The F1 Driver Market Trend I’m Glad To See Changing – WTF1

The F1 Driver Market Trend I’m Glad To See Changing

The F1 driver market, or silly season as it’s often known, has been absolutely WILD this year! Not just because of the sheer number of changes but the fact that it’s been so incredibly unpredictable.

It’s felt like one week a driver is rumoured at a team, only for that team to change the following week completely, and this is all thanks to a certain trend no longer appearing to apply in the driver market.

Recently, it’s felt like the grid has been somewhat pre-determined by F1 junior teams. Take George Russell, for example. As a Mercedes junior, he was placed in the Williams and would always end up at Mercedes if he impressed.

This has meant that if a seat became available, you already knew the driver who would get it. A Mercedes junior would go to Mercedes, a Red Bull junior would go to one of the Red Bull teams, an Alpine academy driver would go to Alp… ok maybe not that last one, but you get the idea.

However, this season all hell broke loose when Oscar Piastri publicly shunned the Alpine seat and chose to drive for their direct competition in the championship, McLaren. It seems these carved-out career paths no longer apply.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff expressed his concerns when Piastri’s move to McLaren was confirmed and the implications it would have on F1.

“We invest human resources that go to the go-kart tracks, to the junior formulas, and in some cases, it’s little money, some cases it’s more. To know now that a precedent has been set that if you’re clever, you can manoeuvre yourself out is something that’s clearly not good for the industry.”

This level of chaos, though, has made the 2023 silly season probably the silliest ever.

Look at what’s followed with the two most recent announcements. Firstly, Pierre Gasly has been a Red Bull junior since 2014 and even had a contract with AlphaTauri for 2023, but that hasn’t stopped him from moving to Alpine.

Then we have Nyck de Vries. He’s a guy who won the Formula E world title with Mercedes and spent much of this season sitting next to Toto Wolff in the Mercedes garage, so it wasn’t a surprise that he’d been rumoured to get the Williams seat, a Mercedes-powered team.

But nope, he’s gone off and signed a deal with Helmut Marko instead and joined the Red Bull family with AlphaTauri.

Some will agree with Toto that drivers should stay loyal to the companies that have helped them during their careers, but the fact drivers have gone look elsewhere and done better for themselves is exactly what’s made this silly season so exciting and unpredictable!

Do you think drivers should only stick within their junior teams? Let us know in the comments.

Do you think drivers should only stick within their junior teams? Let us know in the comments.

2 thoughts on “The F1 Driver Market Trend I’m Glad To See Changing

  • I think drivers should stick with these teams as long as that team gives them a chance. Nyck de Vries has been sitting in sideline long enough and Toto has already said he can’t help him get a seat. So obviously Nyck is free to go wherever (I wish I was a fly on the wall when Toto heard about the move). And Piastri, who is considered to be the next big thing, should have never had a year on the sidelines and he was still not guaranteed a sit until Alonso left. Alpine should have learned from RB that to keep Max Verstappen, they gave him a seat at 18 at Toro Rosso. When you know you have what could be a future champion (hopefully Puastri would live up to it), you don’t play games with him. They are to blame for taking him for granted.

  • Let’s see…

    Piastri was getting promoted to Alpine maybe someday, but the team refused to commit to it.

    Gasly had already had his time at Red Bull, and it didn’t work out.

    De Vries is nearly 30 and hadn’t had a full time seat anywhere.

    Of the teams with driver academies, who is likely to have an opening soon? Mercedes, when Hamilton retires (in a couple years at best).
    Red Bull? If Perez falters, perhaps, but it’s worth noting that they didn’t bother promoting one of their academy drivers to the Alpha Tauri seat that Gasly left.
    Ferrari? Leclerc and Sainz aren’t expecting to go anywhere anytime soon.
    Alpine? Ocon and Gasly are probably there for a while, and they’ve already shown they aren’t willing to promote known young talent.

    Part of the problem is the number of seats available on the grid. Another part is the youth of the drivers recently brought in through the academies. If you get a seat in an F1 car at 20, you’re not retiring for at least ten years, probably more. Sure, if it doesn’t work out, you’ll be gone sooner, but that’s hardly helpful if you’re counting on most of your academy drivers to be average or worse to keep the academy going.

    Now, if you were to expand the grid, you have more seats where you could conceivably stash someone. But right now, there’s only so much room on the grid, and unless you actually own the team (like Red Bull and Alpha Tauri) then you’re not going to be able to control both seats so easily.

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