The British Stars of the Future: Who are They?
Currently, with the signing of Carlos Sainz at Renault, it means that in 2018 it is looking likely that Lewis Hamilton will be the only Brit on the grid, that is unless Paul Di Resta can get the Williams drive. Even if that does materialise, it would mean that there would be only two British drivers on the grid, the lowest number since the 2010 season. With a new breed of British youngsters coming through the ranks, who are they?
Lando Norris had a flying start to his racing career, as at the age of seven he took pole position at his first event in Bristol. Then as he progressed, his first major title came in 2013 when he won the World Karting Championships in Bahrain. He also won the WSK Euro Series, as well as the CIK FIA European and CIK FIA Supercup titles. In his first year after karting, he finished third in the Ginetta Junior Championship, which is a feeder series to the BTCC (British Touring Car Championship). In this year, he won the Rookie Cup, an impressive achievement for someone of his age.
In 2015, he signed a deal with Carlin Motorsport which meant that he would race in the MSA Formula Series, of which he went on to win with a total of eight wins in the season. During this year, he appeared in Italian Formula Four, racing for Mucke Motorsport, earning himself six podiums in eight races.
His success with Carlin in the MSA series took him to New Zealand, where he took part in the Toyota Racing Series, racing for M2 Competition and won the championship on his first attempt. After this, he competed in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and the Renault 2.0 NEC series, winning them both. At the end of the year, he raced in the Macau Grand Prix for Carlin in the European Formula 3 Championship, where he finished eleventh.
Shortly after his race in Macau, he was confirmed to be a full time race driver for Carlin in the 2017 European Formula 3 Championship, which he won in October of this year, taking nine wins from eight pole positions. He also was announced in late 2016 to be part of the McLaren Young Driver programme, and due to this he was given the chance to test for McLaren in the mid-season test after the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring. He impressed during the second day of testing, as he set the second fastest time of the day, only bested by Ferrari hotshot Charles Leclerc.
Recently, McLaren reserve driver and ex-Formula One driver Jenson Button made his intentions to have a full time racing seat next year clear, meaning that he would be unable to fulfil his duties to McLaren. This has put Norris as the most likely option for the role of reserve driver in the 2018 season.
George Russell began karting in 2006, and made it to the cadet class in 2009. He became the MSA British Champion and the British Open champion all in the same year. After this, in 2010, he moved to the Rotax Mini Max category where he became Super One British champion, Formula Kart Stars British champion and also won the Kartmasters British Grand Prix. Russell graduated to the KF3 class in 2011, winning the SKUSA Supernationals title and becoming CIK-FIA European Champion, a title he successfully defended in 2012. In his final year of karting, he finished 19th in the KF1 CIK-FIA World Championship.
In 2014, Russell graduated from karts and made his debut in the Formula Renault 2.0 Alps series, originally meant to be racing for Prema Powerteam, but for unknown reasons he made a last minute switch to Koiranen GP. During the season, he missed a round due to an illness, but still managed to finish fourth overall. The highlight of his season was a single podium in Austria at the Red Bull Ring.
However, in this same year, he also raced in the BRDC Formula 4 Championship, and won it on his first attempt. This was a particularly impressive achievement because up until the final race, he was involved in a four way title battle with his teammate Arjun Maini, as well as Sennan FIelding and Raoul Hyman. He won the title by just three points from teammate Maini. As a result of this success, he was given the chance to test a GP3 car with Arden Motorsport, and impressed not just Arden but other teams as well. He also became the youngest ever winner of the highly coveted McLaren Autosport BRDC award. This meant that he received £100,000 in prize money, as well as a Formula One test with McLaren themselves.
In February 2015, Russell was announced as one of the twelve drivers selected to join the British Racing Drivers' Club SuperStars programme, the youngest person ever to be selected.
Also in 2015, Russell signed for Carlin in the European Formula 3 series, where he won the second race of the season opener in Silverstone, where he beat the highly regarded pair of Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi. He eventually finished sixth in the championship, and came second to Leclerc in the Rookie standings. On his second attempt the following year, he switched to Hitech GP and finished third overall.
