Drivers start-of-season photograph, Albert Park, Melbourne, 2016

Who are the best drivers outside F1 in 2016?

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Twelve months ago we asked which up-and-coming drivers outside F1 were the talents of the future.

Your choices included three drivers who went on to make their F1 debuts – Stoffel Vandoorne, Jolyon Palmer and Alexander Rossi.

Can you identify more talents of the future? F1 Fanatic has drawn up a list of 135 of the world’s top international racing drivers who are or could soon be eligible to race in F1 under the FIA’s new superlicence rules.

The list contains all drivers who participated in an F1 practice session in the two years prior to 2016, all drivers with at least ten FIA superlicence points at the beginning of 2016 and the Formula E champion. Drivers who are already part of an F1 team’s full-time line-up are omitted, along with any that are unavailable due to injury.

Over to you

Which of these drivers most deserve an F1 race seat? Select up to 22.

Which 22 drivers would you put in F1 in 2016?

  • Adderly Fong (0%)
  • Alex Lynn (3%)
  • Alexander Rossi (5%)
  • Allan McNish (0%)
  • Andre Lotterer (4%)
  • Anthony Davidson (1%)
  • Antonio Felix da Costa (3%)
  • Antonio Fuoco (1%)
  • Antonio Giovinazzi (0%)
  • Augusto Farfus (0%)
  • Ben Gersekowski (0%)
  • Benjamin Barnicoat (0%)
  • Benoit Treluyer (1%)
  • Brendon Hartley (1%)
  • Bruno Baptista (0%)
  • Bruno Spengler (1%)
  • Carlos Munoz (0%)
  • Charles Leclerc (1%)
  • Charles Pic (1%)
  • Christian Vietoris (0%)
  • Conor Daly (1%)
  • Daniel Juncadella (0%)
  • Dean Stoneman (1%)
  • Dennis Olsen (0%)
  • Ed Jones (0%)
  • Edoardo Mortara (0%)
  • Egor Orudzhev (0%)
  • Emil Bernstorff (0%)
  • Esteban Ocon (4%)
  • Fabio Leimer (1%)
  • Facu Regalia (0%)
  • Felipe Ortiz (0%)
  • Felix Rosenqvist (2%)
  • Gabby Chaves (0%)
  • Gabriele Tarquini (0%)
  • Giedo van der Garde (1%)
  • Graham Rahal (1%)
  • Guan Yu Zhou (0%)
  • Helio Castroneves (1%)
  • Hiroaki Ishiura (0%)
  • Jack Aitken (0%)
  • Jack Harvey (0%)
  • Jake Dennis (0%)
  • James Calado (1%)
  • James Nash (0%)
  • Jamie Green (0%)
  • Jimmy Eriksson (0%)
  • Joao Paulo de Oliveira (0%)
  • Joel Eriksson (0%)
  • Johnny Cecotto Jnr (0%)
  • Jordan King (0%)
  • Jordan Lloyd (0%)
  • Jose Maria Lopez (1%)
  • Juan Pablo Montoya (4%)
  • Julio Acosta (0%)
  • Kazuki Nakajima (0%)
  • Kenta Yamashita (0%)
  • Kevin Jorg (0%)
  • Lance Stroll (1%)
  • Lando Norris (0%)
  • Loic Duval (1%)
  • Louis Deletraz (0%)
  • Luca Ghiotto (1%)
  • Lucas Auer (0%)
  • Lucas di Grassi (2%)
  • Marc Lieb (0%)
  • Marcel Fassler (1%)
  • Marco Andretti (1%)
  • Marco Wittmann (1%)
  • Mark Webber (3%)
  • Markus Pommer (0%)
  • Martin Cao (0%)
  • Marvin Dienst (0%)
  • Marvin Kirchhofer (0%)
  • Matt Parry (0%)
  • Matthieu Vaxiviere (1%)
  • Mattia Drudi (0%)
  • Mattias Ekstrom (1%)
  • Mike Rockenfeller (0%)
  • Mitch Evans (2%)
  • Mitsunori Takaboshi (0%)
  • Naoki Yamamoto (0%)
  • Neel Jani (1%)
  • Nelson Piquet Jnr (1%)
  • Nick Cassidy (0%)
  • Nick Yelloly (0%)
  • Nico Muller (0%)
  • Nicolas Lapierre (0%)
  • Niko Kari (0%)
  • Nobuharu Matsushita (0%)
  • Norbert Michelisz (0%)
  • Nyck de Vries (1%)
  • Oliver Jarvis (0%)
  • Oliver Rowland (2%)
  • Pedro Cardoso (0%)
  • Pedro Piquet (0%)
  • Pierre Gasly (2%)
  • Raffaele Marciello (1%)
  • Ralf Aron (0%)
  • Ricky Capo (0%)
  • Ricky Collard (0%)
  • Robert Schwartzman (0%)
  • Roberto Merhi (1%)
  • Robin Frijns (3%)
  • Rodrigo Pflucker (0%)
  • Romain Dumas (0%)
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay (2%)
  • Sage Karam (0%)
  • Sam Bird (3%)
  • Scott Dixon (2%)
  • Sebastien Buemi (3%)
  • Sebastien Loeb (3%)
  • Sergey Sirotkin (1%)
  • Sho Tsuboi (0%)
  • Simon Hodge (0%)
  • Simon Pagenaud (1%)
  • Spencer Pigot (0%)
  • Stefano Coletti (0%)
  • Stephane Sarrazin (1%)
  • Stoffel Vandoorne (6%)
  • Susie Wolff (1%)
  • Tadasuke Makino (0%)
  • Takamoto Katsuta (0%)
  • Tim Macrow (0%)
  • Timo Bernhard (1%)
  • Tio Ellinas (0%)
  • Tom Blomqvist (1%)
  • Tom Randle (0%)
  • Vladimir Atoev (0%)
  • Will Power (3%)
  • Will Stevens (1%)
  • Wu Ruopeng (0%)
  • Yuichi Nakayama (0%)
  • Yvan Muller (0%)
  • Zach Veach (0%)

