The thing with RBR driver training programs is that these young drivers are extensively managed by RBR. The only aim of RBR management is to evaluate the drivers for their primary team.
Ofcourse, but isn't that in itself an incredible advantage? I mean, as long as they perform they needn't worry about sponsorship etc for as long as they're in the programme. Lots of young talents have to worry about sponsorships from day 1 on their single seater careers, all the way up to F1. And that causes talent to go to waste sometimes.
If the drivers dont match their expectations, they are ditched. Too late in the year way too often for these drivers to successfully find race seat elsewhere even when some of them are clearly good enough to be in F1.
First of all I'd say if they had performed superbly in their first years, other teams will have noticed and they could have snatched them away before being cut at STR. Second, if they're deemed true talents, after one year away they would be picked up the year after.
I wonder what will happen to like of Ricciardo and Vergne if they are deemed not good enough to be in RBR. I can almost bet that they will have same fate as previous TR drivers who didnt meet RBR requirement.
Well, that would mean they're not talented enough for the other teams too, right?
Sadly things dont work like that any more. If talent was the only criteria, we would have completely different lineup. So no talent does not always get you ahead in F1. Exceptional talent is different thing, but even genuinely good drivers dont always get their fair shot at F1 with the right team. Timing can be everything in F1. This is not the F1 of late 90s or early 2000s where money was flowing like water through the sport. So driver selection is dependent on lot more things than just talent. We have a compact grid and lot of teams needing to look at their drivers for source of income.
Talented drivers will still get ride if the timing is right and it gives team enough time to secure finances, but not when its crunch time.
Not everyone is Alonso or Vettel or Hamilton. Lot of drivers had to toil in mid and back field before they got chance at the top, many dont even get that chance. So just coming in F1 is not an advantage any more. YOu have to come in with right team, at right time and have good enough car or chaotic race to show your talent. With the way where F1 is headed, it is going to be extremely improbable for anyone from bottom team to show some real talent in those cars. Lack of aero development on bottom teams is too big a limiting factor than it was just few years back. So they wont be challenging for podiums or good solid points finish as often as other small teams managed in past.
SO proper management, is key for young drivers. It can make or break their careers. And timing can be everything. You are out one year and there are 10 drivers with millions in sponsorship just waiting to grab and keep your seat.