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New Zealand's Next Formula One Driver


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#1 potmotr

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 13:37

New Zealand has not had a driver in Formula One since 1984, when Mike Thackwell failed to qualify for Tyrrell at the German Grand Prix.

Thackwell was also the last Kiwi to start a F1 race, the 1980 Canadian Grand Prix (he was eliminated in an accident on the first start).

New Zealand has a great history in Formula One.

Denny Hulme was world champion in 1967. Chris Amon raced at the topline for years but was incredibly unlucky not to win a race. Then there's Bruce McLaren, who formed one of the sport's most iconic teams.

So who'll be the next Kiwi to reach F1?

Brendon Hartley? Chris van der Drift? Earl Bamber?

Discussion here...

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#2 Pharazon

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 13:44

isn't Scott Dixon a Kiwi??

he's been pretty good for a while over in the IRL.

#3 potmotr

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 13:48

isn't Scott Dixon a Kiwi??

he's been pretty good for a while over in the IRL.


Yeah, but his F1 chance slipped by I'm afraid.

Tested twice for Williams in 2004 but it sadly went no further.

Dixon is 30 next year too.

And if F1 can't make a multiple Champcar title winner like Sebastian Bourdais work then I doubt they'd risk an IRL man like Dixon.


#4 weta

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 15:16

Dixon's in one of the best teams in IndyCar and making pots of money.

There's no way he will give it all up unless he is offered a drive in a top F1 team which is VERY unlikely at his age.



#5 potmotr

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 15:34

There are a whole lot of nearly men I reckon, who could have made it given the right circumstances.

I'm thinking Greg Murphy, Paul Radisich, Craig Baird. All were pretty handy open wheelers until they moved to the only career that would pay, tin tops.

#6 PassWind

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 15:36

As long as the Teams remain pretty much European and the money links that way to sponsors its highly unlikely we will see a Kiwi or another Australian. Webber is only there through brute force and ignorance, and a guy called Paul taking a half chance at a PR coup.

It will be more likely to see Asian drivers than AU/NZ.

Next year the only reason US drivers will be in the series is because the US will have its own team. So unless say Mark/Scott pool their money and start their own (there are a lot of NZ/AUS personal in the paddock anyway) team its just unlikely.



#7 Paul Taylor

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 15:53

There's no way he will give it all up unless he is offered a drive in a top F1 team which is VERY unlikely at his age.


Don't you think it's really sad that he has to be completely written off from F1 "because of his age", when he's only 29 years old?

#8 potmotr

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 15:57

Don't you think it's really sad that he has to be completely written off from F1 "because of his age", when he's only 29 years old?


I agree, but F1 is getting more and more youth focused.

The other thing Dixon has against him is that he's racing in the states.

Bourdais was 29 when he got his chance and was a bit name in America.

Ended up being a bit of a disaster sadly.

#9 Rob

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 16:01

Jonny Reid was the best chance of late, but he seems to be drifting away from F1. Earl Bamber is probably the only other real choice.

I don't think Hartley has what it takes.

#10 weta

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 16:20

Jonny Reid was the best chance of late, but he seems to be drifting away from F1. Earl Bamber is probably the only other real choice.

I don't think Hartley has what it takes.


I'd say Jonny's single seater career is pretty much over.

Bamber's a very gifted driver, I'd love to see him get the backing he truly deserves.

Red Bull have pretty much screwed Hartley's career this year, I hope he gets another crack at Renault 3.5 next season.





#11 Alfisti

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 16:24

Regarding Dixon and Bourdais, Bourdais just strikes you as a mopey type, you get the feeling Dixon would just smack him upside the head or flush his head down the toilet if in schoool together.

IMHO teams underestimate Antipoden drivers, they are usually hard as rocks and don't need to be pampered with a no BS attitude to racing. Courtney was REALLY unlucky not to get a gig, frankly he seemed faster than Webber.

#12 weta

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 16:54

Regarding Dixon and Bourdais, Bourdais just strikes you as a mopey type, you get the feeling Dixon would just smack him upside the head or flush his head down the toilet if in schoool together.


I'd love to see Bourdais and Dixon both racing in IndyCar next season.

IMHO teams underestimate Antipoden drivers, they are usually hard as rocks and don't need to be pampered with a no BS attitude to racing. Courtney was REALLY unlucky not to get a gig, frankly he seemed faster than Webber.


Absolutely.

#13 OfficeLinebacker

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 17:02

And if F1 can't make a multiple Champcar title winner like Sebastian Bourdais work then I doubt they'd risk an IRL man like Dixon.


Agreed. AOW->F1 is not a valid sequence any longer, I'm afraid.

