One has been talked about a lot, the other has already raced a Grand Prix, the third puts the United States back on the grid: who are Oscar Piastri, Nyck de Vries and Logan Sargeant, the new faces of Formula 1? expected this weekend in Bahrain during the 1st GP of the season?
Piastri (McLaren), the controversy
His arrival at McLaren took the paddock by surprise, starting with Alpine, where he was officially announced for his first season in F1.
“I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023,” swept away Oscar Piastri in the wake of the announcement. A legal imbroglio ensued, before an arbitration body ruled in favor of McLaren, which also claimed to have a contract with the Australian.
A promising 21-year-old driver, trained in the Alpine Academy in recent years, Piastri remained confined to the role of reserve driver in the French team in 2022, despite his Formula 3 title acquired in 2020, followed by the Formula 2 title the following year.
Now installed in an F1 seat, Piastri, who began his career at the controls of remote-controlled cars before swapping them for a steering wheel, should benefit from a more efficient single-seater on paper than that of the other beginners of the season.
But the young prodigy will have to face his teammate, the Briton Lando Norris, the only driver outside the “Top Team” (Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes) to be on the podium last season.
De Vries (AlphaTauri), patience
If, at 28, Nyck de Vries will already be one of the oldest drivers on the grid for his tenure in F1, the Dutchman doesn’t care: “Everyone follows their own path, so whatever my age or the way I got here, it doesn’t really matter (…), seizing the opportunity at the right time is all that matters.”
This opportunity, the compatriot – and friend – of the double defending champion Max Verstappen seized it in September, when he replaced at short notice the Thai Alexander Albon during the Italian GP. Very successful for his first GP in F1, he finished 9th at the wheel of a Williams often out of the points.
From then on, “the phone didn’t stop ringing”, remembers the Dutchman. “I really wanted to use this momentum (…) to conquer and create an opportunity for myself in Formula 1.” It was with AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s little sister team, that he finally signed up.
Before landing in F1, De Vries spent three seasons in Formula 2, the antechamber of F1, winning the title at the end of the 2019 season. Then passed by Formula E (electric), he will be crowned champion in 2021 with Mercedes, with whom he also collaborates in F1 as a reserve driver.
Now in the elite of his sport, the Batavian will team up with the Japanese Yuki Tsunoda, 22 years old and the smallest driver on the grid (1.59 m) … just ahead of De Vries (1.67 m).
Sargeant (Williams), the United States back
The first American driver in F1 since Alexander Rossi in 2015, Logan Sargeant arrives directly from Formula 2 where he was crowned “rookie of the year” last season – an honorary prize rewarding the best rookie of the season – despite his fourth place.
His profile as a “made in the USA” driver sticks to the image of the new generation F1, for which the American group Liberty Media has owned the commercial rights since 2017. But there is no question for the 22-year-old young man to think that he has benefited from a pass right there.
“I like to think it’s just a happy coincidence, I’ve worked for the past few years, coming to Europe when I was young to make this dream come true,” retorts the person concerned.
A reality that he can now savor on his land since three GPs (out of 23) are organized in the United States, in Las Vegas (Nevada) in addition to Miami (Florida) and Austin (Texas).
If, alongside his teammate Albon, the American will be this season in one of the worst performing teams on the grid, Sargeant still cultivates the hope of one day succeeding his compatriots, the world champions Phil Hill and Mario Andretti.
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