Former Super Aguri and Honda pilot Anthony Davidson is hoping the influx of new teams into Formula One may offer him an opportunity to return to the grid in 2010 – and is actively seeking a new drive.
The popular British driver, who recently competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Aston Martin/Prodrive and the 1000km of Spa for Essex-based Gigawave Motorsport/NISMO, reckons that lack of testing may make experienced drivers a far more attractive bet for new teams than rookies.
But he also says that, in an economic climate where drivers who can bring finance to cash-strapped teams are easily the most attractive prospects, he is realistic about his prospects.
Davidson, who is working as a summariser for BBC Radio 5 Live this season, made his remarks during Friday’s first practice session in conversation with commentator David Croft.
He said: “With all the new teams and the speculation of them coming along, or some of the teams being a dead cert, I am doing my rounds as well, like all the drivers.
“Hopefully I will be back on the grid, but it is a tricky one, a hard game to get into and to remain in as well.
“I’m a realist at the end of the day. There are a lot of drivers out there in this current climate that are finding drives because of money. It’s even affected Formula One quite heavily.
“It’s a difficult one but I believe I still have got unfinished business in Formula One and I want to be back.”
He was then asked by Croft whether experienced drivers presented a better bet for new teams than rookies, in the face of perhaps a lack of an obvious talent pool for the series.
Davidson replied: “The problem for the guys investing this money, in the new teams especially, is that as a committee it is hard to make a decision on putting a new guy in the car.
“There is a lot of money being invested and it is a very critical time. You don’t want to make a mistake. In a committee, I guess, the best way to do it and keep everyone happy, so that no-one has the finger pointed at them, is to get a guy who has a reputation.
“It’s a safe option to put a name in the car rather than a new guy. The other thing that makes it hard is that the new guys are not allowed to test any more. So we are seeing teams doing their testing of new drivers at the races, which you could argue is a bit dangerous.
“You could argue that it’s a bit of a shame we don’t have at least a few test days for the allowance of rookie drivers so they can go out and get a few extra miles under their belts before joining in a race weekend.”
Davidson’s unfinished business
Davidson got his F1 break with BAR in 2001 when he was taken on as a test driver. The next year he temporarily replaced Alex Yoong at Minardi after that driver’s performance fell below an acceptable standard.
In 2003 he kept his BAR testing role and impressed during that season and the next, especially with his Friday performances as the team’s third driver. A planned 2005 drive with Williams failed to materialise due to contractual issues and his only race action was filling in for Sato at the Malaysian Grand Prix for two laps until his engine blew.
In 2006 he was tester for Honda Racing – until he got a solid chance at a race drive with Super Aguri, a team set up by former Japanese racer Aguri Suzuki and backed by Honda. That lasted until May 2008 when the team lost Honda’s backing and withdrew from the championship for financial reasons.
• Information from the Wikipedia article on Anthony Davidson has been used in compiling this report. You can read the full article here.