There’s a lot of talk in the F1 world recently regarding who the illustrious sport’s next rookie will be. While there’s a lot of talent out there in the world of motorsport, here’s 5 drivers who I think have a good shot at becoming F1’s next rookie driver! Let’s start with Pato O’Ward!
Pato O’Ward is a 23 year old, Mexican born, Indycar driver. Despite being born in Mexico though, Pato went to school in San Antonia Texas. Pato’s parents are Patricio O’Ward and Elba Junco, so he has the same name as his father. In 2005, Pato begun his racing career at the age of 6 and remained in karting until 2012, when he graduated to open wheel racing in the Latam Formula 2000, Formula Renault 1.6 NEC and Formula F2000 series.
In 2014, O’Ward moved to the French F4 championship and the following year he competed in the Pro Mazda Championship, finishing 6th in points. In 2018, O’Ward made his debut with the Andretti Autosport team in the Indy Lights Series – the highest step on the road to the Indycar Series. That season, Pato won 9 of the 17 races and went on to win the drivers’ championship in the final race of the season, besting championship runner up Colton Herta – Who we’ll talk about a bit later.2 weeks after his Indy Lights Championship win, the Mexican driver made his first IndyCar appearance. In his debut race he qualified 5th and finished in 9th position. In 2019, Pato signed to the Red Bull Junior Team and was announced to be replacing Dan Ticktum in the Super Formula Championship, but due to Pato not having enough super licence points he was unable to compete in the championship in 2020. He was later released from his contract by Helmut Marko after 3 Super Formula rounds.
After being released from his Red Bull contract, Pato signed to the Arrow McLaren SP Indycar team. He finished 4th in this season and was awarded the 2020 Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year award. Pato took his maiden Indycar win in 2021 at the Texas Motor Speedway and as a result of a bet with McLaren CEO Zac brown, Pato was given the opportunity to test for the McLaren F1 team at the Abu Dhabi young driver test.Pato however remained in Indycar for the 2022 season and is currently sitting 5th in the in the championship after his win in Iowa and second place finish in the famed Indy 500. His incredible performance has landed him an extension on his contract with McLaren until 2025.So, could Pato be F1’s next rookie? Well, Pato currently possesses 30 super licence points, so he requires an additional 10 points. From my understanding Pato must finish 4th or above in the Indycar championship in 2022 to qualify for a seat in F1 next year.
Earlier on I mentioned Colton Herta. Colton is a 22 year old, American born, open-wheel racing driver and the son of Indycar and Champ Car driver Bryan Herta. He made his karting debut in 2010 in the SKUSA and IKF series and graduated to single seat, open wheel cars at the age of 13 in the SBF2000 Winter Series – he went on to finish in second place. The following year, Colton made his formula car debut in the Cooper Tires USF2000 championship, he also made an appearance in the Global Rallycross Championship Lites – becoming the youngest driver to ever compete in the series.Colton debuted in the MSA formula series in 2015 and once again became the youngest driver and only American on the grid. After an excellent performance he managed to finish 3rd in the series – fairly impressive for his age! Like O’Ward, Colton also came up through the Indy Lights series, although he joined the year prior in 2017 with the new team Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing. Colton took home rookie of the year that season with a 3rd place finish in the championship and he came 2nd the following year to Pato, his teammate at the time.Following the IndyCar Lights season finale, Herta debuted in Indycar for the last race of the season in Sonoma with Harding Racing, he started in 19th place and finished in 20th. Colton signed with Harding Steinbrenner Racing for the 2019 Indycar season, becoming the first driver born in the 2000s to race in Indycar and on March 24, 2019, at the age of 18 years, 11 months and 25 days he became the youngest ever race winner in Indycar history by winning the Indycar classic at the Circuit of the Americas.Colton finished 7th in his rookie season that year and remained with Harding Steinbrenner Racing in 2020 and finished 3rd that season. In 2021 Colton moved to Andretti Autosport and finished fifth overall. Herta was suspected by many to move to Formula 1 for the 2022 season but remained with Andretti in the Indycar series. If he were to move to Formula 1 though, he would be the first American f1 driver since Alexander Rossi drove in 2015.Colton is currently signed to McLaren on a development contract and tested the 2021 F1 McLaren in Portimão recently. The rising star has every chance of getting a seat in Formula 1 although he’s currently not eligible for his super licence, requiring 8 more points to qualify for it. If Colton doesn’t make it into F1 though maybe he’ll pursue a new career in music with his rock band called The Zibbs!
Oscar Piastri is a 21 year old racing driver who was born in Melbourne, Australia. Unlike most drivers, Piastri’s love of motorsport stemmed from racing remote control cars and was competing at a national level before he began his karting career in 2011. Piastri turned professional in 2014 and went on to compete in various Australian races and karting championships. The following year he went on to compete in European karting championship with Ricky Flynn Motorsport and finished 6th in the championship.
In 2016 he moved to the UK to further his racing career and finished 6th in the 2016 world championship in Bahrain. Later that same year he made his single-seater debut in selected rounds of the Formula 4 UAE Championship with the Dragon F4 team – claiming 2 podiums to once again finish 6th in that championship. Piastri remained in formula 4 but moved to the British championship in 2017. He achieved 6 wins and 6 pole positions which landed him 2nd in the championship to Jamie Caroline.Piastri made his debut in the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2018 with the Arden team – finishing 9th that season. He remained in the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2019 but switched teams to drive for R-ace GP – the reigning champs of the series. He claimed his first victory at Silverstone and then followed it up with another win at the same track the next day. That year Oscar led the team to another championship win and became the first driver to win three races in 2019 after his win at Spa-Francorchamps.
