Running a Formula 1 team is risky business. There is no guarantee that any driver combination will make a team work, take Fernando Alonso’s move to McLaren alongside Lewis Hamilton as a prime example. This failed year of racing proves that hiring undisputed champions as team mates is not always key to success.
Within recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in the way that teams select their drivers. Seeing a modern day Prost and Senna partnership is unlikely as teams favour combining experience and reliability with youth and investment.
But is this the way forward? After all, Formula 1 aims to create individual champions to be worshipped by us fans, but the overall dominance of the team is more important. Without consistent racing, teams face losing funding in a fundamentally elitist sport. Therefore striking the right balance can be difficult for a team principal and stake holders to achieve.
Let’s now look at the 2013 (though not yet complete) grid. At McLaren, Sergio Perez is young but has proven his worth with three podiums in 2012. He will of course partner 2009 World Champion Jenson Button. Perhaps this is the happy medium that teams crave? How about Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel? A huge difference in achievements yet both have great reputations.
Indeed that partnership at Red Bull is in turn an example of how the standing of a team may act as an overriding force when making this decision. For example, you are unlikely to find experienced drivers at Toro Rosso as the young racers are given their first opportunities in sister teams. Similarly the recent partnerships of Perez/Kobayashi and Gutierrez/Hulkenberg is not a line up that would be seen at Ferrari or McLaren…not yet anyway!
Some teams on the grid do still have this decision to make. Choosing the wrong driver line up for the wrong car at the wrong time could be a very costly mistake. One all teams will hope to avoid, especially as we now say goodbye to HRT. Lotus, Caterham, Marussia and Force India are still yet to confirm their second drivers but with ever changing technology and an emphasis on driver sponsorship, it’s not an easy decision to make.
Let me know. If you were running a team in Formula 1, what combination of drivers would you want?
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