So with only two weeks to go, we still didn’t know the identities of the Campos Meta 1 line-up, nor the diminishing chances of seeing the USF1 squad in 2010, or if the upstart Stefan GP would take its place?
Thus, now that we’ve just passed the Resources Restrictions mandatory Summer Break... I thought I’d better publish this before the year was over, eh? As so-far there are a total of six Rookie Gran Premio Piloto’s this season in Formula 1, albeit one isn’t a “True” Rookie, having contested the final two Grand Prix’s last year… Nevertheless here’s a quick look at this year’s Rookie F1 crop.
Nico Hulkenberg: Germany (No. 10)
The 22yr old German began racing Go Karts at the age of 10, ultimately winning the 2002 Junior Karting title and the 2003 Kart Championship. He then progressed to the Formula BMW German series in 2005, where he made his single seater debut, which he dominated enroute to the title… His manager Willi Weber, who was previously some chap named Michael Schumacher’s… Also won the 2005 Formula BMW World Championships, but was DQ’ED for allegedly brake testing his rivals during a Safety Car period.
The “Incredible Hulk” next contested the defunct A1GP Championship, helping Team Germany claim the 2006-07 Crown, where he scored the series most victories. (9) He also contested the German Formula 3 series before moving on to win the Formula 3 Euroseries title in 2008 on the strength of seven wins. In 2009 he became only the second GP2 driver to win the title in his debut season, the other being somebody named Lewis Hamilton.
Vitaly Petrov: Russia (No. 12)
“At 25yrs old, Vitaly is the very first ever Russian to compete in formula 1, having begun his racing career a bit differently as there wasn’t much Karting in his home region. Instead Vitaly started racing in 2001 in the Russia Lada Cup and won every single event the following year enroute to claiming the 2002 title.
Next he moved to the Italian Formula Renault Series where he finished 19th, before scoring his first victory in the British Formula Renault winter series and finished fourth overall.
For 2004-05, Vitaly returned home to Russia and contested the new Lada Revolution Cup, finishing runner-up his first season and winning the title in ’05 with 10 wins, along with also capturing the Formula 1600 title with 5 wins. Petrov then moved on to Formula 3000 and had mixed results, before moving up to GP2 Asia and ultimately GP2 where he finished as runner-up last season to Nico Hulkenberg.
Hispania Racing F1 Team
Karun Chandhok: India (No. 20)
this 26yr old Indian will become his nation’s second Formula 1 driver behind Narain Karthikeyan (Jordan, 2005) upon being confirmed at the renamed Campos Meta 1 Team just a scant 10 days prior to the Grand Prix season opener in Bahrain.
Karun won the 2001 Formula Asia Championship along with capturing the inaugural Formula Asia V6 by Renault Crown in 2006. In-between he competed in British Formula 3 and even bested his protégé Karthikeyan in the World Series by Nissan in 2004. The following year Chandhok became the very first native to drive for Team India in the A1GP series.
From 2007-09, Chandhok has contested the GP2 Championship, having taken three victories as well as being Bruno Senna’s teammate at I Sport International Team in ’08. Not surprisingly, Uncle Bernaughty has long been championing Karun’s form, claiming to be a fan of his as Messer Ecclestone now has his prized driver “Just-in-Time” for the forthcoming Indian Grand Prix.
Bruno Senna: Brazil (No. 21)
The name says it all, as the 26yr old Brazilian is finally set to hopefully follow in the foot steps of his famous uncle, whose name was Ayrton, who reputedly used to brag about how good his nephew was.
Yet with Ayrton’s untimely death in 1994, Bruno’s fledgling racing career came to a screeching halt as his family insisted upon his curtailing his motorsports activities. Thus it would be a further 10yrs before Bruno resumed action behind the wheel, having begun by sampling his uncle’s Lotus 98T mount in a demonstration run in Interlagos in 2004, as the 1986 Lotus car was given as a gift to Bruno at Imola on the 10th Anniversary of his uncle’s death, along with contesting six rounds of the Formula BMW UK Championship for Carlin Motorsports.
