We are moving into the last part of the 2013 Formula One Season and also moving closer to the end of the ‘F1 Silly Season’ after most top teams have announced their driver line up for next year. The teams up the order prefer drivers with more experience and this leaves the new comers in the back seat. So coming towards the end of their first F1 season, 5 rookies will be making the most of the remaining races to impress potential teams in order to get a seat for next year. Lets take a look at how the five drivers fared in their debut season,
Giedo van der Garde
Van der Garde, who is the oldest of the rookies at 28 years of age, started out as a reserve driver for Caterham in 2012 and in 2013 he moved up to step to occupy the second seat alongside Charles Pic. He out qualified Pic in his very first race and finished the race in 18th, two places behind his teammate. His biggest achievement came at the Monaco Grand Prix where he drove his Caterham into Q2 to qualify a career best 15th. In Hungary, Van der Garde beat Pic and both the Marussia’s to claim his best finish of 14th place. Although he has failed to finish two races, he is rated well for his driving skills. Van der Garde has beaten his teammate on four occasions. As for next year, it looks difficult for Van der Garde’s contract to be renewed. Pic seems to have his contract in place while Caterham are looking to rehire Heikki Kovalainen.
The young 22-year old Mexican replaced fellow countryman Sergio Perez at Sauber in 2013. After being a reserve driver, he too was promoted for the race seat. The youngest of the rookies was quick to prove how fast he can be after finishing in 13th from 18th in his first race in Australia. In Spain, Gutierrez impressed his fellow drivers after setting the fastest lap of the race. He even managed to stay in the lead at one point, which is a massive boost for any young driver. In comparison to his more experienced teammate Nico Hulkenburg, Gutierrez hasn’t fared well. He managed to beat the German on only two occasions. For 2014, the Mexican’s chances look very slim as the team is undergoing a major change with new Russian backing. Lets hope he comes back stronger in the coming races to manage a reserve driver role at other teams.
Finnish racers are fast and Bottas is no different. Another rookie who was promoted from reserve driver to race driver for the Williams F1 Team. With a car that has managed to score only a single point this season, Bottas has done quite well. His impressive 3rd place in Qualifying at Montreal silenced his critics and his best finish of 11th, which remains the best finish for a rookie this season, came in Malaysia. He has managed to beat Maldonado 6 times and is well on his way to being rehired for next season.
One of the two rookies for the Marussia F1 Team, started out as their reserve driver last year. After being consistently beaten by his teammate Jules Bianchi, Chilton went on to finish in 14th in Monaco, which remains his best finish. He has beaten his teammate only thrice, two of which were due to Bianchi’s DNF. Although he isn’t as good as his teammate, Chilton will probably stick with Marussia for another season. The team requires all the financial help it can get and Chilton brings in lots of it.
Bianchi was the last of the rookies signed for 2013 and his seat was confirmed because Luiz Razia’s contract issues weren’t sorted out. Ever since his first race he has impressed every Formula One fan with his performances. He gave his best finish of 13th in Malaysia which cements the team’s 10th place in the Championship for now. In comparison to his teammate Chilton, he has beaten Max in all qualifying sessions and all but one race where both of them have finished. This in turn has helped him become the first of the five rookies to secure a contract for 2014. Marussia recently announced that Bianchi will race for them next year as well.
As for my opinion on who the best of the five rookies are, it has got to be Jules Bianchi for his impressive performances all through the year. He has made mistakes, as all rookies do, however his performances in comparison with the backmarkers has put him on top of my list.
Do share your opinion on who your favorite rookies are and why.