Surtees says young drivers’ path to F1 needs overhaul

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In the round-up: John Surtees says the road to F1 should be more of a meritocracy.


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Surtees: New racing structure needed (Autosport)

“Where else other than in motorsport can you win one series and then be rewarded by a team at the next level telling you ‘that will be 550,000 for a season please’? It’s terrifying.”

Frijns: I do not have race plans for 2013 (GP Update)

“Everybody knows that GP2 would be the most logical step for me. The problem is, I do not have the money. Another year in the World Series would be totally illogical. But I don’t even have the budget for that.”

Vijay Mallya writes to employees, lists out revival plan for Kingfisher Airlines (The Times of India)

“The employees of the grounded Kingfisher Airlines, who have not been paid for eight months now, had yesterday threatened to file a winding up petition in the court under the Company’s Act, if the management did not share its revival plan with them.”

Formula One set to influence family cars of the future (EU Community Research and Development Information Service)

“Developments in aerodynamics, tyre technology, fuel efficiency, engine management systems, new lightweight materials like carbon fibre, and powertrain systems were also discussed and ways in which auto makers could meet strict new European carbon reduction standards.”

Fangio’s Incredible Nurburgring Victory (F1 Speedwriter)

Stirling Moss: “I know the word ‘incredible’ is much devalued these days but what Juan Manuel Fangio did on the 4th of August in 1957 was, and remains, absolutely that.”


Comment of the day

Several readers were disappointed to learn FanVision will no longer be involved in F1:

Such a shame to see this invaluable service being denied to fans. I have been to Grands Prix with and without the FanVision.

I made the mistake of thinking that I could get updates at Silverstone on my phone – but the sheer number of people there on my network meant that getting 3G signal was nearly impossible.

At least at Silverstone, you can get 5 Live radio coverage, which is not possible in other countries. The German equivalent radio station was OK (if you speak German) but halfway through a practice session, they would start playing music! 5Live was always there to listen to on the FanVision in any country.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

No F1 Fanatic birthdays today.

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Adrian Sutil turns 30 today. He last raced in F1 with Force India in 2011, was replaced by Nico Hulkenberg, but is believed to be in the running to return to F1 with the team this year.

Image © GP2/Staley

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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62 comments on “Surtees says young drivers’ path to F1 needs overhaul”

  1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    11th January 2013, 0:17

    Sutil 30. Let’s hope his birthday doesn’t end in another police visit

    1. Today’s Nakajima’s b’day too, isn’t it?

  2. Being an aspiring racing driver looking to get out of Karts soon, I can’t agree with Surtees enough. Karting is expensive enough for most, but if you want to get into cars, you need to be ready to pay up at least double what your spending on karts.

    Here are some numbers: There are many different levels of karters in terms of spending. Some pay as little as $10,000 a year, some, as much as $500,000 (Some teams charge $15,000 a WEEKEND). In order to be competitive in the US for karts, you need to be ready to pay AT LEAST $50,000. Then, you get into cars. You look around for the first step, and in the US you have the Skip Barber series, and F1600. These range from $50,000 a season (which is only three to six months with about 6 races) to $120,000 a season. Then F2000, $200,000. Star Mazda, >$350,000, Indy Lights, $500,000 – $1,000,000. And finally Indycar, which for a full season in an average team is around $5,000,000.

    For most drivers, even with talent, just getting to the first level is hard, let alone getting the $5,000,000 necessary for the top of the ladder. There are, however, systems that are in place to help talent get into a series like Indycar. The most popular here is the Mazda Road to Indy, which provides the top 2 with some money to find a seat in the next series. But for some, one season may not be enough to get noticed, and finding sponsorship in the US is nearly impossible.

    Its very disappointing to see a lot of good talent not making it past karts solely because of money issues. Being in that situation my self, I contently stress because I know that I can’t stay in karts for much longer, yet I don’t have the funding for cars. I’m 16, and at my age, many drivers have already had some car experience, or moved completely out of karts and are racing in various series around the world. And its even worse when I imagine going past the first step, and towards Star Mazda and Indy Lights…

    1. while i deeply root for any talented guy to be supported by a structure that lets the best go to the next step. howeverI think any jobs that involve craftsmanship nowadays has to be build with a commercial spirit as well. Not fair but real., especially as motorsport is build out of passion and business acumen. Basically you have to work twice as hard if you do not have any backing. You have to make it happen, sell yourself to corporations, make/prove them believe you are worth their investment. ah i also forgot that luck is a factor.
      ideally we would all love to see just the best drivers racing not the best drivers/businessman.

