The next generation of F1 stars

Wolff exclusive: We'll see a better Bottas in 2018 (2:50)

Toto Wolff looks back on Valtteri Bottas' debut season as a Mercedes driver and explains why he'll get even better in 2018. (2:50)

ESPN takes a look at some of the young drivers on the cusp of elevation to Formula One. Here's what they are up to in 2018 and what they need to do to make it to F1.

Lando Norris

Formula 2 and McLaren reserve driver in 2018

2017 was a huge season for Lando Norris. Taking nine race victories and eight pole positions en route to winning the European F3 title at the first attempt outlined his ability and confirmed the hype that has been surrounding him ever since he began his rapid rise up the single-seater ladder. With experience of driving F1 machinery already under his belt, he looks destined for a place on the grid in the not-too-distant future.

This year, the 18-year-old will dovetail his new role as McLaren's reserve and test driver alongside a campaign in F2 at Carlin -- the same team he claimed the European F3 championship with. It will present a big step up from 2017, particularly against the might of F2 giants Prema Powerteam (which has won the drivers' title in the last two campaigns). But given what Norris was able to achieve last season, you wouldn't put it past him to impress again in 2018.

George Russell

Formula 2 in 2018 - TBC

Another man who enjoyed a successful 2017 campaign was Mercedes junior George Russell. With backing from the Silver Arrows, the 19-year-old made the most of his GP3 opportunity with ART to beat fellow countryman and teammate Jack Aitken to the title with a round to spare, despite making a relatively slow start to the season.

His superiority over the field -- winning the series by 79 points -- earned him his debut F1 test chance with Mercedes at the Hungaroring, before further F1 outings followed in Brazil and Abu Dhabi with Force India. He immediately impressed, setting the 12th fastest time in Brazil FP1 in a car he hadn't driven before. Russell is yet to announce his 2018 plans, but graduation to F2 is expected. Reflecting his 2017 dominance this year could see him land an F1 seat in 2019.

Antonio Giovinazzi

Sauber third-driver in 2018

The highly-rated Italian has already made his F1 race debut, standing in for the injured Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber for the opening two rounds of the 2017 season. His impressive run to 12th on his debut in Australia was slightly overshadowed by a crash-strewn weekend in China, but that hasn't deterred Sauber from taking him on as the Swiss team's third-driver in 2018.

Giovinazzi has not contested a full-time racing programme since he finished as runner-up to Pierre Gasly in the 2016 GP2 championship, but despite missing out on a Sauber seat for the upcoming campaign, he is well-thought of at Ferrari. Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne is keen to find a spot on the grid for the Maranello protégé in the coming years. His patience could be rewarded in 2019 if either rookie Charles Leclerc or Marcus Ericsson do not meet expectations, or indeed, if Leclerc was promoted to Ferrari. Given the team's technical link-up with Ferrari, Haas would not be out of the equation either.

Outside bets

Nyck de Vries

Formula 2 in 2018

The Dutch driver, part of the McLaren young driver programme, took a single race win at Monaco and made a further three podium appearances during his first season in F2 on his way to finishing as the second-best rookie behind Charles Leclerc -- in a year split between two teams that were never really in a position to challenge for big silverware. De Vries has a fantastic opportunity to outline his credentials in 2018 following a move into Leclerc's vacant Prema seat, and a title charge might just prove pivotal for his chances of making it to F1.

Pietro Fittipaldi

TBC in 2018

In 2018 F1 is set to be without a Brazilian driver for the first time since prior to Emerson Fittipaldi's 1970 debut. But the two-time F1 champion's grandson, Pietro, appears to be Brazil's next hope. The 21-year-old wrapped up the Formula V8 3.5 title in convincing style last season with six race wins, and demonstrated his pace by securing 10 poles from a possible 18, before ending the year as the as the quickest LMP1 newcomer in the WEC rookie test (which included McLaren's Fernando Alonso). Fittipaldi would need to perform from the outset in an anticipated move into F2 if he wants to keep Brazil's presence felt in F1.

Callum Ilott

GP3 in 2018

The Brit bounced back from the disappointment of being dropped by Red Bull's esteemed young driver programme in fine style last season, recording six wins and 10 poles in an ultra-competitive European F3 field as he finished fourth in the championship. Victory also came in the qualification race for the notoriously tough Macau GP. His performances were recognised by Ferrari, with the Scuderia signing the 19-year-old to its academy. Next up for Ilott comes graduation to GP3 with leading outfit ART, and the youngster will be keen to follow in the footsteps of George Russell and Charles Leclerc by sealing the title at the first attempt to remain firmly on Ferrari's radar.

Joel Eriksson

DTM in 2018

Eriksson battled McLaren F1 prodigy Lando Norris for the European F3 title last season and proved a fierce competitor for the Briton but ultimately was forced to settle with second in the points, despite winning seven races. His strong sophomore campaign in F3 saw the Swede rewarded by a promotion to a BMW DTM seat for 2018. Instant success in the German touring car championship could provide an unconventional route to F1, in a similar manner to the one taken by former Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein.

Mick Schumacher

European F3 in 2018

Could we see the Schumacher name return to F1 in the coming years? Mick Schumacher, son of legendary seven-time F1 champion Michael, certainly has some way to go, but has already shown flashes of his talent at just 18. The German ran simultaneous campaigns in Italian and German F4 championships in 2016 and agonisingly missed out on both titles, despite picking up a total of 10 wins across the championships. Adjusting to a rookie campaign in European F3 proved challenging with a 12th place overall finish, though he managed third-best rookie. A more competitive showing will be required in his second year at leading outfit Prema.