We have been seeing a rising level of young drivers sticking it to the team that gave them a boost in their quest for stardom. I can't remember the last time this happened. Usually in the days of old, if a new driver opened their mouth, it seemed as if the entire sport shut them down. There was a firm hold on the belief that the teams and owners were the ones who truly ran things.
Going back to our podcast with Tommy Byrne we found that team bosses were not above ruining careers and sacrificing victories for money and other petty reasons. What is causing this rise in the blatant disregard for the hierarchy of motorsports?! #sarcasm We are in a time of unprecedented unrest. The other side of change is the unrest of the norm; whether you agree with the change or not, the unrest is guaranteed. It looks as if that has spread to all walks of life, including motorsport.
Personally, I am on the fence about the shake-up of the current status quo. It's refreshing to see the little guy win from time to time, however, there is something also fantastic about watching a loyal racer like Scott Dixon win a race or championship with the team that gave him a shot. Well, what about when a team drops a driver? This question got me thinking. Motorsport teams will drop drivers if they perform poorly or if they act out in the media, and they will also drop them if their own car is not good enough to win. So why should the little guy keep his mouth shut? Why should the little guy not want to have the ability to break ties when they want? Helmut Marko just felt a disturbance in the force.
I didn't see anybody wanting to leave Ganassi. So when Palou announced his move I believe more people were shocked at him leaving such a predominant team than any other possible scenario. I did feel that out of all the young driver announcements that have happened, this one was going to stick. I did think that McLaren was going to inherit a great young talent in IndyCar. As we all know this turned out not to be so; and now what happens? Do we see a driver return to a team where he doesn't want to be or where the team feels that a driver doesn't want to be? It didn't seem to affect him in the last few races of the season which shows the professionalism of the young driver as well as a veteran owner. I do feel that regardless of what happens this hiccup will not affect a positive outcome for the team next season. It will, however, create a beautiful rivalry when Palou does get out of the contract.
I also did not expect Oscar Piastri to successfully leave Alpine for McLaren. In this situation, I think it speaks more to the team than to the driver. There's a reason why a team moving up the grid in a positive manner can't keep a driver like Daniel Ricciardo, can't hold onto a driver like Alonso, and seemingly can't even keep a lower-level driver such as Piastri. Alonso said happily, "I'll go to the back of the grid mate." What is going on at Alpine? Other than the fact that they don't promote from their driver academy, which the CEO has now openly discussed canceling, they can't seem to make their drivers happy even in a competitive car. So can we blame the young man for wanting to jump ship?
Whatever their reasoning, drivers do not fear owners anymore. With all the money they bring to the sport and the fact that there are only so many people on the planet that can do the job offers them a luxury. I will say I'm curious to see who is the next up-and-coming driver to drop a bomb on the racing world and switch teams. *cough* Leclerc maybe?