F1’s 2019 season is swiftly approaching – and as always – there is a string of new rookie drivers…ready for their full-time Grand Prix debuts.
McLaren has young gun Lando Norris. At Alfa Romeo, Antonio Giovinazzi. Over at Red Bull’s B-team Toro Rosso, Alexander Albon - and at Williams, Formula 2 champion George Russell.
Importantly for F2, Russell, Norris and Albon claimed the top-three places in the 2018 standings, and it’s the first time we have seen the top trio in the immediate feeder series promoted to F1 since 2010.
…when Pastor Maldonado, Sergio Perez and Jules Bianchi all went up.
But, beyond that there’s yet another generation of drivers on the horizon who are all warming up for the next wave, in 2020.
The most high-profile of these is Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher.
… who won the European F3 championship last year, putting him on the path to replicate his father’s achievements at the top.
SOUNDBITE (English) MICK SCHUMACHER,
2018 EUROPEAN F3 CHAMPION:
''It means everything [to me] to be honest because it's the first real championship [title] that I've won - and I've won with a lot of hard work sitting behind it. And a lot of hard work not only for myself, but really the most work came from the team and I'm really just grateful for what they've done all season long for me. And, yeah, [I’m] just happy that I'm able to be here and really live the moment.”
Schumacher has since joined the Ferrari Driver Academy, and will race in Formula 2 this season…
But, he’ll have a big challenge from 2018 GP3 champion Anthoine Hubert, and Giuliano Alesi, son of the former Grand Prix driver Jean Alesi – who is making the move up to F2.
Along with Dutchman Nyck de Vries, who will compete in F2 for a third season, 2018 his best result with fourth in the standings and three wins.
… while over at Red Bull, junior team member Dan Ticktum will compete in Japanese Super Formula, the talented Brit now only needing five points to get his F1 superlicense.
And who already felt he was up to the main game in mid-2018.
SOUNDBITE (English) DAN TICKTUM,
MEMBER, RED BULL JUNIOR TEAM:
“I think I’m very close to being what is required for F1 now. I feel like I’m in a good place.”
It all makes for a stunning horizon and a bright future of F1 racing.