A lot of people may still be recovering from New Year’s Eve antics, but the new motorsport season is fast approaching and some series even kick off later this month.
So, it seems like the perfect time to look at some of the best young talent that will take to the world’s race circuits this year.
We’ve taken a look at some of the young stars who look set to impress in 2017, and who you should watch out for throughout the new motorsport season.
This young British racer had quite a 2016, claiming a staggering three titles in total – the Toyota Racing Series, Formula Renault 2.0 NEC and the ultra-competitive Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0.
Following a stunning year of racing in 2016, which also included success in BRDC British F3 and a good run at Macau, Norris clinched the coveted McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.
This year he joins the European Formula 3 Championship, making up a stellar grid of young talent looking to ‘do a Verstappen’ and make it to F1. Norris is certainly one of the favourites for success in the series.
Speaking of ‘doing a Verstappen’, Stroll is another driver who has made the jump directly from European Formula 3 to F1. The Canadian won the Italian F4 series in 2014, before taking the Toyota Racing Series in 2015 and showing flashes of speed in an erratic maiden F3 campaign.
Stroll had already secured the trust of Ferrari and joined its Driver Academy, but he left at the end of the year to move to Williams as a test driver alongside another F3 campaign with front-runners Prema. He ended up putting together a brilliant season, winning 14 times in total.
Towards the end of 2016, Stroll completed various tests in 2014 F1 machinery and was announced as a Williams F1 driver in November. Despite coming with considerable financial backing, Stroll has proved his worth. It’ll be fascinating to see how the 18-year-old’s first F1 season goes, as the sport’s second youngest driver.
Having raced at the sharp-end of grids throughout karting and his time in junior championships so far, it’s no surprise so many people are expecting big things from Leclerc in 2017. After placing fourth in his maiden F3 season in 2015, he stepped up to GP3 last year and won it at his first attempt.
Not bad at all. Leclerc’s on Ferrari’s Driver Academy and acted as a development driver for the team, as well as having a similar role at the Haas team. He made several FP1 outings for Haas and will now step up to GP2 this year. We’re expecting big things from him in 2017, that’s for sure.
We’re definitely not biased about Aitken, after his brilliant WTF1 blog series throughout 2016, but he enjoyed a strong maiden season in GP3. He also joined the Renault junior programme, which is pretty awesome too.
Following his championship double in FR 2.0 Eurocup and Alps, he stepped up to GP3 with Arden. It was a tough field and he suffered a fair bit of bad luck, but one win and seven other podiums cemented his status as a front-runner.
He juggled that all with Spanish F3, Formula V8 3.5 and Euroformula Open races too. How did he fit it all in? Aitken tested with ART at the end of 2016, so he’ll probably stick around in GP3. Whatever he’s doing, we’ll be cheering him on!
How cool would it be to see the Schumacher name back in F1? Well, if Mick Schumacher keeps on doing what he’s doing, he could definitely make it after showing a lot of promise during his second single-seater racing season.
Schumacher finished runner-up in ADAC Formula 4 and Italian Formula 4 in 2016. He’s currently racing in the MRF Challenge Formula 2000 series too and has picked up a few wins. So, he’s done a good job so far.
Next year will be the real test, as he steps up to the super-competitive European F3 series. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares with the step up to F3. The pressure’s on.
With the GP2 grid being so competitive in recent seasons, few come close to winning the championship in their rookie campaign. Having finished runner-up in European F3 in 2015, he switched to GP2 last year and, after a shaky start, won five races and just missed out on the crown.
Giovinazzi also made his WEC debut in the LMP2 class last year. He’s highly rated, so it’s no surprise a F1 team came knocking. Ferrari picked him up as its third driver for 2017. The Italian hasn’t confirmed his plans for the new year, but remaining in GP2 could be an option and he’d definitely be the favourite for the title if he does.
The Indy Lights grid may not have been particularly full in 2016, but Jones still had tough competition on his way to the title. It was only his second season in US-based racing and he put together a brilliant campaign in Indy Lights.
Now he makes the step up to IndyCar with Dale Coyne Racing in 2017 alongside ex-F1 racer Sebastien Bourdais, a good team-mate for him to learn from. He’s the only rookie confirmed so far, so immediate success will be a tough task. But, we think he’ll do pretty well.