Don’t put an age limit on talent say F1 drivers as 16-year-old enters Le Mans

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In the round-up: Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon gave their backing to a 16-year-old driver entering today’s Le Mans 24 Hours.

In brief

Verstappen, Ocon see no issue with 16-year-old Le Mans racer

Josh Pierson, who races in the IMSA sportscar championship, will become the youngest driver in the history of the Le Mans 24 Hours when he takes over the number 23 United Autosports car. At 16, he is too young to compete in either the Formula 1 or Formula 2 races at Baku City Circuit this week, as they have age limits of 18 and 17 years respectively.

Verstappen, who became the youngest driver to start an F1 race at the age of 17, prompting the introduction of the current limit, said he sees no problem with Pierson entering the demanding 24-hour race on the high-speed Circuit de la Sarthe.

“If he’s capable of driving, I don’t see why not,” Verstappen said when asked by RaceFans. “It shouldn’t depend on age. If he’s 16 and he’s capable of driving and he’s not a danger to others, then I think it’s perfectly fine.”

Ocon, who made his F1 debut aged 19, agreed with Verstappen. “I don’t think age should be a limit. I’ve arrived early in categories, in karting, arrived early into single seaters as well.

“Everything we are looking at is the performance really, not your age and how mature you have to be, and act to be professional at early age. And that’s probably what he’s going to face now.”

Leclerc’s power loss scare caused by engine mode error

Charles Leclerc says he “forgot” to change his engine mode, which led to his frantic radio messages reporting a loss of power in second practice.

The Ferrari driver retired from the lead of the Spanish Grand Prix in May due to a turbo failure. On Friday’s second practice in Baku, Leclerc reported a loss of power in his Ferrari before being told to switch to a different engine mode.

“Let me know quickly, I don’t want to take risks,” he told his race engineer. “We think everything is fine and you can push,” Xavier Marcos Padros replied.

“Okay, so the loss of power was normal?,” asked Leclerc. He was then told: “Mode ‘race’, please. Mode ‘race’.”

Leclerc later explained that “actually it was not a power unit problem. It’s just me that forgot that I had changed something, which obviously made me lose power. But nothing weird.”

FIA creates quality, diversity and inclusion advisor role

The FIA has appointed its first equality, diversity and inclusion advisor dedicated to motorsport, it announced yesterday. Tanya Kutsenko, who previously worked with the Emirates Motorsports Organisation and the Automobile and Touring Club of the United Arab Emirates, has taken up the position.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has set a target of doubling motor sport participation within four years. Kutsenko will be responsible for developing a strategy to broaden the FIA’s reach. She will report to the secretary general for sport, a position which is being held by Shaila-Ann Rao on an interim basis following the departure of Peter Bayer earlier this month.

The announcement of the new position follows Ben Sulayem’s recent comments about drivers using their status to make comments about issues such as diversity. Following Kutsenko’s appointment he said: “Equality, diversity and inclusion are a key priority of my mandate as FIA President. In line with our strategy to promote greater diversity, the appointment of a dedicated and experienced advisor in charge of these issues will allow us to accelerate inclusion and double participation in motor sport.”

Rossi quickest in Road America practice

Alexander Rossi headed the opening practice session for this weekend’s IndyCar Grand Prix of Road America. The Andretti driver, whose second place in Detroit last weekend was his best result since his victory at Elkhart Lake three years ago, set a 1’45.6027, putting him a tenth of a second ahead of Colton Herta.

The session was briefly interrupted by a red flag after Helio Castroneves spun to a stop. The Paretta entry for Simona de Silvestro, contesting their first race this year, finished at the bottom of the times. However a productive session saw them complete 20 laps, the quickest of which was just a tenth of a second off the next-slowest driver, despite being delayed by right-rear brake fire at one stage.

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Comment of the day

After Andreas Seidl became the second team principal to declare their team would almost certainly exceed F1’s budget cap for 2022, @srga91 insists that no teams should be given any leeway on the restrictions for this season…

I don’t feel any kind of sympathy for teams exceeding the budget cap. If they think they are going to exceed it, the FIA should impose some kind of penalty on those teams, otherwise it’s just ridiculous.

