GP2 champion Leimer keen on F1 seat

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GP2 Series champion Fabio Leimer has said that he would like to secure a seat in Formula One next season after his success in 2013, but the Swiss driver is aware that this may prove to be difficult due to the climate of the driver market.

Leimer was crowed champion of F1’s direct feeder series in Abu Dhabi last weekend, edging out Mercedes reserve driver Sam Bird by twenty points in the final standings. However, despite six of the previous eight GP2 champions going on to find a seat in F1, Leimer has acknowledged that he may face an uphill struggle to follow the example set.

“I hope I can go to Formula One,” Leimer said. “It will be hard, for sure, because there are not many seats free, but I hope I can go to Formula One, and for me it is important to win this championship to help me.

“Now we have to work and push to go up there: of course it would be fantastic to be a race driver or even a third driver, but we will have to work hard and then we’ll see.”

Leimer follows in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado by winning the championship, but the driver market has changed drastically in the past few years. Now, a drivers financial backing can be just as important as their on-track talent, meaning that many have missed out on seats in the past.

2012 champion Davide Valsecchi has not raced in 2013, instead working as Lotus’ reserve driver, acting as proof of how winning F1’s supposed ‘feeder series’ does not guarantee a drive in the future. GP2’s direct competitor – Formula Renault 3.5 – has spurned F1 drivers such as Jules Bianchi and even Sebastian Vettel. However, 2012 champion Robin Frijns is currently not racing due to a lack of budget, and this year’s winner Kevin Magnussen is in the process of finding a seat in F1. All eyes will be on these youngsters to see if they can fill out the remaining seats and secure a drive in 2014.