Total Voters: 362

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An F1 Fanatic account is required in order to vote. If you do not have one, register an account here or read more about registering here. When this poll is closed the result will be displayed instead of the voting form.

Your alternative F1 grid for 2015

Here are the drivers you chose to fill an alternative F1 grid 12 months ago:

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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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  • 81 comments on “Who are the best drivers outside F1 in 2016?”

    1. Some absolutely terrible drivers included here. Funny.

      1. What about Robert Kubica? recently Mercedes SLS- GT3 to help his friend Martin Prokop start a new race team, in a one off 12 hour race at Mugello afew weeks back. Kubica qualified 3rd and set the fastest lap of the race — it was his first circuit race since F1 in 2010. too bad they cant make a bigger cockip in f1 just for him for his right arm, as he still has the speed. here is that fastest lap at of the race at mugello 12H by Robert Kubica:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0l6yMtNITGo

      2. I think its nice to have more or less a complete field of drivers in good racing series to choose from. Some clearly do have the talent for F1 some are too old by now, some will never be talented enough.

    2. Couple of drivers here who, on talent, are absolute no-brainers. Vandoorne, Ocon, Leclerc, Frijns, Lynn.

      1. Argh, I missed Vandoorne when going over the list.

    3. I’ve always wondered what Helio Castroneves would be able to do in a decent F1 car. Maybe Haas can hire him, as the guy is very popular in the US.

      1. Would love to have seen that – but hes getting on a bit these days

    4. I just took a random group of drivers that actually could be in F1, so I did not vote for Webber or Montoya although I would love them both back.

      1. Didn’t include Webber (he’s done with F1) but I did include Montoya, seeing how he is going in IndyCars @xtwl

        1. But Montoya has been done with f1 since 2006.

    5. Alex Lynn, Alex Rossi, Andre Lotterer, Ben Treluyer, Brendon Hartley, Charles Leclerc, Esteban Ocon, Felix Rosenqvist, Graham Rahal, James Calado, Juan Montoya, Marcel Fassler, Mark Webber, Matthieu Vaxiviere, Oli Rowland, Roberto Merhi, Sam Bird, Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, Stoffel Vandoorne, Will Power and Will Stevens. Guys who I feel are still good enough, drivers who have a lot of potential or guys who I felt never got the shot in F1 they really should have had. With the IndyCar drivers, I picked out guys who are really good at fuel management and are just generally quick on the road and street courses.

