Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Changing of The Guard

Although I expect the Turnover to be Much Higher in Indy Cars shortly…


Last week Thee Original Iceman, nee Kimi and His Oomphlats’, aka Kimi Raikkonen announced his retirement from Formula 1 at the end of this season, ending a career in Ye Pinnacle ‘O Motorsports that covers two decades, albeit having been on Sabbatical between 2010-2011 when he tried his hand as a World Rally Championship (WRC) driver.


At Age 41, Raikkonen is not only the Elder Statesman of Formula 1, but arguably it’s current Ironman, as he’ll become the first F1 Driver to ever start 350 Grands Prix at Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Street race in Jeddah on December 5th, provided no more major interruptions due to Covid in this year’s schedule. (Uhm, that was Prophetic)


As Raikkonen’s just completed his 342nd start at Zandvoort, and is Zeroing in upon a milestone once thought incomprehensible. As Kimi eclipsed the previous record holder Rubino’, aka Rubens Barrichello’s feat of 322 Starts last October at the Nurburgring’s Eiffel Grand Prix.


Having scribbled that prior to Kimi testing positive for COVID 19 at Zandvoort and being replaced by Alfa Romeo Reserve Driver Robert Kubica, meaning Kimi’s still on 341 Grands Prix Starts prior to Monza. Although Raikkonen’s long ago said he doesn’t care about records…


And although Kimi’s departure theoretically opens one seat on the F1 grid for Alfa Romeo, we’re all Ah-Waitin’ the confirmation of the worst kept secret of fellow countryman Valtteri Bottas, Kimi’s Bosom buddy taking his seat for 2022.


Guess now that Valtteri’s finally been officially confirmed at Alfa Romeo on a multi-year contract beginning next year, the question is who’ll be his team-mate?


Thus Fredrico Suave, aka Fernando Alonso now 40 will take over the mantle of Elder Statesman in F1 next season, and with his confirmation plus Esteban Ocon on a long term contract, there’s no place for the Junior alpine Academy drivers to go.


Alpine Academy

Christian Lundgaard, Denmark; (2017) Guanyu Zhou, China; (2019) Oscar Piastri, Australia (2020)

(Year = When Entered Programme)


As why do I bring this up? Well you’re All aware of current Alpine Academy driver Christian Lundgaard who’s currently contesting his Sophomore campaign in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, The final rung on the ladder into Formula 1. As the Dane’ recently made his IndyCar Debut in a “One Off” appearance for Bubbie Ruble and Company during the August 14th IMS Road Course race, part of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s “gong Show” tryout for who’ll potentially drive it’s third #45 entry in 2022.


Ferrari Driver Academy

Marcus Armstrong, New Zealand; (2017) Callum Ilott, UK; (2017) Robert Shwartzman, Russia; (2017) Mick Schumacher, Germany (2019)


As we know, Juncos Hollinger Racing recently announced the news that it will put Ferrari Academy Driver Callum Ilott behind the wheel of  it’s #77 Dallara/Chevy IndyCar at Portland, as the team reboots  itself with contesting the West coast’s final three IndyCar races before going Fulltime in 2022.


As Ilott’s currently the Ferrari F1 Test and Alfa Romeo Reserve Driver, and just finished third in the LM GTE Am Class at Le Mans, naturally aboard a Ferrari 488 GTE Evo. Whilst I’m slightly Cornfuzed over why Mick Schumacher who’s contesting his rookie season in Formula 1 for the Haas F1 Team is still a “Junior” Driver?


Red Bull Junior Team

Juri Vips, Estonia; (2018) Liam Lawson, New Zealand; (2019) Jehan Daruvala, India (2020)


As it’s interesting how some of the “Major” Players in Formula 1 are seeking alternative “High Octane” Series for their prospective future F1 Pilotes to stay sharp in. As some Noise was made when current Red Bull “Junior” Alexander Albin visited Mother Speedway’s Paddock during the second (IMS) Indianapolis Road Race, and even sat in Romain Grosjean’s Dale Coyne IndyCar cockpit just to get a feel. Although Red Bull’s currently trying to find a seat for Albin in Formula 1 next year either at Alfa Romeo or Williams.


Sauber Junior Team (Alfa Romeo)

Theo Pourchaire , France(2019


Reportedly Alfa Romeo F1 Team Boss Frederic Vassdur is very High upon Monsieur Pourchaire who’s contesting his rookie season in F2. And thus the possible signing of Albin would potentially be a Roadblock for the young Frenchman’s advancement to Formula 1, since you’d think Albin would want more than a one year deal? Thus should alfa keep current F1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi, who just had his best ever Qualifying result at Zandvoort for one more season as a “Stop Gap?” As who knows what the Swiss based F1 outfit will do?


Williams Driver Academy

Jamie Chadwick, UK; (2019) Jack Aitken, UK; (2020) Roy Nissany, Israel (2020


I included Jamie Chadwick’s name since she’s the reigning Womens W Series Champion and currently is tied at 109 points in a fierce fight with Alice Powel for this year’s title, with Powell holding the tiebreaker with three wins to Chadwick’s two.


Jack Aitken and Roy Nissany are both Formula 2 Journeymen and cannot be considered as potential F1 Graduates. While it would seem Odd for Team Willy’ to take Red Bull’s Albin over Mercedes “Junior” Nyck De Bries, the reigning Formula E Champion, since Williams runs Merc’ PU’s (Power Unit) and Drivetrains.


As Aitmen who’s Williams Reserve Driver suffered fractures to his collar bone and vertebrae, plus a Bruised lung during a Massive Shunt during the opening hour of this year’s Spa 24 Hours race aboard a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, and is still recovering a month later.  


Other F1 Driver Academy’s

With the exception of Callum Ilott, Mick Schumacher and Jamie Chadwick above, the rest are All current Formula 2 Drivers, and some of the programmes have many more Junior Members on their Books, but I only focused upon F2 since these are the most likely to graduate to F1 or alternatively IndyCar.


McLaren currently has No members in it’s Young Driver Programme, while Mercedes highest Junior Team Driver is Frederik Vesti in the FIA Formula 3 championship.


Haas only has Pietro Fittipaldi who contested his Debutante Indy 500 this May on it’s Development “Scheme,” but is effectively Ferrari’s F1 Junior Team.


Aston Martin doesn’t have a programme at the moment, while AlphaTauri as we know are the ‘lil bulls, aka Red Bull Racing’s “B Team” and thus, share the Energy Drinks “Development Pool” with the Big Bullz’.


As it’s interesting how times have changed, since Raikkonen was an exception when he began Formula 1 twenty years ago. Having won 13 out of the 23 scant “Junior” category Single seater races entered, including winning the 2000 Formula Renault UK Championship before jumping straight into Peter Sauber’s F1 Team despite the protests of then major backer Deeter Majestik’, nee Dietrich Mateschitz. Not to mention then FIA President Max Mosley, who put him on a four race probation period.


As I Arse-sume it’s just coInky-dense that Red Bull began it’s Junior Driver programme that same year? When Danny Sullivan was helping them to find the next American Formula 1 Driver, Y’all remember Scotty “The Goose” Speed?