There are thousands of drivers who are all racing in junior formula with a hope of one day joining Formula One. Here at Divebomb 6 of us have chosen who we think is the best young driver from the countries we live in.
Written by Olly Radley, Tanishka Vashee, Morgan Holiday, Thomas Bergamo, Daniil Jones, Janvi Unni.
Edited by Harshi Vashee
Olly – The United Kingdom
I’ll start off then from the United Kingdom, a country steeped with rich motor racing history, I naturally have a good selection of young talents to choose from. Some would first look at drivers such as Dan Ticktum or Oli Caldwell, or even the recently crowned GB3 champion, Zak O’Sullivan. While all 3 are top talents with great chances of Formula One, the prospect of the kid I’ve gone for, far outweighs the others.
I’ve been shouting praise for Ollie Bearman for a while now but over the course of his F4 campaign he’s backed me up quite nicely. Ollie is at the latter-part of a very successful year in both ADAC and Italian F4. In Italy, he’s already the champion before they’ve even gone to the final round in Monza. ADAC F4 has also been a success so far, leading by 35 points going into the final 2 rounds at Hockenheim and the Nurburgring.
Not only has he won or led these series, but he’s straight up dominated them. From the 2nd race at Misano to the 1st race at the Red Bull Ring (a span of 9 races), Ollie won 8 of them, and was disqualified after victory in the 9th. Add another 4 podiums to the mix and you get a phenomenal F4 season.
Not only has he impressed motorsport fans at home but it seems he has already caught the eye of Formula One. Recently, Ollie has been taking part in a Ferrari Driver Academy scouting camp. There are a few other candidates but having impressed in their own backyard, I’d say Bearman has a very strong chance of becoming the FDA’s newest young prospect. What stands out most with Ollie is the consistency and maturity he shows. At just 16 he is able to always be at the front or thereabouts throughout a whole season of racing. With his team, Van Amersfoort joining F3 in 2022, who knows, maybe we’ll see Ollie racing in Formula 3 next year.
Thomas – Italy
Italy has a central role in motorsport. The two races this year, and the three last year, can prove it. Apart from the drama, every Italian person dreams to be the next Micheal Schumacher. Indeed, many Italian talents are ready to launch themselves in a big competition (like Formula 2 or Formula 3) or, maybe, they already are into it. One of these “rising stars” is Lorenzo Colombo.
Colombo’s first kart appearance goes back to 2009, when he took part in the Italian karting championship. In 2011 he took part in the EasyKart Italian championship, getting two fourth places and the third place in the general on his rookie season. The next year he won the EasyKart championship, re-taking what he lost in the previous one. In the same year he decided to take part in the 60cc Italian karting championship. This championship benefited him to third place in the standings. Colombo, in 2012, had the opportunity to take part in the WSK, but the level of the world championship grew. Between 2013 and 2015, he fought in the “Malaguti Trophy ” getting two second places on the general standings. He got the same result in the italian kart championship, finishing only behind Alessandro Giardelli (currently an Italian Porsche Carrera CUP driver).
2015 will be his last year on karts, before passing in the single-seaters. His journey starts with BVM Racing, which gets him the seat. In 2016, in his rookie season, he finished the championship in the 12th position. 2017 was a completely different season. He had to compete in three championships (Formula 4 Italian championship, ADAC Formula 4 and Euroformula Open) anc two different categories, for a total of 26 races to dispute. But Lorenzo, in that year, showed all of his potential. He got his first podium in Imola, a second place which had the taste of victory. Apart from this podium, he got two victories, eight podiums and three pole positions. In ADAC Formel 4 he runned only three races, with Bhaitech, and he raced only one race in Euroformula Open with Campos Racing, getting good results in both categories.
The third place in the Italian Formula 4 championship standings benefited him a seat in JD Motorsport in Formula Renault Cup for the 2018 year. He surprised lots of fans by finishing four times on the podium, Monza (both race 1 and race 2), Hockenheim, and Red Bull Ring, and a fifth place in Catalunya. In 2019, with MP motosport, he made the quality jump, finishing fourth in the Formula Renault, behind Oscar Piastri by a hundred of points. In 2020, he was decided to win the championship. But his season start was disappointing. Constantly in the top 10, but he never had the rivals’ pace. But his season finale was surprising, winning three races and setting two fastest laps.