      I would have put Josef Newgarden in place of Pagenaud on there too if he was available.

    6. Montoya in a heart beat! Bring back this ballzy driver please!!!

    7. No Josef Newgarden? And Where’s JEV? Yet the retired Susie Wolff and Alan Mcnish are there, along with drivers clearly not F1 material like Coletti, Fong and Vietoris. Yeah I very much disagree with this list

      Anyway my 22 choices. I’ve tried to chose feasible drivers and not someone who was in F1 before or who’s past the hope of getting into it:

      da Costa
      Vaxiviere
      Rowland
      Gasly
      Rahal
      Bird
      Lynn
      Stoneman
      Ocon
      Calado
      Lopez
      Evans
      Frijns
      Sirotkin
      Rossi
      Leclerc
      Leimer
      Rosenqvist
      Ghiotto
      Wittmann
      Buemi
      Vandoorne

      1. I d watch this gris if it were racing

    8. Antonio Felix da Costa, won races in every major series he’s raced in. Just look at where he would be in Formula E at the minute without having so much bad luck

      1. His bad luck is painful to watch. And he is driving with an old spec car

      2. @vulcan9919 Felix da Costa and Frijns is the ‘lost’ Toro Rosso line up of the last few years in my opinion. Red Bull’s drivers last year were aged 26, 21, 21, 18. Big gap for one of those two to fit into!

        1. and they’re driving old-spec FE cars too

    9. In my opinion…. IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden should be in this poll too!!
      He would definitely be on my list.

    10. No Robert Wickens? One of the unluckiest not to make F1 in the last decade in my view.

      1. Yes, how is this man glossed over compared to some of the has been and never will be gracing this list?

    11. While I don’t want this to turn into a series of “what about them” thread, I think no Laurens Vanthoor is a shame.

      Is it possible to do write-ins on these polls? I know write-ins risk trolls or something, but idk

      1. Actually, a lot of sportscar drivers are missing: Tandy, Derani, etc.

        1. @hhg1 I think Vanthoor probably only blossomed when driving GT cars, was he really fast enough for F1. Same for Tandy.

    12. Not on the list but my pick is Robert Wickens. He had a stellar open wheel career beating future F1 drivers and winning the 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 championship over the likes of Vergne, Rossi and, Riccardo. Also his wins in DTM in the rain and dry with an under powered mercedes. It might be my Canadian bias but i do believe Wickens 100% deserves to be in F1. Its just a shame he doesnt come from a rich family and couldnt buy himself an f1 seat like you do nowadays.

    13. If IndyCar used the 10-6-4-3-2-1 system last year, Rahal would’ve been champ. He delivered when he could. Massively unrepresented… For someone freakishly tall for an open wheeler, the guy has some serious game. All from teams that were midfield.

      1. Rahal was mostly unlucky in his Indy career, he managed to have a good year last year.

    14. Weird not to see Paul de Resta on the list.

      1. Yes, and weird to see how many people voted on former f1 drivers such as Di Grassi.

      2. Not enough Super Licence Points for Di Resta to qualify.

        1. Then how can he be a Williams reserve driver?

          1. As he’s previously held a super licence I believe he is exempt from the system.

      3. Williams reserve driver this year so not included for that reason

    15. Jimmie Johnson, Danica Patrick and Sebastian Ogier

    16. No Kamui Kobayashi? Wouldn’t he fulfill the criteria?
      Not many drivers are as exciting to watch as he was in an F1 car.

      1. Agreed, and no Pipo Derani !

      2. I’m glad Red Bull brought Verstappen in to compensate for the loss of Kamui Kobayashi. I really miss him :/

    17. My favourite option on that list is Gabriele Tarquini.

      1. Poor Gabriele. A touring car legend on one hand and on the other the holder of one of the most unwanted F1 records (most DNPQ’s).

