Toro Rosso is in a bit of a dilemma at the moment. With 2 uncertain drivers, Gasly in the wings and several drivers in the program. Here’s my opinion.
We’ll get straight to the point. Red Bull has too many drivers and too little seats.
For those who don’t know the Red Bull young drivers program is one of the most infamous in the sport. It signs drivers early on and gets up into a full Red Bull seat.
It did it with Vettel, Ricardo and Verstappen and we all know how good they are.
There’s just one problem, there aren’t enough seats in either of its F1 teams for everyone. We’ve seen Sebastian Buemi, Jean-Éric Vergne to name a few fail to even get through Toro Rosso.
And this means we lose so much talent to the lack of seats.
No Toro Rosso driver has done more than 3 years and Carlos Sainz is in his 3rd year with them. Which has sparked speculation as to where he may go. Despite Helmut Marko and Christian Horner both saying he isn’t going anywhere.
But there are teams that could take him on. Ferrari, Renault even Mclaren have been linked to a possible drive.
But I can’t see any seats opening up for him outside of Toro Rosso. Ferrari will likely keep Raikkonen, Renault will either have Kubica or a young driver (I doubt Palmer will last) and Mclaren needs to keep Alonso and have Vandoorne.
And with neither of the current Red Bull drivers leaving soon, it will be interesting to see what happens to the Spaniard. Personally, I think he will stay a STR.
On the other side of the garage, we have the newly nicknamed Torpedo. The story of Daniil Kvyat has been a strange one and if anything he was lucky to have been in the Red Bull family. If not he would have had now where to go when he was demoted last year.
But then again you could say Red Bull were waiting for something to happen with Kvyat, i.e. his double crash with Vettel in Russia, to give Max Verstappen a chance.
And if that was the case they were right on the money, he went on to win his first race with Red Bull in Spain after the Mercedes cars crashed at turn 4.
That was the beginning of a very dark period for the Russian, who had a string of poor performances thereafter. Many believed that he wouldn’t even make it to 2017 and that then GP2 driver, later champion, Pierre Gasly would get the seat.
But they elected to keep Kvyat and make Gasly do a Vandoorne and move to Japanese Super Formula while waiting for a seat.
Could that happen again? I don’t think so, I believe Red Bull will let Danii go to promote Gasly. It’s the logical choice, after all, no matter how set in stone your contracts are you aren’t gonna keep drivers who are constantly getting held back.
The final problem is the young drivers in question. Gasly is 21 and still waiting for his chance in Toro Rosso.
While the rest of Red Bull’s young driver program are either in GP3 or lower categories.
But I think the main problem is one that not just Red Bull exclusive.
It’s that there are too many older drivers still going and not allowing the youngster to come up.
Massa, Raikkonen and dare I say it even Hamilton and Vettel are all getting on, some are past their best even.
The issue here is that fans don’t want to let go of them and teams either need or want them to keep the numbers up. Think about it Ferrari has always had a second driver just to score points, and keep other teams at bay.
Raikkonen is perfect for this he’s got just enough pace left in him to fight for podiums and even wins and when is able to win isn’t too annoyed when Ferrari make it so Vettel does.
Massa as well is there just to keep Williams steady with Lance in the other car, and to allow the Martini sponsor to run.
However, F1 and more specifically the teams need to look at the situation and decide is this a sport or s business? They should be taking risks getting new people in and letting the young blood and passion flow rather than standing for just good enough and leaving it at that.
This something I admire about the F1 community on youtube. With game mods, they are able to make it so that the grid changes constantly.
And no one does this better than Aarava (YouTube here) with his MyDriver series. Heck he’s in 2020 and he has Riccardo at Mclaren, Verstappen at Mercedes, Toro Rosso bought out by Jaguar, Sainz and Perez Fighting for championships and some much more it would take years to tell.
I’ll leave a link to his latest episode and you can see what I’m on about.
So what should be happening, I believe there should be more teams set up specifically to feed young drivers into, such as Toro Rosso.
And with Sauber resigning their engine deal with Ferrari they could be on the road to becoming feeder team themselves, with a specific eye on Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi for Ferrari’s driver academy.
And finally, the teams need to stop with idea that good is good enough. We’re racing fans and that’s what we want to see.
What do you think about the young driver problem?
Comment below and please share.
Shoutout to Aarava (Twiter) for partially inspiring this post.