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.