As you might've gathered, I like lists. I like them a lot. Most of my previous posts involve some sort of list at some point. The reason why I like these things is because they are easy to read and understand (normally) and, of course, provide a great starting point for debate.
So, without further ado, here are the 10 drivers who I think could be future greats of Formula 1 (this is in no order):
1 - Kevin Magnussen
So you recognise the surname? Kevin Magnussen is the second Magnussen who looks likely to try F1, this time with more success. The Dane, currently 20, already has the links with good teams (McLaren) and has tested for them twice, even topping the timesheets in day 1 of Silverstone's Young Driver Test this year. Magnussen is currently the runaway series leader in Formula Renault 3.5, leading fellow McLaren protégé Stoffel Vandoorne (who also gets a mention), and was really the only man who could stop Felipe Nasr from romping to his British F3 crown in 2011, but luck seemed to be against him more than once. He's been a race winner in everything he's raced and there's no reason why he can't be a success in F1.
2 - Antonio Felix da Costa
In 2009, the Portugese drivers career seemed to stall. He'd 'only' finished 3rd in the Formula Renault Eurocup season, losing out to Albert Costa (who somehow never got an F1 shot) and Jean-Eric Vergne. This led to a mediocre Euro F3 drive in 2010, despite testing for Force India's F1 squad, before he raced in GP3 in 2011, as well as the odd very impressive F3 outing, and even secured a GP2 drive in the series' non-championship Abu Dhabi round. Then, in 2012, everything fell into place. Red Bull's young driver programme cruelly disposed of promising Scot Lewis Williamson, and took up da Costa. With a duel GP3 and FR3.5 campaign going on in the later stages, the Portugese driver, racing only for pride, took 7 wins in both series, before getting into the Macau Grand Prix, taking a win there. Now, in 2013, he hasn't built on any of that and has been disappointing, but with Red Bull backing him, he will inevitably be the one to replace Ricciardo at STR, and that could start something big.
3 - Raffaele Marciello
Marciello started his car racing career in 2010, racing in the Italian Formula Abarth series. In an impressive rookie season, he scored 3 wins and finished 3rd in the championship. The following season, he competed in Italian F3, with similar results. But in 2012, things got big. Very big. With 7 wins by the end of the season, Marciello was European F3 runner-up in his rookie season, and now, this year, the young Italian, unsurprisingly taken under Ferrari's wings, is dominating the standings. With Ferrari backing him, a GP2/FR3.5 seat looks almost inevitable for 2014, and a Ferrari seat will surely be his soon. Ferrari look to have found their first Italian race winner for a while. And he's only 18...
4 - Alex Lynn
You probably haven't heard of this kid. His rookie car racing season, in Formula Renault UK, wasn't anything special. Racing for the powerhouse team of Fortec, he was running around the lower end of the top 10 (sometimes not even in it). Then came the Brands Hatch finale. After scoring an 8th in race 1, he took his maiden podium after a very impressive drive in the final race of the season. Confirmed for Fortec in what would be the final year of FR UK, he dominated the first round of the season. And the next. And the one after that. Oh, and the 4th round. Eventually he took a record 12 wins en route to an easy title. He competed for Fortec in British F3 the following season, and raced very competitively for a while, finally taking a maiden win at Silverstone. Now in European F3, Lynn has proved a match for Marciello and Rosenqvist on pace, and will surely become a big name in the future.
5 - Tio Ellinas
The Cypriot started out in British Formula Ford. He was impressive there, running very consistently up front, and this led to a Formula Renault UK drive in 2011. Despite the dominance of Alex Lynn, Ellinas was a legit title contender until the final 2 rounds, and scored loads of podiums and some wins en route to championship 2nd. After nearly taking the GP3 crown in his rookie season last year, Ellinas, only 21, is leading the series standings this year, and has now got backing from Marussia. Whilst the team isn't much right now, 2014 could do anything, however unlikely, and it could provide the stepping stone the Cypriot needs to fulfil his talents.
