Every sport has its legends, its heroes that make the hairs on our necks stand on end. Formula One has these abundance, but the sport quickly moves on to fresher, younger talent.
No man or woman can make it by themselves in any sport without some sort of financial backing. We know that in motorsport if you don’t have cash, you more often than not do not get noticed. In today’s modern world this has never been more true with more junior series than ever for drivers to get noticed and more scouts on the lookout.
Is Formula One’s future driving talent safe?
Many will have noticed over the past few years that for three years in succession now the GP2 champion has not made the successful jump into Formula One, whereas runners-up in the series have found race seats in Formula One namely due to their financial backing: Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr and Valtteri Bottas from GP3 to name but a few. Even Max Verstappen at the tender age of 17, with one year’s racing experience in cars coming from Formula 3 still got a race seat at Toro Rosso for the 2015 season.
Only recently, Carmen Jorda and Adderly Fong, drivers with very disappointing career results have been given development driver roles at Lotus. The question has to be asked: why are drivers with poor records being given roles in Formula One over better-performing junior drivers?
How is this beneficial to a team in any scenario bar financial backing? Drivers with much better career statistics often don’t get picked with those who have money. Hopefully this will change in the future because in 2016 the FIA have new Superlicense rules. This will will require all drivers to amount a points total from junior formula in order to gain a Superlicense to drive in official Formula One sessions. Will this kerb this new found behaviour from certain teams?
This means that drivers will have to consistently perform at a high level in whichever formula they will be to move up the rankings and eventually into Formula One.
Formula One’s seasoned drivers in Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen are closing in on the twilight of their careers, but with money becoming more of an issue as teams struggle to survive, the question I have to ask is this: is Formula One safe in its future for younger driving talent?