Leg­end says modern sport gives lit­tle chances for new driv­ers to shine

Motor Sport News - - Racing News - By Rob Lad­brook

Bri­tish leg­end Nigel Mansell has urged For­mula 1 bosses to fo­cus their efforts on grow­ing the grid to bet­ter en­able up and com­ing driv­ers to get a chance on the sport’s big­gest stage. Speak­ing to MN’S sis­ter ti­tle,

Au­tosport, 1992 world cham­pion Mansell said that the drop in en­tries has the added ef­fect of lim­it­ing chances for as­pir­ing and tal­ented driv­ers, who now face an up­hill strug­gle to break into F1.

F1 last hit its grid max­i­mum of 26 cars at the 1995 Cana­dian Grand Prix – the last race for the Simtek team be­fore it went out of business. The 1994 sea­son was the last time any team – in­vari­ably Pa­cific – failed to qual­ify for a grand prix due to the field be­ing full.

The grid did rise back to 24 cars for the 2010 sea­son when HRT, Lo­tus Rac­ing and Vir­gin Rac­ing all joined the grid. But all three out­fits have since ceased op­er­a­tion in F1, with the Haas team be­ing the only en­try since.

Mansell said: “No dis­re­spect to F1, but the depth of com­pe­ti­tion is not there like it was in the 1980s and ’90s. We want to see 26 cars on the grid. There is an aw­ful lot of wor­thy driv­ers who are back­logged and have nowhere to go.”

Mansell also added that the ad­vance­ment of safety in the sport also had a knock-on ef­fect of mak­ing it harder to se­cure an F1 seat.

“Through the years, there were driv­ers be­ing in­jured out of the sport and be­ing re­placed,” he added. “There was al­ways a new in­flux of blood ev­ery year, al­ways cars to get into. That has now dried up.

“The FIA have done an in­cred­i­ble job with safety, the man­u­fac­tur­ers have worked closely to make the cars safer. A driver now has al­most twice the ca­reer span, which is good for them, but the driv­ers wait­ing to break in will never get the op­por­tu­nity.”

Mclaren head Zak Brown said that F1’s cur­rent test­ing rules were also a big bar­rier to bring­ing new driv­ers into F1.

Brown said: “The big­gest chal­lenge you have is a lack of test­ing. You only get eight pre-sea­son test days, and even that is with just one car so you have to ro­tate driv­ers. To take a day away from Fer­nando [Alonso’s] four or Stof­fel [Van­doorne’s] four makes no sense.

“So, un­til that rule changes, it will be dif­fi­cult for a driver out­side of the F1 arena, or F2, to break into F1, be­cause they have such a dis­ad­van­tage.

“The sys­tem doesn’t re­ally al­low you [as a team] to bring any­one in. I think it’s great that Toro Rosso took a gam­ble with some­one like Bren­don Hart­ley – but he knows all the tracks.”

F1 hasn’t had a full grid since Canada in 1995 Champ Mansell

Pho­tos: LAT

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