Big manufactures should always have the strategy – the strategy that they’ll use in case of success and in case of failure; the strategy they prepare for the future development and improvement. As a big manufactures, F1 factory teams have a path they develop for years and young drivers’ program is a part of this path. (In particular, Red Bull team has gained its success due to right choses made in a right time).
Today on the track we see some young talents supported by the top teams – Ocon by Mercedes, Verstappen by Red Bull, Leclerc by Ferrari… but what about McLaren though?
For the past ten years McLaren has presented three ‘rising stars’ of Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton, Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne. Each of them was a promising driver being a part of the team because of the results shown, but only one of them made his way up to the title with McLaren. So why, having started so good, McLaren then changed its approach?
Building not the best car the team from Woking began to reform everything – they changed drivers, bosses and engines several times trying to reach the goal. Recon how they signed Sergio Perez in 2013, then after one year signed Magnussen, then decided not to work with him and invited more experienced Alonso, but nothing really worked.
By the time McLaren signed Kevin, he has won the title in Formula Renault 3.5, then qualified 4th on his debut F1 race and even climbed to the podium. However, further mistakes made both by team and the driver himself led to the situation where the contract wasn’t re-signed. Later Ron Dennis said that Kevin simply “did not achieve the goals” the team has set for him.
Stoffel Vandoorne showed amazing results in F4 Eurocup 1.6, Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and GP2 (now F2), thus the media’s and McLaren’s attention was entirely concentrated on him. His debut race was Bahrain Grand Prix in 2016, when he managed to successfully replace Fernando Alonso and finished 10th. His further races, though, were not as good as the first one – sometimes he managed to reach the points, sometimes not, at the same time in his qualifying statistics he loses a lot compared to his teammate Alonso.
Even so, I think we can’t blame him for such results, as he had too many DNFs and technical problems during this and the previous season, also we should keep in mind that he isn’t as experienced as Alonso is. However, Mclaren bosses decided to change the line-up once again, as if it’s that significant change that can make the team return to the top positions.
Lando Norris, the new McLaren rising star (the second Hamilton and etc.), has several titles in the other series already – he has won MSA Formula Championship, Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, Toyota Racing Series, FIA European Formula 3 Championship and currently occupies the second row in FIA Formula 2 Championship table.
Promising? – Indeed.
But could he really be that young talent that will finally find his place in the team, which doesn’t forgive any mistakes and doesn’t make any allowances? It must be really difficult to show the full potential when the car doesn’t leave you a chance. Thus, we don’t need the second Hamilton this time –we need a new one, both physically and mentally strong and skillful.