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Two F1 championships, 46 wins, and 6,236 points outline the last 10 years of Formula One rookies.
The start of every F1 silly season begins as soon as a young driver performs decently well. Leclerc was already being considered a lock to the Ferrari seat after his Bahrain F2 masterclass. Throughout times like these, we get to see the best of the best take the step into Formula One. Not all rookie classes are built equally though, and thus leads to this conversation. “What are the best rookie classes that we’ve seen in F1 in the last 10 years?”
Disclaimer: Mid-season rookies have been moved to the following class, since it is their first season with a permanent seat.
Other rookie classes may have more drivers still currently in F1, but none of them have Max Verstappen, and none of them have Carlos Sainz. Verstappen holds 37 of the 38 wins shared between this field, while Carlos picked up his maiden win at the 2022 British Grand Prix. This class has a collective 96 podiums and, if all things go right for Ferrari and Red Bull, will have over 3,000 total points very soon.
Felipe Nasr had a very short-lived F1 career. After 40 races, he was able to amount 29 career points before taking his talents to the IMSA SportsCar Championship, where he and Eric Curran, would take home the championship with Whelen Engineering Racing.
The 2015 season also saw Manor Marussia F1 Team enter the campaign with an all-rookie lineup. Will Stevens and Roberto Mehri would compete under the British team, but wouldn’t see a point-scoring occasion all season. The following season saw a completely different lineup for the team
The 2019 Formula One rookie class has been looked fondly upon since it’s entrance into Formula One. As it stands, each rookie still currently holds and F1 seat, however, we did see a brief hiatus during the 2021 season for Alexander Albon, who finished 6th in the DTM championship that year. Outside of the current rookie class, these three are the only drivers to still be racing in F1 as a full class.
This class features the talents of George Russell, Lando Norris, and Alex Albon. The three drivers have each been friends since their karting days, and now share the stage together. They share a collective 962 points, 17 podiums, and a win by Russell at the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Had it not been for Verstappen’s championship form over the last 5 years, this would easily be considered one of the most dominant rookie classes in the history of Formula One.
Charles Leclerc’s impressive F2 performance during the 2017 season meant that Ferrari needed to make a push to get him in an F1 seat. During the 2018 season, Leclerc spent his time with Sauber F1, where he outscored his sophomore teammate, 39-9. During this impressive stint, he dragged the Sauber-Ferrari car to a P8 finish in the championship. This secured the Monegasque driver a Ferrari seat for the 2019 season. Charles holds 896 of this rookie class 901, as well as every podium and win.
The 2018 season also featured both the rise and the fall of Sergey Sirotkin. Sirotkin spent this season with the Williams Martini Racing Team. He not only finished in last place in the championship, but he only scored a singular point all season. The 2018 Italian Grand Prix saw a P10 finish from Sirotkin as well as 4 DNFs from Ricciardo, Alonso, Grosjean (DNQ), and Hartley. Sirotkin would be named a Reserve Driver for Renault and Mclaren in the following seasons. After this exit from Formula One, he would go on to finish 23rd in the WEC championship as well as DNFing from the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Brendon Hartley also headlined this class. Hartley raced the final 4 races of the 2017 season, where he would DNF out of half of them. Hartley’s big performance came at the 2017 United States Grand Prix. This is a hectic race that would only feature 14 of the 20 drivers finishing the Grand Prix. Hartley would go on to be replaced by Alexander Albon, who would later get the Red Bull drive.
The 2017 class is full of one-offs. Both Gasly and Ocon have a one-off win, (Monza 2020 and Hungary 2021) and Stroll has his one-off pole position at the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix. In terms of talent though, this class is much more than a couple of lucky sessions. Gasly and Ocon now make up the driver pairing of the Alpine F1 team for the 2023 season, as they fight for the best-of-the-rest title. Stroll currently sits in P8 in the Drivers’ Championship and is in pursuit of helping Alonso secure P2 in the Constructors. This class is wildly talented, but with World Champions, proven race winners, and the faces of Formula One in front of them, they just don’t have what it takes to stand on the podium
The 2023 rookie class may look like your average incoming F2 graduates. This is not the case. After his performance thus far in the 2023 season, you may believe that Nyck de Vries is the driver with the most to prove. However, Nyck was the Formula 2 Champion of 2019, but at the age of 24, no one was willing to take the gamble for F1. De Vries is also the champion of the 2020-2021 Formula E Championship. Alpha Tauri decided to take the age gamble of De Vries, and sign him as their second drive. He would back up Tsunoda for the 2023 season. De Vries also subbed in for Alexander Albon for the 2022 Italian Grand Prix, where he scored points in his maiden race.
