Some of F1’s more experienced drivers have recently complained of the ‘GP2 mentality’ among recent graduates to the series. Such complaints are certainly not new; Ayrton Senna was not very complimentary about Michael Schumacher’s driving following the French Grand Prix in 1992 (where the German driver punted the Brazilian out on the first lap at the hairpin). Similarly James Hunt never forgave Riccardo Patrese for his role in the start line accident in the Italian GP of 1978.
So is there a problem with the younger drivers today, or is the situation no different to how it has been in the past? Age may be a factor, with six of the 25 youngest drivers to start an F1 race currently on the grid (Alonso, Button, Vettel, Rosberg, Massa and Perez), but as this includes three world champions and two of the others are race winners, their talent is probably a significant factor in being promoted to F1. However with few if any paid seats available for novice drivers, perhaps it is the pressure of having to perform before their money runs out that is the root cause of some of the desperate moves seen? Certainly, some drivers seem to take a seat in a backmarker team too soon in their career rather than do another year in GP2 because their money may run out. There also seems to be reluctance among F1 teams to take drivers who have spent ‘too long’ in GP2 even if they have won the championship.
If there is a problem with driving standards, then it needs to be addressed. This needs to be reflected right through the career ladder from cadet karting up to F1. If young drivers see their heroes in F1 being penalised for poor driving, then they will expect a similar punishment if they perform similar actions. Also if they progress through the ranks with those that drive poorly getting penalised, they will be less inclined to drive in that manner when they move up to the next category.
So what do you think, is there a problem with poor driving in F1 and if so what is the best way to tackle it?