The State of F1’s Rookies
The last few years have been flush with incredible Formula One talent. Back in 2016 there seemed a dearth of F1 rising stars. The Red Bull stable seemed pretty bare, as Dr Helmut Marko sent hospital passes in the direction of Brendan Hartley, or anyone else who was prepared to stand in the way of the RBR steamroller. Lewis, Seb, Nico and Dan, were the only drivers picking up the spoils. While they were all still young, they weren’t what you’d describe as Rookies.
The Autosport pages were filled with commentary about who the next Lewis Hamilton might be. While George Russell seemed a known quantity, it was Lando Norris that people were tipping for serious stardom. Now, his first season in F1 might not have the hallmarks of a future world champion, he’s also not doing much wrong. And who’s he up against? One of the most underrated drivers in the business, another Red Bull reject, Carlos Sainz Jnr.
So that’s one solid Rookie on this year’s grid, and we’ve barely mentioned George Russell. He may have been up against a driver that was not the man he once was, but Robert Kubica was once considered to be the best on the grid. And that wasn’t just the armchair hero’s opinion, that was the view of both Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso. Russell absolutely dominated Kubica, in a woefully difficult car, in his first season in F1.
What about Mercedes protégé, Esteban Ocon? Thankfully we have the likeable Frenchman re-joining the F1 fold for next season. And how did his first season go? Well, it was nip-and-tuck with Checo Perez in 2018 who, lets not forget, is an 8 time podium visitor, ex-Ferrari Academy Driver, and ex-McLaren F1 Driver. Checo Perez is a seriously good driver, but when there was a second row start available in that Force India, it was Ocon that put it there. We’re very excited to see how he fares against one of the best in the business next year, Daniel Ricciardo.
Roll on the actual start of the 2020 season!