Oscar Piastri is a fellow F2 champion in the mix. The gap from Oscar in P1 to Robert Shwartzman in P2 was 60.5 points. Piastri was called up to be a reserve driver on the grid for the 2022 season with Alpine F1, before signing with McLaren F1 for the 2023 season. Oscar is currently the only driver from this class to score points in the season, and he currently sits at P11 in the championship.
Logan Sargeant was Williams’ guy from the moment that he signed on to be a part of the Young Driver Academy. The American driver is supremely talented, and the combination of him and Albon for the 2023 season looks set to be a success for the team. Sargeant replaces the long-term pay driver Nicholas Latifi and is looking set to take home a few points by the end of the season.
It is probably too early to gauge where these guys will end up by the end of their career, but their previous championship-winning experience tells us that the future of F1 is safe in their hands.
Kevin Magnussen’s pole position in Brazil is one of, if not the most, shocking occurrences in F1 history. His performance with the Haas team over his time there has been nothing short of impressive, but he has never had the machinery to fight for more. The 2014 F1 class was full of talent, but it was all talent that never really got their shot. Outside of 2018, when Haas finished P5 in the constructor’s championship, Kmag has never really gotten the chance to show was he was worth. His only podium came in his first race in F1, where he achieved a 2-3 with Jenson Button for Mclaren-Mercedes
Just like Magnussen, both Daniil Kvyat and Marcus Ericsson never really got their shot. Kvyat spent his time in the Red Bull family during the cross-over period from Renault to Tag Heuer. In 2014, his rookie season with Toro Rosso, he would only score 8 points. After Sebastian Vettel left, Red Bull called him up. He spent the 2015 season in the car, where he finished P7 with the team. After the poor performance in 2015 and the slow start to 2016, he was traded back down to the junior team for Max Verstappen. He would go on to have a very average career for Alpha Tauri/Toro Rosso before inevitably leaving the sport.
Marcus Ericsson will probably go down in motorsport history more fondly as an IndyCar driver, than as an F1 driver. In his time with Caterham and Sauber F1, he would never finish higher than P17 in the driver’s championship. He was also prompted with the impossible task of being a teammate of Leclerc. As it stands now, Ericsson is leading the IndyCar championship.
Zhou Guanyu is the only rookie from the 2022 class. The retirement of Kimi Raikkonen, as well as the exit of Antonio Giovinazzi, opened up two seats with Alfa Romeo at the end of the 2021 season. George Russell’s performance in the Williams meant that he would be taking over for Valterri Bottas. Bottas would announce his drive for Alfa Romeo, and Zhou, formerly of the Renault Academy, would not be announced long after. Zhou was only able to put together 3 point-scoring finishes together in his rookie season, including the first race. Since then, in the 2023 season, Zhou has been consistently on par with his teammate and has made the move up to F1 look like a good call from Alfa Romeo
Yuki Tsunoda has faced the ups and downs of Formula One. In the 2023 season, he has had to play the role of veteran leadership. Nyck de Vries, his rookie teammte, is learning from Tsunoda, but Yuki isonly performing as well as one could do in the car he’s given. During his rookie season in 2021, Yuki made a habit out of scoring points. This included a P4 finish at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Since then, and since the departure of his teammate Pierre Gasly at the end of the 2022 season, Yuki has not shown the season performance, and neither has the car.
The 2021 season saw the all-new lineup of the Haas team. Mick Schumacher, reigning F2 champion, starred alongside pay driver Nikita Mazepin for the team. The Haas team was the only team not to score a point for that season but also struggled to keep their car on track.
Mick Schumacher is a driver who is full of talent, but never figured out how to get it all connected in the F1 world. After a slow start to his career in the 2021 season, he was matched up against Kevin Magnussen in a car that was rather punchy. Mick’s true pace was revealed when he had a driver outperform him in equal machinery, and subsequently lead to his replacement in 2023. He now serves as the reserve driver for Mercedes F1.
Nikita Mazepin also had his rookie year in 2021. Mazepin struggled to come to grips with the car for the entirety of the season. At the beginning of 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, which subsequently lead to the removal of Mazepin from the team. Mazepin is looking to make a push for F1 in 2024, but his attempt looks unlikely.
The 2020 Formula One rookie class was led solely by Nicholas Latifi. Latifi spent three years in the sport, where he was outperformed by both his teammates George Russell and Alexander Albon. During this time he scored 9 total points, with 6 of them coming from the chaotic 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix. Latifi has since been replaced by Sargaent. It does not look as though he is entering back into the motorsport field any time soon.
The 2016 rookie class is the only class with multiple drivers, that does not still have current driver. This class can be summed up pretty easily. 86 combined starts, 15 total points, nothing more to add. Jolyon Palmer is probably ‘the man’ from this class. In his 35 F1 starts, he was able to achieve 9 points. Pascal Wehrlein is the driver that collected the scraps. Rio Haryanto is the final driver of this class. In Haryanto’s 12 F1 races, he was able to score 0 points.