    2. I know what your feeling Polishboy808, it’s very stressful to think how costs escalate at each step you take to another series, plus the fact that age get in the way and sometimes you can’t get enough funding to make the next move, and it’s even more stressful if you think time is still running and yet you can’t do anything without enough money.

      The fact that winning a championship doesn’t grant you a place in the next series shows how the sport really doesn’t take good care of it’s future talents, it’s annoying seeing a driver like Frijns winning a championship and not being able to secure a place to race in the next season.

      This is a situation that always happened but in the last few years it has become to common and it might be responsible for weaker grids in several Series in the future. Nowadays the most important factor for a driver to get a seat in a lower formula series is only the money.

      At least in the US there is the Road to Indy but when you think about going for F1 is very frustrating to see that not only that the costs are higher than the US series but you don’t have a program that takes drivers to the next step (not counting Young drivers Development programs like Red Bull has) .

    3. Agree. I am an Indian. Here, the only guys who can afford to race are rich folks in a Mercedes. Most of us can’t afford more than leisure 16lap karting.
      Even new racing series looking to develop talent like Toyota Etios Racing will cost abt Rs1000000 per season. Thats the cost of a premium car/3 times a 4yr Engineering fee! Its so freaking expensive!

    4. @polishboy808 – I don’t think the cost of racing is the biggest challenge facing racing drivers. It’s an issue to be sure, but I think the biggest problem lies in the way there is no clear path for young drivers to follow. At every step, they face the challenge of deciding which series to enter into, and not only can a bad choice set someone’s career back, there is no real way to tell which series should be avoided until it’s too late.

      For instance, take a look at Formula Renault 3.5: last year, it was accepted that the series overtook GP2 as the premier category for young drivers looking to break into Formula 1. The cars are faster, the talent pool is greater, the series is not as expensive because it does not leave Europe, and there are none of the restrictions that GP2 drivers face that limit their ability to take part in Grand Prix weekends. But this year, it has been speculated that drivers will avoid Formula Renault 3.5 because Antonio Felix da Costa will be racing there full-time, and he probably would have won in 2012 if he had done the whole season. Just look at the way Red Bull arranged for Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz, Jnr. to move across to GP3 instead of stepping up to Formula Renault 3.5 despite their success in Formula Renault 2.0 (Kvyat) and British F3 (Sainz Jnr.).

      Likewise, take a look at Valterri Bottas. He won the GP3 Series title in 2011, joined Williams as a test and reserve driver for 2012 with a regular Friday testing programme, and is making his Formula 1 debut this season having skipped GP2 entirely. If more drivers do this, it could get to the point where GP2 is totally unnecessary – especially since the GP3 cars are becoming more powerful this year so as to close the gap to GP2 and make transitioning from one series to the other a little easier.

      Like I said, costs are a factor, and I agree that they need to come down. But I think that streamlining the feeder series has to come first. This will make it easier to progress to Formula 1, allowing younger drivers to show their talent without clogging up the junior formulae with paying drivers who aren’t going anywhere, but can afford to keep racing at a higher level, driving prices up.

      1. @prisoner-monkeys I recall that Gerhard Berger was tasked to do exactly this. Haven’t heard any updates on what he’s done, though. Not seeing much, either.

        On a side note, is AFDC that good that other drivers are avoiding racing against him? Interesting, that.

        1. I recall that Gerhard Berger was tasked to do exactly this. Haven’t heard any updates on what he’s done, though.

          Yes, Berger was tasked to do exactly that. And I believe he has said that he’s got a few ideas on what he will do, but he hasn’t shared them. However, I think that part of his briefing was to make Formula 3 more relevant, and that seems to have taken priority over everything else.

          If I were Gerhard Berger, I’d adopt the superlicence format that Formula 1 uses. Categories of open-wheel cars would be graded according to power and performance, and drivers would only be able to move up to a higher category if they fulfilled certain conditions. And they’ve have to maintain a certain level to keep those licences, which would hopefully clear out drivers like Ricardo Teixeria, who has no business being in GP2. Especially when his presence in the series comes at the expense of someone like Tom Dillmann.

          On a side note, is AFDC that good that other drivers are avoiding racing against him? Interesting, that.

