around even without the pay drivers and that will always be the case..

I read somewhere that out of all the commercial rights money generated by F1 the FIA gets 50% Bernie keeps 49% and the teams get 1% between them, now if more of this money was unlocked for the teams then pay drivers would become a thing of the past and true talent will prevail which is what the whole thing is supposed to be about, the pinnacle of motorsport with the best drivers in the world being paid to be in because they deserve to be, somehow someone has lost sight of this and I believe I know who, but maybe that person never had that in mind for the sport anyway so maybe it wasn't lost at all it just never existed in the first place....

The person I am talking about has his hands around the throat of F1 and "He." is squeezing the life out of it..
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I'd agree with Sam Bird - I am sure he would do a better job than Pastor did in the Williams last season without needing £30m to buy him a seat

Looks like Sam Bird is going to be a Gary Paffett

Valsecchi well you can blame Lopes for that decision as hiring Heikki back did not exactly help the team's fortunes
I agree with most of your choices even if I pit Leimer and Valsecchi in a different category, maybe not as exciting as the other ones. Valsecchi did sooo many years of big cars, I was about time he got the title. Having said that, he did deliver that year... I don't want to take anything away from that achievement. But I like guys who have wins in their first years! Frinjs is the prime example of that. I also like Sam's approach/personality who won straight in F3 and had a superb 1st year in GP2 in 2010. That's what makes the difference for me and puts these drivers apart from the Calados or even the Nasr's of this world! In my book, Frinjs, Wickens and Bird would rock F1 !! Hopefully someone out there with serious cash is listening!!!!!! :))))))
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