George Russell, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon are all busy preparing for their respective Grand Prix debuts at the Australian Grand Prix in March. That is when they will realise a dream of joining the F1 grid.
Russell clinched last year’s Formula 2 title while Norris edged Albon to take the runner-up spot. It means that the top three from Formula 1’s feeder series have made the grade straight away. It is a rarity. Since GP2 took over from International Formula 3000 in 2005 it has happened only once – when the top three from the 2009 championship all received berths on the expanded 2010 Formula 1 grid.
Champion Nico Hulkenberg joined Williams, runner-up Vitaly Petrov linked up with Renault while third-placed Lucas di Grassi raced for the nascent Virgin operation.
Hulkenberg is the only one of the trio who is actively racing in Formula 1. Meanwhile, Petrov became the first Russian to take a podium in the championship a year later. Also, di Grassi has established himself as a Formula E front-runner, taking the 2016/17 title.
Considering how rare it is for Formula 1 to feature such a turnover of drivers year-on-year it may be some time before the leading trio in Formula 2 again all make the step up at the same time.
Hulkenberg is currently racing for Renault and will be partnered by ex-Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo. Meanwhile, Russell will be racing for Williams, Norris in McLaren and Albon in Toro Rosso. Russell will be partnered by Robert Kubica, on his return to Formula One racing. Norris partners former Toro Rosso and Renault driver, Carlos Sainz Jr. Finally, Albon will be competing alongside another F1 returnee, Daniil Kvyat.
Now, the real question will be, how will they stack up against their teammates and how will they perform in their rookie season?