Young driver schemes winning out over pay drivers?


No passing through my dirty air please
I came across this article recently stating that F1's young driver schemes are winning out over what was perceived as the rise of the pay driver.

I was interested to get everyones views on this point as whilst I think, in principle, the article is correct I think it misses some of the double edged swords of the schemes that actually benefit the 'pay driver'.

Whilst it is great that the F1 teams are running these schemes I think they also see them as a way of gaining extra cash and satisfying sponsors. For instance Mercedes only currently visible youth driver this season is Malaysian driver Jafaar who races in the 3.5 Series. Whilst he's not terrible he is considerably behind others which leads you to conclude he is getting the backing due to being Malaysian and Mercs Petronas connection.

Williams have a similar thing going on with Flippe Nasr. They sign him to their team and suddenly the name of Banco De Brazil, who have always funded Nasr's career, appears on the car. Did Williams want Nasr or did Nasr come as part of the package for the funding?

Marussia and Caterham are both F1 teams that run teams in GP2 and GP3. You only have to look at the selection history of those teams to see its basically being used as an extra cash income. Caterham started GP2 last year with a line up of Ma and Cannamas and neither had any sort of race record at all. Marussia have Dino Zamperelli who is backed by a very rich Bristolian and lets not forget Max Chilton is a Marussia academy driver.

Is this extra way of the teams getting funding actually smoothing the passage to F1 for drivers who can only get there on funds? The more they get to run in GP2 and the like the more likely they are to get more funding and secure that F1 seat.

The other side is are these young driver schemes pushing drivers into F1 too early? Red Bull have a very visible programme and there young drivers are in and out very quickly. Drivers like Alguersauri and Felix Da Costa, who were both set to be the next big thing at one point, have already been chewed up and spat out and there barely in their 20's. Would they have done better with more time to develop?

Another example of this is poor old Esteban Guttierrez who was part of the Sauber driving acadamy and was promoted to the race seat prematurely as Sergio Perez left the team and Sauber had a deal in place with there sponsor that they must run a Mexican driver. Even Guttierrez stated he was not ready for F1 and promptly proved it. He has now ruined his rep in F1 forever when given a couple more years development he might have proven to be a competitive driver.

Rather than Young Driver programmes should we instead be looking to the FIA to make it much harder to get a super-licence? If the licence was only granted to drivers who had placed within the top 3 in the championship in a designated feeder series (or indy cars, le mans etc) wouldn't that be a much better way insure it was only the real talent that got into F1? It might also stop F1 missing out on some of the talent its missed.
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Why should it be so wrong to pay a decent amount of money for a drivers services this young drivers initiation seems to be like a molding process to make all drivers a plug and play item, we will end up with a load of little clones driving the cars and no personalities in the sport. I would much rather drivers were chosen for their efforts in the minor formula and get to F1 due to innate skill and ambition than be groomed for a seat in F1 from the age of a spermatozoa by a team with its own agenda.

Jenson Button could very well end up being the last WDC that got into F1 who did not go through a young drivers program to get into F1 at this rate, and if the sport carries on down this road it could very well end up dead in the water due to lack of driver support they may just as well build robots to drive the cars I'm sure they could make them nice and light and they wouldn't have to pay them anything...
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I don't agree that the drivers coming throygh the schemes are moulded robots. They are learning a trade.

I think the question is are the right drivers benifiting from these schemes. I still think if the FIA put a bigger restruction on who gets a super licence then it would ensure the spots are taken by the drivers actually performing and talent wouldn't slip through the cracks.
I don't think anyone could reasonably argue that Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and the like deserve places in F1. And that is the benefit of the YDS system, it meant two evidently talented drivers got funds so long as they got results.

If the question is of an F1 where a passionate, talented, lower-middle-class lad is turfed out and a world of Franchitti's cousins and Venezuelan money is in, I'm pro that chance.

Give Frijns a place though...
Jenson Button could very well end up being the last WDC that got into F1 who did not go through a young drivers program to get into F1 at this rate,

Why is that a good thing? JB came from a good family with money and connections. If it weren't for that do you think it would be fair that he were overlooked?

I don't think we can accuse any of the drivers that have come through YDS of having no personality. There is no basis for that comment.

Even if they didn't I'm here to watch bloody good racing with extreme talent. As long as there is personality in their driving I'm really not fussed about anything else.

If the schemes are used as we hoped they would be great, all for it. That's a big 'if' though. Pay drivers in YDS is a whole different thing.
It's got to be a question of balance, methinks. Whilst I, personally, agree with some points in all of the preceding posts I also disagree with some points in all of the above! In essence, though, I feel that any route to F1 should require the drivers to achieve at the highest level in at least three feeder series.

