Formula 1
Formula 1
R
Emilia Romagna GP
18 Apr
Race in
47 days
09 May
Next event in
64 days
23 May
Race in
82 days
R
Azerbaijan GP
06 Jun
Race in
96 days
13 Jun
Race in
103 days
27 Jun
Race in
117 days
04 Jul
Next event in
120 days
18 Jul
Race in
138 days
R
Hungarian GP
01 Aug
Race in
152 days
29 Aug
Race in
180 days
05 Sep
Race in
187 days
12 Sep
Race in
194 days
26 Sep
Race in
208 days
R
Singapore GP
03 Oct
Next event in
211 days
10 Oct
Race in
221 days
R
United States GP
24 Oct
Race in
236 days
31 Oct
Race in
243 days
R
Australian GP
21 Nov
Race in
263 days
R
Saudi Arabia GP
05 Dec
Race in
278 days
R
Abu Dhabi GP
12 Dec
Race in
285 days

Mercedes says lack of seats could bring end to F1 junior scheme

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has questioned the future of his company’s young driver programme amid difficulties in trying to find places in Formula 1 for his rising stars.

Mercedes says lack of seats could bring end to F1 junior scheme

The German car manufacturers' three youngsters – Esteban Ocon, George Russell and Pascal Wehrlein – are all facing an uncertain future, and Wolff has expressed some frustration with the struggles in securing available cockpits.

With Mercedes ruling out the purchase a junior team just to school its young drivers – as Red Bull did with Toro Rosso – Wolff does not know how best to move things forward.

And, if Mercedes' efforts to find the trio competitive seats fail, then Wolff has suggested that he will propose to his board whether or not it winds up the young driver push.

"[We have] three really talented kids with a lack of opportunities – and this has come to a point now where we need to decide what we do in the future," he said when asked by Motorsport.com about the future of the young drivers.

"Funding a junior team is not an option. Putting $80, $90, $100 million every year in a junior team just to give your young drivers a place is not what I would want to do.

"And on the other side, if the drivers are stigmatized as Mercedes drivers, then it seems to be not the best-selling proposition.

"Being a racer at heart, I still feel the best talent needs to be supported and developed, and I hope that we find a solution for these guys.

"If we cannot find a solution for these guys then I would question the junior programme in the future. And then we go back to a pay driver model."

He added: "If you cannot find a place for them in F1 then it doesn't make a lot of sense, and that would be a shame in terms of the driver level in F1.

"I will discuss that with the board and the management at the end of the year depending what the outcome is for George, Pascal and Esteban."

One of the other issues for Mercedes that has come up in recent weeks is the reluctance of some teams to take on board the Mercedes youngsters because of their close affiliation to the German car manufacturer.

With sources suggesting some teams would be especially interested in Ocon if he was free of links to Mercedes, Wolff has conceded that maybe the time has come to let his youngster go.

"Fundamentally why we do this is we take great enjoyment in helping young talent that lack finances," he said.

"But if our support works until F1 but then it is detrimental for these guys having the right seats, you need to consider these things. And then think what does it mean to be a Mercedes driver?

"At the moment, if you are driving for another team you are driving for another team and Esteban is not going to take any shit from me if he is driving Renault, McLaren or Williams, contrary to what has been said.

"So the whole system needs to be scrutinised in my opinion."

George Russell, ART Grand Prix

George Russell, ART Grand Prix

Photo by: FIA Formula 2

shares
comments
Perez admits Force India "screwed up" after Q1 exit

Previous article

Perez admits Force India "screwed up" after Q1 exit

Next article

Bottas explains gap to Hamilton at Monza

Bottas explains gap to Hamilton at Monza
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
The pointed note that starts Ferrari's Leclerc vs Sainz era Prime

The pointed note that starts Ferrari's Leclerc vs Sainz era

Ferrari is starting its post-Sebastian Vettel age by welcoming Carlos Sainz in alongside Charles Leclerc. But while Sainz has a tough challenge to match his new teammate, Ferrari is also sending a message that previous intra-team spats must end

The mantra Ocon must follow to challenge Alonso at Alpine Prime

The mantra Ocon must follow to challenge Alonso at Alpine

OPINION: It's been an uneasy ride for Esteban Ocon since his F1 comeback - and fresh challenges lie in wait as he's joined by double world champion Fernando Alonso in the newly rebranded Alpine team. STUART CODLING sets out a roadmap to success…

Why Haas is willing to sacrifice its 2021 F1 season Prime

Why Haas is willing to sacrifice its 2021 F1 season

Every Formula 1 team is facing the same difficult decision this season: how do you split precious aero development time between the current car and the all-new 2022 project?

The big questions of F1 2021 - Karun Chandhok Prime

The big questions of F1 2021 - Karun Chandhok

After an unprecedented season last year, there are plenty of questions and storylines for the upcoming Formula 1 campaign. Sky Sports F1 pundit Karun Chandhok gives his verdict.

Formula 1
Mar 1, 2021
How McLaren F1’s new investors have already made an impact Prime

How McLaren F1’s new investors have already made an impact

The deal McLaren concluded with MSP Sports Capital last year which will help the cash-strapped Formula 1 team pay for much-needed infrastructure upgrades, also points toward the future for F1 itself, says GP Racing's Stuart Codling.

Formula 1
Feb 27, 2021
Why Verstappen isn't interested in the hype game Prime

Why Verstappen isn't interested in the hype game

In a pre-season where Red Bull has been unusually quiet, Max Verstappen has also been guarded about the team's fortunes in 2021. Even after trying the RB16B for the first time at Silverstone, the Dutchman was careful to manage expectations

Formula 1
Feb 26, 2021
The pros and cons of F1's 2021 rule changes Prime

The pros and cons of F1's 2021 rule changes

In the strategy for grand prix racing's future, 2021 represents a significant step towards the goal of closer racing and a more level playing field. That's the theory behind the latest raft of changes, but will they have the desired effect?

Formula 1
Feb 24, 2021
What Red Bull is trying to hide with its RB16B launch Prime

What Red Bull is trying to hide with its RB16B launch

Red Bull made no secret of the fact its 2021 F1 car is an evolution of its predecessor, but in keeping the same foundations while hiding some tightly-guarded updates with its RB16B, the team aims to avoid suffering the same pitfalls of previous years

Formula 1
Feb 23, 2021