Are the current Formula 1 rules causing talent drain ?

Franck Montagny announced he would be leaving Formula 1 to pursue his racing career elsewhere. Christian Klien may follow if he can’t land the Force India seat. Both these drivers have no desire to continue their 3rd driver or testing roles as they see no future for themselves.

Rewind few years back, when Robert Kubica in BMW and Anthony Davidson in Honda were making names for themselves in Friday free practice sessions regularly finishing on the top of the timesheets. Sebastian Vettel in his few Friday outings in 2007 season (in the expense of the race drivers) also had a chance to sell himself.

There are only 22 race seats available in F1 and after the Prodrive fiasco who knows when the 2 more vacant places on the grid will be filled up. For the drivers that can’t make it on the grid the test driver role used to be the obvious plan B. Some drivers are still willing to do the test and back up duties if they see a promise of a F1 drive in very near future. But with the current restrictions on testing and no room for 3rd drivers to showcase their skills on on race weekend Fridays many prefer alternatives to keep on racing. Champ car, IRL even Nascar became the destinations for many F1 drivers – Montoya, Villeneuve, Speed, Doornbos.

Some may say there is nothing wrong with older drivers leaving. But F1 teams could sure benefit from employing the experienced drivers in a way McLaren employs Pedro de la Rosa or Ferrari Luca Badoer. But as these drivers now face a season with only an odd drive on the test track here and there, they prefer going elsewhere.

The situation is more damaging when the young drivers are concerned. Christian Klien had enough of doing more less nothing in Honda colours for a year, Narain Karthikeyan does not feel Williams job has too many benefits for him. Vitantonio Liuzzi may be willing to take a testing job for a year, but if no race drive comes around he too will likely start looking elsewhere.

Then there are many up and coming young drivers from junior Formula series. Where do they get chance to put their F1 skills on display ?

And there is no Minardi any longer where managers could place their drivers to start off their F1 career (Fernando Alonso)…

I understand that the testing is where big money is burned. But some room should be made for those in line for the race drive. If nothing else than perhaps the 3rd drivers could return and feature on race weekend Fridays in some near future …

12 Comments Post a Comment
  1. InfonoteNo Gravatar says:

    That is why GP2 was created. As a feeder series to F1.
    Identical cars. Driver and team skill count.

    All recent champions of GP2 had a chance in F1 in recent years.

  2. ShaunNo Gravatar says:

    is 22 cars the maximum they could have on the grid? Or if a few investors were interested in creating teams would they increase that?

  3. F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

    there is 12 teams 24 cars limit … the 12th team spot went to Dave Richard’s Prodrive, but they gambled all on the customers cars and failed (for now) …

  4. ACNo Gravatar says:

    I disagree about De La Rosa and Badoer, some drivers are champions, some are racers and some will always be test drivers.
    De La Rosa, Badoer and even Wurtz have shown they have found their calling.

  5. Black ZeddNo Gravatar says:

    If more maxed-out drivers like Ralf and Giancarlo leave the scene, more places will be available for these youngsters.

    And don’t forget the Red Bulls, they did a good job maintaining a second team- more room for talent..

  6. F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

    it is definitelly true that drivers like badoear, Wurz and de la Rosa are much better testers and developers than they are race drivers

    I also agree that drivers like Ralf should go and create space for young blood (although I would give Fisi one more chance in Force India :-) )

    I just think that is a pity not to give 10 more drivers chance to measure themselves against the F1 race drivers on Fridays …

  7. zblkhwkNo Gravatar says:

    Isn’t the number of teams is in reality limited by financial costs then FIA rules? The sport simply costs too much for entry with the lowest teams burning $50 mil a year without any chance of winning.

    I still believe F1 is considered the pinacle of auto racing and attracts the top talent.

  8. F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

    the 12 teams limit is the rule. but financial aspects are definitelly behind the rule

    last time the grid had 12 teams was in 2001 if I am not wrong and the only brand new team that made it on the grid since then was Honda backed Super Aguri. as you say definitely not easy to enter

  9. […] Are the current Formula 1 rules causing talent drain? – Franck Montangy, Christian Klien, Robert Doornbos and other worthy racers are left without drives. […]

  10. zblkhwkNo Gravatar says:

    There simply aren’t enough seats for to give all the young up and coming drivers homes. I can remember races 15 to 20 years ago with 30 cars on the circuit. The racing was fantastic.

    It was also significantly more dangerous as you had a lot of drivers with little experience.

    Perhaps the current 22 car limit, forcing drivers to earn their way up in GP2, Champ (way to go Sebastian!!!), and other series.

  11. Keith KilligrewNo Gravatar says:


    Why does the 2 hours or 200 mile duration no longer apply th Grand Prix racing. Why not have championship points allocated for pole and fastest lap. Please bring back the old style practise system. Lets have the cars fuelled up for the whole race, I thought this was a DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP not a pit crew, on line during race tuning or a lets see who has the best team tactics championship. Finally lets get more than one tyre manufacturer into the pot and MUCH LESS of the slow, lets see the car ad’s circuits. Lets get out there and RACE.



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