Wait, was it ever? :p

#14 Sardukar

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 17:42

Sadly i dont think we will see another aussie or kiwi in F1 for many years. Also what the hell is up with the IRL not wanting to stage a race in either aus or nz while we absolutely dominate that series?

#15 noikeee

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 20:09

Dixon's in one of the best teams in IndyCar and making pots of money.

There's no way he will give it all up unless he is offered a drive in a top F1 team which is VERY unlikely at his age.


I'm not very informed about this, but would be very surprised if there's "pots of money" anywhere near the IRL at the moment...

I mean, they can't even get a decent TV deal.

#16 Pato

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 20:15

Imo we will see Brendon Hartley in an F1 car in a few years.

#17 Tenmantaylor

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 20:20

I agree, but F1 is getting more and more youth focused.


Nah, you're just getting older.

Edited by Tenmantaylor, 06 August 2009 - 20:20.


#18 KiwiF1

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 22:13

Imo we will see Brendon Hartley in an F1 car in a few years.

I think Hartly is our best shot, however I will not right off Bamber, although still making mistakes he is a fast and gifted driver.

#19 weta

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 23:40

I'm not very informed about this, but would be very surprised if there's "pots of money" anywhere near the IRL at the moment...

I mean, they can't even get a decent TV deal.


Scott Dixon IndyCar Career Stats

108 starts, 19 wins, 56 top five, 78 top ten, 15 poles, 2675 laps led, 89 running at finish, $ 13,808,702 earnings

Dixon may not be in the same league as some of the F1 boys, however $13 million bucks is still a nice chunk of change.


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#20 Seanspeed

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 02:06

Red Bull have pretty much screwed Hartley's career this year, I hope he gets another crack at Renault 3.5 next season.

I wouldn't necessarily blame that on Red Bull. I'm sure contracts with the teams he's driving for have a certain say in what his priorities should be(assuming you mean the mistake is that he's focusing on F3 Euro). Or maybe Hartley himself had a say in it. Either way, its nobody's fault but his own that he's not delivering results.

That said, I do think that he's the best shot for the next Kiwi in F1. He's very good, and even though he's having a bad season, his chances are not lost just yet.

Earl Bamber is good, but its hard to tell with him at this point. He had a good opening crack at A1GP, but fell off after the first few races. GP2 was the same deal. Have no idea what he's been doing since, though. Wouldn't mind seeing what else he is capable of, but I'm kinda skeptical.

Jonny Reid is a guy who I'd like to see more. He's a bit older now, and its a shame cuz he's never got any good backing before, but he seemed to have some good potential. He took Team NZ to its highest levels in A1GP.

#21 Muz Bee

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 02:22

Hartley looks like an outside bet to pick up a drive, maybe at TorroRosso, but not next year given the poor year he's having.

There's a young openwheeler star called Richie Stanaway who has cleaned up in NZ in FFord and won first time out 3 races in Toyota Racing series at the Hamilton Supercar meeting. He has been doing well in Australiam Formula racing as well as some drives in German Formula VW. He is only 17 years old so time is on his side.

#22 krapmeister

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 03:55

...Courtney was REALLY unlucky not to get a gig, frankly he seemed faster than Webber.


If it weren't for that enormous accident he had in the Jaguar during testing (Monza?), it may have turned out differently. I remember reading reports at the time that claimed it was one of the biggest F1 shunts ever seen. After that - and Ford pulling the pin on Jaguar - that was the end of it...

I also remember reading an interview with Courtney (in Auto Action or Motorsport News) prior to this -he was saying that he was the real deal and the Aussie who was going to succeed in F1, not Mark Webber. Funny how things can work out...



#23 klyster

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 05:03

Hartley may do the deed, though his chances seem slim at the moment.

Earl Bamber looks to be pretty good, his A1GP drive in the rain at Zandvoort was pretty damn good, but then they kept putting Chris Van Der Drift (cool name) in the seat, which was silly IMO, as neither drivers got a chance to gel and find consistency, that said, Bamber looked more promising, though he made some silly mistakes, as you may expect a rookie to.

There is some good potential in and from New Zealand!

How about Kenny Smith? lol ;)

Edited by klyster, 07 August 2009 - 05:06.


#24 potmotr

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 08:25

I wouldn't necessarily blame that on Red Bull. I'm sure contracts with the teams he's driving for have a certain say in what his priorities should be(assuming you mean the mistake is that he's focusing on F3 Euro). Or maybe Hartley himself had a say in it. Either way, its nobody's fault but his own that he's not delivering results.


I think they could have stuck him into WSR and left Euro F3 behind.

