5 Drivers Who Would Benefit from a Change of Scenery for Formula 1 2014
Despite the name, the Formula One driver merry-go-round is rarely a fun place to be.
Those who enjoy it are drivers moving up in the sport, but it is a poignant reminder of the state of F1 that deserving midfield drivers progressing are the exception, not the rule.
There are not a lot of seats on offer for F1 2014, so looking at drivers who would benefit from a change of scenery becomes somewhat difficult.
However, it is not just those on the current grid who might be better off seeking pastures new next year.
5: Nico Hulkenberg
Let's make one thing clear (and it should already be obvious to regular readers of the site): Nico Hulkenberg is held in extremely high regard.
The reason he props up this list is simple.
Everybody knows he would benefit from a change of team. Everybody knows he would excel in a frontrunning operation.
Everybody also knows F1 just is not doing enough to help drivers like him. For shame.
Bottom line: He needs to find a race-winning team to realise his potential.
4: Heikki Kovalainen
The F1 fraternity was in a state of agreement when Caterham confirmed Heikki Kovalainen was to return to the team for partial Friday testing duties. This was a good thing.
The likable Finn might have won just the one race for McLaren but he has proven himself to be a very capable driver.
Potential world champion or not, the F1 grid is a stronger place with him on it.
What Heikki needs is a race seat, and what F1 needs is Heikki in a race seat. But he'll likely need to bring money with him if he is going to find a different home next year.
There's just one problem with that: He's not willing to pay.
Bottom line: Too good for Caterham. Definitely too good for sporadic Friday testing roles.
3: Sam Bird
The only surprise about seeing Sam Bird challenging for the GP2 Series title this year is that his time was put together rather last minute.
Despite that, the experienced Brit has worked wonders with Russian Time and goes into the title-deciding Abu Dhabi race as Fabio Leimer's chief rival.
Bird has experience with the Mercedes team thanks to a long-running association. And, as a race winner at various rungs of the single-seater ladder, he is as deserving and talented as the majority who are either in F1 or are trying to get in.
Budget has held him back in the past: Can Merc's might make the difference?
Bottom line: For "change of scenery", read "get out of junior single-seaters". The talented Brit has paid his dues. It is time to see what he is made of in F1 machinery.
2: Paul Di Resta
Some are unconvinced by Paul di Resta's potential, perhaps with good reason.
The Scot has excelled at times over the past two seasons, but has also been guilty of tailing off miserably.
He was overshadowed by Nico Hulkenberg in the latter part of 2012 and this year, thanks mostly to his Force India's uncompetitiveness on the new-compound Pirellis, has suffered a similar decline in form.
Still, it should not be forgotten that di Resta's efforts in the first half of the year, when the car was more competitive, were on a par if not more consistent with what Hulkenberg is achieving with Sauber.
If he is to make the big splash in F1 which he has promised on occasion, he must vacate the Silverstone squad and find pastures new.
Bottom line: He needs to move on if he is to progress nearer to the front.
1: Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas arrived in F1 with a lot of hype, and this was entirely justified.
The 2011 GP3 Series champion had foresaken a move into GP2 for 2012 in favour of a testing role with the Williams team.
The gamble paid off: The Finn turned several heads and proved he was both talented and intelligent. A race seat beckoned for 2013 and (after Maldonado had challenged for podiums and scored a win in 2012), hopes were high.
Bottas and the team were brought back down to Earth with a bang this year.
The Williams has been a disaster, toiling at the rear of the field and often being eliminated alongside the Caterhams and Marussias. That's not good enough.
It's also not done Bottas any favours, though he continues to impress those paying attention with his performances alongside his much more experienced teammate.
Bottas has something special about him, but the longer he stays with a midfield-to-tailend team the longer F1 has to forget about him.
Bottom line: Far too talented to be mired in uncompetitive Williams machinery.