After these results, Adrian Campos offered him a seat in Formula 3 with his own team: Campos Racing. Both Lorenzo and Mr. Campos released happy statements after the Italian signed the contract. A thing you must know about Lorenzo Colombo is that he’s a master in tricky conditions.
Thanks to his skills he won race 1 in Hungary (before getting penalized for exceeding track limits) that he dedicated to Adrian Campos, who has suddenly passed away. Adrian was a really important figure in the Italian’s career.
He was one of the firsts to believe in him and the Spaniard wanted Colombo in his team. But he showed in another race all of his skills: race 1 in Spa-Francorchamps. Indeed, he was able to run away from the other drivers and then he could manage an advantage of ten seconds, on his debut season. He finished this season in fifteenth place, with one victory and two fastest laps.
He is one of the best italian talents and, maybe, we could see him next year in a top team, like Prema.
Morgan – USA
America is full of young driving talent, but most don’t make it far up the Formula 1 ladder. In the history of FIA Formula 2, only four drivers have raced under the American flag. One of those drivers was Indycar racer, Patricio O’Ward, who is of Mexican nationality and only competed in two races. The other three drivers, Juan Manuel Correa, Ryan Tveter, and Santino Ferrucci, also never competed in a full season, meaning that no American driver has ever completed a season of Formula 2.
Formula 3, on the other hand, is a different matter. In the 2021 season, five drivers competed in at least two rounds of the series: Juan Manuel Correa, Jak Crawford, Kaylen Frederick, Hunter Yeany, and Logan Sargeant. Of those drivers, Logan Sargeant finished highest with seventh place in the championship standings, and has (arguably) the most talent.
Sargeant made headlines in 2015, when he became the first American to win an FIA Karting Championship since Lake Speed in 1978. From there he made his way up the Formula 1 feeder series ladder, eventually joining Formula 3 in 2019 with Carlin. While he finished 19th in the standings that year, he managed to impress with a podium at the Macau Grand Prix. The following season he signed with Prema Racing and narrowly missed out on winning the title, which went to Alpine junior driver Oscar Piastri.
For the 2021 season Sargeant remained in Formula 3, as he didn’t have the financial backing to progress up to Formula 2. He raced with Charouz, and finished seventh in the standings, giving the Czech team their first podium and race win in the series. Sargeant also scored 102 of the team’s 127 points and as a result, Charouz finished fifth in the team standings, a personal best. Sergeant’s ability to perform in both top teams and backmarkers and his ability to draw the maximum pace out of whatever he’s driving earns him my pick for the best young American racing talent.
Tanishka – India
2013 was the last time a Grand Prix was held in India, F1’s popularity peaked, fell and is once again gaining momentum. India boasts a growing audience for Formula One, and with young Indian talent just breaking into the world of motorsport, it is bound to increase.
My Pick for this piece is none other than Jehan Daruvala. The young driver from Mumbai is part of Red Bull’s Junior team and is seventh in the F2 standings, driving for Carlin Motorsport. Racing in India is not yet as massive and competitive as in the case of European countries. Jehan had the privilege of being able to turn his dreams into reality and started Karting in competitions globally at the age of 13.
In 2015, he raced in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, finishing fifth, he also made appearances in Formula Renault 2.0 Alps and Eurocup Formula 2.0. The following year he took part in the Toyota Racing Series and finished second. In 2017, he made a move to the European Formula 3 championship with Carlin Racing. He won a race at Norisring, outperforming all his teammates except for Lando Norris who went on to win the title. Jehan competed in the inaugural season of the FIA Formula Three Championship in 2018, taking two wins, five other podiums and finishing third overall.
Jehan made it to Formula 2 with Carlin racing with Yuki Tsunoda as his teammate. Not only had he shown brilliance in the fight for the F3 title but he also found himself recruited by Red Bull’s young driver program. It took him a while to find his rhythm, after taking a win at the season finale, his confidence was back.