Red Bull clearly saw Hartley having potential in the F1 car - he was the only Red Bull junior to have a full test last winter.

They should have elevated him to WSR and made that his primary programme this year.

That said, Lewis Hamilton had a shite first year in Euro F3 and bounced back quite nicely.


#25 noikeee

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 09:51

That said, Lewis Hamilton had a shite first year in Euro F3 and bounced back quite nicely.


A "shite" year is relative. The stats site I use say he won a race and was 5th in the overall standings, which looks pretty good for a rookie. Whereas Hartley has been nowhere so far this season.

#26 Paul Taylor

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 10:40

Regarding Dixon and Bourdais, Bourdais just strikes you as a mopey type, you get the feeling Dixon would just smack him upside the head or flush his head down the toilet if in schoool together.


I got the impression from hearing excerpts from his radio communications that Bourdais whinged a lot. He was always complaining about something that was wrong with the car, whereas his team mates just got on with it. I don't think his head was in the right place.

#27 weta

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 11:40

Red Bull should have left Hartley in Renault 3.5, he was getting quicker all the time and had a real chance of winning a race or two.

He's wasting his time with Carlin in Euro F3 and more importantly damaging his career.

#28 weta

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 11:46

Hartley looks like an outside bet to pick up a drive, maybe at TorroRosso, but not next year given the poor year he's having.

There's a young openwheeler star called Richie Stanaway who has cleaned up in NZ in FFord and won first time out 3 races in Toyota Racing series at the Hamilton Supercar meeting. He has been doing well in Australiam Formula racing as well as some drives in German Formula VW. He is only 17 years old so time is on his side.


Ritchie Stanaway and Mitch Evans are definitely two drivers to watch for the future. They had a great battle at the last round of the Australian Formula Ford Championship.

#29 potmotr

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 11:59

Red Bull should have left Hartley in Renault 3.5, he was getting quicker all the time and had a real chance of winning a race or two.

He's wasting his time with Carlin in Euro F3 and more importantly damaging his career.


I agree.

Why is he doing so bad for Carlin do you reckon?

#30 Peter Leversedge

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 12:03

I may have to eat my words one day but I don't think we will see Dixon in F1, I am not saying he is not good enough but he would have to get a VERY good offer to make the move, perhaps an offer that does not exist!!

#31 potmotr

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 12:08

I may have to eat my words one day but I don't think we will see Dixon in F1, I am not saying he is not good enough but he would have to get a VERY good offer to make the move, perhaps an offer that does not exist!!


Sad to say, but Dixon's chance has come and gone.

He had his Williams tests in 2004, which coincided with two poor years of Toyota power in the IRL.

His name has never so much as been mentioned in connection wtih F1 since then.

I'm sure Scott would give up the riches he earns from Ganassi to give it a crack though, as F1 has always been his dream.

But I really can't see it happening any more.

Shame, I think he would have been totally awesome.

The true Iceman.

#32 weta

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 13:23

I agree.

Why is he doing so bad for Carlin do you reckon?


Because 2009 is only Carlin's second year in the F3 Euro Series, the team simply doesn't have the experience and data the more established squads have. To complicate matters Carlin were forced to switch from Mercedes to VW powerplants for this season, and of course the Kumho tyres work differently to the ones they're used to in the British series. The end result sees the cars well off the pace of the front runners.

Turning our attention to the driver. In the past Hartley has driven for well established teams with plenty of experience and data to work from in the relevant championships they were competing in. Without this there's more pressure on Hartley and his race engineer to get the best out of the car in a short space of time which simply isn't happening. As a result Hartley is overdriving the car in qualifying and the races, resulting in the countless errors, penalties etc... we are seeing this season.

Think of 2009 as a character builder.


2008 Teams Championship

1 ART Grand Prix 159
2 Signature-Plus 110.5
3 Mücke Motorsport 88
4 Prema Powerteam 80
5 Manor Motorsport 76.5
6 SG Formula 37
7 Jo Zeller Racing 11
8 RC Motorsport 4
9 Carlin Motorsport 1.5


#33 Alfisti

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 13:25

IMHO if you're Dixon you move for peanuts if offered, IMHO Indycar is always one step away from a MASSIVE life threatening accident.

#34 Seanspeed

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 13:30

IMHO if you're Dixon you move for peanuts if offered, IMHO Indycar is always one step away from a MASSIVE life threatening accident.

You think drivers pick which series to race in based on which is safer? :well:

#35 potmotr

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 13:43

IMHO if you're Dixon you move for peanuts if offered, IMHO Indycar is always one step away from a MASSIVE life threatening accident.


