2015 World Final Preview: The Drivers’ Choice

The weeks and days leading up to the World Final is time for the drivers to start studying the grid and plotting a race strategy. Who stands between them and the chequered flag?

We’re a nosey bunch here at F1stockcars.com. We wanted to know who the drivers consider to be their biggest competition. So we asked them! All 22 UK qualifiers for the World Final have been tracked down and asked the following question:

Who do you think will win the World Final?

There was only one rule: you can’t vote for yourself!

All votes were anonymous, so drivers had no need to worry about giving away their race plan.

We had responses from 19 of the 22 qualifiers – here are the results…

 

512 Michael Steward: 1 vote

Venray_15-08-2015_Colin_Casserley-18

Does somebody know something we don’t? Michael Steward hasn’t scored a point on shale prior to the World Final, but one driver seems to think he’ll scythe through the grid from the tenth row to take the chequered flag and the gold roof. It’s fair to say that you’ll make a few quid if you put a bet on Steward to win!

2 Paul Harrison: 1 vote

Coventry-4.4.15-Colin-Casserley-13

Starting two slots in front of Steward is 2011 World Champion, Paul Harrison. The driver who voted for Harrison did so because “he’s always quick at the end of the race, when it counts”. Harrison is Mr Consistent, leapfrogging between star and superstar grade all season by taking 23 podium finishes – but only two of them were race wins. And nobody remembers second or third in the World Final.

55 Craig Finnikin: 1 vote

Coventry_4-7-15_Colin_Casserley-31

Finnikin is the current holder of the gold roof, but only one driver thinks that he’ll still be carrying it into 2016. That driver said: “it’s on shale, so you’ve got to consider Craig Finnikin the favourite.” Do you agree?

515 Frankie Wainman Junior: 1 vote

Kings_Lynn_08-08-2015_Colin_Casserley-05

One driver thinks that the new World Cup Champion will also be the new World Champion by the end of the race. Of course, perhaps Frankie just received a vote from his little brother, who is also on the grid. We’ll never know… But we do know that Frankie certainly didn’t vote for Danny, since poor Danny didn’t receive any votes.

318 Rob Speak: 1 vote

Northampton-19-07-15_Steve_Botham-13

 

One of the biggest surprises from this exercise is that only one driver thinks that the man on pole position, Rob Speak, will still be at the front come the end of the race. Is that because Speak was the highest-profile casualty of the first corner carnage last year? Is Speak’s volatility in recent F2 World Finals is counting against him? Or do the other drivers have a plan for dealing with him?

4 Dan Johnson: 5 votes

Coventry_01-08-2015_Colin_Casserley-09

Johnson has led no fewer than three of the last four World Finals, but the best he has managed by the end of the race is second place, in 2011 and 2012. Five drivers think that he’ll move up to the top step of the podium this year. One told us, “it’s Dan Johnson’s time to take it after coming so close in the past.”

390 Stuart Smith Junior: 9 votes

Belle_Vue_26-07-2015_Colin_Casserley-25

Overwhelming favourite to take the gold roof – according to the drivers in the race, at least – is Stuart Smith Junior. His quirky shale car has nine other drivers looking on enviously. One told us, “if he can keep all his wheels on, there’s no doubt he’ll be fastest.”

What have we learned?

Sorry Dan Johnson, you’re in second place again.

Keep an eye on car 390 – because the other drivers certainly will be! SSJ might cruise to victory from the front row, but we now know that the rest of the grid is aware of that possibility. Will Smith start the race with a massive target on his back bumper? Will one of the nine drivers who voted for him be prepared to gamble and try to put Smith out of the race? One thing is for sure – we can’t wait to find out!

Words: Scott Reeves
Photos: Colin Casserley

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