    18. Definitely Robin Frijns, too bad he refused Red Bull, what a waist of talent.

      1. good and bad choice at the same time
        Good: Cause he won’t be treated like a dog
        Bad: He can’t do F1 :(

    19. The most underrated driver in that poll is Sirotkin in my opinion. If I was to pick one, of course it would be Vandoorne, then Ocon, then Sirotkin, Lynn, Gasly and Rowland as joint.

      1. I also want Yuji Ide back

    20. Two drivers I miss the most are not in this list – Robert Kubica and Kamui Kobayashi.

    21. McNish doesn’t qualify so I wonder why he is on the list I wonder

      1. @bluebill77 He won in the WEC in 2013 before he retired, that still counts towards superlicense points.

    22. Josef Newgarden
      Pipo Derani
      Robert Wickens

    23. I’m unfamiliar with most of these drivers, and the handful I’m familiar with are IndyCar/Le Mans folks that I’m indifferent about seeing in F1.

      Pastor Maldonado wasn’t an option, so I went with Piquet Jr. for the lulz. Sorry about that.

    24. Based on talent:
      Ocon
      Vandoorne
      Frijns
      Lotterer
      Sirotkin as outsider (F1 metrics made me value him different a year or 2 ago, actually don’t know how he’s done since)

      Based on fun / character:
      Loeb
      Montoya
      Wolff
      Castroneves

      Carmen Jorda is missing.

      1. Not enough super licence points for Jorda. I don’t think that Sirotkin is an outsider anymore as he’s been fantastic recently and has got a drive in GP2 the class leading ART purely on talent.

    25. I would love to see Kyle Busch (NASCAR champion) in F1. I know there’s no chance in hell of this ever happening though!

      Probably in the minority here, but I would love to see Nelson Piquet Jr back in F1. He’s such a talent and has had great success in so many diverse championships, including single seaters on the way to F1, NASCAR, Rallycross, Formula E. He’ll probably always be known for Singapore 2008 rather than his amazing race results and driving talent.

      1. I was wondering if Kyle Busch would be in the choices. I don’t think he would be any good at F1 but it would be worth the price of admission to see him try to get in and out of the car.

    26. Sebastian Loeb is without a doubt the best driver outside of formula 1, he is a genius

    27. How old is Jan Mardenbrough (sp?)?

      He’s had a decent rise to prototypes, hasn’t he?

      1. ye, shouldve been on the list

    28. I was really hoping with an American Formula One team that Alexandra Rossi would get a shot. I wonder what happened there?

    29. @keithcollantine, next year when you make the same vote, could you put on a counter showing how many drivers have I already selected? Can’t keep up with them :)

      My 22 picks this year: Alex Lynn, Andre Lotterer, Antonio Felix da Costa, Brendon Hartley, Charles Leclerc, Dean Stoneman, Egor Orudzhev, Esteban Ocon, Graham Rahal, Luca Ghiotto, Marco Wittmann, Matthieu Vaxiviere, Mitch Evans, Neel Jani (very much underrated IMO), Nelson Piquet Jnr, Norbert Michelisz (yes, I’m Hungarian), Oliver Rowland, Robin Frijns, Sam Bird, Sebastian Buemi, Stoffel Vandoorne, Tio Ellinas

      There are too many good drivers out there, still could have put in Power, Sirotkin, Duval and Lopez from the vote, and from drivers without superlicense points: Oliver Turvey, Simona de Silvestro, Robert Wickens, Jann Mardenborough, Nick Tandy, Laurens Vanthoor, and maybe Kyle Busch. From ex-F1 drivers Montoya, JEV, Kobayashi, Rossi, Davidson and Glock. That’s another 16 picks I know :D Wouldn’t want to be a team principal making these decisions…

    30. Should have had Mathias Lauda here too, he will be one to watch in the future I reckon.

      1. P.S I know he’s not elegible with superlicence rules etc but I imagine he will be in the future.

    31. Mark Webber!

      Oh….ummmm….. nevermind…. Really?

      Andre Lotterer ran an F1 race late season 2014 if I recall.

