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Wolff: Let top teams run extra car for young drivers

  • Published on 06 Sep 2018 10:51
  • comments 24
  • By: Fergal Walsh

Toto Wolff believes that top teams should be allowed to run with an extra car to accommodate young drivers. Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull all run junior driver programmes, with Red Bull having its own separate team to run its juniors.

Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly are five drivers that entered Formula 1 via the Red Bull junior programme. Ferrari has placed its junior Charles Leclerc in with Sauber for 2018, with rumours suggesting he could be heading to Ferrari for 2019.

However, Mercedes has struggled with its programme, with Pascal Wehrlein spending two years with Manor and Sauber respectively, before being dropped from the grid due to a lack of seats. Mercedes' other junior Esteban Ocon is in danger of missing out on a seat next year despite having a solid season so far for Force India.

Wolff has called on F1 to allow the top teams to run with 3 cars so that their junior drivers can get an opportunity: "The big teams are not going to take risks with young drivers,” he said. “Now, you can say ‘well, that’s boring’. I think it’s boring. We should take risks, we should put 18-year or 19-year-old great talents in a top car and give them a chance.

“But the problem is if you lose a drivers’ championship or a constructors’ championship because they have a learning curve then it’s obviously not great. And we haven’t done it and Ferrari haven’t done it in the past so we need to question that.

“Give us a third car and make it mandatory to put a young driver in there, with a maximum two years in that car. The costs wouldn’t be huge, the grid would be packed and we would have fantastic shows of new kids on the block coming up and fighting hard with the Valtteris and Lewises of this world and maybe surprising us."

Wolff does not want to go down the route of Red Bull and invest to form a Mercedes junior F1 team: “Putting 80 to 100 million dollars every year in a junior team just to keep your young drivers in place is not what I would want to do,” the Austrian stated.

Replies (24)

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  • So you can get even more points and even more money?
    Aaangel of stupid
    this isnt working!
    Nooothing will make
    Us like iiiiiiit

    • + 1
    • Sep 6 2018 - 12:33
    • Wrong. I like it.

      Can take best two cars points and scrap the third cars points. Or can just scrap all points from junior car and run it just for experience, advertising and testing.

      Either which way I like the idea. Will get so much new talent in and will help unseat pay drivers.

      • + 0
      • Sep 6 2018 - 12:41
    • If they are in it but wont compete then what use is it? Thats nothing but a dev driver.

      • + 0
      • Sep 6 2018 - 12:45
    • Test new drivers to replace old drivers. Increase the new driver throughput to reduce the stagnation at the top. Add to the spectacle.

      The biggest issue is if they use those drivers to block opponents.

      • + 0
      • Sep 6 2018 - 13:04
    • I have an even better idea: scrap the points of any third finishing car of a team, regardless who the driver is. Just imagine the battle in the Mercedes team if Ocon would challenge Bottas to finish as the second Mercedes-car!

      What's even more: Kimi could stay at Ferrari and battle with Leclerc. Or sometimes even with Vettel. I think we should see much more happening on track, instead of cruising for save points. So bring it on!

      • + 1
      • Sep 6 2018 - 13:17
    • Freguz

      Posts: 160

      Well if one car doesnt get any points, you can as well use it as a crash accident creating device ...

      • + 1
      • Sep 6 2018 - 13:37
    • You could. But I think you will be disqalified if you did. After all most drivers are not named Nelson Piquet junior...

      • + 0
      • Sep 6 2018 - 16:02
    • a lot of platitudinous analysis of the motivations for Mercedes to do this. Of course they want to benefit themselves. But that doesn't preclude the idea from being good. I actually think what Red Bull is doing with Toro Rosso would lend itself more to corruption, but that's a separate discussion. A third car from a top team would be a win for everyone as long as it doesn't grant special advantage to the cars with a third team other than marketing and visibility, which is fair game; after all it would still cost millions of dollars. That challenge would be how to structure the payout because a third Mercedes car would likely mean that the midfield would get hosed. In general I'm in favor of a larger grid. If we can add 5 or 7 extra cars I'd be willing to consider awarding points beyond 10th place.

      • + 0
      • Sep 6 2018 - 18:59
    • The concept is nice, but a lot of concepts are nice until put into practice. The engine allocation limits could look good on paper, but we all see how it looks in practice now. I too sorta see the potential pros from this, but lets not forget that this is Mercedes, and they'd abuse the living crap of this. I havent forgotten Ocon's move in Monaco this year.