For the 2017 season, Russell signed for ART Grand Prix in the GP3 Series, as he had a test with the team in Abu Dhabi in November 2016. With four victories and three pole positions as well as a handful of podiums, he finished first in the series by a considerable margin. Also in 2017, George Russell joined the Mercedes Formula One team as a young driver, and took part in the mid-season test in Hungary.
Jack Aitken is a British-Korean racing driver, and he started his career when he took up karting at Buckmore Park in Kent at a relatively young age. Not much is known about his results in karting, but they must have been impressive as he made his debut in the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2014.
In the series, he won one race at the Hungaroring, driving for Fortec Motorsports, and had four podiums, eventually finishing seventh in the championship with 86 points to his name. At the start of 2015, after completing his A-levels at Westminster School in London, he moved to the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series, racing for Koiranen GP. He went on to win the championship on his first try after winning the final round in Jerez, Spain. In the same year, he also went on to win the Formula Renault Alps title at the same track.
Due to his successes, he was signed by Arden International to race in the GP3 Series. In his rookie season, he managed to win the second race at the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit, and then went on to score another six podiums during the season. However, in 2017, it was announced that Aitken had decided to stay in the series, and raced for ART Grand Prix instead, eventually finishing second in the championship behind Mercedes junior George Russell.
In early 2016, he was announced as a young driver for the Renault Formula Team, and was given the chance to test a 2012 spec Renault (formerly Lotus) car in Barcelona. He said after the test on his own website that: 'I felt pretty comfortable quite quickly in the car, and I was able to get down to some decent times within a couple of runs. It’s such a nice car that it’s relatively easy to build up to a good performance. The team were very good with me, managing my run plan, taking me through different fuel levels on both longer runs and shorter runs. It was a good range of things to learn about. Sergey had also been driving on the Tuesday, so I was really pleased to surprise even myself by getting up to speed pretty quickly and comparing with him after so few laps'.
Daniel Ticktum started his career in karts, just like many drivers, at the age of eight. He competed in the Honda Cadets, with the Project One Racing team. He had some early success, as he became the vice champion of the National Super One Championship in 2010 before moving into Comer Cadet.
The following year, he enjoyed a majorly successful year in karts, as he won all of the British titles: British FKS Championship, National ABkC Super One Championship, British Open Championship and British Grand Prix Championship. To put this achievement into perspective, this has been achieved by only one other driver in history. In 2012, he moved to international karting, finishing as the highest placed rookie in both the WSK Euro Series and WSK Masters Series.
After joining Ricky Flynn motorsport in 2013, Ticktum became the Vice Champion in the CIK FIA European Championship, and was awarded the KFJ Andrea Margutti Trophy, a coveted award with previous winners including Giancarlo Fisichella, Daniil Kvyat and most noticeably Robert Kubica.
In 2015, he made his debut in single seaters, and had his debut year in the MSA Formula Series, racing for Fortec Motorsport. He had an impressive start to the championship, but then was involved in an incident at Silverstone. He overtook ten cars under safety car conditions so that he could purposely crash into fellow racer Ricky Collard. Due to his actions, he received a two year ban from all motorsport.
He returned in late 2016, and completed the final round of the European Formula 3 championship for Carlin, and also in the Macau Grand Prix for Double R Racing, but retired early in the main race.
In 2017, he was announced by Red Bull as part of the Junior Team, and raced in the Eurocup Renault 2.0 series, where he finished seventh with less than half the points of winner Sacha Fenestraz and runner-up Will Palmer.
Callum Ilott was one of the most successful karting drivers of his generation, as soon after he made his debut in 2008, he won the Formula Kart Stars and then went on to finish third in the German Junior Karting Championship. At the age of 13, he won both the WSK Masters Series and the WSK Final Cup, and finishing runner up in the WSK Euro Series and CIK-FIA World Cup. He was selected as the youngest ever WSK Driver of the Year, and won the KF2 Series the year after.
In 2014, with Zanardi Strakka Racing, he finished an impressive fourth in the CIK-FIA World Championship, third in the WSK Champions Cup, and won the WSK Super Masters Series and the CIK-FIA European Championship.
He made his single seater debut in the Toytota Racing Series, racing for ETEC, and was then unofficially confirmed as a Red Bull junior driver when he wore a helmet that donned the Red Bull livery. He went on to finish a lowly 16th in the championship.
