Pedro de la Rosa - BMW Sauber
There is not a lot that one can say about either Sauber driver. It was always going to be more difficult for de la Rosa to come back after such an absence and be competitive, especially given the fact that he was never a front-runner and that the Sauber machine is woefully poor in 2010. A series of technical issues have stunted de la Rosa’s season, one of which prevented him from even starting the Malaysian Grand Prix. An experienced head needed for a “new” team, he won’t be around for much longer unfortunately.
Heikki Kovalainen - Lotus
The amiable Finn has seemed happy this season. The Lotus operation began in Norfolk with four people and a desk, in late 2009. They are now considered to be the frontrunners in the group containing all of the new teams with two race-winning drivers to guide them forward, and a five-year plan to be winning races. With people such as Mike Gascoyne directing the team, and Tony Fernandes operating the business side of things, Kovalainen can feel secure in the knowledge that this is a project worth his time. A sound few years potentially lie ahead for Heikki.
Karun Chandhok - Hispania Racing
When it comes to the back end of the grid, results are not something that one can judge drivers on. The Indian was thrown in at the deep end when his first time in a Formula One car was the qualifying session for the Bahrain Grand Prix, and he has been classified ahead of his teammate twice in four races, as well as finishing in both of them. For a team that was effectively put together in the last few weeks leading up to Bahrain, it is more than was expected of them. Yet another GP2 graduate that has shown himself in a positive light in the more demanding world of Formula One.
Lucas di Grassi - Virgin
Unlike drivers such as Lewis Hamilton or Vitaly Petrov, di Grassi was in GP2 for a longer period of time and was also employed as a test driver at Renault for a couple of years. He cannot really be considered as rookie due to these experiences, and it is equally difficult to say much about the Brazilian’s season as he has been driving a poor car with a fuel tank that is too small for him to drive flat out until the chequered flag. He still has some years ahead of him in terms of age, so we must wait to see how he develops from here.
Bruno Senna - Hispania Racing
Senna quite possibly had the most pressure on his shoulders than any other driver currently competing this season. Is it because he showed flashes of brilliance in lower formulae? Perhaps he has been talked up by those who have seen him race? No. His surname is a dichotomy that is utterly pointless to discuss. On the one hand, the Brazilian’s name has made things somewhat easier for him when gaining sponsorship and contacts to work his way up the motor racing ladder. On the other hand, his name now means that some (for an unknown reason) equate him with his uncle, Ayrton Senna. It is worth noting that following his uncle’s tragic death, the young Senna (or Lalli, as is his family name) was forced into a 10-year break from motorsport as he had begun karting at a young age. To return in 2004 and be a relative success in Formula 3 as well as finishing runner-up in the 2008 GP2 series is impressive, so leaving aside the fact that he has been handling the Formula One equivalent of a tractor, we can reasonably expect Senna to move forward in his career in the coming seasons.
Jarno Trulli - Lotus
The Pescara-born driver has "average" stamped all over his career. From Minardi, to Prost, to Jordan, Renault, Toyota and Lotus, the Italian has failed to seriously impress in his 13-year career to date. Aside from a well deserved Monaco win, it’s hard to remember a drive that Trulli is remembered for. He is surely in his last couple of seasons as a Formula One driver, and yet again they will not be remembered fondly.
Timo Glock - Virgin
Like all the other drivers currently at the helm of the new teams, Glock can only keep his head down and try his best. The German has “Coulthard syndrome” whereby his talent is obvious, but whilst he has the potential to win a few Grand Prix, he probably will never reach the dizzy heights of a World Championship. His task hasn’t been made easier by the Wirth-designed Virgin, but time will tell as to whether his decision to join up with Richard Branson’s team was an intelligent one.
Kamui Kobayashi - BMW Sauber
Fresh from his father’s sushi restaurant, Kobayashi came into F1 last year with all guns blazing. He made a mockery of the consensus that it was nigh on impossible to jump into a car mid-season and struggle badly, as he fought wheel-to-wheel with Jenson Button in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, as well as showing Kazuki Nakajima what a steel guardrail looked like at 150mph. This season, he has been the complete opposite. Lucky to escape injury in Australia after his front wing detached itself and threw his car into Hulkenberg and Buemi, his car hasn’t allowed him to showcase the same fighting spirit that he did in the last two races of last year. He needs a better package otherwise he is out.