After his 2 year stint in Formula Renault, Piastri moved to the FIA Formula 3 series in 2020, yet again signing with the reigning champs of that division, Prema Racing. He took out the championship title in his first year before moving up to Formula 2 with Prema Racing in 2021. That same year Piastri also became a client of former Australian f1 driver Mark Webber’s management team, JAM Sports Management.Piastri was on a hot streak in his racing career and he certainly didn’t let his team down in 2021 as he went on to win the championship in his rookie season yet again, becoming the fifth driver to win the F3 and f2 titles consecutively and the only driver to win three consecutive F1 feeder series’ championships.
Currently Oscar is the reserve driver for the Alpine F1 team as well as an acting reserve driver for the McLaren F1 team. During the season he has tested F1 cars at various tracks around the world.There’s no doubt Oscar is a very talented driver and would be a great addition to the sport – plus it would be great to see another fellow Aussie in the sport!
Callum Ilott is a 23 year old British racing driver that’s currently competing in the Indycar series, as well as the official reserve driver for Alfa Romeo in the 2022 F1 World Championship. Ilott made his karting debut in 2008 and experienced his first win the in 2011 in Formula Kart Stars series, he also achieved 3rd place in the German Junior Karting Championship that same year – both apart of the KF3 class.
He remained in KF3 the following year with the Chiesa Corse team and put himself on the radar by winning the WSK Masters Series as well as the WSK Final Cup at the age of 13 – landing himself the honour of youngest ever WSK driver of the year. Callum graduated to single seaters in 2014 when he made his debut in the Toyota Racing Series with ETEC Motorsport. He finished 16th in the championship.In 2015 Ilott was inducted into the Red Bull Junior Team prior to his debut in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship with Carlin at the age of 16. Overall he achieved one podium at the Nurburgring and placed 7th in the Rookie Championship and 12th in the overall standings. For the 2016 season, Ilott made the jump to the Van Amersfoot Racing team and took his first victory at Circuit Paul Ricard and a second at the Red Bull Ring, placing him 6th in the championship that year.He remained apart of the Formula 3 European Championship in 2017, but once again moved teams – this time to Prema Powerteam. He played an integral part in the team, winning 6 races and achieving 6 additional podium finishes – this put him 4th in driver standings and helped Prema to secure the Teams’ championship title for the fifth consecutive season. Ilott raced in the GP3 series in 2018 and finished in 3rd place to teammates Nikita Mazepin and the late Anthoine Hubert. He scored 7 podiums and 2 victories. He then made the move to Formula 2 in 2019, finishing his rookie season in 11th place with Charous Racing System.
In 2020 he moved to UNI-Virtuosi Racing alongside current F1 rookie Guanyu Zhou ad took victory in the first race of the season at the red bull ring, he finished runner up in this season with 3 wins, 5 poles and 6 podiums.In 2021 Ilott didn’t race in F1 or F2. Instead, he was appointed the role of the Ferrari test driver as well as becoming Alfa Romeo’s second reserve driver. Instead of F1 though, callum made his way to the Indycar series for 2021 and 2022, racing for Juncos Hollinger Racing.
Nyck De Vries
Nyck De Vries is a 27 year old Dutch racing driver currently competing in the Formula E Championship with Mercedes-EQ E Team. Nyck is also a test and reserve driver for the Mercedes F1 team. But how did he land this gig?
In 2008 De Vries won the WSK World Series for the KF3 karting series, as well as the German Junior Championship. The following year he retained both his German Junior and WSK World Series titles, as well as winning the European KF3 championship. Nyck continued his stellar performance into the 2010 and 11 seasons, taking home the Karting World Championship in both years. In 2012 De Vries made the jump to single seaters in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 at R-ace GP – he achieved a podium in his debut race in alcaniz. He finished 5th in this first season.For the 2013 and 2014 series Nyck moved to Koiranen GP in the Eurocup series, finishing 5th in 2013 and winning the championship in 2014. The next year he moved to the Formula Renualt 3.5 series racing for DAMS – he came 3rd in points this season. Nyck took part in the GP3 series in 2016 with ART Grand Prix. He finished 6th in the championship, behind teammates Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon, who became champion and vice-champion respectively.
Nyck made the jump to the FIA Formula 2 Championship with Rapax for the 2017 season. He achieved his first win in Monaco and ended the championship in 7th place – which was 2nd highest of all the rookies. In 2018 Nyck struggled with his new team, Prema Racing missing out a on a top 3 finish in the championship that year and being beaten by Alex Albon and Lando Norris by 10 and 17 points respectively. The following year, Nyck returned to his former team ART Grand prix alongside Nikita Mazepin. Nyck managed 4 wins in the season and after his final win of the season at the penultimate round in Sochi, he was crowned F2 Champion.Despite Nyck’s success in F2, he missed out on a drive in F1 that year and instead he was announces to drive for the new Mercedes Formula E Team alongside former F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne. Nyck finished his first season in 11th place with 60 points. He continued driving for the Mercedes Formula E team the next year. In the first race of the season Nyck qualified for pole position, lead every lap of the race and achieved his first victory in the series. Nyck went on to win 1 more GP and achieve 4 more podiums that year, leading him to his first World Championship in formula E.Currently Nyck is the reserve driver for the Mercedes team and he made his Formula 1 practice debut in the 2022 Spanish GP during an FP1 outing, where he took Alex Albon’s Williams for an hour long spin. Recently de Vries took 7 time World Champion, Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes out at the French GP.