There is a lot more to F1 than being a competitive sport. It's been a very long time since you could say it was mainly a sport. If it was all about being competitive as we pointed out there are drivers higher up the queue than the rookies getting their first seat next year.
The top 3 teams would have the top 6 drivers.
It's a business. The teams treat it like a businesses. The teams have shareholders who want profits. Just like any other businesses.
If it was about being the most competitive PR wouldn't even come into as the best drivers would be on the grid regardless. Not the 3rd, 4th or 6th before 1 and 2 of the feeder series.
As for racing being the number one part of the job. As I pointed out using the timeline of events from the OP the driving takes up a relatively small part of their job.
You can structure PR events so the chimp doesn't have to speak much and maybe just smile and nod his head with a little coaching,
No you can't. Sponsors have distinct wants from the people they sponsor. If you don't fulfil those wants they go elsewhere. Just like any other business where one end does not do what is required.
Even at lower levels drivers despite not being known are expected to meet certain criteria. I know drivers who have had to go shake hands with folk at trade events. Thats trade only, no members of the public . Take time off work and stand there like a pleb making small talk with people enquiring about a product they know nothing about.
If the driver didn't turn up or nodded like a chimp. Sponsorship not paid.
It's not the teams that structure the PR events it's the sponsors and they want the chimp to perform how they want it to perform. No point sending a Chimp that only knows the Tango when they want a waltz. They won't be happy.
We went chasing some sponsorship. Of course pocket change compared to F1 levels. Even there the hoops that needed jumped through was mind boggling. Most of which we had to walk away from because for us there was no way to run a car, do the PR and actually stay employed. In all my time of competing not once did I ever hear a sponsor mention anything to do with results. It was all what could be done for them at PR level. That includes guys at international level. The only motorsport criteria we ever had (and bare in mind this was multi class rallying) Was at what class and level we raced in. So we couldn't take the money and rock up in a MK2 escort at the local club championship. It had to Be WRC at international. Everything else was How many corporate days we had to run, which was basically hire a track big gazebo hire a caterer and bring some booze (Think the street runs on a smaller level) . Supplying food for so many people in a hospitality tent at event , be at trade shows. Driver had to go to so many of their public events, stand look pretty, smile for the cameras and make small talk to who ever was there on business.