F1 teams should register young driver deals to avoid ‘wild west’

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The Austrian, who currently manages the career of his son and F4 racer Charlie, has made the proposal to F1 stakeholders in the wake of the Oscar Piastri controversy.

Currently, only F1 race driver and reserve driver contracts are registered with the CRB.

However, junior program and driver academy contracts, which often refer to future F1 roles, are not registered, potentially weakening both parties’ case in any disputes.

“The reason teams look at academies is because you secure the talent early,” Wurz told Motorsport.com.

“And now we have an example [in Piastri] where if morality would have a stand in all this, you would think that someone is standing you up, that’s why you have to stay.

“Similarly, if whoever is raising you doesn’t offer you the opportunity later that they’ve contracted you for, I think you should be able to leave.

“So not only F1 racing and reserve driver contracts should be registered with the CRB.

“Teams or entities in F1 that buy or secure talent with the clear aim of securing their services for F1 should also register these contracts to ensure we are not entering the wild west of a few talents.

“Sometimes irrational behavior by the team managers triggers really strange contract behavior. And it can derail a lot of careful career planning by parents, investors, junior teams. I think it’s better to be controlled under a mechanism like CRB.

Oscar Piastri, reserve driver, Alpine F1 Team, is interviewed

Oscar Piastri, reserve driver, Alpine F1 Team, is interviewed

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

As well as protecting teams from having their proteges poached by rivals, Wurz wants young drivers to be able to escape contracts if their careers are not allowed to progress.

“If a paying party, let’s say an F1 team, does that with the intention of reserving that talent for F1, if you’re not registered, you shouldn’t have any options on that talent in F1.

“You want X, Y or Z, who is now in karting later, to be your F1 talent, from this moment you have to register.

“So that implies a right of first refusal. And if you do not live up to the first right under certain conditions as stated in the contract, you lose your right. And a second or third team can take their services, because you can’t also own the talent, and the talent is dead end.

“If you have a talent scheme and for three or four years you are not able to offer him a contract, then it would be too brutal for a young driver to just be unlucky that you don’t have a place. He should then be able to go under certain circumstances.

“And I think there must be a control mechanism. And CRB would be my preferred choice.”

Wurz believes his idea will help the industry as a whole: “It’s a deal. I have the intention, he has the intention. If it all comes together as we agreed, then the direction is clear.

“If you can’t keep your side of the bargain, either because you’re not delivering and you’re not worthy, but just one team can’t offer you the opportunity or the spot, we’re going to have a tool and a mechanism for that divorce, but on a fair way.”

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