Three opponents who did not make it to Formula 1

( – Only a few drivers can realize their dream in Formula 1. Many have the talent, but they still do not reach the top for various reasons. “There is a lot of talent,” says Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz. “But in the end, Formula 1 is made up of 20 drivers. There will not be room for everyone.”

Charles Leclerc thought early on who would make it to Formula 1


When asked who he thinks is the best driver, Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna named the kart driver – Terry Fullerton. He basically never went beyond karting. Sainz struggles to get an answer.

“I don’t know, I’ve competed against so many good drivers that it’s very difficult to discern one of them,” says the Spaniard. “I’m friends with all of them, and maybe someone will say to me, ‘Why didn’t you mention me?'”

“I’m friends with a lot of people I’ve raced with in the lower categories and obviously I have three to five people who I think would have done well in Formula 1 but they didn’t.” However, Sainz does not want to commit to a name.

Leclerc: Many have succeeded, others have not

His Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc recalls: “In karting, that’s a question I asked myself when I was younger. You come to every race and ask yourself: How many of us will be in Formula 1 one day? Many of the names I’ve thought of now are in Formula 1.”

“But then there are three of them that I thought would make it to Formula One and in the end they didn’t due to lack of luck and also for various reasons. Dennis Olsen, Ben Barnicoat and Niklas Nielsen.”

Olsen will compete in the DTM and IMSA in 2022. In addition to IMSA, Barnicoat leads in the Asian Le Mans Series and the World Endurance Championship (WEC), where Nielsen is also active who also competes in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS).

Photo gallery: Top 10: Super talents without a chance in Formula 1

“They’re all still racing,” Leclerc continues, and they’re doing a pretty good job. But it also shows that even if you have most of the requirements of Formula 1, sometimes luck is part of it: the right time to be in the right place. And all of that plays a role in that.”

“I’m sure I forgot some names at the time too. I definitely remember when I was young and wonder which one of us would be in Formula 1. It’s good to see that there are so many of us now.”

Verstappen: ‘There is no guarantee’

In this context, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen points out that karting and Formula 1 are two different things. “So if you are good at karting, there is no guarantee that you will be good in Formula 1.”

“Of course there are a lot of good racing drivers in all kinds of categories, not only in Formula 1. But there have also been a lot of good kart drivers who got into the race car and didn’t reach their full potential – and vice versa. There were quite a few drivers who didn’t. They are good at karting but they are really good at driving.”

“So it’s very hard to say that a driver who was really fast in karting would have made it to Formula 1. There is no guarantee,” Verstappen says.

Valtteri Bottas agrees: “I see it in a similar way to Max. It’s really a steep learning curve throughout your career. Of course some drivers develop early, others maybe a little later. And those who keep working, keep learning, can eventually make it.”

Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas also remembers a fellow driver from his youth Zoom

“But yes, it is sad in a way that there is a lot of talent that is constantly growing…almost lost and I don’t get the chance to get into Formula 1. In my time karting in Finland there were a lot of promising drivers, but none Financial support at all.

Bottas criticizes: ‘It’s not a fair sport’

So it’s “not a fair sport” and you also have to be in the right place at the right time. “But the best mini-car driver I’ve seen was a guy named Josie Kohala. He runs a kart team today. He was amazing – but he didn’t get the chance to get into the rookie formula,” said Bottas.

“It’s very difficult to get out of karting,” George Russell adds. “Every year the budgets get bigger and bigger. Sometimes the talent dwindles. I think as a sport we have to find a way to make sure we have the best talent.”

But this was very successful for his generation: “When I spent my first year in European karting, Max and Charles were the guys who won and were on top. Alex Albon also won in the years before us.”

“Now we’re in Formula 1 together,” says Russell. “There have been some exceptional riders that we all competed with, but I think the riders I’m going to see on top are all of us who are here at the moment.”

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