Drivers proving their worth in Formula 1



While the top drivers are fighting on and off track about the right to add another Grand Prix win to their list, there is a group of drivers who are fighting to prove they are worthy of their place in Formula 1 and are desperate to get their first points, podium and victory.

Despite a huge number of overtakes and a variety of strategies, Bahrain had the same top three as last season’s race. To see Paul di Resta leading the race before being reeled in by the others and wondering if he could hang on for his first F1 podium was nerve wracking and exciting, despite looking increasingly unlikely as the race went on.

Paul’s emotions after the race were mixed. He knew this was a great opportunity to get in the top three but to drive as well as he did, he should be immensely proud. Missing out on seats with Mercedes and McLaren must have hurt him and this is an important year to prove that he is worthy of driving for a team further up the grid than Force India. We shouldn’t forget that Grosjean has been fighting his own battles too and after some desperate moves last year – which saw him receive a one race a ban – he knows that he must show his talents this year, and do so consistently.

Sergio Pérez won the F1 lottery last year, claiming that coveted McLaren seat. Has he shown that he deserves it? He certainly had his elbows out and foot down at the weekend which was exactly what his team boss Martin Whitmarsh told him to do. Although I doubt if Whitmarsh expected him to turn his aggression and determination into a dodgem race with his team-mate Jenson Button. Whether you think his driving style is right or wrong, Pérez has always been aggressive on track, from F3 to GP2 and last year in Formula 1. McLaren knew exactly what they were getting when they signed the young Mexican. He is by no means the finished article but whether he can control his adrenaline rushes and add a little finesse to his talent remains to be seen.

A lot of guys arrive in F1 with very little experience and big reputations, and so much is expected of them when they get to the top of the sport. With no testing throughout the season and most likely only a couple of days of the young driver test and a handful of practice sessions under their belt, Formula 1 comes as a shock.

Valtteri Bottas is struggling with the tools his Williams team are giving him but so long as Pastor Maldonado is too then the Finn should be okay. He also has the backing and support from Mika Hӓkkinen and the ubiquitous Toto Wolff. Esteban Gutiérrez has had a tough start at Sauber and although the car doesn’t look a patch on last year’s, he has made some crucial mistakes in his short time under the spotlight.

Jules Bianchi on the other hand has made a strong impression in his few races for Marussia, which has pleased not only his team but also Ferrari bosses, who have backed Bianchi throughout his junior career. The fight for the next seat within the Italian team is between the impressive Nico Hülkenberg and the Marussia driver.

Coming from the junior ranks into Formula 1 is not easy. Even in GP2, there are few interviews and virtually no sponsorship requirements. If a driver makes a mistake, they sort it out in the trucks or at lunch where all the teams and drivers sit together. The F1 paddock is very different and with over 50 camera crews and hundreds of journalists, the pressure to say and do the right thing is huge. I will never forget a tearful Romain Grosjean after the accident in Spa last year which led to his one race ban. He still went around to every camera crew, answered the questions directed to him and was very emotional as he was led away from the interview pen. He has to do his job and sadly sometimes I have to do mine, but believe me that there is no pleasure in interviewing a driver who is going through a bad time.

Last season we saw two debut winners and I really hope we see more new faces enjoying the champagne this season. The stronger the grid, the better for the fans and the sport.

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