Could the prospective promotion of Barwa Addax driver Romain Grosjean to a Formula One seat with Renault be good news for a British driver?
When it comes to replacements for the 2009 title challenger, widely believed to be on the verge of replacing Nelson Piquet Jr, there are no fewer than three from the UK who we think could potentially be part of a very wide field of contenders.
The question of who might be brought in to replace Grosjean depends on whether the seat is viewed as a long-term Renault development project or whether the team is more keen to safeguard its current drivers’ and constructors’ championship challenges.
Barwa Addax formerly raced in GP2 as Campos before being bought up by Alejandro Agag. He is a former Spanish and European politician and also a friend and business associate of Renault team principal Flavio Briatore, acting as Managing Director of QPR Football Club.
The team currently lies just two points behind ART Grand Prix and is, with four rounds to go, the only other realistic challenger for this year’s constructors’ title. On the drivers’ side, even without Grosjean, it still has a reasonably credible title challenger in Vitaly Petrov and may want to support him.
In either scenario there are British drivers who might fit the bill. In the former, if Grosjean becomes a race driver for Renault then would Adam Khan, currently demonstrating last year’s car for the team, be on the list for a better drive?
Khan has some GP2 Asia experience, having competed in the first two rounds for Arden in 2008 under the name Adam Langley-Khan. But he did not particularly distinguish himself, scoring no points and finishing 28th overall.
However if Barwa Addax are looking for seasoned GP2 performers, there are two very obvious candidates in Adam Carroll and James Jakes. Carroll’s star is firmly in the ascendant at the moment after he secured the A1GP Championship for Team Ireland in May this year.
So much so, in fact, that he is thought to be considering more than one F1 offer. If so, a GP2 drive could be seen as a nice little loosener, especially since he has relatively recent experience in the series.
Carroll drove in GP2 for several different teams between 2005 and 2008, scoring five wins and nine other podiums. His best championship result was a fifth-place finish for Super Nova. But his 2008 season consisted of a brief fill-in for FMI which won him a single point.
James Jakes had a credible GP2 Asia season in 2008-09 during which he drove for Super Nova, taking seven points and a podium in Malaysia. However he was not retained for the European season, being replaced by Luca Filippi.
Of course, the prospect of a plum GP2 seat opening up with a top team, one that has a relationship to an F1 outfit, is such an enticing one that there will be huge pressure on those with the means to fill it. A very complex web of factors will be at work, many of which are not public knowledge.
Even so, with a distinct paucity of up-and-coming British drivers in the immediate F1 pyramid, occupying GP2 seats or reserve driver roles, it’s good to consider that there are three names that could be in with a chance.