          At the rate he was going, da Costa would have been FR3.5 champion if he had had the opportunity to do a full season last year. I can’t name anyone who might have done it, but I’ve heard that drivers are looking at other series because they think da Costa is too competitive.

        2. @journeyer @prisoner-monkeys Well, if talented drivers are avoiding FR3.5 that will make da Costa’s job even easier and the way in which he should win the title will make him look even more dominant. I wish someone took up the challenge and fought with the Portuguese!

      2. For instance, take a look at Formula Renault 3.5: last year, it was accepted that the series overtook GP2 as the premier category for young drivers looking to break into Formula 1

        I think the point is that no body is setting the “natural predecessor” of Formula 1, but that is because when the FIA was dictacting the rules around fledgling categories for many years prior to 2000. And in all honesty, when they did dictate the categories, they often missed a step or inadvertently created hurdles to turn away talent.

        But I think you sum up the problem in the next quote:

        But this year, it has been speculated that drivers will avoid Formula Renault 3.5 because Antonio Felix da Costa will be racing there full-time, and he probably would have won in 2012 if he had done the whole season.

        This suggests to me 2 things:
        1. Everyone is running scared of 1 driver. Obviously out of fear that you’ll be labelled as one of the “other drivers” in what looks like will be da Costa’s walk in the park.
        2. Everyone is looking for an easy route into F1

        The problem lies in those 2 issues in my view, if you want to get into F1, why look for shortcuts and easier roads? Look at any of the top F1 drivers, did any of them dominate every single series they were in? Not 1 did… Thats why Bottas is scary, because he’s pretty much done just that…

        I think F1 teams are pretty smart operators and know that just because someone finished 2nd or even 15th in 1 series, doesn’t mean their crap, circumstances are different for all different drivers.

        Schumacher wasn’t even the quickest of the 3 germans from the sportscars, H-H Frentzen and Karl Wendlinger were suppose to be the better of the 3 at the time, and look how that panned out.

        1. but that is because when the FIA was dictacting the rules around fledgling categories for many years prior to 2000

          Should read: but that is because when the FIA was dictating the rules around fledgling categories for many years prior to 2000, they lacked vision and in certain circumstances were more focused on the premiere category that they did a poor job.

  3. If Frijns wanted to go to GP2, couldn’t Sauber maybe give him a bit of funding? Because another season racing could well make him a better driver which would only benefit them in the future if he was to race with Sauber. On the other hand, spending a year as a test driver worked out fine for Hulkenburg and time will only tell for Bottas. So finding a race seat for 2013 is not the end of the world.

    1. If Frijns were to do GP2, he wouldn’t be able to take part in Formula 1 meetings. That would limit his ability to do Friday testing. Of course, Sauber could pull him out of a GP2 team so that he could take part in the practice sessions, but that would be inconvenient for the team.

      Furthermore, Frijns would need to win the GP2 title – and he’d need to win it easily – because anything less would hurt his career (the same applies to returning to Formula Renault 3.5; he’d have to win and flatten the competition). And to exacerbate the problem, the top GP2 teams have already confirmed their driver line-ups. DAMS, Lotus GP and Carlin are already full. Arden has a place, but they’re expected to take Mitch Evans. Addax also has a place, but they struggled last year. And while Racing Engineering has two vacancies, they’ve never really managed to make good on their potential. So even if GP2 was an option for Frijns, there isn’t really anywhere worth going.

    2. @tomand95, the problem is, it’s probably more than a bit of funding. They’ve already given him the opportunity to work with the team, so giving him a million euros (or whatever a season in GP2 costs) might seem a bit excessive to those at Sauber.

      Whether the reserve-driver-only role in 2013 will work out for Frijns is strongly dependent (imo) on either Esteban disappointing, or Nico moving on, especially as Sauber does not have the habit of running its reserve drivers in FP1.

      @prisoner-monkeys, I don’t think the restriction on GP2 drivers not doing FP1 on the same weekend is the major stumbling block for Frijns doing GP2. The Grand Prix calendar is much longer than the GP2 calendar, so whatever it is that Robin will be doing in the Sauber garage this year (FP1 or talking to the people in the team), there should be plenty of time for that in the weekends that he doesn’t have GP2.