      1. Aye l would like
        Lotterer and Vandoorne ..

      2. Yes, Lotterer did. He replaced Kobayashi at Caterham for one race at Spa-Francorchamps and lapped faster than his team mate Ericsson. Ericsson was beating Kobayashi at the time, so Lotterer did a very good job even though he DNFed at the end.

    32. Undoubtedly two drivers who made a splash last year (Nick Cassidy, Kenta Yamashita) in Japanese F3 will make a splash again this year (FIA F3 and sadly still Japanese F3). It’s a shame Toyota have no F1 involvement anymore, else Yamashita could be the next promising Japanese F1 driver. Although Matsushita isn’t bad either for Honda. Cassidy might make the headlines for the wrong reasons if he has to keep giving the lead to Lance Stroll in order for him to win the FIA F3 title.

      1. Talking of Honda, I wonder why they didn’t send 2013 Super Formula champion Naoki Yamamoto to drive GP2 in 2014. Instead, his older team-mate, Takuya Izawa. So, no surprise that they were way behind when they rejoined F1..

    33. I chose Vandoorne, Rossi, Ocon, Lotterer, Frijns, Buemi, Bird, Felix da Costa, Lynn, di Grassi, Rowland, Gasly, Evans, de Vries, Sirotkin, Van der Garde, Piquet Jr, Lopez, Calado, Merhi, Pic, Wittmann.

      I would like to see Rosenqvist and Leclerc in GP2/GP3 first, even if GP2 is long overdue for Rosenqvist, so Marciello and Vaxiviere get an interim year at ‘Lotus’. If we could then add ‘Minardi’, for a full grid, I’d select Vietoris and Mortara.

    34. No JEV? or he counted as already in F1?

    35. Jerome d’Ambrosio, he must have Super Licensce Points and qualify to race for F1. Practically all other Formula E drivers are on the list. And I think he’s is one of the latest to drive for a F1 team (Lotus).

    36. Stoffel Vandoorne, Felix Rosenqvist, Esteban Ocon, Andre Lotterer, Alexander Rossi, Robin Frijns, Sam Bird, Tom Blomqvist, Antonio Felix da Costa, Pierre Gasly, Sergey Sirotkin…

      I can’t do 22.

    37. Always wanted to see Sebastien Loeb do his thing in a f1 machine.Being a aussie I feel Will Power has always shown that he would be competitive.

    38. The person who voted for Sage Karam just made my day, I can’t stop laughing! “Surge Karom” is more like it.

      1. Karam could be perfect for GP2.

    39. My choices ended up being pretty much a mix of the best drivers in LMP1 (Lotterer, Treluyer), IndyCar (Power, Dixon), a couple of sentimental ex-F1 drivers (Montoya) and the up and comers (Vandoorne and Ocon).

      Looking at the results most have done the same.

    40. Duval gets 12%, Montoya 46%. I really don’t understand which parameter people are using.

    41. They left out Newgarden, Hinchcliffe, and Aleshin. Just look at Nico – he is out-scoring Marco and Graham combined.

      Veach, Jones and Serralles would be perfect for GP2.

    42. Boy I would pay to see Montoya back in the grid…best driver without doubt.

    43. Hartley, Daly, Calado, Yelloly, Vietoris, Ghiotto and Kirchhofer are, amongst those I voted for, the lowest rated. I picked these former GP2/GP3 drivers because I followed them closely in those two series and I liked them. Yelloly did miracles last year with Hilmer, who have gone bankrupt; Calado and Kirchhofer have been, in GP2 and GP3 respectively, the solid front-runners for ART, race-winners but not title-winners. Calado was especially underrated I think while Kirchhofer has a chance now with struggling team Carlin in GP2. Daly was fast in GP3 and solid in GP2, in the few races he got to start. Hartley, when he returned to ORT in 2011, immediately raised the teams’ bar, but the fact they left at the end of the season says a lot of the car at his disposal. Vietoris had a few exceptional races in 2011, beating the unbeatable, Romain Grosjean, at Spa and Nurburgring. Ghiotto resisted to Esteban Ocon last year in GP3 till the final race, and he took pole in his maiden race at Spa in 2014. This while driving for Trident, and not having the Frenchman’s pedigree.

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