Motorsport Week  |    |   0  |  11 August 2017

Guenther Steiner: Minardi-style team could aid youngsters in F1

Guenther Steiner feels that a Minardi-style team would be of assistance to young drivers in Formula 1, after Haas opted to retain its line-up of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.

Haas has run Ferrari-backed youngsters Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi during Friday practice sessions, prompting speculation that either could feature in Haas’ 2018 line-up.

However, Gene Haas confirmed last month that the squad would keep Grosjean and Magnussen for 2018, ostensibly leaving Leclerc and Giovinazzi relying on Sauber for a seat next year.

Minardi, which competed in Formula 1 between 1985 and 2005, before being acquired by Red Bull, typically ran young drivers, most notably Fernando Alonso, Giancarlo Fisichella and Mark Webber.

While Toro Rosso has tended to maintain Minardi's ethos of running youngsters, Steiner suggested that a Minardi-type approach is required on the grid in the current climate, also citing the example of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo starting his career at the now-defunct HRT outfit.

“I think they are both good guys, with very good potential,” Steiner said of Leclerc and Giovinazzi.

“How they get into a seat is difficult, Formula 1 in that respect is very difficult.

“The difficulty is they need to be in the right time at the right place, there is nothing else you can do for it, at the moment you cannot even buy a cockpit at the moment.

“Like 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 as it was their business model: to develop drivers was their business models.

“It’s like when Ricciardo drove the HRT, 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 a bad thing…”

Steiner added that it would be too big a risk for Ferrari to promote either to the senior squad for 2018.

“It’s difficult for young guys, like the Ferrari guys, Charles and Antonio, to get into it [Formula 1] somehow as there’s nobody around giving them space, because there is no space.

“Formula 2 to Formula 1… it’s such a big gap, and you need a little bit of learning, to put Charles or Antonio straightaway in a Ferrari is a big risk.

“It can go all good, but [the] bigger chances [are that] it goes wrong as the expectations are so high, to make any little mistake, and the sport is so complex that you make little mistakes when you’re young.

“When you’re 20 [you need experience] and experience you cannot buy, and you need time, and you cannot buy time.”

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