      As for Frijns having to win the GP2 title on his first attempt, I think that’s a slight exaggeration, but then every driver has show his worth every season. I think a season in GP2 in which he can occasionally impress would be better for his career than sitting on the sidelines in case a vacancy does not open in 2014 at Sauber. “Uit het oog, uit het hart”, we say in Dutch, meaning that unless he keeps showing what he can do, the powers that be in motorsport will forget, and move on.

      1. Frijns is the reigning Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion. FR 3.5 is now accepted as being better than GP2. Therefore, Frijns would *have* to win the GP2 title first time out.

        1. I think team bosses can take a more nuanced view than that.

          1. Maybe, but it would be pretty embarrassing if he wasn’t at least in contention for the title.

  4. Well Tuan Surtees, the words you speak echo the sentiments of many in the racing world. The money-centric nature of the sport as it is today irks not just the aspiring driver, but also the underdog teams hoping for their big break, and the fan concerned for the future of his sport.

    But a shift in focus from money to talent, though long awaited by many a fan, requires a series of events worthy of a political revolution. Proponents of this shift have to collaborate with the influentials of the sport. The identity of those likely to oppose it, and more importantly, their counter-motions, have to be dealt with before they happen. The political ramifications stemming from this great shift will shake the racing world to its core, and many familiar faces will refuse to associate themselves with it. It’ll be between the continuity of the past, and the stability of the future.

    And in the unlikely case of such a shift happening, steps should be taken to ensure that never again can money govern the sport.

    1. Bah, humbug, me, Surtees, Stewart, all old fahrts, what would we know?

      1. The old farts experienced the sort of balls to the wall racing that’ll make today’s average driver flinch. In other words, they LIVED!

  5. I considered the influx or importance of pay drivers to be an unfortunate, temporary, yet necessary aberration from the norm (for most teams) due to the global economic circumstances we all face. Money’s tight, and teams need to do what they have to in order to survive. Pay drivers then are a necessary evil – I’d rather see a few more Pastor Maldonado’s and Sergio Perez’s on the grid if it ensures the survival of teams like Williams and Sauber – teams that have and will contribute enormously to the sport.

    If in 10 years when the global economy gets better and teams still have to rely on pay drivers, then there’s a problem.

    1. @colossal-squid And to Maldonado and Perez’s credit, they may bring money. But they’ve done more than enough to show there was a reason they brought that much money…

      1. @journeyer Yes, totally right. They may have brought money but they also have amazing talent. Does it really matter if a driver has huge financial backing if we still see great new talents appearing on the grid? I think not.

    2. It’s all Obamas fault.

      1. This is what you get with socialism! A total decline of Formula 1! We need to re-take America from our liberal oppressors and let the sound of F1 and freedom reign once more!

        (Above views are not actually endorsed by poster.)

    3. I would like to hope that one day an effective method of controlling development costs can be achieved and put an end to this tedious and entirely irrelevant to everyday life million pound development of aerodynamic surfaces such as front wings. That would then allow teams to have a near-equal platform financially on which they can show who has the most technically gifted workforce, the most innovative innovators and indeed the best drivers.

      This would be achieved because the dependency on pay drivers would be negated and consequently only the most talented would be rewarded with an F1 drive, so hopefully drivers such as Esteban Gutierrez will be a thing of the past (I use him as an example of a pay driver, no discredit intended although I do believe there are better drivers out there currently).

      This would be a long-term struggle though and I also feel that budgetary restrictions should be accompanied with a greater scope for development, so obviously many terms would have to be agreed. But if it could be achieved I’m sure the results would only be positive for the sport.

      1. @vettel1 Hopefully a day such as that will come, but it seems since the mid 90’s (possibly earlier) the amount of money needed to win in F1 has become astronomical. I know in the early 2000’s Ferrari and Toyota were pouring somewhere near $500 million per season into their teams, and the other heavyweights can’t have been far behind. It’s gotten better, but not by much.

        But a balance has to be struck – innovation is needed in order to keep F1 the pinnacle of motorsport, but innovation at the level F1 has reached costs a huge amount of money it seems. If you stop aero development, along with the current freeze on engine development, what is there left to develop?

        1. @colossal-squid

          But a balance has to be struck – innovation is needed in order to keep F1 the pinnacle of motorsport, but innovation at the level F1 has reached costs a huge amount of money it seems. If you stop aero development, along with the current freeze on engine development, what is there left to develop?

