The Old, The Young and The Headscratcher

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
So with the news that Dani Clos has signed as reserve driver for Hispania creates an often repeated scenario in Formula One, The young up and coming driver waiting on a seat being held by a much older fellow countrymen coming to the end of his career and once again poses the age old question - when's it best to step aside and call it a day? This is a Spanish conundrum and due to De La Rosa's realtive lack of support the answer appears to be easy but their have been times when it hasn't been.

Back in 1994 Britiain had its own conundrum of this sort. After the tragic death of Ayrton Senna and the raise to the top of the tree of Baron Von Schumacher it seemed only natural that our superhero good old Nigel Mansell should gallop back in to F1 after giving them yanks a whipping and hit the front in his trusty old Williams again. However the snag of his contract meant that couldn't be straight away and he'd make a guest appearence at the French grand Prix before taking the Williams seat in the lst 3 Grand Prix of the year in order to lock horns with Schumacher early and give him a taste of what to expect from Mansell Mania in 1995. Unfourtunatly for our Nige it didn't quite work out like that becaue three quarters of a season is a long time in F1 and 2 things happened. Firstly Damon Hill now free from having a Prost and Senna figure hanging over his head came alive in a way we didn't know he could and started to take the fight to Schumacher which meant by the time Mansell arrived back at the end of the season rather than it being a return to take on a dominant Schumacher it was a return to play back up for a new possible British champion. The second thing that happened of course was that whilst they were waiting for Nigel they needed to fill the seat and so they put in a young Brit named David Coulthard. Due to the circumstances of his arrival in F1 and the humble way in which DC accepted it he became quite popular with the British fans straight away chuck in a few gutsy performances and some bad luck on results(Britian loves a loser) and by the time it came for Nigel to climb in the car the majority of British F1 fans were a little dissapointed that Coulthard was losing his seat. A banner seemed at Jerez that read "We love you Nige but give Coulthard the keys" seemed to sum up the sentiment - add on top of that Damon losing the title by one point and Johnny Herbert landing the Benneton seat and it really did seem set for Mansell to say goodbye and a new generation to take things on. Unfourtunatly Mr Mansell didn't get the message - to be fair to him his 3 race return for Williams was pretty impressive - an amazing fight with Alesi in the wet at Japan and a race victory in Adelaide - problem was everyone but Nigel was thinking what a great end to his career. Nigel still had the original plan in his head - lucky for Coulthard Williams got the trend and didn't offer Nigel a contract which lead to Nigels disastorous link up with Mclaren for 1995 that I think we'd all rather forget. So 1-0 to the youngsters on that front.

A Strange country to have this conundrum was Austria but it did back in 1997. In June of 1997 the much respected Gerhard Berger suffered the loss of his father and also fell ill with a bout of flu so jumping into what was frankly not the most competitve Benneton ever produced was young Austrian with the famous rallycross dad Alexander Wurz. Much to everyone's surprise Wurz impressed in his drives and by Silverstone(only his 3rd race) he even led the Grand Prix through the pit stop phases and scored an impressive 3rd place podium. It appeared a new star had been born and the mood was very much that old Crashard Banger who's not been on the best from anyways should call it a day and let Wurz take over the reigns. Berger did return though for the German Grand Prix in 1997 - a race he promptly won and despite a fairly decent end to the season gave into public opinion and called it a day at the end of the year(he was offered a seat by Sauber). Aha youngsterd 2 Oldies nil I hear you cry - well not quite. Wurz did take the seat in the Benneton and held it for the next 4 years but unfourtunatly for him the results he promised in his first 3 Grand Prix never came. It soon became obvious that stepping into a Benneton developed by Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi was one thing but developing one of his own was something else. Add to that he was being blitzed by his team-mate Fisichella and Wurz reputation sank like a stone. His results got worse and worse until his last season for Benneton in 2000 where he had one 5th place finish to his name whilst Fisichella had a hatful of podiums - he was promptly dropped. Wurz made a brief return to F1 for one race for Mclaren in 2005 - results show he scored the second podium of his career that day but only because a certain Jenson Button was DQ'd from 3rd over fuel tank naughtyness. Maybe it was this one off result that prompted Frank Williams to put Wurz back in a race seat for 2007 in what seemed a very odd decision at the time. Wurz actually didn't do too badly finishing only 7 points behind a young Nico Rosberg and scoring a podium finish at the Canadian Grand Prix was certainly the icing on the cake but overall Wurz's F1 career left you with not a lot to write home about. Would Benneton have benifited from another year of Berger's expertise and guidence for a young Fisichella? I would say most likely. Yongsters 1 Oldies 1.

