Badger is taking a conversational look at the rookies who will make their F1 debuts in Melbourne. We’ve met Nasr, Sainz and Verstappen, and next it’s a man who’s participation in Australia is now confirmed: Manor’s Will Stevens.
Hang about, I know most young British racing drivers are named Will, but surely there aren’t two named Will Stevens. Didn’t this lad already debut last season?
So you were watching Abu Dhabi! Yes, he drove for Caterham, but having competed in just one grand prix for a zombie-team run by an administrator named Finbarr we think it’s fair to class him as a rookie.
Alright then. So who’s he driving for this time?
Assuming they make it to the grid in Melbourne he’ll compete for Manor, formerly known as Marussia. Though ‘compete’ may not be the correct word.
Well, we’d all like to see them back in the sport so here’s hoping. And what about Will – any good?
Not to name-drop, but I have first-hand experience of this: in 2011 I competed in a kart race with young Mr Stevens as part of a story for Badger.
Did he beat you?
Thought as much. So, aside from being a lot better than you, what’s Will like behind the wheel?
Not bad, though unlike his fellow rookies he has never finished in the top three of a junior racing championship. However, he has competed with and sometimes beaten a host of big names, including Daniil Kvyat, Kevin Magnussen and Jules Bianchi. So while he may not be a world champion in waiting, nor is he completely useless.
He’s also beaten you.
Getting back on topic, I’d like to draw your attention to Will’s performances in the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 championship when he finished fourth behind Magnussen, Stoffel Vandoorne and Antonio Felix da Costa – aka the three most promising young drivers on the planet at the time. That alone tells you he’s talented.
Okay, but given that Manor’s car will be miles off the pace, the person he’ll need to beat is his team-mate. Who’s he sharing a garage with?
Err, we don’t know – Manor have only confirmed one driver. A few names have been floated, from fellow rookie Alexander Rossi to the perpetually average Adrian Sutil. Rossi would represent a pretty even match, but Sutil’s experience could prove a bit much to handle.
But it’s all guesswork right now?
Basically, yes. It’s just as possible that a mega-rich GP2 veteran with zero talent will buy the seat, in which case Will could end up looking quite handy.
Okay, here’s the big question: is he better than Max Chilton?
Their records aren’t that dissimilar. However, Will has tended to get on the pace quicker – a key indicator of talent – so I’ll say yes. That’s not to put him up there with Lewis or Jenson, mind you. Ultimately he’s bringing money, otherwise there’d be no deal. But he’s won races and competed with seriously quick guys, so there’s no denying his talent. 6/10 seems a fair shout.
What does that make you, a 1/10?