A counterpart of Jenson Button in his karting days, Anthony Davidson, like JB, is a graduate of Britain's proven karting system.Read more
He started his career at the age of eight following the decision to create a 'cadet' class below the traditional junior structure. As a result, the Briton was able to enjoy a 13-year kart career - and it was a career as he was ultimately being paid as a works driver - before finally making the switch to cars. In that time, he was British, Asian and Oceania champion, runner-up in the European and Italian Open series and a podium finisher in America.
Having done just about all he could in karting, Davidson eventually made the switch to cars in 1999, when he made a handful of carefully-chosen end-of-season Formula Ford events. That experiment culminated in him winning the Kent class of the annual FFord Festival at Brands Hatch and set him up for a tilt at the full UK championship the following year.
While Button was, by now, breaking into F1 with Williams, Davidson refused to be rushed, and added the full FFord Festival title to runner-up spot in the British championship. His performances had not gone unnoticed - even at such a low level - however, and confirmation of an F3 seat with Carlin Motorsport was followed by a deal to test an F1 car with BAR-Honda.
Partnered by BAR team-mate Takuma Sato at Carlin, Davidson made a good fist of challenging for the title in his debut year, but ultimately had to give best to the sophomore Japanese, despite winning six races. He also added the prestigious Pau Grand Prix, Elf Masters and European titles for good measure, but ended his year in hospital having crashed heavily in practice for the Macau GP.
Whether or not affected by the incident, Davidson elected not to chase a race seat for 2002, preferring instead to concentrate on his burgeoning test role with BAR. His pace began to get him noticed elsewhere, however, and, when Alex Yoong was 'rested' by Minardi, Davidson got the call to replace him alongside Mark Webber at the Hungarian and Belgian grand's prix. Sadly, the car did not allow the young Briton to shine and he retired from both events after spinning.
He remained in the testing role at BAR the following year, despite also being named as official reserve at Jaguar Racing, and rekindled his racing ambitions by contesting the Sebring and Le Mans sportscar events with the Prodrive Veloqx team, taking second in class at the former.
Rule changes for 2004 meant that Davidson, while still the third driver at BAR, got the chance to display his wares to a bigger audience, as the bottom six teams in F1 were allowed to field a third car in Friday practice. The Briton responded well, frequently lapping quicker than the established stars, and making himself the target of offers for 2005.
Among those chasing his services was the Williams team that had given old sparring partner Button his F1 debut and now had an opening because the Briton had been forced to stay at BAR by the Contract Recognition Board. Davidson, however, was also prevented from leaving the fold at Brackley, as BAR decided that it wanted first call on his services for 2006 and beyond - something that was contrary to Williams' desires.
As a result, Davidson found himself back on reserve driver duty, and this time without the chance to run on Fridays because of the contribution he made to helping BAR become one of the top four outfits the previous season. A rare race opportunity was presented to him by a feverish Sato in Malaysia, but his car retired with engine failure on lap three.
For 2006, Anthony once again supported Button - and the newly-recruited Barrichello, who was brought in to replace Sato - once again impressing in the Friday sessions. However, unlike in 2005 or 2002, he had no race opportunities and was left to kick his heels once the weekend began.
His efforts had not gone unnoticed, however, and, at the end of the year, the Briton signed a deal with Super Aguri, giving him an opportunity to race full-time in F1 for the first time.
While Davidson's pace was never in question, and his knowledge of the car SAF1 was running, having tested it for a year at Honda, he was unable to make an impact on the points, starting the year with three straight 16th places and peaking with eleventh, which he managed on three occasions before the team's development tailed off. While team-mate Sato was able to score, Davidson's best efforts were thwarted by incidents beyond his control - such as the suicidal groundhog that decided to end its days wedged in his front wing at the Canadian GP!
Davidson continued with SAF1 into 2008, hoping to build on the experience gained in '07, but it proved to be a short-lived association as the team's struggle to make financial ends meet saw it pull out of Formula One after the Spanish GP in May.
Davidson duly found himself back on the F1 sidelines and, one test outing with the Honda works team mid-season aside, has been left hunting for a means to return ever since.
He remains involved in the top flight, however, having been hired to provide expert analysis for BBC Radio 5 Live’s coverage of the 2009 season, and is currently being touted as the preferred reserve and development driver for the Brawn GP team that emerged from the ashes of Honda.