Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Sochi Autodrom, 2016

Where the F1-ready talents are racing in 2016

2016 F1 season

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Where is the next generation of Formula One drivers going to come from?

The FIA has broken new ground this year by introducing a points system to decide which new drivers are eligible to compete in grand prix races. Drivers must collect at least 40 superlicence points in order to be allowed to race in F1.

At the beginning of 2016 there were 34 drivers who had reached or passed that target. There isn’t room for all of them, but there are plenty of other racing opportunities out there. So where have they all ended up?

Fabio Leimer, Manor, Hungaroring, 2015
Leimer: F1 practice last year, on the sidelines in 2016
A dozen of them can be found at the wheel of what is arguably the next-best thing to an F1 car: LMP1 prototypes in the World Endurance Championship. But for most of these drivers their F1 days are behind them, and the same can be said of most of those competing in IndyCar.

The major exception to the latter is Alexander Rossi, whose career received a massive boost last month when he not only won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie, but did it at the much-celebrated 100th running of the event. While he’s set to race in IndyCar for the rest of the year, the Manor reserve driver may be able to find a backer to get him into the team’s car for the United States Grand Prix later this year.

Other up-and-coming drivers like Stoffel Vandoorne and Esteban Ocon have the advantage of top teams behind them but are having to exercise patience as the lack of available seats in F1 has diverted them further afield. Vandoorne dominated GP2 last year and the regulations prevent him from returning, so he’s now in Japan’s Super Formula Champpionship. Ocon is taking the ‘Pascal Wehrlein route’, peddling tin-tops in the DTM.

The usual queue of promising drivers, some also enjoying the backing of F1 teams, have headed to GP2. But reigning European Formula Three champion Felix Rosenqvist is not among them: despite having tested for Prema last year the Swedish driver is now plying his trade in America.

Nor is GP2 the reliable route to F1 it used to be. Fabio Leimer is a case in point: despite clinching the title in 2013 and driving in an F1 practice session last year he is without a drive in any category this year.

