When Red Bull signed Max Verstappen in 2016 it was a revolutionary move, the success of this gamble pushed the rest of the teams into betting on younger drivers to bring home the trophies. This season we have the youngest line up yet, new drivers such as Lando Norris and Alex Albon have joined Mclaren and Toro Rosso, and they are doing a great job keeping up with the more experienced drivers on track.
Now, betting on a young driver isn’t a bad move by any means. Results have shown so far that young drivers from Formula 2 and 3 are good enough to drive with the heavyweights. But, the obvious thing that will be missing with these drivers is the experience. Not just experience in driving, but also dealing with team orders, the extreme pressure and physical demand of driving a Formula 1 car. When you look back at drivers such as Hamilton and Vettel in their rookie season you can see their successes but also their mistakes. Hamilton had a famously great first season with Mclaren against teammate at the time, Fernando Alonso. However, we can see how far Hamilton and Vettel came, they were rookies who made mistakes but at the end of the day they were expected to… they were rookies.
But, with the success of Verstappen, we can see a slight tilt in opinion. Verstappen obviously makes mistakes, a fair few dodgy decisions have cost him dearly, but he impressed very VERY quickly and became the most aggressive driver on the track.
This sparked a wave of new drivers coming in, so young with not a great deal of experience, but expected to be the best and only the best. Now, we can say this has always been the same but we can also say that drivers were expected to mature and learn and then they won championships. Now it’s be great and win now, no other option, they can grow and learn but they better do it in as few races as possible.
This is mainly due to teams putting all their eggs into one basket, Red Bull moved Pierre Gasly from Toro Rosso to Red Bull after a good season for Gasly. So, they have two young drivers with no room for a rookie making mistakes, Gasly has to be the best, especially next to Max Verstappen. Sadly this gamble has not panned out too well for Red Bull, Gasly (a good driver in his own right) has crumbled under pressure, and despite a couple of good qualifyings and races, he has not met Red Bulls higher than high standards. And who can blame Red Bull for putting on the pressure, they are quickly becoming the second-fastest team after Mercedes, Ferrari have not had a great half of a season and their pace just isn’t there, but Red Bull is serious contenders to that championship.
With serious talks of a switch around for next season, it’s looking more and more likely that Gasly will be out of a seat. Christian Horner has said that Gasly has the rest of 2019 to “get it together” otherwise his seat will become free. Albon would be a good contender for that coveted Red Bull seat, he has had a great first season and has impressed a lot of people, but would the same thing happen again, is chucking these young drivers into the deep end always a safe gamble? Drivers such as Charles Leclerc have flourished under Ferrari’s more experienced wing, and as this team are not known for taking risks with young drivers, this gamble has paid off for them beautifully.
So, maybe Gasly is just an odd one out, maybe the young drivers are up to the mark. But, we can safely say that plucking a young driver from F2 and thrusting them into F1 isn’t an easy way to get your hands on a championship, it may pay off for some, but for others, it’s all too much too soon.