Talent without money these days is virtually worthless. Unfortunately for one young British driver, who has lots of talent behind a steering wheel, he has seen his promising career stutter along dreadfully slowly, but at Silverstone this year in the GP2 series, Jon Lancaster finally showed to the world what he can do, and won the sprint race of the British Grand Prix support series. Maybe this is the just what the British driver needed to get into the thoughts of Formula 1 teams for possible future drives.
Disjointed is probably one of the better words to describe Lancaster’s career up to now. He made his debut in the 2006 Formula Renault 2.0 UK Winter Series with the AKA Lemac team. In 2007 he finished second in the championship of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series, winning five times with the SG Drivers Project outfit. He also raced in the French Formula Renault 2.0 series that year, winning twice more, finishing 6th in the final standings.
He moved to the Formula 3 Euro Series with the ART Grand Prix team for 2008, but in a very competitive season (including drivers such as Nico Hulkenberg, Sam Bird, Jules Bianchi, Edoardo Mortara & Christian Vietoris) he won only once at the Nurburgring and finished down in twelfth in the championship. However it wasn’t bad for his first season in the championship. He did however finish third in the Formula 3 Masters event at Zolder, behind Bianchi & Hulkenberg.
He started 2009 out of a job as his financial issues began to show their hand, with drives becoming more and more expensive to get & keep hold of. He got a call part-way through the Formula Renault 3.5 season to drive for Comtec Racing, and didn’t disappoint the team, winning in the Algarve for them. He finished in 13th in the championship, in a season where Belgian Bertrand Baguette dominated. He returned to Formula Renault 3.5 in 2011, this time with Fortec Motorsport. However his season was largely disappointing, scoring a solitary podium finish in Hockenheim and finishing 13th in the standings.
The next two years in 2011 and 2012 however saw him race a total of 8 races in 5 events (3 were double headers). In 2011, he raced twice for the MotorSport Vision team in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, then in two double headers for the Super Nova Racing team in Auto GP. He managed to win one the four races he competed in in Auto GP, the first race of the Donington Park event. In 2012 it was even worse for the Brit, starting only the first two races of the GP2 Series season for the Ocean Racing Technology outfit. The funds weren’t there to continue in any of those series, and it looked like his career was going to end before it truly began.
But now in 2013, it finally looks like he’s got the break his talent has certainly deserved. Replacing Pal Varhaug in the Hilmer Motorsport team in GP2, he grabbed an amazing podium finish in his first race in Spain, before grabbing his first series win in the British Sprint race in front of his home crowd, vaulting him up to P6 in the championship standings.
Hopefully now its been proven that he can win races in the category just beneath Formula 1, especially in a very strong field, that maybe, just maybe, Formula 1 teams will finally take notice of his talent. I hope his financial issues don’t resurface (nor those of his teammate Robin Frijns) and Lancaster can finish the season with Hilmer and prove himself still further. There is a lot of confidence in his driving, and deservedly won at Silverstone. He may not have got as much coverage prior to this season as other British drivers, but he is up there with the best of them when it comes to talent.
Talent isn’t the issue however.