We see so much wasted talent never making it to Formula One, often because money speaks instead of skill. In the past, great drivers found their way to F1 blocked because Suki Rekanother from Japan has umpteen trillion yen to throw at some back of the grid team for a race seat.
Nowadays, it is because there are only 10 teams and nobody can afford to set up an F1 team without engine manufacturer backing. This is nothing new, and no big corporation is going to risk their investment on an unknown. The young driver doesn’t stand a chance.
But here’s a concept. Allow the teams to race a third car. The cost will not be significantly higher, every team takes a third car to the race anyway, and if the lead two drivers need it, the third driver forfeits his car. To ensure that the third car is offered to rookie drivers, no driver would be allowed to contest more than four races in that car and no more than two of whom are allowed to be under contract to the team as a test driver, allowing even more drivers to experience F1 racing and get their break in the sport.
Alternative liveries could be permitted, though that would sometimes result in the lead driver being in an alternatively sponsored car. That's not good if you are Vodafone and are paying Hamilton’s salary and you find Lewis driving a “Bob’s Rent-a-wreck” liveried car!
It could also mean that some drivers do the merry-go-round that they used to do in years gone by. In 1994, Johnny Herbert drove a Lotus Mugen Honda, a Ligier Renault and a Benetton Ford. Mika Salo performed supersub duties in 1999 at both BAR and Ferrari and more recently, the firing of Trulli resulted in him driving for Renault and Toyota in the same year.
That would make Minichamps happy. There would be more toy cars for the collectors to buy!
Obviously, there should be conditions. Drivers who have competed more than two-thirds of a season for one team within the last five years will be automatically excluded. Therefore, Wurtz would be ineligible to drive, but Luciano Burti could make his Ferrari debut.
On the smaller teams, a driver would be able to bring a budget to fund his drive, but there would be a cap on how much he was allowed to pay, e.g. £10,000 per race. Any driver who has shown ability in the lower formula should be able to find 40 grand for four races, especially if a prominent area of the car is allocated for driver sponsorship.
If a rookie gets promoted to the top two cars, as a substitute for an ill or injured driver, they are allowed to compete in as many races as necessary, but if they compete more than their allocated ‘four starts,’ they are not allowed to return to the third car for the remainder of the season.
Also, if a driver goes from team to team, there should be a limit on driving for three teams’ third car in a season. This would allow a situation where a Red Bull driver could drive four races for the parent team, four races for Torro Rosso and then four races for one more team. Then they would have to sit out the rest of the season or drive in a number 1 or 2 car.
We could see other drivers come into the series from other top level motorsport as well. Indycar drivers such as Marco Andretti would get to try F1 racing without committing to a full season, so he can see how well he goes and not risk his career like his father or Alex Zanardi did. Tony Kanaan could race alongside his pal Barrichello in the Brazilian Grand Prix. We could see NASCAR drivers try their hand at F1 in a US Grand Prix, and older British drivers could even jump in a car and race at the British Grand Prix. Hamilton in a Merc and Mansell in a Beemer, anyone?
It would fill the grids, give young drivers a chance, allow teams to promote new talent, allow the test team staff to get some race experience, maybe even shake up the results a bit, with a young hard charger being given a championship winning Ferrari to play with! IT WOULD IMPROVE FORMULA ONE.
Which is why it will never happen!