GP2 mentality in F1. Is it really about the drivers?

In-season testing is back. In 2014 we will have four testing sessions during the season. The idea was warmly welcomed by majority of the teams. From many points of view it’s a good decision especially at the begining of huge technical revolution. Teams, engines and tyres suppliers will have a unique oportunity to check all the new bits in an appropriate environment.


But something is alarming. For young drivers the situation is going from bad to worst. From 2014 on, the Young Drivers Test will be dropped from the calendar. Also aero tests and filming runs will be limited from three days to two. James Allen wrote that young drivers will get oportunity to test during that in-season sessions.

“Many will complain about the loss of the Young Drivers Test, but in practice young drivers are likely to carry out quite a lot of the testing planned anyway, partly for budget reasons and partly because the teams will not require the race drivers to do another two days having just completed a Grand Prix weekend, unless the team has some technical problems to work through.”

I’m more than sure that we will not see too many young talents during that testing sessions. Why? Representative data set will be worth much more than the €300.000 that a team can get putting a young driver in their car. Because of regulations change we can also expect a lot of technical and reliability problems so to find the best solutions you need to get a good feedback from the driver. Mercedes test with Pirelli showed that two or three extra days in the car, just after a Grand Prix weekend, it’s not a problem for the race drivers.


In the last two seasons there was a lot of talking about drivers with “GP2 mentality” racing in F1. Rookies made a lot of mistakes at the track causing some, more or less, dangerus accidents. Is it right to judge them and talk about their “menatlity” if rookie drivers have only six (or even less) days to test before real racing? Lewis Hamilton after seven races in 2013 is still struggling to find his confidence behind the wheel. You need a huge amount of time to adapt to a new environment and it’s hard even for someone with more than hundred races and thousands of hours testing on the track and in the simulator. All that a young driver can do is to use his experience from feeder series like GP2 but we have to remember it’s completly different from F1. A young driver needs some time to get used to the new reality. Without testing he will need to collect all that feelings and experiences during the season and mistakes are an inseparable part of that process. It’s a dangerous situation not only for the drivers on the track but also for F1.


In last ten years new generation of young drivers appeared in F1. Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Robert Kubica – this guys made a great impression from a very first moment but they were well prepared. Last year James Allen wrote:

“One can envisage a situation, five years from now, when Button and Webber will be retired, Alonso aged 36 will probably be retired, or close to it. So that will leave Hamilton who will be 32 and Sebastian Vettel, who will be 30 and there is no sign of a driver who will rise to challenge them.”

and today his words are even more puzzling. F1 has been always men vs machine. 2014 season will open new, exciting, technical era but it’s hard to find any signs of rising stars. Who will fill the seats in that turbocharged monsters in next ten years? Someone will but…

Special thanks to @ElenaF1 for help.