In 2009 a similar situation arose pre-season for the Brawn team. The question for our man Ross was not whether to have a Brazilian but whether to have a young one or and old one. Honda had been backing the career of young Bruno Senna and after his runner-up spot in GP2 and a fairly decent test session for them it seemed he was ready to step up to F1 level this would of course mean waving bye bye to good old Rubens Barrichello - a veteren of 16 seasons and the most experience F1 driver ever. Unfourtunatly for Bruno Honda decided that the time was wrong for F1 and pulled out leaving Ross Brawn with a car he knew would be a winner but no money to get it to the races. Eventually Ross scraped up the sponsor money but then was left with a choice of his own - the young untried up and commer or the steady hand. As we all know Rubens got the nod and you have to say if he hadn't then we might have been looking at a very different season. With no money to develop the car it was important to have a driver with experience in the machinary so they could help refine the car as best they could - add on top of which that world champion Jenson Button often benifited from using Barrichello's set-ups through out the season and you have to wonder if the whole Brawn project would have fallen on its face without Rubens. Rubens won 2 Grand Prix that year and was in the running for the world title and the Brazilian fans soon forgot about young Bruno sitting in the wings. Would he have given Jenson Button a closer run than Rubens did - judging on the evidence we've seen since I'm saying not. Of course Bruno finally got the last laugh this year by taking Rubens Williams seat from him but it took him another 3 full seasons to do it! I think you have to say Oldies 2, Youngsters 1.

They're the 3 main examples I can think of. I know we have Webber/Ricciardo and Schumacher/Hulkenberg shaping up in the same way right now as well. I'd be interested to hear if anyone has any other examples of where the old racer was compeating for seats with a younger countrymen and what the relative result for that was. I think what the 3 examples I've shown say is that just because someone is younger doesn't always mean they'll be better.
 

Andyoak

Race Winner
A well thought out and presented arguement that I'd love to spend some time thinking about; but not just yet.

My only beef, and its very minor, is that you are saing Button wouldn't have been successful without Barrichello's set-ups when I suspect that there was a much more balanced sharing of information. I don't have the referances to hand but I'm sure I'm correct in saying that both Brawn and the McClaren team have praised the quality of Button's conributions in developing a car.

This isn't taking anything away from Rubens but I do think that Jenson deserves respect when it is due.
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
A well thought out and presented arguement that I'd love to spend some time thinking about; but not just yet.

My only beef, and its very minor, is that you are saing Button wouldn't have been successful without Barrichello's set-ups when I suspect that there was a much more balanced sharing of information. I don't have the referances to hand but I'm sure I'm correct in saying that both Brawn and the McClaren team have praised the quality of Button's conributions in developing a car.

This isn't taking anything away from Rubens but I do think that Jenson deserves respect when it is due.

I wasn't taking anything away from Jenson but Jenson himself has stated that Brawn would not have been able to keep up the performance they had without Rubens imput and that Rubens was sometimes able to find a balance to the car he couldn't. So was not a slight at Jenson just a praising of Rubens.
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
Looking at Luca Badoer's F1 Rejects profile, there are a set: vs Alboreto in 1993-4, vs Martini in 1995, vs Fisichella in 2009. I'd say he won the first two but lost the latter.
 
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