With Lewis Hamilton coming close to the end of his career, many fans are starting to think about which drivers we can expect to be fighting for a title in the future. With some serious talent in Formula 1 and the junior series at the moment, let’s take a look at who could one day win the championship.
Current F1 Drivers
Since joining Toro Rosso at 17 years old, Verstappen has been talked about as the future of F1 and the biggest competition to the likes of Hamilton in terms of talent and ability. As the only driver who can currently fight on the level of the seven-time champion, the 23-year-old Dutchman is, of course, the most likely candidate for the World Championship, particularly once Lewis retires. This doesn’t mean it is guaranteed though, with many young F1 drivers able to compete at the top of the sport if given the right car.
Ferrari has, of course, been recovering from a serious drop off in pace in recent years but already seem to be much closer to the front of the grid this year. Given this, no one should rule out Charles Leclerc for a future championship. At only 23, he is another driver who rose to the top of the sport very early, winning the F2 title in 2017, then spending just one year at Sauber before moving to Ferrari. It has been clear for many years that Charles is one to watch in F1. Given his talent and his young age, he will have plenty of opportunities to compete at the top of the championship in the future. His talent has already been proven on multiple occasions, and that will surely continue.
The Sakhir Grand Prix is still a very sore subject for many F1 fans, with George’s chance in the championship-winning Mercedes ruined by multiple tyre mishaps. However, this doesn’t mean that he didn’t have long enough to prove himself as a serious contender for future championships. Once the 2018 F2 champion leaves Williams, who are still struggling at the back of the grid, and moves to a stronger team, he will immediately be challenging for wins. The only thing that will stop him is being stuck in the Mercedes Junior Programme, completely unable to progress. It is hoped by all of his fans, as well as by George himself, I’m sure, that he will move to Mercedes at the end of the year or leave the Mercedes programme and begin a new F1 journey to the front of the grid.
McLaren are getting closer and closer to the front of the grid every year. Lando Norris has been able to keep up with these improvements throughout and continues to be a real favourite for future wins. After finishing in 2nd place to George Russell in F2, then joining a much stronger team than the fellow Brit, he has been able to show his skill and ability to cope with the sport’s pressure since joining the sport. It’s likely that his pursuit of an F1 title will only be stopped by his teammate Daniel Ricciardo. If Lando can keep up with, or even beat, the Australian driver this year, he will quickly become a much-desired driver for all teams. 2021 is a crucial year for Norris and one we should all watch closely.
Despite having only raced in one F1 race so far, Yuki has proved himself as one to really watch in the coming years. It was clear in testing that the Japanese driver was talented, but then he proved it by taking P2 in Q1 on Saturday in Bahrain. He was then able to make up many places and performed some exceptional overtakes in the race, most of which many wouldn’t be brave enough to attempt on their first proper race in F1. Finishing 3rd in the championship to Schumacher and Illot in his rookie F2 season, we were expecting a top-class driver, but very few people predicted he’d be as strong as he is. If his career continues to be as strong as it has been so far, he has a real chance of winning championships in the years to come.
Possible Future F1 Stars:
Formula 1 has become a hugely difficult championship to reach, let alone succeed in. With money playing a larger factor, no one can predict who may get a seat in F1 in the coming years. Despite this, here’s a small list of some impressive F2 drivers who may be able to win the title in the future if they can make that step.
As 2019 F3 champion and Ferrari Academy driver, Shwartzman has clearly shown his talent in the junior series. Having just started his second year in F2, with a solid rookie year under his belt, it would be a shock if Shwartzman didn’t feature on the podium regularly in 2021. Despite a rough start to his F2 campaign in Bahrain and a new race format to cope with, Robert is definitely one to watch this year and for the future. With many Ferrari-linked teams to consider and constant discussion of when Alfa Romeo may have a new line-up, Shwartzman will be discussed regularly as the next addition to the F1 grid.
Last year’s F3 champion is a real talent that cannot be ignored on this list. On his first weekend as a rookie F2 driver, he won the second sprint race, then almost picked up another podium during the feature race before a crash with Ticktum ruled him out. This indicates the true pace and talent of the young Australian driver and is something to really watch out for throughout this F2 season and in the future. As an Alpine junior driver, we may see him moving up into F1 once Alonso retires and will expect to see him in FP1 sessions to test the car in the future.
At 17 years old, Pourchaire is the youngest on the F2 grid but is far from the weakest driver. He finished just 3 points behind Oscar Piastri in the 2020 championship and has started F2 strongly. He finished 6th and 8th in the second sprint race and the feature race, respectively and showed real skill. These will, of course, be more evident as he settles into the new series. As part of the Sauber junior programme, he is another possible candidate if any driver changes occur at Alfa Romeo if his season goes well, despite only just being old enough. F2 can often be a series that takes more than one year to succeed in, as we saw with Mick Schumacher, but that doesn’t rule out this young talent’s chances in the future as a real F1 star.
How likely is it?
With money playing such an important role in the future of F1 and talent often being overlooked or squandered at the back of the grid, it is hard to predict who will take the titles in the future. It is clear that Max Verstappen will be expected to take the title once Lewis Hamilton has retired. But this isn’t even guaranteed, although very likely. With regulation changes in 2022 that could mix up the grid entirely and a wealth of young talent in the sport currently, there are many current and future F1 drivers that could and should take this title if they’re in the right car. It is going to be an exciting few years for the sport, that’s for sure!