Life after Formula One
Nine Formula One drivers who started Grands Prix last year have missed out on race positions for the 2012 season. Adrian Sutil, Nick Heidfeld, Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastian Buemi, Rubens Barrichello, Jarno Trulli, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Jerome d’ Ambrosio, and Karun Chandhok are now looking to pursue racing interests elsewhere. Some have already assumed new roles whilst others are still facing the uncertainty of life after Formula One.
Between 2007 and 2010, a total of 17 drivers left Formula One. Here is a look at how their careers have progressed since then and what options may be available for those currently saying goodbye to Grand Prix racing.
Robert Kubica. Last F1 appearance – 2010
Possibly the saddest story in Formula One today is that of Robert Kubica. The Polish star was forced out of F1 last year due to injuries sustained in a rally accident and his recovery is taking much longer than he would have hoped. As yet, there is no schedule for Kubica’s return to racing and it remains to be seen if one of the world’s most talented drivers will be lost to the sport forever.
Lucas di Grassi. Last F1 appearance – 2010
Lucas di Grassi took an involuntary year off racing in 2011 and became Pirelli’s official test driver. He took part in several development sessions with the tyre manufacturer and may yet continue in a similar role throughout 2012.
Sakon Yamamoto. Last F1 appearance – 2010
The former Super Aguri and HRT driver was signed as Virgin Racing’s reserve for the first three Grands Prix of the 2011 season. At the end of last year Yamamoto announced he would be taking part in the new Indian Racing League that begins in 2013.
Christian Klien. Last F1 appearance – 2010
Two weeks ago Christian Klien drove a Lotus Exige in a 12 hour production car race in rural Australia, a big step down from the glamour of Formula One. Klien spent most of last year taking part in the Le Mans series, including the 24 hour race itself with Aston Martin. He also took part in the ‘international drivers’ round of the Australian V8 Supercar championship.
Giancarlo Fisichella. Last F1 appearance – 2009
Giancarlo Fisichella spent a year as the Scuderia’s official reserve in 2010 before taking up GT racing in a mix of Ferrari production cars. He helped the AF Corse team win the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Team’s Championship, and also took part in the 24 hours of Daytona earlier this year.
Kazuki Nakajima. Last F1 appearance – 2009
Kazuki Nakajima took time off racing in 2010 but returned to Formula Nippon alongside his brother last year. He finished second in the championship and also raced a Lexus in the Japanese Super GT series.
Sebastien Bourdais. Last F1 appearance – 2009
He is one of the most talented drivers in the world but Sebastien Bourdais was sadly unable to translate his skills into Formula One success. Since being dumped by Toro Rosso partway through 2009 Bourdais has raced in the Superleague Championship, the Le Mans Series, the American Le Mans Series, the V8 Supercars Championship, the Grand Am Sportcars series, and has also returned to Indycar racing. He has been highly successful winning races in a number of disciplines and is embarking on a full-time ride in the Indycar series this year with Dragon Racing.
Nelson Piquet Junior. Last F1 appearance – 2009
Damaged goods to many in motorsport, Nelson Piquet Junior has started carving a career for himself in the USA. He now races in the NASCAR Truck series but has also made appearances in the lower tier NASCAR Nationwide series. He will continue in that vein throughout 2012.
Luca Badoer. Last F1 appearance – 2009
Poor Luca Badoer – Ferrari’s loyal testing servant for a decade – endured an embarrassing end to his racing career in 2009. Badoer was given his golden ticket to race for the Scuderia when Felipe Massa was injured but his dream turned into a nightmare with a pair of horror performances that saw him quickly removed from the team. He completed a few ceremonial duties for Ferrari before retiring completely in January last year.
David Coulthard. Last F1 appearance – 2008
David Coulthard is now a large part of the BBC Formula One coverage but hasn’t completely stopped racing. Along with a number of demonstration events for Red Bull, DC has also spent two years racing in the German DTM series finishing 16th in the championship on both occasions. He will continue with Mercedes in the DTM again this year.
Takuma Sato. Last F1 appearance – 2008
A podium and 44 career points ensure that Takuma Sato remains the most successful Japanese Formula One driver of all time. For the last two years he has been competing as part of the Indycar series in a Lotus sponsored KV Racing Technology car. He has taken two pole positions but is will be aiming to achieve his first podium in 2012.
Anthony Davidson. Last F1 appearance – 2008
After Super Aguri pulled out of Formula One partway through 2008, Anthony Davidson took up his old role as Honda test driver before they also left the sport. He then raced for Aston Martin at Le Mans, and again for Peugeot in the French classic as well as other Le Mans series races. Now that Peugeot have pulled out of racing (a recurring theme for Davidson) he has joined Toyota in their assault on the world’s greatest endurance race later this year.
Alexander Wurz. Last F1 appearance – 2007
Williams recently hired the experienced and level headed Alexander Wurz as a ‘mentor’ for their two young drivers in 2012. Since acting as a Williams driver himself, Wurz has been test driver for Honda and Brawn, and was also one of Peugeot’s lead drivers in the Le Mans series before the French manufacturer pulled out.
Ralf Schumacher. Last F1 appearance – 2007
Michael Schumacher’s younger brother has spent the last four years racing in the DTM series with Mercedes. 2011 was his most successful season with eighth in the championship and two podiums. He will continue to search for his elusive first win in 2012.
Christijan Albers. Last F1 appearance – 2007
Since leaving Formula One, Christijan Albers has spent three years racing in the Le Mans series as well as a season in the DTM. The cashed up Dutchman does not appear to have any racing planned for 2012.
Markus Winkelhock. Last F1 appearance – 2007
Markus Winkelhock produced one of the most incredible debuts in Formula One history – put in context at the time on EnterF1.com – and that will go down as his only Grand Prix appearance. Since that remarkable day at the Nurburgring Markus has spent three seasons in the DTM series and has also had several appearances in GT sportscars.
Scott Speed. Last F1 appearance – 2007
Despite having one of the most marketable names in racing history, Scott Speed was unable to become a regular in Formula One. His Toro Rosso dumping was a shame for the US driver who did show flashes of talent and brought plenty of character to the sport. Over the last four years, Scott Speed has been racing stock cars in the USA with various teams in the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup series. Scott is just one of many drivers to have forged a career after racing in Formula One.