We are all well aware that Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren etc have their junior driver programs where they let their future F1 drivers develop. Of course they need to validate these programs and therefore will only want to use the drivers that they have under contract. All good, they invest in them, so they want to bring them up through the ranks and also show that these drivers are bred by themselves so to speak.
I see two issues arising the last years though:
Firstly, let's take Red Bull as an example. They want to persist in putting drivers into their F1 cars who came from the junior program. As long as these are quality drivers, all is good. But what if the quality isn't up to scratch in certain periods. Can happen, right? Next year they want to go for the WDC and WCC titles if they can build to car to do it with. But next to Max, the other three are maybe showing some potential, some not even, but still they feel the need to use them because it needs to be a "Red Bull driver". In my book they would be better off hiring outside. An experienced proven driver who can make sure RBR can optimize in-race strategy, steal points from the other contenders from Ferrari and Merc for example. But it seems to validate their program, maybe even plain personal pride from someone like Helmut Marko, they are not closing the best drivers they can get, but simply one they have.
(Mind you, their two top drivers ever, Seb and Max, didn't come from the RBR junior program, so I don't know why they are so incredibly rigid at this moment).
Secondly, the opposite scenario which we used to see at RB and currently at Mercedes. Doesn't really matter what one thinks of Ocon, fact is that he is benched because he is under contract of Merc and they just didn't get him a seat, for known reasons, but still. Someone like George Russell might be stuck at Williams for some years to come too if Lewis decides to go for an ultimate record hunt (assuming Ocon will be next to him in the future).
So here's my question: should drivers and teams be held hostage due to the need to validate junior programs when in reality either drivers are of a lower quality or if you have too many good ones you can't get a seat for. Regardless of the investment.
Edited by Reddington, 13 August 2019 - 10:31.