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Vasseur and Todt hail F1's amazing young talent pool


Sauber boss Fred Vasseur and driver manager Nicolas Todt believe F1 has enjoyed an incredible influx of young talent in the past few years thanks to big teams' young driver programmes.

Despite an economic reality which makes sponsors few and far between for young drivers, the sport currently enjoys an impressive array of junior talent ready to take up the baton from the older generation.

"In my view, all of the most promising drivers came into F1 in the past two or three years," says Vasseur, who knows a thing or two about young talent, having groomed the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and others in GP2 as the boss of ART Grand Prix.

"Ocon, Gasly, Vandoorne, Leclerc, and even Norris and Russell, who will probably make their debut as well.

"It was not always like this," added Vasseur.

"We now have a fairly simple mechanism for building a career. If you are competitive and you succeed at the junior level, you have a chance to get into the youth programme of a big team.

"Previously, there was a big gap in this plan and many young drivers were trapped because there were no places for them," Vasseur said.

As Williams is set to announce Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin for 2018, two well-known pay drivers who will constitute the team's least experienced line-up in its history, Vasseur acknowledges that there are still drivers in F1 who make it primarily thanks to sponsorship or money.

"That has always been the case," he said.

"However, Stroll or Ericsson came to Formula 1 not by chance -- they still succeeded in the junior series.

"Perhaps without money they would not have got the chance to get into Formula 1, but they did achieve the necessary results to do so," Vasseur said.


Driver manager Nicolas Todt, Vasseur's partner at ART Grand Prix who also overlooks the career of F1 rookie Charles Leclerc, says that regardless of the money factor, the FIA still ensures that drivers are up to the task of racing at the pinnacle of motorsport.

"Having financial support helps, but the super license system set up by the FIA prevents drivers who are not at the necessary level from making it," said the son of FIA president Jean Todt.

"You can have millions to spend, but you still have to do significant performances to reach the required (license) points.

"Despite the complicated economic reality facing several teams, I think the level in F1 has never been as good," said Todt, also involved with a Formula 2 team.

"Having said that, F1 must be careful not to convey the image of a paid sport," he told Auto Hebdo.

"The effect would be a deterrent for everyone, including families who would be discouraged from starting karting from the beginning. Access to F1 must continue to be mainly on merit," Todt added.

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