Alex Lynn starts the new GP2 season with DAMS next month as one of the favourites and the 22 year old believes that winning the title could propel him into F1 next season, as the driver market is due for a shake up.
The 2014 GP3 champion is a reserve driver for Williams and carried out a lot of their simulator work last season, over 45 days in total, in addition to a run in the hybrid turbo F1 car in the Barcelona test.
Now, on the eve of the most important season of his career to date, he feels that the driver market for 2017 could work in his favour as the teams look to younger drivers thanks to the recent success of Verstappen and Sainz and Stoffel Vandoorne’s breakthrough in Bahrain with McLaren.
“This one really is the most important season, it’s the one I really need to perform in,” Lynn said at a small media gathering in London, attended by this site.
“I feel quite lucky that this year could be the year when everything starts to change (in the F1 driver market). And I think it’s really helped that we have guys like Max and Carlos doing so well and Stoffel doing a great job in his first race. Its proving all the time that the guys from the junior categories can come through and fight with the big guys and the previous world champions. So yes, I think this yera everything could change.
Lynn believes that the success of his generation, combined with a stock of older drivers reaching the end of their careers, has created an environment like 2006/7 when a young Robert Kubica was brought into BMW Sauber mid-season and scored a podium almost straight away, which opened the door for Lewis Hamilton to make his mark and the following year Sebastian Vettel.
“I know that if I can do the business then it’s going to give me the best chance possible and if the driver market plays out how I think it could then hopefully I will get a chance,” he said.
Williams has a history of giving rookies a chance; they promoted Valtteri Bottas from GP3 and further back Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button both started young with the team; Rosberg was GP2 champion and Button came straight from Formula 3.
“I’m hopeful that they will have the faith to put me in if I can show I can do the business (in GP2), ” said Lynn. “If I can get a good start to the season it will put a bit of pressure on the powers that be (at Williams) and I’ve made it clear to them that I want to be racing that car next year. I’m here to show that I can do it.
If you look at the season that Stoffel had last season, I’m not going to say that I’ll do that, but I want to win lots of races and win the championship in a convincing manner. I love the fact that the championship is so raw the best drivers going at it, no politics, just pure racing and the cream can rise to the top.”
Lynn believes that the main opposition in GP2 this year will be Red Bull protege Pierre Gasly and Russian Sergey Sirotkin, who has replaced Vandoorne at ART GP.
Lynn drives for DAMS, the team that took Jolyon Palmer to the title in 2014. Palmer is now a race driver with Renault.
Lynn will again drive the simulator for Williams this season and hopes to get a run in the F1 car at a test towards the back end of the season. There is also the possibility of getting some mileage in Pirelli 2017 tyre testing as Williams is one of the five teams currently slated to provide a car for F1’s tyre supplier.
Lynn’s optimism is well founded in one sense; there certainly are a number of drivers who have been in F1 a long time. However history also shows that when there is a major rule change, F1 teams can be quite risk averse with young drivers, believing that experienced drivers are a better bet.
There’s no question that there are some talented young drivers on the fringes of the sport with Lynn, Vandoorne and Frenchman Esteban Ocon in particular a trio that look like they deserve a place on the F1 grid next season.
What do you think? Would you like to see more young drivers come in to F1 in 2017 or do you think the sport should stick with the older names?