MotoGp’s Marc Marquez made history by being the rider who won the first Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas. what makes that ride incredible is that just a year or so ago, it may not have happened had MotoGP not done away with the Rookie Rule.
Marquez was an up and coming force in Moto 2 but the rookie rule in MotoGP meant that young drivers could not come into the sport and join a factory team. This rule was meant as a cost-cutting measure and to spread talent around the grid to the smaller, less funded teams.
In 2012, the commission chose to eliminate that rule thus allowing Marquez to take exiting Casey Stoner’s ride at the Honda factory team. Much to his teammates dismay, Marquez has taken the MotoGP world by storm besting Dani Pedrosa on equal Honda machinery. It made me consider the concept of Formula One’s paying driver situation.
Teams are keen to churn young talent through the system for the money they can bring, and sometimes the talent they possess, in manic fashion these days. Jamie Alguersuari, Jerome D’Ambrosio, Kamui Kobayashi, Vitaly Petrov, Sebastien Buemi, Bruno Senna Karun Chandhok and Lucas Di Grassi are all men who have been churned through the F1 machine for cash they brought. they may have had skills as well but when the cash dried up, the career ended.
Would a Rookie Rule in Formula 1 work? What if young drivers were limited a seat with the 6th place team or below from the previous year’s championship? This would mean that new drivers were limited to Ferrari, Williams, Toro Rosso, Caterham or Marussia this year. The small teams need the sponsor cash (I know Ferrari aren’t small but they were suffering in 2012 and that is an oddity) and could also have use of the very best of the new drivers coming into F1. It’s a bit like first-semester students not being able to pledge a fraternity right?
On the other hand this would be a real buzz kill to young driver programs that the top teams invest in. While that may be an unwanted knock-on effect, Sebastian Vettel did cut his teeth at BMW and then Toro Rosso before settling in at Red Bull but then he has been part of their driver stable since 1998.
Just an idea on how young drivers could stand a chance of actually having a career in F1 instead of being used for team expenses. I think of Kamui Kobayashi as a tragic example of being used by the machine and not really developing a career that truly could have been made on merit.
What do you think? Would it work or what would be a better idea of protecting young drivers or is there any way to improve the process instead of feeling like they are working the red light district?