The four drivers fighting for a 2009 F1 drive

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These are the four drivers who have landed the most desirable seats in GP2, the top feeder category for Formula 1: Romain Grosjean, Luca Filippi, Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna.

For the past three years the GP2 champion has gone straight into F1: Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and, in 2008, Timo Glock. So who will follow them in 2009?

Glock won the 2007 title with iSport, who will field Bruno Senna (nephew of Ayrton Senna) and Karun Chandhok in 2008. But have had a full season in the category already.

Rosberg and Hamilton won the titles with ART, who will run Renault Development Driver Romain Grosjean and Luca Filippi, in his third season of GP2.

On the face of it Filippi must be the favourite for the title as he is the most experienced of the four drivers. But how much this will count for in 2008, when the series will use a brand new chassis, remains to be seen. Filippi tested for Honda this winter.

Grosjean may be new to GP2 but he is not new to ART – he won the Formula Three Euroseries with its sister team ASM (since renamed ART) this year. He wouldn’t be the first driver to have won the F3 title with the team and followed it up with a GP2 title the next year – Lewis Hamilton did it in 2005-6.

ART’s drivers were beaten to this year’s title by iSport’s Timo Glock and the reigning champions have an interesting pair of drivers.

Before his death Ayrton Senna reportedly spoke highly of his nephew Bruno. But Ayrton’s death in 1994 enforced a hiatus in Bruno’s career and as such it’s difficult to say just how good the young driver is. He won one round last year, at Catalunya, but had some seriously off weekends as well.

His Indian team mate Chandhok also took a single win and might well have had two had Kazuki Nakajima not harpooned him out of the lead at Istanbul. He recently tested for Red Bull and his nationality has inevitably linked him to a race seat at Force India.

Of course there are drivers outside the top two teams who could challenge for the title – such as Mike Conway at Trident and Sebastien Buemi at Arden.

Given the roster of drivers who have ascended to F1 via GP2 without winning the title (Heikki Kovalainen, Nelson Piquet Jnr, Scott Speed and Kazuki Nakajima) we will surely soon be talking about one or more of these names in connection with an F1 drive in 2009.

But who?

Photo: Drew Gibson / LAT Photographic | GP2 Media Service / Andrew Ferraro

More about these drivers

2009 F1 season

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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6 comments on “The four drivers fighting for a 2009 F1 drive”

  1. I do not know why but I don’t think Bruno Senna will make it big in F1. Things can still turn around for him, but I think people have high expectations of him mainly because of his name … The name however may help him to break in to F1. His name means publicity and publicity means money …

  2. I think the long gap during which Bruno didn’t race anywhere, since his uncle’s death, was a tremendous was of time, and perhaps because of that he’ll never make it… unfortunately, his name won’t fill this gap completely… Had he been prepared steadly like Nelsinho was, he could be great…

    Slightly off topic, I’m curious to know what will happen to Lucas di Grassi career… I think he had a respectable season, missed the GP2 title, but reigned supremely over his team-mates…

    Considering what you say, he won’t have a top seat at GP2, neither an F1 drive…

  3. I think there is still a good chance Bruno Senna will be a success in F1. He has more capacity for improvement than any other driver on the grid because he lost ten years worth of experience.

    One other driver worthy of mention as a future F1 topliner is Mike Conway. He is a former GB F3 champion and is managed by 2MB.(Brundle & Blundell) He has also tested for Honda.

    Winning the GP2 title may not be a good thing for an aspiring world champion. Strange as it may seem no F2/F3000/GP2 champion has ever won the F1 championship. Quite incredible.

  4. Indeed they haven’t – here’s a piece I did on them earlier:

    Part one, part two, part three, part four.

  5. And notoriously Hamilton lost the chance to break this spell this year by losing the easiest championship to be won…

    And even more impressive is the fact that Formula 3000 predecessor, Formula Two, also didn’t have a future Formula 1 Champion among its champions, at least from 1967 on…

  6. It is amazing looking over Keith’s items on the F3000/GP2 champions to see how many of them would now be viewed as entirely unexceptional drivers. It is incredible that I had entirely forgot about Bjorn Wirdheim even though he won the title only 4 years ago.

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