When Ferrari signed Michael Schumacher in 1995 Luca Montezemolo said that now Ferrari had the fastest driver there were no more excuses. If the team qualified badly it was because the car was slow, not the driver. Ferrari had signed a reference.
Now Ross Brawn says the same in Autosport, Hamilton is important because he is the reference the team needed:
"Lewis brings a great reference .... We will not be lacking in achieving our ambitions and objectives because of drivers. We'd only be lacking because we haven't built a strong enough car or because we haven't operated as a team strongly enough. I think it was a little unfortunate with Michael [Schumacher] because we didn't have these references. "
We can see the same with Ferrari and Red Bull. Both teams know that if results aren't coming it is because the car is slow. Alonso and Vettel can be trusted to consistently extract near everything from the car.
How can a team handle development with inconsistent drivers? Should midfield teams focus more on drivers that can adapt easily, are consistent but lack absolute pace instead of fast drivers that lack consistency?