Drivers with at least 40 F1 superlicence points

Select column headings to sort; hold Shift to sort on multiple headings

DriverCountryTotalScoresScores counted from2016 seriesNotes
Andre LottererGermany1406P2 in WEC LMP1 2013
P2 in Super Formula 2013
P2 in WEC LMP1 2014
P3 in Super Formula 2014
P2 in WEC LMP1 2015
P3 in Super Formula 2015
World Endurance Championship LMP1 and Japanese Super FormulaMade a one-off F1 start for Caterham in 2014
Stoffel VandoorneBelgium1053P2 in Formula Renault 3.5 2013
P2 in GP2 2014
P1 in GP2 2015
Japanese Super FormulaScored a point on his debut as Fernando Alonso’s substitute in Bahrain this year
Scott DixonNew Zealand1003P1 in IndyCar 2013
P3 in IndyCar 2014
P1 in IndyCar 2015
IndyCarCurrently second in IndyCar and will race a Ford GT at Le Mans
Benoit TreluyerFrance903P2 in WEC LMP1 2013
P2 in WEC LMP1 2014
P2 in WEC LMP1 2015
World Endurance Championship LMP1
Marcel FasslerSwitzerland903P2 in WEC LMP1 2013
P2 in WEC LMP1 2014
P2 in WEC LMP1 2015
World Endurance Championship LMP1 and IMSA GT LM
Loic DuvalFrance795P1 in WEC LMP1 2013
P3 in Super Formula 2013
P7 in WEC LMP1 2014
P4 in Super Formula 2014
P4 in WEC LMP1 2015
World Endurance Championship LMP1 and Formula E
Esteban OconFrance753P3 in Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup 2013
P1 in Euro F3 2014
P1 in GP3 2015
DTMMercedes test driver who has been given a chance to test for Renault and will drive the W07 at the Silverstone test
Felix RosenqvistSweden733P2 in Euro F3 2013
P8 in Euro F3 2014
P1 in Euro F3 2015
Indy LightsWon his second start in Indy Lights and lies sixth in the closely-fought championship
Will PowerAustralia703P4 in IndyCar 2013
P1 in IndyCar 2014
P3 in IndyCar 2015
Anthony DavidsonGreat Britain683P3 in WEC LMP1 2013
P1 in WEC LMP1 2014
P5 in WEC LMP1 2015
World Endurance Championship LMP1Ex-BAR, Minardi and Super Aguri racer
Helio CastronevesBrazil683P2 in IndyCar 2013
P2 in IndyCar 2014
P5 in IndyCar 2015
Sebastien BuemiSwitzerland683P3 in WEC LMP1 2013
P1 in WEC LMP1 2014
P5 in WEC LMP1 2015
World Endurance Championship LMP1 and Formula EHas a good chance of adding the Formula E title to his WEC crown next month
Kazuki NakajimaJapan625P4 in Super Formula 2013
P8 in WEC LMP1 2014
P1 in Super Formula 2014
P7 in WEC LMP1 2015
P2 in Super Formula 2015
World Endurance Championship LMP1 and Japanese Super FormulaEx-Williams driver
Oliver RowlandGreat Britain604P2 in Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup 2013
P4 in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC 2013
P4 in Formula Renault 3.5 2014
P1 in Formula Renault 3.5 2015
GP2Part of Renault’s young driver programme but yet to drive their F1 car
Alex LynnGreat Britain583P3 in Euro F3 2013
P1 in GP3 2014
P6 in GP2 2015
GP2Williams junior driver, drove in testing at the Circuit de Catalunya
Felipe NasrBrazil502P4 in GP2 2013
P3 in GP2 2014
F1In second season of F1 with Sauber
Raffaele MarcielloItaly503P1 in Euro F3 2013
P8 in GP2 2014
P7 in GP2 2015
GP2Dropped from Ferrari’s young driver programme at the end of last year
Tom KristensenDenmark502P1 in WEC LMP1 2013
P4 in WEC LMP1 2014
Jolyon PalmerGreat Britain462P7 in GP2 2013
P1 in GP2 2014
F1In first season of F1 with Renault
Alexander RossiUnited States432P9 in GP2 2013
P2 in GP2 2015
IndyCarScored shock debut win in Indianapolis 500 last month
Antonio GiovinazziItaly433P2 in British F3 2013
P6 in Euro F3 2014
P2 in Euro F3 2015
GP2Point-less from his first four GP2 starts
Brendon HartleyNew Zealand422P9 in WEC LMP1 2014
P1 in WEC LMP1 2015
World Endurance Championship LMP1
Mark WebberAustralia422P9 in WEC LMP1 2014
P1 in WEC LMP1 2015
WEC LMP1Nine-times grand prix winner with Red Bull
Sergey SirotkinRussia423P9 in Formula Renault 3.5 2013
P5 in Formula Renault 3.5 2014
P3 in GP2 2015
GP2Drove for Renault in practice at his home F1 round
Timo BernhardGermany422P9 in WEC LMP1 2014
P1 in WEC LMP1 2015
World Endurance Championship LMP1
Nyck de VriesNetherlands414P5 in Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup 2013
P1 in Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup 2014
P1 in Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS 2014
P3 in Formula Renault 3.5 2015
GP3McLaren junior driver
Allan McNishGreat Britain401P1 in WEC LMP1 2013Retired
Fabio LeimerSwitzerland401P1 in GP2 2013NoneMade a one-off practice appearance for Manor in Hungary last year but out of a drive for 2016
Juan Pablo MontoyaColombia402P4 in IndyCar 2014
P2 in IndyCar 2015
IndyCarSeven-times grand prix winner with McLaren and Williams
Marc LiebGermany402P3 in WEC LMP1 2014
P3 in WEC LMP1 2015
World Endurance Championship LMP1
Marvin KirchhoferGermany403P1 in German F3 2013
P3 in GP3 2014
P3 in GP3 2015
Neel JaniSwitzerland402P3 in WEC LMP1 2014
P3 in WEC LMP1 2015
World Endurance Championship LMP1
Romain DumasFrance402P3 in WEC LMP1 2014
P3 in WEC LMP1 2015
World Endurance Championship LMP1
Sam BirdGreat Britain401P2 in GP2 2013World Endurance Championship GT Pro and Formula ELeading the WEC GT Pro standings with Ferrari team mate Davide Rigon

NB. Nelson Piquet Jnr is also considered eligible to race in F1 having won the Formula E championship last year.

More superlicence data

See the complete list of all drivers who had scored superlicence points at the beginning of 2016:

2016 F1 season

Browse all 2016 F1 season articles

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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  • 18 comments on “Where the F1-ready talents are racing in 2016”

    1. This is a nice list but realistically only a handfull have the aim to reach F1. All the LMP1 drivers for example really won’t give up their seat for a Sauber drive…so from those 34 how many would really want to be in F1..?

      1. I would imagine that Bird, Kirchhofe, Leimer, de Vries, Sirotkin, Giovinazzi, Rossi, Marciello, Lynn, Rowland, Rosenquist, Ocon and Vandoorne would love an F1 drive. So 13 of them.

        1. Bird has a factory Ferrari contract in GT, I’m not sure he’d give that up for a backmarker seat in F1. As for Rossi, I think the Indy win has massively changed his career prospects and direction and shifted them substantially away from F1.

