When we look back at history, we can always separate the Great drivers from the Good, because of their ability to define success. The Talented drivers can always hit the mark, which the normal ones will try all their life. Winning the championship is one thing, but building a character throughout the career is another. Formula 1 is a team sport, although the quality of driver is also a pretty much important. The success of a driver will depend on multiple factors, but if the driver lacks the vision to glory, Championship is not in his destiny. Valtteri Bottas and Jules Bianchi are two drivers who have made their debut with quite an expectation, they have their talent proved in the lower leagues and Formula 1 is their next hurdle. Regardless of their age, drivers do learn plenty of things on every single day, but do the drivers like Kobayashi, Heidfeld, Pedro de la Rosa, Webber, and Hulkenberg have something to teach for these ambitious youngsters something in particular?
Ability is nothing without opportunity - Napoleon Bonaparte
Davide Valsecchi is the current GP2 Champion sitting on the sidelines at the Lotus Garage. Considering the history of that series, it’s quite ideal that a driver who wins the championship expects a seat in Formula 1, but unfortunately Valsecchi doesn’t seem to have too many seats vacant to support his case even for 2014. It’s rumoured that Kimi Raikkonen due to his back (Bank) problems might miss the remainder of the season starting from Korea, and that seems to be the only possible way that Valsecchi can make his debut in Formula 1. The only other driver from the GP2 stable who has won the championship and yet missed a full season drive was Giorgio Pantano who raced for much of the 2004 season with Jordan, and joined the GP2 series until his championship victory in 2008. However, When compared to other formidable champions of the series, like Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, or Nico Hulkenberg, Valsecchi and Pantano took a little longer to win their GP2 series championship. But that doesn’t mean that Pastor Maldonado,Romain Grosjean or Timo Glock won the championship in their first attempt, and except for Timo Glock, Maldonado and Grosjean did exchange a suitcase or two to support their entry into Formula 1, something that Valsecchi could consider for securing his drive.
As we have stated in the article Artificial Racing and GP2, the uniqueness of the GP2 series lies in the use of similar chassis by all drivers, with the real difference coming from the Setup of the car. So the driver ability is clearly reflected which is the real motive of this series. It doesn't mean that Pastor Maldonado or Romain Grosjean aren’t good enough, after all we are talking about the champions who have defeated 25 other drivers, and it takes an effort to clinch the championship. We for sure do not know the result of trying Valsecchi in Formula 1. GP2 is not a real test to determine the ability of a driver, and when we look at his career, he has tried his heart out in various series across the globe, but hasn’t converted into a championship victory.
Ironically, Bottas hasn’t competed in the GP2 series while Bianchi hasn’t won the championship in his two attempts in the series. But both these drivers have won the championship elsewhere in their career and that will continue to reflect in their portfolio. And fortunately for these drivers, they are given an opportunity to showcase their talent, while in the case of Valsecchi, his talent would be debated until his debut. Now, it would make sense for Bianchi and Bottas to put their efforts and impress the teams higher up the ladder, after all Luck favours the brave, right?
Luck marches with those who give their very best - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
It’s not always true that Luck favors the brave or Luck favors those who give their best, especially if you look at the likes of Nico Hulkenberg.
Hulkenberg has shown his passion towards racing, and has given his best in every possible series on this planet. We can’t really compare the Hulk with Kimi, but it was really an unfortunate move from the Prancing Horses that has further stalled his career. Thankfully the age is on his side, but once you get stalled at a particular place, there is very little thing that will keep you going, considering the fact that Force India in various disguises has been the home to Adrian Sutil who was once tipped to be an Formula 1 Champion. Nothing seems to be going at this moment in terms of his career, and in all probabilities, Sutil might stay with Force India for yet another season. Many critics have stated that Hulkenberg needs a stability in his career, and that Force India could have been an ideal place for him to be in 2013. But looking at Sutil’s career, it couldn’t be a wise choice. Hulkenberg sidestepped to Sauber and would have hoped for that 2012 form where the Swiss team had scored podiums on more than one occasion, but it wasn’t the case in 2013, instead he has strengthened his Ferrari connection, which could eventually help him on the long run.