Bruno next contested the British F3 International Championship for Raikkonen Robertson Racing during 2005-06, finishing 10th overall the first year and third overall the latter, with five wins while finishing behind teammate Mike Conway and Oliver Jarvis, with Conway winning the title.
Senna next dabbled in some Sports Car driving, contesting the Porsche SuperCup round in Monte Carlo as a Guest and then later on won both rounds of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli aboard a F430 at Silverstone, held as part of the Scuderia’s 60th Anniversary celebrations, which Senna ran during a four week break during GP2 competition.
For 2007-08, Senna competed in the GP2 series, now targeting Formula 1 in 2009, as Bruno was being mentored by his uncle’s friend & teammate Gerhard Berger. Bruno drove for Christian Horner’s Red Bull backed Arden International during his debut season and scored one win before switching to I Sport International in 2008, who he drove for in both the GP2 Asia & GP2 Championships. In his GP2 sophomore season, Bruno scored victory at Monaco, with the Senna name being atop the podium in the Principality for the first time in 15yrs, although Bruno was also the victim of the bizarre incident in Istanbul where he accidently struck a wayward pooch and ultimately finished runner-up in the championship.
Although Bruno had tested for the Honda F1 Team and had hopes of driving for them, Ross Brawn chose Rubens Barrichello instead for his wealth of experience, especially with the Testing Ban in place. Senna considered racing in the DTM before testing an Oreca LMP1 Racecar and ultimately drove for the Team at Le Mans as well as the LMS Championship, while waiting to renew his Formula 1 ambitions in 2010…
Kamui Kobayashi: Japan (No. 23)
This 23yr old Japanese racer, the son of a Sushi chef, who was worried that he’d be forced to return to waiting tables for his father’s restaurant... Like many began Karting at the age of nine and spent seven years in the Go Kart ranks amassing four Championships before moving into the single seater class as a member of Toyota’s young driver program. In 2004 Kamui contested Formula Renault in the Asian, German, Italian and Dutch series, and with six wins apiece, he won the 2005 European and Italian Formula Renault titles.
Kobayashi next progressed into Formula 3 Euroseries, where he spent the next two years, and along with being named one of Toyota’s F1 Test Drivers, he also “Broke his Duck” by winning the F3 race at Magny Cours in 2007.
For 2008-09 Kobayashi contested the GP2 Asia & GP2 Championships, claiming victory at the Circuit de Catalonia, along with capturing the GP2 Asia Crown in his sophomore season, while his GP2 form wasn’t as great before being called up to substitute for ToyotaF1’s Timo Glock, albeit first practicing for the then sick German in Suzuka, but wasn’t allowed to race.
Then Glock who had a nasty crash in the Japanese Grand Prix was replaced by Kamui for the Brazilian and Abu Dabi rounds, where he finished a fine sixth place in the latter, which was to be Toyota’s very last formula 1 race.
Kobayashi was electrifying in his first two F1 races, as I found him to be the revelation of the season, albeit it appeared his time in the spotlights would be cut short by Toyota’s decision to leave the sport… Yet Kamui caught Peter Sauber’s eye and has landed a seat at the reconstituted BMW Sauber F1 Team for 2010, with the Sauber C29-Ferrari’s having been fast during Pre-season testing, although I suspect the Proof-in-the Pudding will be seeing if he can continue to impress this season, eh?
Lucas di Grassi: Spain (No. 25)
This 25yr old Brazilian finished as the 2007 GP2 runner-up behind Championship winner Timo Glock, who’s now his teammate at the new-for-2010 Virgin Racing Team, conceived from Manor Motorsport in England.
From a modest Karting career, di Grassi graduated to Brazil’s Formula Renault series where he was runner-up in 2002 before moving onto Formula 3 the following year, where he once again was runner-up in the South American category.
He then contested the European and British F3 categories, scoring two victories in British F3 and finishing third overall behind the dominant pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Adrian Sutil, along with winning the prestigious Macau Grand Prix in 2005 with Manor Motorsport.
Next di Grassi moved up to GP2 from 2006-08, driving for three different Teams along with scoring three victories before being signed as a Renault F1 Test Driver and then ultimately landing the second race seat at Virgin F1...