2018 promises to be an exciting year for motorsport fanatics following last year’s action-packed races, with many memorable moments throughout the various junior categories.
There were heart-stopping overtakes and a lot of dominant performances as well.
Here are my picks for the five drivers you should keep an eye on this year.
Lando Norris – 2017 FIA Formula Three European Champion
If you haven’t heard of Lando Norris by now, then where have you been?
The McLaren junior announced himself to the motorsport world in the best way possible, winning nine races and further 11 podium finishes to secure the FIA Formula Three European Championship in his rookie season for Carlin.
At aged 18, he is far from the finished product, something which demonstrated in the early stages of the season with slow starts and unforced errors.
Despite this, there is a lot of hype around Norris, and rightly so, as he pulled off some fabulous overtakes to back up his raw pace.
He’ll be continuing his partnership with Carlin as he moves up into the FIA Formula Two Championship alongside Sérgio Sette Câmara, having made a wildcard in last year’s season finale at Jerez for Campos Racing.
Before that though, Norris will be racing in the 24 Hours of Daytona race alongside McLaren driver Fernando Alonso and fellow Briton Phillip Hanson for United Autosports.
Harrison Scott – 2017 EuroFormula Champion
Norris wasn’t the only British driver dominating in the junior formulas either.
Harrison Scott produced a dominant display in last year’s EuroFormula Championship for RP Motorsport, winning 12 of the 14 races he entered and comfortably claimed his first Drivers’ crown.
Alongside this, the 21-year-old also won the four races he contested in the Spanish Formula Three Championship in the beginning of 2017, achieving a clean sweep at Estoril and Jerez in the process, as well as testing for Mercedes in DTM at Silverstone.
At the time of press, Scott has yet to confirm his plans for 2018, although a season in either the GP3 Series or the FIA Formula Three European Championship would allow the British driver to showcase his talents on a bigger stage.
Charles Leclerc – 2017 FIA Formula Two Champion
What can be said about the Monégasque driver that hasn’t been said already?
Following a successful 2016 campaign in GP3 with Prema which saw Leclerc win the Drivers’ title, the Ferrari Academy driver stayed with the Italian squad in Formula Two and caught everyone’s attention almost instantly.
Having pitted from the lead in the sprint race at Bahrain, Leclerc managed to carve his way through the field and went on to claim an emphatic victory.
This set the tone for the year as he went on to achieve a further six wins and picked up the Drivers’ crown at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Leclerc also managed to touch the hearts of many of his followers as he posted emotional tributes on social media for his father Hervé – who sadly passed away mid-season – and close childhood friend and former F1 driver Jules Bianchi.
He’ll be driving in Formula One in 2018 alongside Marcus Ericsson for the Alfa Romeo Sauber team, with many expecting Leclerc to brush the Swede aside with ease.
George Russell – 2017 GP3 Series Champion
Having claimed three victories in the FIA Formula Three European Championship across two seasons, George Russell made the switch to the GP3 Series and joined the all-conquering ART Grand Prix team, having joined the Mercedes young driver programme at the beginning of 2017.
Russell would go on to win four wins, which included overcoming a tense and enthralling battle at Monza.
The Norfolk driver eventually won the Drivers’ championship by 79 points ahead of his two closest competitors – team-mates Jack Aitken and Nirel Fukuzumi.
Mercedes awarded the 19-year-old’s success by arranging for him to take part in a free practice session for Force India at the Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix’s.
Like Harrison Scott, Russell has yet to confirm his plans for 2018 but it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up competing against Lando Norris in the upcoming FIA Formula Two Championship.
Jehan Daruvala – 2017 Runner-Up, FIA Formula Three European Rookie Championship; Sixth Overall
If it weren’t for Lando Norris taking the motorsport world by storm, I’m sure that a lot more people would be talking about another driver within the Carlin setup – Jehan Daruvala.
The only driver to finish all 30 races in last year’s FIA Formula Three European Championship – 25 of which were in the top ten – Daruvala’s smooth race craft took centre stage after his triumph at the Norisring.
The win made him the first Indian driver to do so in an FIA-sanctioned race, something which was accommodated by some impressive overtaking manoeuvres, most notably at famous street circuit in Pau.
Force India’s protégé will remain in Formula Three with the Carlin team for 2018, and out of the drivers confirmed to compete thus far, he is easily one of the favourites for the Drivers’ title.