2021 is shaping to be a good year for him, he raced for Mumbai Falcons in the F3 Asian Championship, got three wins and finished third in the standings. In his second season of Formula 2, he won the sprint race at Monza and the feature race at Sochi. These wins have been monumental in establishing him as the face of motorsport in India.
Jehan has been candid about the level of competition and his expectations, he hopes to make it to F1 by 2023. Realistically speaking, seeing how he improves with every race, it’s within reach for him to make it to the pinnacle of motorsport.
He brings younger audiences in India exposure to the world of racing. Watching him make it to the top will definitely grow the sport’s appeal to Indian viewers.
Daniil – Russia
Motorsport in Russia was almost non-existent until the last decade. The arrival of Vitaly Petrov in 2010, followed by Daniil Kvyat, Sergey Sirotkin and Nikita Mazepin shows the growing interest in Russia. The Russian Grand Prix was held for the 1st time at the Sochi Autodrom, and in the last decade, the country has constructed 2 more Grade 1 circuits, in Moscow Raceway and Igora Drive, where F1 is set to relocate to in 2023.
The growing interest has promoted some talents, and my pick will be Robert Shwartzman. Despite Shwartzman being somewhat underwhelming in 2021, he still sits a respectable 3rd in the standings, and the championship is still not quite out of reach, as F2 heads to Jeddah and Yas Marina. Shwartzman is part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, and since he joined in 2017, has picked up titles in the Toyota Racing Series and FIA Formula 3.
He impressed us in his 1st F2 season too, 4 victories was the most of anyone on the grid in 2020 and consistency meant he finished 4th in the standings. He was unfortunate to miss out on an F1 seat too, after Alfa Romeo opted to stay with Giovinazzi and Haas chose Mazepin and Schumacher. Even though a title is still within grasp this year, the Alfa Romeo seat is near impossible for him, with Piastri, Zhou, Herta, de Vries and Giovinazzi all believed to be ahead in the pecking order.
Although his hopes are diminishing, an F1 seat will certainly not be impossible. It does remain to be seen whether he will do a 3rd F2 season. But, without doubt, he is an immense talent, and is highly rated by everyone in the paddock. Russian talent doesn’t stop there either, Alex Smolyar impressed in F3, whilst Nikita Bedrin and Kiril Smal are impressing in F4.
Is Shwartzman good enough for F1? Certainly. Will it happen? Time will tell.
Janvi – New Zealand
F1 hasn’t had too many drivers from New Zealand, the most well-known being Bruce McLaren and Brendon Hartley. But one 19 year old from Hastings, New Zealand is waiting patiently among the vast number of eager talents in junior motorsport series.
Liam Lawson, mentored by 3-time NZ Grand Prix winner Ken Smith, has won on his debut in every category he’s raced in, barring F2: Formula First, Formula Ford, Formula 3 Asia and Toyota Racing Series; which he won overall in 2019 with 3 wins and 6 podiums. In 2017, he won the NZ F1600 Championship Series in his home country, New Zealand. In 2020, Lawson had a strong F3 season, winning in Austria and Italy.
In 2021, Liam made the decision to race a dual campaign. He raced in DTM with AF Corse and finished the championship as runner-up in his rookie season. In Formula 2, he’s competing at Hitech GP with fellow RedBull academy driver Juri Vips. He’s won in Bahrain and Monaco, and currently sits 8th in the championship standings with 80 points.
RedBull recently announced that Liam will be doing the young driver’s test with Alpha Tauri in Abu Dhabi at the end of the 2021 season. Although there are no seats available in F1 for 2022, Lawson has said that he’s ready to wait for another year or two for a shot at a seat in Formula One. RedBull motorsports advisor Helmut Marko has confirmed that Liam will return to F2 in 2022.
If all goes well and luck is in Liam’s favour, I’m sure we’ll see him following the footsteps of RedBull academy graduate Yuki Tsunoda, and make his way to the top in Formula One in another 2 or 3 years.
Well that’s it from us then, let us know in the comments where you’re from and who your country’s best shot at F1 is! Until next time.