          I absolutely agree: cost cuts shouldn’t come at the expense of technical freedom as that would be negative progress as far as I’m concerned. A development of the “cost-cap teams” idea, applied to all teams, would be a possible solution. I’ve always felt though that wouldn’t Red Bull’s near £200m investment be better spent in engine/drivetrain/etc. development rather than a Coanda exhaust?

          1. @vettel1 I’d absolutely love to see innovation and development move away from the aero-centric updates race to a more mechanical side of things! As you alluded to in your first comment at least that could impact everyday road-cars.

  6. Always love reading stories about Fangio, I hope one day someone takes the Maserati for a spin around the Nürburgring again, if anything just to see the lap times of a contemporary racing driver.

    1. @mantresx I’ve always been bemused by how Fangio always did “the minimum possible” to win. Maybe that is what allowed him to sustain his career for so long: of course he was already in his 40’s by the time he won his first of 5 titles. So perhaps that is why he, without wishing to sound heartless, didn’t die as he was rarely driving at the absolute limit.

      Of course this is also testimate to his skill and the Nurburgring ’57 was a fantastic example as to why he has a claim to be the greatest ever: when he was on it quite simply no-one could compete. I particularly like one of the examples stated in the BBC top 20 F1 drivers:

      “One of the characteristics that makes great drivers stand out from the very good is the capacity to multi-task, to focus on things beyond simply driving a racing car on the limit. There have been few better examples of that than at Monaco in 1950.
      A multi-car crash at Tabac on the first lap left the track blocked. Fangio, leading, was unaware of the incident, and as he headed along the harbour front he seemed sure to plough into the wreckage, which was out of his sight around the corner.
      Instead, he suddenly slowed, stopping just short of the blockage. How had he known?
      “I was lucky,” he recounted. “There had been a similar accident in 1936 and I happened to see a photograph of it the day before the race. As I came out of the chicane, I was aware of something different with the crowd – a different colour.
      “I was leading, but they were not watching me. They were looking down the road. Instead of their faces, I was seeing the backs of their heads. So something at Tabac was more interesting than the leader – and then I remembered the photograph and braked as hard as I could.”
      Luck, clearly, had had nothing to do with it.

      Truly incredible!

      1. That really is amazing. Being able to think like that and deduce there was a crash, while driving a freaking F1 car around Monaco in the 1950’s? Didn’t think it possible, but I’ve even more respect for the Maestro!

      2. Drop Valencia!
        12th January 2013, 3:16

        Thanks! Reminds me of Shuie seeing Brundles tyres going off, but even better!

        1. Drop Valencia! things like that are for me what separate the truly great drivers from the very good. They can drive incredibly well whilst noticing every little detail about their surroundings, such as Fangio with the crowd or Schumacher with Brundle’s tyres. Things like that just go to show what an incredible mental capacity these drivers have.

  7. Loved the Fangio article. Goes to show what a great driver he was. I always have maintained the driver from the 50’s and 60’s were the best. In order to be fast, the had to be perfect, if not they died, it was as simple as that. I only wish I had the chance to watch the races in those days.

    John Surtess is point has been widely disucussed on this website and it is no surprise. Racing is a business, just like any other sport, unfortunately, money talks. The scholarship idea is good, but is that what the likes of the Red Bull and Ferrari Academy do?

  8. Anyone else beginning to get a bad feeling about Force India?

    1. bad times coming.

    2. Not really. Bernie will probably do his utmost to make sure the team stays in the sport; if he can’t have an Indian driver, then the next-best thing is an Indian team. Even if Vijay Mallya is forced to give up control of the team and sell it to someone else, it shouldn’t be too difficult to offload it. Unlike HRT, Force India has had enough success that they can regularly run in the points, even if they did slip down the order a bit in 2012. And there are potential buyers out there – accoring to Motorsport Total (it’s in German), Gerard Lopez and Eric Lux of Genii Capital came very close to selling Lotus F1 last year, but put the price up when Kimi Raikkonen won in Abu Dhabi, and those buyers lost interest. Whoever they are, they might still be interested in buying a team. And with the Brabham family winning their legal battle to the rights to the Brabham Racing name, it could present an opportunity to any new buyer wanting to break into the sport.

      1. I hope you’re right. I like Force India.

      2. I’m with you on this @jcost. That said @prisoner-monkeys, on the subject of the Brabham team, it came as a bit of a surprise for me that in its original iteration, it ran under the Union Jack rather than the Australian flag (don’t know the name, sorry). In the rather unlikely event that we see the return of Brabham, do you think they’ll fly the British flag once again?

