'First reaction? Yet another Red Bullshit decision that defies any kind of logic and leaves another huge talent on the waste dump.', was tweeted by Will Buxton yesterday, but I do wonder, is it really a waste dump?
Without its current drivers, the program had 29 drivers, from which 14 (Kvyat included) made it into F1.
It is worth saying though, that from those 14 drivers, bar Vettel, none have scored a podium. And that from the 14, four never even scored a point (Bernoldi, Doornbos, Speed and Chandhok).
Of course it's easier to get a driver into Formula 1 when you have two seats in backmarker team (STR), or money to spare to put them into other backmarker teams. Such as Ricciardo, Chandhok (HRT), Bernoldi (Arrows), Doornbos, Friesacher (Minardi), Klien (Jaguar). Only Liuzzi debuted in a Red Bull car.
Then, comparing it to let's say the Ferrari Driver Academy, they've had 4 former drivers (Bianchi is still part of it), from which only Perez made it into Formula 1, who did score podium finishes.
From the Renault Driver Development Programme, now named Lotus F1 Junior Team, 37 drivers are (or still are) taken in, and 9 made it into F1 (Kubica, Monteiro, Kovalainen, van der Garde, Maldonado, di Grassi, Grosjean, Pic, d'Ambrosio and di Grassi). Three race winners in there, and five never scored a point finish.
Comparing it to the Elf program of the 70's to 90's: The first two talents of the Elf program were Patrick Tambay and Didier Pironi, who both went on to win Grand Prix. Over the years, Alain Prost, Pascal Fabre, Olivier Grouillard, Paul Belmondo, Éric Bernard, Érik Comas and Olivier Panis all made it into F1. I can't really find the drivers of the Elf program that didn't made it into F1 though.
I can't find a lot about Mercedes' driver program in the early 90's, but it included Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Karl Wendlinger and Michael Schumacher.
Anyhow, it does leave me with a lot of questions.
How are drivers picked? Is it partly marketing (a nationality to sell more cans in a certain country, or gender such as Biekste Visser), or purely talent?
What's the best talent programme?
And how would you do it?
Edited by Jackmancer, 22 October 2013 - 10:02.