    2. Lotterer, Vandoorne, Ocon, Rosenqvist, Lynn, Rossi, Sirotkin, de Vries. Of those, I expect Ocon, Vandoorne, Rossi and Sirotkin to make it into regular F1 drives.

      Lotterer missed his time, Rosenqvist will probably stay stateside, Lynn isn’t good enough, de Vries I don’t know a lot about so I can’t decide on him. Sirotkin I think will have enough backing to get a formula 1 drive paid for

      1. Rosenqvist took some 5-6 seasons to win the F3 championship. He is definitely quick, as we can see in IndyLight, but he is too old. I don’t think he will get any closer to Formula 1, but I can see him ending up in DTM or WEC for sure.

        1. Umm, Felix Rosenqvist will not be 25 until November and last season, he completely dominated the European F3 Championship:

          (11 rounds x 3 events = 33 races)
          17 pole positions
          13 wins, 6 seconds, 5 thirds for a total of 24 podiums
          13 fastest laps

          This driver should be in F1

          1. Henrik, as Christopher points out, there is the counterpoint that Rosenqvist’s title came in his fifth season in Formula 3 (having started out in 2011), such that he had a substantial advantage in terms of experience over the rest of the field. Part of the reason why he is leaving is because, even if he wanted to stay, he can’t because they’ve now introduced a rule stopping drivers from staying in that series for more than 3 years.

            Furthermore, his team, Prema, has been dominating Formula 3 in recent years, so there is perhaps the question of how much influence his team had as well – it’s not to say that he hasn’t shown any promise, because he has, but that you need to consider the wider context rather than just his performance in 2015 alone.

            1. Anon, what you miss is:

              a) Rosenqvist’s *five* Prema teammates (Jake Dennis, Brandon Maisano, Nick Cassidy, Max Günther and Lance Stroll) between them collected 6 poles, 8 wins, 9 seconds, 8 thirds (25 podiums) plus 5 FL – meaning Rosenquist was better than them combined. This was also his first year with Prema. In previous years when he drove for what you claim are far worse teams, he still managed to figure prominently in the poles, wins, podiums & FL statistics finishing 2nd in 2013 and 3rd in 2012 for Mücke Motorsports. This kind of scuppers Christoper’s and yours “he’s had five years”-argument if Prema are/were so incredibly much better than anyone else.

              b) Rosenqvist is the most dominant champion since the new format was introduced in 2012. In 2014, champion Ocon had 15 poles, 7 wins, 9 seconds, 3 thirds and 7 FL (Max Verstappen had 7 poles, 10 wins, 3 second, 3 thirds, 7 FL). In 2013, champion Marciello scored 12 poles, 13 wins, 5 seconds, 1 third and 7 FL. In 2012 (10 rds, 20 races), champion Juncadella had 5 poles, 5wins, 5 seconds and 5 FL.

              The bottom line is that had Rosenquist been British, German or a teenager he would have been in F1. It’s not always the best drivers that get into F1, but that’s the way it is…

    3. Even though he doesn’t have enough superlicense points, I still think IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden has the talent to race in Formula 1….and do well.

      1. @dangerpaws He’s definitely one of the most interesting young drivers in the championship. But the points system is not very generous towards IndyCar drivers and he’d have to win the title this year in order to be eligible for F1 next year.

        1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
          10th June 2016, 17:24

          @keithcollantine @dangerpaws …nor was his European career particularly noteworthy.

        2. He only has 4 points towards his FIA superlicense scoring.

    4. None of that stuff matters.
      The stuff that really matter, Maldonado has it.


    5. I think there are new rules that need to be noticed.

      Have accumulated at least 40 points during the three-year period preceding his application (see here for how many points each championship awards)
      Have been granted a superlicence (excluding free practice only superlicence) in any of the previous three seasons.
      Have been granted a superlicence prior to the previous 3 seasons (excluding free practice only superlicence). In this case, the driver must be judged by the FIA to have recently and consistently demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars.

    6. Rossi’s deal with Andretti-Herta is a 1-year deal as is with Manor. The Indy Car season ends in the middle of September so he could be available for Malaysia onwards. But at the same time, he raised his stock sending a message to the F1 paddock. He could possibly land with a mid-pack team in F1 unless Indy Car’s Big 2 ( Penske or Ganassi ) decide to offer him a deal.

      He is worthy for a Formula 1 drive for 2017. But as of 2016: well see if he can finish inside the top 5.

    7. Why is Palmer on this list?

    8. This is of course a big ask, but having a column for the driver’s age would be helpful.

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