        1. The Brabham family owns the rights to the name, and it’s a pretty famous name down here, even if it has waned slightly over the last few years (although Matthew Brabham is doing quite well for himself in America). With two Australians on the Formula 1 grid, and Australians doing quite well in other categories – most notably Will Power in Indycar – and considerable interest in the revisions to the domestic motorsport scene (namely the Car of the Future regulations in V8 Supercars). I could see Brabham being entered with an Australian licence to try and capture public attention.

        2. The team were based in England but the cars ran in Australias (and apparently 1/2 the worlds) national colours, green & gold.

          1. I mean when when Brabham was racing in the team,before on-car advertising was allowed (imagine?), once Bernie bought the team of course it was all British and sponsors dictated the colour scheme

          2. Thanks for the insight PM and HoHum. Nice to see my thoughts of an Australian team aren’t too far fetched. One thing @hohum, was advertising really not allowed, or was it that nobody thought of it till those South Africans?

          3. @scuderiavincero, it was really not allowed, sports in general tried to distance themselves from “commercialism” cricket, tennis, sailing, all fought the good fight but eventually succumbed to reality, and reality was the USA not RSA.

          4. Sad… Would have loved to see national racing colours more widespread.

  9. On COTA,

    I’ve used it once in Spain and service was above my expectations. Onboard live streaming in my hands is something worthy. It’s a shame current alternatives rely on wi-fi and 3G networks that more often than not are inconsistent and can be pricey for those on roaming.

    On live radio coverage, you get it to in Sao Paulo (in Portuguese)

  10. The reason you don’t see “pay to play” in other professional sports is because a new uniform, some padding, cleats & a helmet doesn’t cost near as much as a racecar does. And while you may not see it in the Pros I do know that atleast here in the USA “Pay to Play” (as in more then the traditional just selling of a few candy bars) is becoming increasingly prevalent in High School Sports.

  11. Woohoo – my first COTD! Cheers Keith!

  12. I think Surtees, although highlights a great point, it isn’t the only problem facing motor racing and fledgling drivers.

    I’ve actually been doing some research into this issue in Australia and figure out why, Mark Webber’s influence in F1, as well as the thriving V8 Supercar series isn’t doing more for aspiring Australian F1 Drivers.
    One of the key issues in Australia seems to be the lack of categories that other countries enjoy, and what looks like happens is, Australian single seater drivers end up having 2 racing careers as such. They have to prove themselves locally, which takes 2-4 years, then have to get a break overseas, generally in England. Then they have to prove themselves again, in another country, while trying to deal with some significant adult issues like housing, food, and dealing with general living expenses all in a foreign country, with very little assistance. No wonder so many Australians struggle to make the hop.

    It took Mark Webber 9 years to get from the Australian Formula Ford Championship to Formula 1, where as M Schumi, K Raikonnen, F Alonso, all took 3 years for the same sort of progression. If you look at more recent drivers, in Europe, the trend is going upward as well, L. Hamilton (6yrs), R. Grosjean, Bottas & Gutierrez(7yrs). So what does that mean for our Australian Talent, possibly we’ll see them flying around in F1 on the zimmer frames?

  13. The problem is that of plenty. There are so many feeder and entry-level and other series of single-seater car racing that there are too many drivers who have some talent, but very few with exceptional talent.
    As car gradation is low in these series(generally that is what the management strives to, nobody wants another farce like F3000), talent of a driver is generally seen against the following parameters: raw pace, mental fortitude, absorption and feedback, but most importantly a relentless, unwavering hunger.
    Experience is an important check-point. Robin Frijns won the Formula BMW Europe in 2010, the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 title in 2011, and then World Series by Renault(formally Formula Renault 3.5) on his first attempt. On the other hand, Davide Valsecchi won the GP2 series on his fifth attempt. But does that say that Frijns is better than Valsecchi? A better long-term prospect, maybe, but the latter has the benefit of funding.
    I think there should be just one ladder. I would go forward(this is a radical suggestion) that it should be done by expanding Formula Renault. So the ladder would be:
    Level 1: Formula Renault 1.6 NEC Junior or French F4
    Level 2: Formula Renault 2.0 Alps or NEC
    Level 3: Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0(putting two categories here would be a good choice)
    Level 4: Formula Renault 3.5
    Costs for a race seat should obviously be cut, as there will be less competition. This will be a better method of filtering out talent, and we wouldn’t have people like Rodolfo Gonzalez one level below F1.
    Of course, the above list completely leaves out Formula Three, GP3, GP2, AutoGP, Formula Ford. But we must put talent over tradition

  14. I absolutely loved Gerald Donaldson’s article on Fangio, especially the 25-minute BBC radio fragment that he refers to. In this, Stirling Moss and himself talk about how he was as a man and also what’s different about F1 now and backt then.