      • + 0
      • Sep 6 2018 - 20:08
  • Good idea as we need a full grid - anything which brings in new talent as drivers spending 17 years in F1 like Jenson B did is a joke we need more new blood, which isn't getting through and never will.

    • + 0
    • Sep 6 2018 - 14:30
    • xoya

      Posts: 583

      What's wrong with Button spending 17 years in F1?

      • + 0
      • Sep 7 2018 - 07:41
  • Bhurt

    Posts: 320

    So I guess the option of having your young drivers graduate into the main team isn't an option?

    What's stopping Mercedes from entering a second team in the mold of Toro Rosso?

    • + 0
    • Sep 6 2018 - 15:33
    • Costs. As Wolff says, its significantly more expensive to run a whole B-team compared to just a third car.

      • + 0
      • Sep 6 2018 - 17:05
    • Bhurt

      Posts: 320

      Of course. But if you only want to pay for two seats, perhaps you shouldn't go full-Monisha and have 4-5 drivers?

      • + 0
      • Sep 6 2018 - 19:00
  • You don't understand what is going on. Let me translate for you what Wolff really said:

    We and Ferrari need a third car to create a bigger buffer between our champions and the rest of the field. We need exclusive TV coverage from P1 to P6. Teams we don't want to fight against, like Red Bull, are getting to close to our podium!

    • + 1
    • Sep 6 2018 - 15:54
  • f1dave

    Posts: 782

    We don't need another blocking strategy. Watching Bottas hold up Kimi in the last race was terrible. One car per "team" would be better idea. As for the comment on drivers championship, there hasn't been one since they initiated grid penalties for component failures.

    • + 3
    • Sep 6 2018 - 16:03
    • Yeah but, that's racing in F1. Teams are there and there to stay and holding up drivers for the sake of team results is part of the game. And if they didn't implement some kind of penalty then teams would be using new engines for every race instead of getting their acts together. I don't like the penalties but they serve a purpose. With the amount of mileage those cars do in a season they should be able to go the entire season with 1 engine!

      • + 0
      • Sep 8 2018 - 22:48
  • Grego21

    Posts: 6

    Let a smalller team lease a one year old car from the current list of teams, This would make it much more cost effective for a team to get a start in F1, get 10 more cars on the grid (if each current team leased a car out) and get more young talent some seat time.

    My expectation is the current teams would have enough spare parts from two cars to run one for another season.

    • + 0
    • Sep 6 2018 - 17:45
  • xoya

    Posts: 583

    It's simple in my book.
    Either all teams run 3 cars or no team runs 3 cars. End of story.
    We don't need a b-class category since we already have it.
    If Wolff wants a car for a driver from his junior programme he already has one. He should fire/demote Bottas and put Ocon in that seat.
    Or they should just produce less junior drivers.

    • + 0
    • Sep 7 2018 - 07:45
    • Why not whatever teams want to can? Some of the smaller teams can't afford to run 3 cars. I think most fans would like to see more cars on the grid as well as see more drivers get a chance to compete in F1. If they can't get more teams to come in why not let the teams have another car. Of course they would need to sort out the scoring, but so what, the scoring has changed in F1 many times over the years. The whole conversation is probably moot anyway because they would never get all the teams to agree on anything.

      • + 0
      • Sep 8 2018 - 22:54
  • dr002

    Posts: 141

    .... and that's the point, it is already happening, so why not either run with it and improve it or make changes to mitigate it.

    My thoughts are that an engine championship of some sort is needed.

    Instead of making it the top teams, have it that the factory teams only are to field a third car driven by a junior driver. Then as suggested, only the top two drivers out of the three score points towards the constructor’s championship. BUT have the factory teams compete for an Engine championship with the points from all three cars being incorporated, that way a third car would not be used as a sacrificial crash vehicle.

    It would also mean that in respect of the drivers championship the points for drivers in the factory would be distributed between the drivers of the top teams to a greater extent, which would improve the chances of the drivers in non factory teams in terms of the drivers championship.

    I really like the idea of having a pathway to get young drivers into top cars.

    • + 1
    • Sep 8 2018 - 00:53
    • dr002

      Posts: 141

      .... above was in response to @Calle's post above at 20:08 6 Sept, about Mercedes and Ocon's move.

      • + 0
      • Sep 8 2018 - 01:11
  • I think Toto is on to something here. There is a lot more room on the grid for more cars. If they can't bring in new teams, then why not? It would take some pressure off the driver market and give some youngsters a chance they might not get otherwise. It's definitely not the worst idea I've heard for F1.

    • + 0
    • Sep 8 2018 - 22:41

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