The next batch of Formula One greats may not come from GP2 and GP3, but from the World Series by Renault feeder series.
What do Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo, Will Power, Kevin Magnussen and Robert Kubica all have in common?
You probably know they are currently top racers in their respective disciplines; that's fairly obvious. Now what do Sergey Sirotkin, Cameron Twyneham, Norman Nato and Carlos Sainz Jr. have in common with the aforementioned stars listed above?
Every one of the drivers mentioned either graduated from World Series by Renault (formerly Formula Nissan), or are currently competing in the class this year.
World Series Renault is the place to be for any aspiring Formula One driver. In many cases, drivers have leap-frogged GP2 and GP3 as the fastest way to get into the highest echelon of motorsport. The series travels throughout Europe, giving up and coming drivers valuable experience in three different classe.
Eurocup Clio is the place to be for aspiring Touring Cars and Endurance racers. To enter, you simply have to take part in your domestic Clio series. They only run selected weekends due to domestic commitments. Formula Renault 2.0 is the place to be for Formula Three graduates. They don’t race in every round either, but do run the majority.
Formula Renault 3.5 is the main series. This is where some of the best single-seat talent in the world is found. Technology is Formula One based, and top-tier teams like Red Bull and McLaren have drivers being developed here. The race that everybody wants to win is the Monaco Grand Prix support race. The current champion is Kevin Magnussen and we all know what he's done since then.
The next driver off the conveyor belt is surely to be the highly talented Carlos Sainz Jr. He is in the Red Bull young driver scheme and it would be a surprise not to see him racing for Toro Rosso in 2015. If you are the son of a rally legend, driving fast has to be in your blood.
Over the next few years, watch out for names like Jack Aitken, Max Verstappen and Tom Blomqvist as stars of the future in Formula One or IndyCar. Any series that has given us extraordinary talents such as Alonso, Ricciardo and Magnussen is a must-watch. Will the WSR ever spread to the United States, Australia, or Asia? That remains to be seen, but whenever you get a chance to watch this proving ground for future open-wheel stars, you definitely should.