    One thing that struck me is the honesty and admiration. It is more than clear that Sir Stirling has an infinite amount of respect for Fangio, in the way that he describes him both as a racing driver and as a person. One could almost get the idea that the F1 drivers of today ar less ‘passionate’ about their sport than back in the 50s or 60s. Todat it is more based on achievement, but back then just racing in an F1 car at each and every race was enough for them to get the feeling of accomplishment. I know that a situation like back then today is not even remotely possible, but wouldn’t it be great if it was?

    1. Just surviving was an accomplishment, little wonder they respected each other.

      1. Yes, I see it as a variant on the feeling fighter pilots develop between themselves. Surviving in itself is a great skill. The wins make some truly exceptional

    2. @andae23

      One could almost get the idea that the F1 drivers of today ar less ‘passionate’ about their sport than back in the 50s or 60s.

      I feel this is due to two factors:
      1) F1 drivers of the 50’s & 60’s were driving in a very dangerous era, where they climbed in the car with the acceptance that they may not climb back out and so consequently treated every race as it may be their last.

      2) Increasingly F1 is venturing further and further towards a spending game; as much of a competition of sponsorship as racing so drivers are becoming “corporate zombies”: very few are ever outspoken anymore which is why I value any statements made that reflect they drivers’ honest opinions so highly (such as Webber’s comments on the “car park circuits” or his comments on Grosjean as being a “first lap nutcase”).

      That has confused me on occasion. The whole point in sponsorship is to generate exposure for your company, so why wouldn’t you encourage drivers to make comments such as Webber’s which gain you publicity and public appeal because the comments will be a talking point? If you can throw a “Vodafone” in whilst talking about “Crashtor Maldonado” surely this would give a better return on the companies’ investment?

      Anyway back on topic I believe the passion was there due to the close relationships between drivers, as they knew any race could be their last and also the entire F1 community was much smaller, although I agree with you it would be nice to see a return of the gentlemen!

    1. He really is Lewis’ replacement, down to the yellow helmet.

  15. It’s such a shame to read that Frijns doesn’t have the funds to compete this year. He’s had so much success over his career, and it’s quite shocking that he doesn’t have any sponsorship, considering he would be a great candidate. I think it definitely sums up just how hard it is for racing drivers nowadays though, that such a promising young talent will have to skip a year simply because he doesn’t have any sponsorship to his name.

    That being said, I hope that Sauber use him more often than they did Gutierrez last year, just to give him the opportunity to stay in the public eye and become accustomed to a Formula One car. His final hopes really do now rest upon gaining a spot in F1 for 2014, which will be difficult after a year out, so his best hopes could be for Sauber, either with Hulkenberg moving up to a top team, or Gutierrez failing to impress.

  16. The irony in the fact you posted the Surtees article about the path to F1 being too much about money immediately preceding Frijns’ talking of how he can’t gather the funds for a season in GP2/WSR3.5 @keithcollantine!

    I’m sure it was probably intentional though ;)

    1. @vettel1 It was – but I think it shows there’s a lot of truth to what Surtees is saying, Frijns looks like a very promising talent for the future but without money to propel him forward he’ll be lucky if 2013 includes more than a few straight-line aero runs and another shot at the Young Drivers’ Test. Rather like Bottas last year. Hopefully he will end up getting the chance Bottas has.

      1. @keithcollantine – entirely agree: it is a great illustration as to what Surtees is talking about. I would much rather see drivers employed for their talent than their financial backing but sadly I feel that often driver line-ups are decided upon that very factor, especially in the F1 feeder series. Perhaps this is an issue for the teams though: of course Red Bull have their driver academy as do Ferrari, so maybe the other, more well-funded teams should invest in such as a system. After all it has payed off handsomely for Red Bull with Sebastian Vettel.

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