The argument regarding the high inflation rate isn’t a valid one, because it affects the less wealthy teams (Williams, Haas, Alfa Romeo) even more than the big ones. Both sides get less value for their money, so it’s only fair to leave the cap at where it is. Would the FIA increase it by, let’s say, 8% to counter the high inflation, teams like Red Bull and McLaren would be able to outspend teams that can’t increase their budget by $11.2 million. That’s exactly what the cap was implemented for to stop!

I’d look it at it this way: If you think you need to spend more than the regulations tell you to spend, fine. But as soon as you spend more than is allowed by the regulations, your car is effectively illegal, meaning you can’t earn any championship points.
Srdjan Mandic

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Bazza and John Harvey!

On this day in motorsport

  • 50 years ago today one-time grand prix winner Jo Bonnier was killed in a crash in the Le Mans 24 Hours

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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13 comments on “Don’t put an age limit on talent say F1 drivers as 16-year-old enters Le Mans”

  1. You gotta hand it to the FIA, they know how to quickly cover a gaffe.

  2. I’m not one to say either way but I would think a proper education for a 16 yr old is important, I can imagine still being able to race in IMSA/24 Le Mans and still be able go to school is possible but highly doubt there would be any time to get an education while driving in F1?

    1. Don’t worry, he is american, he might be old enough to pick up a weapon but not old enough to drink so safe around a car!

  3. COTD is bang on the money. If any team can operate within the cap then they all can.

  4. +1 for the CoTD.

    ALL the teams agreed to the cap. The big teams need to learn to spend smarter, not faster.

  5. So a mode choice caused his scare, rare, but not the first tim1e in F1 anything similar has happened.

    RIP, although I had never heard of Francesco Longaseni Cattani.

    Very savage helmet design for Ocon, LOL.

    I wouldn’t mind a Kyalami return, but I wonder, doesn’t next season come a bit too soon, albeit the track is permanent & already existing, so only some upgrading for Grade 1.

    I couldn’t agree more with COTD.

    On this day: Also 2017 Canadian GP’s 5-year anniversary.

    1. @jerejj

      On this day: Also 2017 Canadian GP’s 5-year anniversary.

      Sorry for being a little slow, but what was particularly special about the 2017 Canadian GP?

      1. @cairnsfella Sorry for the delayed response, but nothing special necessarily.
        I just mentioned as 5-year anniversaries generally get noted, but not on this occasion.
        Even weirder was the 2012 race going unnoted the day before, & the same with Monaco.
        Instead, 2007 for both, despite the 2007 races getting noted five years ago when they had their respective 10-year anniversaries, even though round number anniversaries only occur every ten years.
        Round numbers + 25 & 5 have been a general priority over other 5-ending figures even though round number anniversaries only occur every ten years.
        This is my motive rather than whether something particularly special happened in a given race.

        1. Fair enough. And going by what is now the last ’round up’ ‘on this day’, some rather obtuse anniversaries do get mentioned, however I (possibly mistakenly) thought that was merely when there were no more significant anniversary events to mention.

  6. Wow, what’s up with Alexander Rossi’s sudden rejuvenation in the last couple of races? It’s nice to see!

  7. The news about a potential south african Grand prix for next season is a real positive. The fact that the story is from the Daily Mail probably means it has no chance of happening

  8. Regarding CotD, as to the first paragraph yes I think it has been stated in a recent article here that there would be penalties for going over the cap. Apparently the penalties will not be too too draconian though if they only go 5% or less over.

    As to raising the cap, I haven’t seen any TP ask for that. What would make sense to me, since the financial goalposts have changed mid-game this season, is that F1 should cut each team a cheque for let’s say 5 mill to help them offset the massive new and unpredictable freight and travel costs. Raising the cap would obviously do nothing for the teams that can’t even meet the cap which is why nobody is asking for that. I think when Horner has talked about ‘cap relief’ that is what he means. Not a rise in the cap but some assistance from F1 for travel and freight so that teams stand a much better chance of staying within the cap as they go about their plans for the season. And of course he is mainly talking about the 7 teams that aren’t the top 3 teams.

  9. I’m not personally all that concerned about a 16 year old racing in a top series, but I certainly did agree with JV’s point that he made when Max was brought into F1 at 17. They soon after raised the minimum age to 18, but JV’s point was…does F1 really want to make itself look like a kid can come in and drive their cars? Point being if a kid can come in and do it then is it really that hard? Really the pinnacle?

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