There is a need for more teams where younger drivers can break through for Formula 1 believes Haas team boss Gunther Steiner. There are very few opportunities for young talent and more outfits like Minardi is the need of the hour, he said.
Minardi started racing in 1985 and in 2006 Red Bull bought them and rebranded the team as Toro Rosso.
Minardi was famous for giving a chance to talented younger drivers in F1. Fernando Alonso, Giancarlo Fisichella, Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber and many other great drivers started their F1 career with the Faenza-based squad.
After the departure of HRT, Caterham and Manor, which gave a chance to the young Mercedes drivers like Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon debuts last year, F1 lost a clear entry point that was offered by teams like Minardi.
To overcome this handicap, Ferrari is negotiating with Sauber to bring them in as its junior team so that youngsters like including Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi can use it as a proving ground to show their skills and gather race experience in F1.
“The difficulty for young drivers is they need to be in the right time at the right place,” said Steiner. “There is nothing else you can do for it, at the moment you cannot even buy a cockpit.
“When Minardi was around, Minardi was maybe happy to be last, that was their duty to bring drivers up. Maybe they were not happy to be last but they could live with it because that was their business model – to develop drivers, that’s a good business model.
“It’s like when [Daniel] Ricciardo drove the HRT [in 2011], you knew he was not going to do anything but it gave him experience and that’s not there anymore.
“It’s maybe a good thing we don’t have these teams [running at the back], [but] maybe it’s a bad thing…”
Big teams are unwilling to sign up young drivers with no F1 experience because the gap between F2 and the new generation F1 cars is significant and poses a risk for them, says Steiner.
“I think they [Leclerc and Giovinazzi] are both good guys, with very good potential,” said Steiner.
“Between Ferrari and Mercedes, the next good guys will come out of one of them. [But] how they get into a seat is difficult, Formula 1 in that respect is very difficult.
“F2 to F1, it’s a different ball game, it’s such a big gap. You need a little bit of learning. To put Charles or Antonio straight away in a Ferrari, it’s a big risk.
“It can go well, but there are bigger chances it goes wrong, because the expectations are so high, to make any little mistake.
“The sport is so complex, you make mistakes when you’re young because you don’t have experience. You cannot buy experience – you need time.”