Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

The mid-field crisis: What’s the answer to ensuring young drivers enter F1? - Encouraging fresh talent into the sport

Published by Nathan Hine

The current crop of young drivers is probably one of the best in the past ten years with burning young, fiery Mediterranean talents ready to burst onto the F1 scene. But with all the midfield teams blocked by middle-aged point scorers there doesn’t seem to be much incline to allow these young, busting racers on the verge of F1 stardom to make the step up the pinnacle of Motorsport. So, what’s the answer?

Pierre Gasly testing for Red Bull at the Hungaroring
Credit: Charles Coates/Getty Images

Well one answer that has emerged this week is to have customer teams run by small, independent teams which have proven racing credentials in lower formulas with strong affiliations with the top teams in the sport. For instance, Ferrari provide Prema with last year’s car with this season’s power unit but is run independently to Ferrari. The suggestion from Prema was to have a single-car team, and if all of these customer car teams ran young drivers this could be one way to promote more young drivers in the sport.

Under the current climate Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull seem to be miles ahead of the rest

But this would require severe restructuring of the sport, as under the current climate Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull seem to be miles ahead of the rest and if we kept the single-tier format with customer car teams as well it would put an unfair burden on these independent teams.

So, I propose we have a two-tier format: one for manufacturers and big money spenders such as Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, Renault, McLaren-Honda; and one with independent and customer teams such as Force India, Williams, Toro Rosso, Sauber, Haas as well as the single-car customer teams such as Prema, ART, Dams, Carlin, Motopark.

This way the big teams are able to keep the big buck drivers, and the independent teams fight among themselves for honour and have a more formulaic approach in achieving this. This is as well as solving the big problem in there not being enough seats for young drivers, as 20 seats is not enough for the pinnacle of motorsport.

If just Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, Renault and McLaren-Honda offered customer cars that would six more seats that young drivers could fill. And this could provide the crucial leg-up that these new talents need if they are to become F1 world champion one day.