Any driver who wants to compete in Formula One must hold an FIA issued Super Licence and next year these will become harder for new drivers to obtain. The full conditions are listed below, but from 2016 aspiring F1 drivers must achieve a higher level of success in the feeder categories to be eligible. The FIA has assigned ‘points’ to finishing positions in the junior championships and drivers must score 40 of these within a three year period to gain eligibility.
This means there are currently several drivers on the cusp of gaining enough points to qualify for a F1 Super Licence at the end of this year and in some cases they are fighting against each other for that opportunity. Some of these interesting battles are highlighted below.
Although these drivers aren’t expecting to race in Formula One next year, most of them already have links to Grand Prix teams and eligibility for a Super Licence (which is valid for three years) will give them an advantage over other youngsters on their way to the top level. It certainly helps anyone with a budget because the new requirements will stop other pay drivers from simply buying their way into F1. If nothing else, access to a Super Licence will make a driver more attractive to potential sponsors.
FORMULA RENAULT 3.5
The first of these interesting battles is taking place in Formula Renault 3.5. Dean Stoneman and Nyck de Vries both have a realistic chance of finishing 3rd in this year’s championship which would give either of them enough points to be eligible for a Super Licence. However, it means the opportunity is there for only one of them. Since they are both part of highly competitive F1 junior programs (Stoneman at Red Bull and De Vries at McLaren) it adds some intrigue to their current fight for position.
A similar battle is taking place in Formula 3. The 2015 championship is a three-way fight, and although Felix Rosenqvist is almost certain to finish the year with enough Super Licence points, the other two contenders will need to avoid finishing 3rd to ensure they don’t miss out.
The GP3 championship fight is another with Super Licence implications. Marvin Kirchhofer is currently in contention for the title and if he ends up winning he will have earned enough points to qualify (in case he needed any extra incentive).
The FIA has said that it will offer flexibility to drivers that have previously held a Super Licence but have been unable to race in F1. The three drivers fighting for 2nd place in this year’s GP2 championship all meet this condition so shouldn’t have any problems, but the regulations haven’t been finalised yet (Appendix L to the International Sporting Code) so if the final wording works against them it would make their battle for position very interesting.
SUPER LICENCE CONDITIONS – APPENDIX L TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPORTING CODE