It has to be said that the 2014 seat at Lotus could improve the career of Hulkenberg, but the amount of funding that Lotus needs to have in place for next season would depend on too many factors including the stake sale to Infinity Racing, and also the supposed funding from Renault who are looking for more exposure on their Formula 1 project. However, Sauber is all set to ride on the Russian sponsors, and if Sergey Sirotkin gains that super licence, Sauber could eventually gain their lost glory. If that has to be the case, Hulkenberg could gain that exposure that he was banking on from the Swiss team, and if at all a seat at Ferrari gets vacant in 2015 (Talk about the Alonso to McLaren rumor) then Hulkenberg could be the first choice for the elevated job.
The men who have succeeded are men who have chosen one line and stuck to it - Andrew Carnegie
It’s quite obvious that we always look at the teams and drivers that are in the points, and we tend to notice other drivers when there is an exceptional performance difference between the two teammates or if the experienced driver is matched by his rookie teammate like Charles Pic matching Timo Glock all through last season. Bottas and Bianchi are unfortunately handicapped by their machines, and their ability to make a difference is clearly limited, this gives a chance to their teammates to get the maximum performance from their cars even if it takes bit longer. With all due respect to Maldonado and Chilton, we aren’t underestimating their abilities, after all we are talking about a GP2 champion and the other coming from the family of racing geeks and his father being a multi millionaire, we have to say both Maldonado and Chilton have started to challenge their teammates pace more often than at the beginning of the season. The reasons for the spike in performance could be their personal form which could have seen an improvement or might be the maximum performance achieved from their chassis. Either way, it would be impossible for these drivers to gain a reputation, if the performances are the same from the teammates. This ultimately plays a role to the success of a driver, and ultimately one of the driver should seek a new challenge to regain his reputation, and thus sticking to a particular team for a prolong period wouldn’t do a justice to a person’s reputation unless the team is above the midfield pack.
Ferrari is right about seeking a fresh challenge for Bianchi as a seat higher up the grid could reflect his true potential. Bottas can only hope that the fresh changes to the Williams stable would lift the team’s prospects which would eventually elevate his career to a new high.
“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” - Charles R. Swindoll
Mark Webber has recently admitted that his decision to turn down an offer to join Renault from the 2005 season wasn’t his best decision, as the team went on a roll to win the constructors and drivers championship while Webber struggled to score points at the ailing Williams team.
It’s always a lesson for young drivers to identify opportunities, Webber was then at his best, and together with Renault, he could have won the drivers championship or would have given a tough challenge to Fernando Alonso. It’s not required that a Ferrari or probably Red Bull now will continue to dominate as the new regulations kick in for the 2014 season. There could be a darkhorse somewhere, and that’s when the drivers shouldn’t be afraid to take a brave decision, if an opportunity comes in their way. Webber could have gone with the heritage that the Williams team possess over the sport, but if he made a gamble to switch to the darkhorse, he could have been a champion.
Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future - John F. Kennedy
It’s unfortunate that the present world doesn’t let the talented drivers to survive, the Formula 1 is ruled by 'pay drivers'. Some of the top teams like Ferrari suggest that the decision to field three cars per team should come sooner than later as it can boost the talent and would mix up the field. Imagine if another driver was added to the mix in the Red Bull camp, Would Vettel be able to defend his title against Hamilton, Alonso and Kimi in the same chassis? We now know that the decision to go with Daniel Ricciardo over Kimi Raikkonen was over age than talent or anything else, so if there was a possibility of fielding three cars per team, we could have seen a fair competition to Vettel, as we are yet to see if Ricciardo can adapt to the big team.
Competition has increased compared to yesteryears, and so was the necessity for ‘pay drivers’. Bianchi and Bottas seem to possess plenty of talent, and they should not be in Formula 1 to add to the numbers or to fill the grid. Maybe, they should learn from drivers like Kobayashi, Webber and Heidfeld to pursue a new challenge somewhere and come back into Formula 1 at a time when the top team needs them. There’s no point for them to continue yet another season at the bottom half of the table. On the other hand, Williams and Marussia could use in more funds from a pay driver. It would be a win win situation for one and all. As sticking to the same challenge at the bottom of the field would result in the formation of yet another Hulkenberg where the driver is filled with talent but has nothing to improvise, and eventually fresh drivers could fill their spots, and these talents could be forgotten in our short memory span, as from the case of Sutil, most of the ratings have been downgraded from the tag of ‘Future Champion’ to a ‘Good Driver’, and we do not even know if Sutil was capable of doing something extraordinary.