With the driver market set to change drastically for the 2017 season, here are five likely new faces hoping to graduate and secure a seat in the most prestigious competition in Motorsport.
5. Jordan King – Manor
Currently plying his trade in GP2 for Spanish outfit Racing Engineering, Jordan King has shown a massive improvement in his second year in the junior championship. It isn’t beyond Manor Racing to go for another rookie, and their current Mercedes development driver Pascal Wehrlein is likely to move on to greener pastures next season, opening up the seat to King.
4. Esteban Ocon – Renault
Esteban Ocon, Renault, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016 pic.twitter.com/fFKwLnQzI0
— Unusual F1 (@UnusualF1) June 6, 2016
Esteban Ocon had a very impressive GP3 season in 2015, with a whopping 14 podiums in 18 starts. This year, he’s providing Renault with his services as a reserve driver and is also competing in DTM, which is a proven route into F1 with testament to Paul Di Resta and Pascal Wehrlein. The young Frenchman shows a heap of promise and with Renault looking to have a greater impact in 2017 and get their project going full-throttle, Ocon could find himself with a seat.
3. Alexander Rossi – Haas
A lot of people thought Alexander Rossi deserved a seat in the Haas team this year in place of Esteban Guttierez. Had the American been part of the Haas team this year, he wouldn’t have managed the feat of winning the 100th Indy 500 would he? The guy deserves a chance in the Haas next year and would be a popular addition to the team.
2. Pierre Gasly – Toro Rosso
— Pierre Gasly 🇫🇷 (@PierreGASLY) May 23, 2016
Pretty much the last notable driver left in the Red Bull driver academy, and what a talent the Frenchman is proving to be. He’s already getting experience in GP2 and is the reserve driver for Red Bull Racing. It’s not a matter of if, but when, for Gasly. He’s currently 4th in the GP2 standings, but he’s going to be in the hunt for the Championship all season. He’s a real talent and with Kvyat still suffering demotion trauma, Gasly is positioned perfectly to take his seat and join Carlos Sainz at Toro Rosso next season.
1. Stoffel Vandoorne – McLaren
This move will be happening. Vandoorne did more than seize his opportunity when Alonso’s seat became available for the Bahrain GP this year. Scoring a point on his Formula One debut, Vandoorne has a bright future. With Button quietly eyeing a move to Williams and Alonso more than frustrated with the Honda power unit, it’s within the realms of possibility that McLaren could start the 2017 season with a completely new driver line-up. The young Belgian ticks all of the boxes.