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New kids on the block: Formula One's rising stars

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Everyone has heard of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, and to some extent Daniel Ricciardo. But who are the new kids on the block, the dreamers working hard to secure a seat on the Formula One grid in 2017 and beyond.?We're having a look at the sport’s five hottest prospects...

1. Stoffel Vandoorne

After a few seasons in the background at McLaren, Vandoorne will get a race seat in 2017. After securing the 2015 GP2 Series title with ART Grand Prix, alongside strong results in Formula Renault 3.5 with Fortec, the Belgian is one of the highest regarded talents on the grid even before stepping into a full-time race seat.

His stand-in appearance for the injured Fernando Alonso at the Bahrain Grand Prix in April saw him out qualify his Championship winning team-mate, Jenson Button. Not only will strong performances be expected from Vandoorne in 2017, they are near enough a certainty provided McLaren offer a good enough package. An added bonus is his Belgian heritage, something that is certain to attract more fans to Spa next Autumn.

2. Lance Stroll

Felipe Massa’s planned retirement at the end of the 2016 season all but confirmed Stroll’s involvement in the team for next season, the official announcement being made on 3rd November.

Stroll’s ability is second to none, dominating the 2016 Formula 3 Euro Series championship with nine race wins and 187 points clear of his nearest rival. The Canadian is due to become the second youngest Formula One driver in history when he makes his debut next March as well as the first Canadian since 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve. Stroll is certain to entertain and will provide Finnish team-mate Valterri Bottas with a closer challenge in 2017.

Canadian Lance Stroll competing at Spa-Franchorchamps in 2015

3. Pierre Gasly

Gasly has proved he is quick and consistent in his runner up campaign in the Formula Renault 3.5 series back in 2014. With a title success looming in GP2 this time around, Gasly certainly has the potential for the top flight.

The Frenchman has recently been confirmed as a Red Bull reserve driver and has been part of their Junior Programme since 2014. The programme has a good reputation in placing drivers in one of its two Formula One teams, although his partnership would mean he is limited to a Toro Rosso seat at the very best for future seasons. If the team decide to drop inconsistent Dani Kvyat, who was demoted to the junior team from Red Bull after the Russian Grand Prix, Gasly may have his opening. Many have suggested the team want Kvyat, but Gasly would certainly offer the better package.

4. Charles Leclerc

Leclerc is on the brink of title success in the 2016 GP3 series, a title that if he wins may well lead to a straight promotion to Haas F1 for 2017. The Frenchman has already enjoyed stints in Free Practice One throughout this season, making his hotly anticipated debut at Silverstone in July, and finishing an impressive 16th fastest in practice in Hungary.

His position in the Ferrari development programme is strong proof of his talents. With Kimi Raikkonen perhaps remaining for only a season or two more, promotion to the seat destined for the sadly passed Jules Bianchi is looming.

5. Alex Lynn

Alex Lynn is perhaps Britain’s greatest up and coming talent bidding for a Formula One drive. Although the likelihood of making the grid is rapidly declining.

Lynn is still a Williams Development Driver and has strong links with the team, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a race seat is on the horizon. A mediocre season in GP2, where Stroll has dominated in GP3, probably led to the team selecting the Canadian for the 2017 seat. However, this decision may be the end of Lynn’s Formula One dream. Bottas is unlikely to depart anytime soon, and unless Stroll proves disastrous he looks a safe bet for the future. Lynn could jump ship to find a 2017 seat, although Manor seems like the only option; a team who is likely to take on the highest bidder for a seat in its desperate effort to stay afloat. Lynn’s involvement with the Manor LMP2 project may make this a possibility, although the move towards Sportscars could herald the beginning of a new career path in motorsport.




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