Posted on January 22, 2009
Where will the next F1 stars come from? | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

How can our sport identify and nurture the best driving talents and bring them to F1? What is the best way to evaluate a young driver?

One of the eye catching lines Bernie Ecclestone came out with recently in an interview with my Financial Times colleague Christian Sylt was a dismissal of the revived Formula 2 series as merely something Max Mosley came up with when he was going through “a problem with his private life “ last summer. It was “all done for the wrong reasons,” he said.

While it is true that F2 was announced in the midst of the Mosley/News of the World situation, on closer inspection it is a serious project and it could turn out to be a threat to GP2, which is why Bernie was scathing. I spent some time recently with the man charged with running the series for the FIA, ex F1 driver Jonathan Palmer, and got a look at what he and the FIA think is the model for the future of motor sport.

Bringing a driver up to F1 level is very expensive; it costs £600,000 for a season of Formula 3 and an eye watering £1.3 million for a season of GP2. Admittedly the GP2 is a good show; the racing is exciting, the series supports all the European Grands Prix and has a strong TV package because it is sold with F1 to rights holders. So it’s high profile and gives the drivers 24 races a season. There is a lot of value there.

But in this climate young drivers will find it much harder to raise £1.3 from family, friends and sponsors because everyone is hurting for cash at the moment.

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Where will the next F1 stars come from?
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  1.   1. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: January 22nd, 2009 @ 6:33 pm 

    Surely F2 should be the feeder for A1, the same principles apply same cars only the driver are different.
    So in F2 are the cars allocated by ballot at each race? Are they really the same or are the teams allowed to change suspension components, brakes, injectors. intakes? (Yeah Ok, know I should go away and read the rulebook, I will, I will)

    Even when club single make racing started all the same, the guys with more money had new tyres, shocks, and disposables every race so at all levels of motor racing its always the money that wins.

    Its always been about money to get anywhere you need bucket loads and then later skiploads.

    A budget cap on F1 would be a great leveler but we have lost the original intent. It used to be FOCA not FOTA “Constructors” being the operative word and the intent to construct the winning vehicle. The driver was in some cases a necessary evil.

    But then we shall never see Schumi in a McClaren or Lewis in Massa’s Ferrari. What percentage of the winning package is the driver? Could Schumi have won the same races in a Minardi? No! what about a BMW? Still no! what about in the McClaren? Yes why?

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  2.   2. Posted By: Joe Davies
        Date: January 22nd, 2009 @ 7:10 pm 

    F2 sounds like a great concept but the thing that is to F2′s disadvantage in its appeal is that it is not supporting the Grands Prix and so the F1 teams are not going to be watching the drivers automatically as they do with GP2, obviously. You said F2 will be on eurosport, do you know where we can catch GP2 this year? Are we going to be hearing you commentating anywhere at all in 2009 such as on GP2 or F2? Would be great to hear you – will miss your commentaries as I’m sure will a lot of people. Where are you going to be within the F1 media this year? – Joe

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  3.   3. Posted By: Links for 22 January 2009 « vee8 - a Formula 1 blog
        Date: January 23rd, 2009 @ 4:02 am 

    [...] Where will the next F1 stars come from? – James Allen’s Grand Prix Diary"While it is true that F2 was announced in the midst of the Mosley/News of the World situation, on closer inspection it is a serious project and it could turn out to be a threat to GP2, which is why Bernie was scathing. I spent some time recently with the man charged with running the series for the FIA, ex F1 driver Jonathan Palmer, and got a look at what he and the FIA think is the model for the future of motor sport…" [...]


  4.   4. Posted By: Over the white line: Ben Collins is still The Stig… | Brits on Pole
        Date: January 23rd, 2009 @ 7:34 am 

    [...] It’s become clear for some time that, while circuits squabble over events and accusations of management wrongheadedness and unfair dealings are made left right and centre, that the real man to watch in British motorsport is Jonathan Palmer. While keeping entirely clear of all the trouble at t’mill, his company MotorSportVision has been quietly getting on with making plans for circuit development at Snetterton and collaborating with Williams F1 on the new Formula 2 series, currently slated to feature Martin Brundle’s son Alex. So it was interesting to see that James Allen, writing in his blog, rates the future of this event: “Can you be absolutely sure that the best driver won, or was he just driving the best car? This is how it is in F1, because the teams have to build their own car and some do it better than others, but why does it have to be that way in the feeder series? Why waste all that money on car development when what you really want to know is, who’s the best driver? It is a model that other series have used before, but it’s very interesting that it’s now being used at this level. Thought-provoking stuff. [...]


  5.   5. Posted By: Chris
        Date: January 23rd, 2009 @ 12:43 pm 

    I think F2 is a brilliant idea and I think if it eventually follows the GP circuit around it will definitely succeed. The only drawback I can see is that if you take the teams out of the way, then a driver will loose the experience of being involved in car development the political aspects of driving within a team i.e. rivalry with your team mate and how to handle and establish yourself within a team. All of which I think is a major part of F1 and should be taught at the earliest possible chance. Drivers without this may not fulfil their potential. If you look at past drivers Prost, Senna, Mansell, Schumacher they were all political animals and played the game to get where they where.

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  6.   6. Posted By: Adam
        Date: January 23rd, 2009 @ 5:58 pm 

    Are we overlooking something here. Am I right in thinking that a feeder series not only develop the drivers but also gives the experiance to engineers and allow them to progress to F1.

    If we move to a standardised format in all feeder series surely this could lower the innovation in F1.

    [Reply]

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