You HAVE changed your tune. See my last post above.
You've defined driver skill as the primary role, so drivers in a test would then logically be evaluated by their performance - lap time, for example. I'm not putting words in your mouth, I'm using your standard, as established by your previous comments.
I haven't seen anyone say that driving ability is immaterial. I have seen many quotes in this thread from myself and Johnston that say driving skill is not of paramount experience to every team, all of the time.
My position at the start of this conversation:
They are paid to race. Everything else is subservient to that, but if you want to get all literal then yes, they are paid to race and all the associated duties that may or not be required. Satisfied? Just like a salesperson who's primary job is to sell their product/services, but their job may also involve PR work, admin etc etc. It doesn't change the core purpose of their role. But make no mistake, the driver's primary function is to race, and that is what they are primarily paid to do. If they can't do that then it doesn't matter how good at PR they might be - they will be out of a job.
Nothing I've written since has changed from that, ergo I haven't changed my tune.
Now one of your opening statements:
If the racing were the primary element of the job, then drivers with huge dowries and little in the way of results wouldn't be in the sport. Whitmarsh wouldn't take the nationality of his drivers into consideration. Personal endorsement rights wouldn't be sticking points of contracts. Teams buy more than racing skills.
Nothing you have said since has proven any of this, despite your claims to the contrary. You are also attempting to link the first sentence with all the subsequent ones when in reality there is no connection between the two. E.g. Whitmarsh can, if he chooses, look at driver nationality while still
ensuring that the driver he eventually selects is a good enough racer. Personal endorsement issues are irrelevant to the quality of driving; it's a contractual issue, so there is no connection there. And your last point, about teams buying more than racing skills, doesn't preclude the fact that racing skills will be the primary reason.
Now one of my follow up posts:
I truly don't understand how anyone can believe that driving/racing skill is not the primary factor when considering an individual for a race seat. They are not looking for a personality, or else they'd hire a professional entertainer. The only
concession to factors outside pure racing skill would be economic, which is an inevitable fact of life in virtually everything these days, and how prominent the economic factor is depends to a great extent on how financially secure the team is. But even with that, the teams will always get the best racing driver they an afford, not the one with the best personality.
To try and drag this back to the OT, which was about McLaren driver PR work, do you imagine for one second that McLaren would sign a driver unless they were confident he could deliver the results they wanted on track? Look what happened with Heikki - he underperformed so they fired him. Button and Hamilton kept winning races and getting the best out of the car so the team kept them on (or tried to in the case of Lewis), irrespective of the fact that both were Brits. McLaren exist to race and race to win. If their driver doesn't deliver then no amount of PR prowess or "personality" will tempt them to keep him.
Drivers do have to do other things and again that's driven by economics: there's no testing any more so if they only drove then they would effectively employ them for only 60 days per year, which is not the best return for their considerable outlay. So having signed them the teams try to get the best value out of them: that's just common business sense, but in no way indicates that the main reason for hiring them is so that they can put them in front of a camera or have them attend some function or other. No matter what other duties they have to perform in the course of their work they will always be incidental to the central duty of racing. I don't understand how that can even be in dispute
Again, nothing has changed. I acknowledged right from the beginning that drivers have other duties, but maintained that driving is the main point.
As for Johnston, he keeps claiming that money and sponsorship, not driving, are the primary elements when considering a driver, despite the fact that he agreed with me that Grosjean and Massa would be out of a seat if their performances didn't improve. Somewhat of a contradiction there but no surprise.
I did point out to you earlier that Johnston keeps saying that money is the prime factor but once again you ignored that, like anything which shows you have been wrong. At least you are consistent.