Why F1 is snubbing junior star Piastri RaceFans

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A sport is as sustainable as its pool of future talent, and in this respect Formula 1 is no different. Indeed, under FIA President Jean Todt and Stefano Domenicali, chairman of the single-seater commission before the Italian accepted the top position in Formula 1, the “ladder” was streamlined and better promoted. theoretically to allow young people to progressively climb the ladder from Formula 4 to F3 and F2 to F1.

Both F3 and F2 feature in F1 and are broadcast around the world to showcase the best youngsters to team managers, sponsors and fans. These and other series award superlicence points which allow the governing body and teams to determine when a driver is ready to be promoted to the Premier League – the more superlicence points accumulated, the more ready the driver should be. . This is the theory.

But even the best stairs are of no use if the first rung of the ladder leads nowhere but empty heaven. A number of hopefuls quickly discover that if there are no open seats, even the richest in superlicence points is as useless as slick tires in a storm at Spa. That said, at least Spa dries up at some point, when the lack of opportunities is unlikely to be alleviated anytime soon.

F1 is apparently on a mission to ban the entry of new teams, having devised an anti-dilution fee of $ 200 million to be paid by new entrants and to be distributed among existing teams. Thus, F1 looks set to stay at 20 cockpits until at least 2026. With F1’s ‘new era’ regulations coming into effect in 2022, increasingly complex cars and restrictions on testing, teams are sticking to experience rather than giving a luck to young people.

F3 winner Piastri could succeed Schumacher as F2 champion

In addition, the regulations of the F2 decree that the champion is subsequently excluded from the series. Thus, the best talents face the most vicious of circles: no chance to gain any experience and no F1 experience to gain any chance of securing a seat, leaving no single-seater option except the IndyCar. Unless you have a billionaire in the family or your exotic passport fits a particular market.

In the process, champions find themselves unemployed and secondary talents are promoted. There is an argument that it has always been so; than in F1, dollars have always counted for more than capacity. However, when even very talented academy drivers with backing from Renault, Ferrari and Red Bull have nowhere to go, the sport has truly entered a dead end.

As it is written, there are exactly six months left until the start of the 2022 season, but there is only one seat left to fill. It’s at Sauber’s Alfa Romeo, where Kimi Raikkonen, 41, who entered F1 in 2001, is heading for retirement. Up to five drivers, ranging from placement Alfa Romeo Antonio Giovinazzi to Formula E champion Nyck de Vries to Chinese F2 driver Guanyu Zhou, are linked to the drive.

However, Australian Oscar Piastri, whose junior championship record rivals those of Charles Leclerc and George Russell, is not on that list.

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“I think I did a good job putting myself in a pretty privileged position for an F1 seat,” said the 20-year-old Alpine development driver at Monza after clinching pole position for the main race in Weekend F2. “I won two championships in a row and [I’m] leading a third. We’re still only halfway through this F2 year, so a lot can still change.

George Russell, Formula 2, Yas Marina, 2018
Mercedes promoted Russell to F1 after double title

“But all the moves in F1 are happening now or have happened before. So it’s a bit disappointing how it plays out because I really don’t know what else I could have done.

Piastri is on his way to a remarkable trio of consecutive titles: after winning the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2019 and the FIA ​​Formula 3 series last year, he leads the Formula 2 standings after 15 of 24 races. He is backed by compatriot and nine-time Grand Prix winner Mark Webber, who admits he wouldn’t have reached F1 if he hadn’t been given a break from Paul’s Minardi squad. Stoddard, still underfunded. There were 11 teams – and therefore 22 cars – on the grid at the time.

“Sometimes the timing in Formula 1 can be a bit against you and in the end it was a bit of a victim of its own success in terms of how fast it was,” said Webber.

“When you have a [super]license and there are no places, it is obviously not very useful, ”he said in an exclusive interview. “25% of the network are now heavily funded drivers, so that’s how it is now. But it probably won’t be higher than that in the future, hopefully.

“Then we can get a [few] more guys coming in with desire, passion, intensity. Sport must chase the [next] Leclerc, Verstappen, Norris, Russell. This is the raison d’être of sport, they want to be there, they want to win and they are self-motivated individuals. That’s what Oscar is. there are young people [drivers] who I think are ready for F1 and Oscar is definitely one of them.

Webber thinks another problem is the low turnover among those with seats. “In Formula 1 it is sometimes more difficult to get out than to get in,” he suggests. “We see drivers, they just can’t leave and the teams sometimes don’t quite have the courage to look for young talent [so] they are recycling guys who have those 100 grand prizes under their belt.

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The former Red Bull driver admits they can’t compete with the “money that’s in the pipeline” of talented young drivers. “Oscar doesn’t need: he brings the performance, he brings the stopwatch, he brings one of the key facets. And his level of maturity for his age is extraordinary.

Poll: Who should hire Alfa Romeo to partner with Bottas in 2022?

“We know [funding] can turbocharge it if you have eight digits, but it’s something Oscar never had and never will have, so he’ll have to make it happen with his talent alone.

The saving grace for Piastri could be F1’s plans to institute the mandatory Friday race for rookies. This would not only provide crucial experience, but could (and should) allow youngsters to shine on the same day in the same kit on the same track as regular riders.

“It’s a no-brainer for Alpine,” says Webber. “Yes [Oscar] wins the championship, he is unemployed in junior race, he cannot run [in F2] sure, but he’ll have a lot of superlicence points. So it won’t be a problem.

It might be, but an F2 champion, whatever it is after all the points are counted, surely deserves more than the regulation race on Friday. While F1 hopes for a sustainable future, it has an inherent responsibility to provide real opportunities for talents like Piastri.

British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said: “The young people of a nation are the custodians of posterity. This also applies to F1.

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