I don't think money is stopping Dixon getting into F1.

It is attracting interest from the teams.

Since 2004 he's not been on anyone's radar.

Not a blip.

#36 expert

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 14:04

Dixon won't go to F1. He would have been good enough, but to be fair, more on the Heidfeld/Coulthard level than a genuine championship contender I would expect.

I believe he was offered a test driver position for a season at William's but turned it down because he only wanted a race seat. IMO it showed a little arrogance to expect a race seat straight away without out proving himself and I wonder if he was really all that serious about F1. It came back to bite him as his next 2 years in the US were the worst of his career (going around laps down on ovals - F1 test spot probably seemed a bit more appealing at that point!).

He doesn't offer anything at this point to any team, too old for a rookie chance, not enough sponsorship or Euro promo appeal for a drive in lower level team. Bourdais has probably nailed the coffen for US based drivers as well now, which is a shame, as I think many would have done much better if getting a chance in F1 young enough, Franchitti, Casstroneves, Dixon, Briscoe to name a few. Will Power perhaps as well.

Having said that, can't really criticise Dixon too much for his choices, he has built a great thing with with Ganassi over the years, and staying with that organisation offers him sportscar and even possible NASCAR opportunities once he's had enough of open-wheel.


#37 Slyder

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 14:23

Johnny Reid would be my choice, unfortunately, that chance is slipping away. I loved how that guy raced. Made some memorable moves in A1GP.

Dixon could be a great choice, because right now Dixon is at the top of his game. Unfortunately, nobody cares about IRL drivers anymore.

Other than that, I'll take Hartley over Bamber any day. Bamber just has not impressed me.

#38 potmotr

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 14:29

I believe he was offered a test driver position for a season at William's but turned it down because he only wanted a race seat. IMO it showed a little arrogance to expect a race seat straight away without out proving himself and I wonder if he was really all that serious about F1.


I've never heard that version of events.

The one I'm more familiar with is that Williams had a relationship with Ganassi.

Juan-Pablo Montoya was a Williams contracted test driver when he was loaned to Ganassi to race in Champcars with great success.

Prior to that Williams had taken Alex Zanardi from Ganassi.

Montoya in particular was a fan of Dixon, and I'd imagine Ganassi would have reported on his skill to Williams as well.

The actual tests were facilitated by Dixon's manager Stefan Johannson.

The first was at Paul Ricard in France and Dixon did pretty well, not being too far off the times of Ralf Schumacher.

The second at Barcelona was a bit of a disaster. Dixon was late arriving because his plane from the 'States got a cracked windscreen.

Then on the first day of the test a wheel broke off and the second day was wet, limiting Scott's running.

I'm not sure why he didn't get more tests. I heard a story suggesting Sam Michael took a bit of a dislike to Dixon for some reason. Only a story though.

Anyway, I don't think it ever got to the point of discussion race seats. I think Dixon was hoping to get more tests.

I'd really doubt it is Dixon's style to make unreasonable demands. F1 was his stated life goal and I'm sure he'd happily have tested as a pathway.

It's a great shame really, because Williams had two race drives available for 2005 when Schumacher and Montoya left...

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Edited by potmotr, 07 August 2009 - 14:32.


#39 FI-Addict

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 14:41

Next Kiwi in F1 will be Hartley I'm sure. Dixon won't now and I suspect Bourdais' success or lack of it has hindered his chance further. I wasn't aware that he tested an A1GP car in 2006 hoping to race in Mexico and USA rounds of 2006. Shows he still had an eye on F1 possibly.

I was impressed by Earl Bamber in A1GP and like Hartley is also 19 years old. Anyone know what he's racing in this year? All I can seem to find is A1GP and GP2 Asia, both of which finished a few months ago. He's far from ready for F1 unlike Brendon who would do a reasonable job imo but a couple of years racing in a competitive series in Europe and he may be up to it.

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#40 potmotr

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 14:44

I remember reading somewhere that he had a DTM test late last year.

Not sure what became of that.

There were stories about Mercedes casting around for new talent (like Senna) and I thought Bamber might have fitted into this.

Weta seems to be particularly well informed on the Kiwi racing scene, hopefully he'll have some more details.

#41 Rob

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 14:44

I believe he was offered a test driver position for a season at William's but turned it down because he only wanted a race seat. IMO it showed a little arrogance to expect a race seat straight away without out proving himself and I wonder if he was really all that serious about F1.


I don't think it's that unreasonable to expect a race seat. As the reigning IRL champion, being a test driver would have been having to prove himself again. It's not arrogance to reject a testing role - racing in Indycar probably seemed like the better option to him. I'm certain that he'd have been serious about F1 if F1 had been serious about him.