6 - Felix Seralles
This is a sad case. After winning in Skip Barber, the Puerto Rican, reckoned to be the Americas best hope of an F1 star at the end of last year, now sees his F1 dream in tatters. As a fan of this kid, who recently turned 21, I feel that he easily has the talent to make it, but likely won't. He has the money and easily has the skills. He won in his first British F3 weekend, and became a title contender, in his first full season of European single seater racing. He stuck to F3 for this season, but is being highly inconsistent and not fulfilling the promising form of 2012. Why? Well, in an accident at Silverstone, F3, his car was launched into the air, before landing again, hard, at high speed. Originally he was fine, with just minor back pains, but these minor back pains have recently been diagnosed as a trapped nerve and two cracked vertebrae, meaning the Puerto Rican could barely walk over Winter. Now forced to abort his Brit F3 campaign, Seralles isn't one to give - his latest F3 showing at the Norisring showed he still has the pace, if not the luck - but unless he recovers he will surely be one of F1's greatest losses.
7 - Felipe Nasr
I think everyone on either side of the pond has heard of this kid. Not only is he a GP2 title contender (somehow yet to win) and a dominant British F3 champion, but he also happens to be a sports car ace - look at his Daytona 24 Hours debut. That was his first tin-top race in his career. Nasr has a lot of backing and a lot of skills, and is doing something that nobody has ever truly done in GP2 before - been incredibly consistent. He knows he's a title contender and, other than at Bahrain, he settles for positions if they bag him points. If he isn't given a drive by 2015, something in the world is broken.
8 - Stoffel Vandoorne
As I said, here he is, but in all honesty I didn't think this kid would be anything special in 2012. I barely gave him any notice, but that was my mistake. Having graduated from being Formula Renault NEC champ into Formula Renault 3.5, the McLaren protégé has taken wins in most circuits and, despite lying a long way behind fellow McLaren junior Kevin Magnussen, will almost certainly bag a runner-up slot in his rookie season. The only thing that could halt the 21-year-old Belgian would be the lack of career momentum if he doesn't secure an F1 seat in 2014, but then getting an F1 seat in 2014 could also ruin his career, as he would only have 1 season of big, senior single-seater racing under his belt. His name will be on the radar for the next few seasons and, like he is doing in FR3.5 right now, expect Vandoorne to make full use of it when the time comes.
These 2 are much more risky to put on here, but their recent performances have said enough.
9 - Matt Parry
In 2011, this guy was a nobody. He was quick in Formula Ford, but in his aged and outclassed Van Diemen he couldn't do much. 0 wins, 0 podiums, 0 poles, and 1 fastest lap. He came 9th in the Formula Ford Festival that year, losing out to pretty talentless drivers such as Antti Buri (racing FFs for too long and too slowly) and Bas Schouten. Fast forward to 2013, and the Brit, aged 19, is dominating the Formula Renault NEC series and has joined Caterham F1's recently revamped young driver academy. So what happened? Well, it's all thanks to the pretty pathetic BARC InterSteps series really. That series, in it's final season, 2012, allowed Parry to race a junior single-seater car in a one-make series, and he took 13 wins en route to the championship. This allowed him to follow the tragically low-budget Jake Dennis out of that series and into European racing, where he has excelled, again in one-make formula. Caterham have picked a good driver, and in time we'll see if they support him well enough and if Parry really does have what it takes.
10 - Anthoine Hubert
Well, if you've heard of this kid, you really know your motorsports! With a total of 0.5 seasons of car racing under his belt, the French driver, aged 16, seems like a bit of a joker. His performances in French F4 (basically Formula Renault 1.6 on a national scale) have been far from it. In a series that has seen Jean-Eric Vergne, Loic Duval and Stoffel Vandoorne start their car racing careers, Hubert, with 9 wins, 7 pole positions and 6 fastest laps from 12 races, looks set to become another one of those drivers. Whilst championship rivals Felix Hirsiger and Tristan Viidas might make it somewhere, Hubert has been the class of the field with little opposition (other than being taken out of his last race by a slightly dodgy Marco de Peretti) and, if he can continue this form in higher level series, will surely make it into F1.
You're probably thinking "but you missed _________ and __________ and, frankly, so am I, but in the end these are the 8 brightest stars right now in my opinion. I'd like to hear yours.
PLEASE remember that this list has no order and applies for drivers who are aspiring for F1 only. Not even Indycar (otherwise Matt Brabham would be a dead cert).
Opinions expressed in blogs are those of the individual bloggers and do not necessarily represent the views of racing-reference.info.