So actually I agree with RasputinLives 's OP, and here's why ...

Right now GP3 and GP2 provide the top tier of an established route and Renault World Series is I think comparable to GP2. National championships like British, Japanese F3 seem a reasonable precursor to those. So, it seems to me that the routes are in place for the young driver programmes to deliver (as they do to greater or lesser extent) appropriate career paths for their charges. It is also healthy that drivers can get into those series independently.

So if that part of the equation isn't broke then what is there to fix? Ah, yes, first the pay drivers whose financial backing provides a shortcut through to F1 on the basis of the cash as opposed to talent; second the underachievers who mysteriously get seats without apparently bringing big money with them. These are the ones I have a problem with since F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of open wheeler racing and I expect the drivers to be the best the sport can find.

Of course I have long ago abandoned such expectation as being of too high a benchmark. We all know that in general drivers who aren't funded or on supported driver programmes have to support their drives from their own resources. If they are good enough both as drivers and as self-representatives they can attract sponsorship to keep plugging away (not forgetting the financial and personal back up from relatives of course). So in fact most drivers start out as pay drivers in that they have to bring their own money to get onto the career path in the first place.

The question then becomes should there be a cut-off point where the "pay driver" should become the paid driver? The obvious answer is no because it would be totally impractical to define a sensible threshold or regulation nor to police it. We are thus brought back to the level of qualification and achievement that drivers should reach in order to get a super-license. The current rules are what they are but IMHO they are below the standard that should be set for the 21st Century.

Motorsport is much more accessible now than even just a couple of decades ago. There are series and championships all over the place and heck knows how many young people are out there learning how to race. Anyone who has made it through to win a stack of races and handful of championships should be first in line for a race seat, and that is the rub.

Today, as ever, there are drivers on the grid whose records are way below par. Whether they are "pay drivers" or just substandard having got a leg up through the old boy network isn't relevant. In my book they are a waste of space. Incidentally the same could be said of struggling under-funded teams. Their sole usefulness is to provide mobile chicanes and safety car periods to spice up the show.

So, it seems to me that the young driver programmes are essentially a very good thing. I think the talent spotters and recruiters are pretty diligent with regard to the quality and talent of the drivers they take on and try to bring through. As far as the pay driver is concerned, without ensuring that struggling teams have more money to spend there is no way to control or scrap the phenomenon.

The crux of the issue is in the benchmark set by the governing body to qualify for a super-license. Raise the bar on that so at least new drivers coming in will have to be the pick of the crop.

Sorry to ramble. Haven't written for a while and got carried way. Can't be arsed to edit as I need to think about getting something in for supper!
As F 1 is a global industry and it specialises in cultivating branding / advertising to generate the cash which is needed to run all of the teams. You will never be able to control how the businesses wish to spend their cash or where they spend it and you certainly can't influence which criteria they use to consider the expenditure to have been successful or not. The only way to enhance the quality of the field is to raise the bar for a super license... but even then if you pay enough to get your boy / man / woman into the best GP2 team you simply replicate the problem in a lower formula....

There is no prefect have to rely on the thirst for success that drives the teams in the first place.... if you get as much money as possible, you then may have two or three years with a numpty in your team but he/she is funding the new wind-tunnel, staff recruitment and development of a core that will (in time) enhance your team performance and make it easier to generate income that does not have strings attached and which will allow you to hire a driver you really want to pay to deliver results... QED
Back in the early 2000s pay drivers were rare in F1, because most teams were manufacturer-owned or supported and didn't depend mainly or solely on sponsorship income. Healthy privateers are vital for the long-term future of the sport, but the current private teams are criminally underfunded - and so begins the usual argument around CVC vs Team ownership of income. I'm not sure about tightening the Superlicence restrictions - apparently over-promoted drivers such as Raikkonen and Kvyat can be decent or even excellent. It feels like treating the symptom rather than the cause.

It does amuse me to see the junior teams' cars in GP2 trundling around at the back (never Red Bull's, of course). But even the ones there for budgetary or nationality reasons can cause a surprise, such as Honda's chap at ART this year. You never know how they'll go in F1 until they get a chance.
Realised I never mentioned Ferrari in all of this who quietly have a very succesful youth acadamy having brought the likes of Massa, Perez and Bianchi through to the current grid. They also have 'Lello in GP2 this year.

Ferrari have a tendancy to put their youth drivers in lower teams on the grid to see how they go.

As Galahad pointed out the big teams go for talent over money so wpukd an unexpected benefit of allowing 'customer cars' be that we ended up with more rookies on the grid who have shown the right to be there?
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