#42 expert

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 14:49

I've never heard that version of events.


I have pretty much the same version of events that you do, including the horror second test, the only difference being the nature of further relations. My understanding was the William's were in the market for several drivers and pressuring Dixon to commit to a contract with no guarantees of a race seat. Like you say they lost their 2 lead drivers and there were several drivers sniffing around so I don't think the negotiations actually got as far as firm offer because William's had other drivers on the table who were in a better position/more willing to take chances. Dixon didn't like the no guarantees part so resigned with Ganassi, I assume expecting that a year or two more winning in the US would be more valuable than a test seat and he could come back to F1 in a stronger position (and that certainly made some sense at the time - no one expecting such a horror run for Ganassi over the next 2 years). At the end of the day his bargaining position just wasn't strong enough in 2004 to secure a good deal.

The other things to consider was that Dixon had a lot of obligations to his financers to recoup their money, and taking a stab at a risky F1 venture vs one of the few teams in US open wheel that paid well was a pretty clear choice in that regard.


edit: i should point out I have no inside knowledge on this and am basing this on memories of press reports and comments from people - someone with more knowledge please correct if necessary! :)

Edited by expert, 07 August 2009 - 14:51.


#43 expert

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 14:59

I'm not sure why he didn't get more tests. I heard a story suggesting Sam Michael took a bit of a dislike to Dixon for some reason. Only a story though.


I remember a comment from Frank William's (i think) that Dixon learnt the steering wheel buttons very quickly. Talk about dammed with faint praise!


#44 potmotr

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 15:03

I remember a comment from Frank William's (i think) that Dixon learnt the steering wheel buttons very quickly. Talk about dammed with faint praise!


Good info man, thanks for all the detail.

I thing I do remember is Matt Bishop writing Dixon's chances off in F1 Racing magazine.

Said the team clearly didn't consider Dixon "the next Schumacher."

Prick!

#45 weta

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 15:04

Next Kiwi in F1 will be Hartley I'm sure. Dixon won't now and I suspect Bourdais' success or lack of it has hindered his chance further. I wasn't aware that he tested an A1GP car in 2006 hoping to race in Mexico and USA rounds of 2006. Shows he still had an eye on F1 possibly.

I was impressed by Earl Bamber in A1GP and like Hartley is also 19 years old. Anyone know what he's racing in this year? All I can seem to find is A1GP and GP2 Asia, both of which finished a few months ago. He's far from ready for F1 unlike Brendon who would do a reasonable job imo but a couple of years racing in a competitive series in Europe and he may be up to it.


David Sears wanted to run Bamber in GP2 this year under a NZ scholarship scheme but it never happened.
Bamber's racing in Euro 3000 at the moment. He's also done a few events in International Formula Master this year with ADM Motorsport, and more recently a one off drive under a new development scheme known as the IFM Talent Support Programme.

Without backing he's forced to drive whatever's available at the time.


#46 potmotr

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 15:06

David Sears wanted to run Bamber in GP2 this year under a NZ scholarship scheme but it never happened.


What kind of scholarship? A racing scholarship? How much money are we talking?


#47 weta

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 15:19

What kind of scholarship? A racing scholarship? How much money are we talking?


Yes a racing scholarship, I'm guessing about $2,000,000 (NZL) for a season in GP2.

#48 FI-Addict

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 15:24

David Sears wanted to run Bamber in GP2 this year under a NZ scholarship scheme but it never happened.
Bamber's racing in Euro 3000 at the moment. He's also done a few events in International Formula Master this year with ADM Motorsport, and more recently a one off drive under a new development scheme known as the IFM Talent Support Programme.

Without backing he's forced to drive whatever's available at the time.

Yes a racing scholarship, I'm guessing about $2,000,000 (NZL) for a season in GP2.


Thanks for the info weta :) . Hopefully we'll see Earl in GP2 in the next year or two.

#49 potmotr

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 15:25

Yes a racing scholarship, I'm guessing about $2,000,000 (NZL) for a season in GP2.


Jeez, who is stumping up for that?!

So that's about 940,000 euros.

How far would that go towards a decent GP2 seat?

And if Bamber didn't win it, who did and where are they spending it?

That would buy a decent seat at Bathurst about 30 times!

(Sorry man, so many questions...!)


#50 weta

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 15:39

Sorry I was guessing that a decent seat in GP2 would be about $2 million this year, not the scholarship.
However I've heard stories that some drivers have secured drives in GP2 this year for as little as £350,000, so I'm not really sure to be honest.