Giancarlo Minardi, the founder of the now-defunct Minardi F1 team, has argued that new drivers are struggling to make an impact in the sport due to the limited amounts of testing allowed.
The 63-year-old has also suggested that prohibitive levels of sponsorship are needed to get young drivers into the sport, and so talented youngsters are missing out.
“We should go back to the Friday practice by requiring each team to run for at least one of two sessions with a rookie,” suggests Minardi, as a solution to the first problem he highlights. “Do not forget that from these sessions have come to the fore the new world champion Sebastian Vettel (at the wheel of BMW) and the Pole Robert Kubica. It [is] clear that the rookie will request … sponsorship, but the figures [are] affordable, compared to 10-15 million … now required in order to ensure a seat. In recent years, those teams that are [now missing], such as Minardi, focused purely on the young. Now all the incoming economic privilege [is reliant on] the result on the track.”
Minardi continues by lamenting the slow progress of cost-cutting measures and warns that it may be difficult to find the stars of tomorrow if regulations are not changed: “Right now the only way that can rehabilitate and re-start the young drivers, and especially those from [Italy], is…the tests on Friday morning. All the teams would be put on the same level for that hour and a half. In doing so the team would be required to make selections for the pilot in question must be able to give some positive indications on the development of the car. I continue to insist on this [course of aciton].
“Back in 1996 I asked that certain parts of the machines were standard, such as engines, transmissions and tires. Only in 2007-2008 did we get here. Maybe in 10-12 years we will remember that F1 is not just from the big carmakers. Today we are at the end of a cycle of some pilots who will soon go into forced retirement. Who will take their place? Without test days you can not find a replacement for Rubens Barrichello, Schumacher, Webber and Trulli.”
The plight of Williams in 2010 is used by Minardi to illustrate his point about testing. “We have seen just last year in Williams … where 90% of the points were taken from Rubens Barrichello and now Nico Hulkemberg … is forced to watch or [be] third driver. I do not think it’s cool and fair. [Now] the second seat must be occupied by a driver (Maldonado) who is bringing a large amount of money [and] you pay the [lack of] experience. Returning to the tests instead of Friday it would prepare pilots… . I am not inventing anything new. “