In 2015, he made his debut in Formula 3 with Carlin, racing in the European Championship at the young age of 16. He went on to finish seventh in the Rookie standings, an twelfth in the overall championship.
At the end of 2016, he got his chance in GP2 at the end of season test with ART Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
In 2017, he raced in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, and made his debut at Silverstone. He competed in two races, scoring no points with a nineteenth and a fourteenth place. Also, it is worth mentioning that today, Callum Ilott was announced as part of the Ferrari young driver programme, which is a significant advantage when it comes to finding a seat in Formula One.
Will Palmer, the brother of ill-fated Formula One driver Jolyon Palmer, and son of former F1 driver Jonathan Palmer, started his career in karting, just as Jolyon did. The first recorded results for Palmer came when he finished third in the Ginetta Junior Championship, after a successful 2013 season, having been racing in that category since 2011.
At the end of 2013, he took part in the BRDC Formula 4 Winter Championship, which lead him on to compete in the series full-time in 2014. He had a good debut season, as he took two wins and finished sixth overall, and then also went on to win the Formula 4 Winter Championship the following year, and won four out of eight races. At the end of 2015, he won the coveted McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, which came with a £100,000 in prize money and a Formula 1 test with McLaren. He also received a BRDC membership due to this.
Palmer impressed the McLaren team with his skills in the simulator, and McLaren added that he should be 'very happy' with the results of his first test of an F1 car. They also said that "he doesn't know anyone and it's a step up from anything he's done before, working with this many engineers. Looking at the data it was clearly someone driving a Formula 1 car properly - not someone that was out for a little afternoon drive around."
In 2016 and 2017, Palmer took part in both the Northern European and the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series, and won a race in Portugal. He scored five podiums during the 2016 season, and in 2017 only completed four rounds of the championship for R-ace GP.
Enaam Ahmed is a British racing driver from London, who we can only assume began his racing career in karting at a young age.
In 2015, Ahmed made his debut in MSA Formula for Arden where he finished eighth overall, winning one race and the Rookie Cup in his first year racing cars.
In the same year, Ahmed made several appearances in the SMP Formula 4 Championship, where he was successful, winning five races and taking two poles.
In 2016, Douglas Motorsport announced that they had signed Ahmed to compete in the British Formula 3 championship, where he ended up finishing fifth overall.
In 2017, he took part in the Toyota Racing Series driving for Gilles Motorsport, but in January it was announced that he would make the switch to Carlin.
Later in the year, he made history in BRDC British Formula 3 when he took all three of the wins in the opening race of the season which meant he went into the next round with the championship lead.
He went on to win the championship in the penultimate race of the season, and in the final race he surpassed Ayrton Senna's record of 12 wins with a total of 13, making him the youngest ever champion at only 17 years old.
So, who's most likely to make it to Formula One?
Personally, I think that it will either be Lando Norris or George Russell that will make it to Formula One first. This is because they have already both completed tests for two big teams in Formula One, Mercedes and Mclaren. They both impressed their respective teams during these tests, and they are both teams which have influence throughout the paddock. This would mean that it would be easier for Mercedes or McLaren to place their young drivers into a lower team, such as Sauber.
Depending on how successful the McLaren-Renault partnership is, I think will influence how quickly Lando Norris makes it to F1. This is because if Fernando Alonso has another year of poor results, I think he will pull the plug, therefore leaving a seat open at McLaren for 2019. Yes, Norris is very young, but Max Verstappen proved everyone wrong when he made his debut, so never say never for Lando getting promoted to the team in 2019.
When it comes to George Russell, I think he has a wider range of opportunities, but it is just a question of when a suitable place opens up. This is because Mercedes supply engines to both Force India and Williams, and could influence what drivers those teams have, in return for a better engine deal or a closer partnership, for example.
Finally, out of the other drivers, I think that Callum Ilott has the best chance of making it to Formula One, thanks to being recognised and being signed by Ferrari, which could lead to a test with the team at some point. However, having said that, if Enaam Ahmed's results are anything to go by, he could be moving up the ranks rather quickly in the coming years. Also, due to his past actions, it is hard to imagine Daniel Ticktum ever getting an F1 seat, unless he can prove he has changed his attitude.