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Britain has a rich history in Formula 1, producing some of the top drivers and teams the sport has ever seen.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, of course, leads the way while Damon Hill, Nigel Mansell and Jenson Button have all won the title in the last 30 years. But many other drivers from these shores have competed in the sport, with varying levels of success, some of whom you may have forgotten about.
Here’s the lowdown on five lesser-known British F1 drivers and what they’re up to nowadays…
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Palmer had to fight hard to get his big break in Formula 1. After winning the Formula 2 champion in 2014, he had to sit out 2015 before eventually securing a drive with Renault for 2016. He stayed for 2017 too before being dropped by the French squad.
There were moments of promise and a few points too but, overall, his time as a F1 driver was a disappointment, causing him to fall out of love with the sport.
“I was having no fun whatsoever in what I was doing, my sense of driving, my desire, was bitter,” he said in an interview in 2018.
“That was a shame because that was all I ever wanted to do. That’s why I’m not bitter that I’m outside because I’m not interested. It’s so easy to let things go. I’m happy with what I’m doing now, life outside is just more fun for me.”
Palmer, still only 31, has forged a successful second career as a media pundit, working with Radio 5Live and the official F1 channels.
Paul di Resta
The Scot was hot property at one stage early in the 2010s, catching the eye with some impressive performances for Force India. However, after a difficult end to the 2014 season, he was dropped by the Silverstone-based squad, effectively ending his front-line career.
He joined Williams as a reserve driver in 2016 and made one more Grand Prix appearance in 2017. Di Resta started the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend that year working as a pundit for Sky Sports, but ended up driving after Williams driver Felipe Massa was taken ill. After such little preparation, he did well to qualify 19th just 0.766 off teammate Lance Stroll before retiring 60 laps into the race.
More recently, Di Resta has been a McLaren reserve driver while also competing in the German DTM series and the World Endurance Championship. He is also a regular on Sky Sports’ coverage of F1.
After a modest single-seater career, Stevens was dismissed in some quarters as a ‘pay driver’. But he certainly didn’t have it easy at the top level, with his time in F1 spent with backmarker teams.
He made his debut with Caterham at the end of the 2014 season, paying £500,000 for the privilege. He had been a reserve driver for back-of-the-grid rivals Marussia, who collapsed before being reborn as Manor and re-signing Stevens for 2015.
Assessing Stevens’ efforts is tricky given how off the pace his car was and 2015 proved to be his only season in F1. He remained involved in the sport though, competing in the World Endurance Championship and since 2018 he has been a test and development driver for McLaren, primarily working in the simulator.
Another man dubbed a ‘pay driver’, Chilton joined minnows Marussia initially as a testing and reserve driver for 2012. He then became the only driver to finish every single race of his debut season, albeit at or near the back of the field. He stayed with Marussia for 2014 but lost his drive when the team folded.
Chilton then headed stateside, initially entering the IndyLights series, a feeder series for IndyCar, which he graduated to in 2016. He raced for Chip Ganassi and Carlin in IndyCar before leaving the series after the 2021 season.
Chilton then turned his attention to endurance racing and took part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015. This year the 31-year-old is racing in the Super GT series, the top level of sports car racing in Japan.
Who is your favourite F1 driver of all time? Tell us in the comments section below.
Davidson had a stop-start F1 career, which spanned 24 races, racing for Minardi, BAR and Super Aguri.
He never quite got the breaks his talent arguably deserved, although he found success in other racing categories and won the World Endurance Championship in 2014. He also went close to winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing runner-up the year before.
Davidson announced his retirement from professional racing at the end of last year. He is regular on Sky Sports’ coverage of F1 and also commentates on the World Endurance Championship.
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