Last month we discussed which junior racing drivers have what it takes to become winners in F1.
I suggested Romain Grosjean, Earl Bamber, Jaime Alguersuari and Paul di Resta, and a host of other names were put forward in the comments. Two particularly compelling suggestions were Nico Hulkenberg and Karol Basz. Here’s more about those two names.
The German Lewis Hamilton? Hulkenberg won the F3 Euroseries with ART last year – the same outfit Hamilton won the title with in 2005 – and is graduating to GP2 with ART, just as Hamilton did. And like Hamilton he got off to a strong start in his first GP2 events this year.
He also has the support of an active F1 team, although his association with Williams isn’t nearly as long as Hamilton’s with McLaren. But then Hamilton can’t boast having Michael Schumacher’s manager Willi Weber in charge of his career as Hulkenberg can.
It’s not all about connections though – Hulkenberg looks the real deal on the track. If he can beat experienced rivals like Romain Grosjean and Lucas di Grassi to the GP2 title this year, expect him to reach F1 in 2010.
Karol is a very intelligent driver, and it’s unheard of for someone to win races on the first race for a new kart as he did at the WSK a couple of weeks ago. He’d also never been to the track before, so he’s a pretty quick learner. Yes, he won after an exclusion but there were 70-plus others he needed to beat to get into that position. We haven’t seen all the performance that we’re going to yet from the RK kart and the Parilla engine in 2009 either.
Karol one of quite a few who are on their second year in KF2* plus a few fast new entrants, and he does well not to get caught up in wheel-banging and general carnage while being fast enough to take advantage of others, a lot of whom are crazy to say the least.
It usually takes many years for a driver to get from karts to F1. But every once in a while a driver stands out so clearly from his junior rivals his arrival in F1 looks like a dead certainty. Could that be Basz?
Got more tips for future F1 winners? Name them in the comments…
*Mary Ann explains: “the top three levels of karting are KF3 (Juniors), KF2 (15+) and Super KF (professional drivers, open engines). KF2 is huge, there were 112 entries from all over Europe at the Winter Cup this year.”
Images (C) F3 Euroseries / www.kartpix.net (Chris Walker)