Former driver turned pundit Martin Brundle says the Singapore Grand Prix served as a counter to the strengthening reluctance in Formula 1 to put faith in rookie drivers.
As one of the most demanding races on the schedule, with drivers forced to keep their focus throughout one of the longest and hottest races on the calendar as they wrestle their challengers around the unforgiving Marina Bay Street Circuit, there was a great deal of focus on the rookies to see how they would cope.
As it turned out, the answer in majority was very well indeed.
Martin Brundle says Singapore shows rookies can be trusted
Oscar Piastri, despite not being armed with the latest McLaren MCL60 upgrades, was able to go from P17 on the grid after an unlucky Q1 elimination, to crossing the line P7 at a track with a reputation for making overtaking difficult.
Daniel Ricciardo’s AlphaTauri stand-in Liam Lawson meanwhile did what only Yuki Tsunoda has been able to do so far this season, that being to score points in the AT04 as he claimed P9 after once more outqualifying Tsunoda.
As Brundle highlighted then, rookies can be trusted to do the job, with Haas having opted for experience after axing Mick Schumacher, while reigning F2 champion Felipe Drugovich has spent F1 2023 as Aston Martin’s reserve, representing a trend where it is becoming harder for rookies to find a door to Formula 1 that opens.
Alfa Romeo-Sauber have also overlooked their Academy star and F2 Championship-leader Théo Pourchaire in order to retain an unchanged line-up of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu for F1 2024.
“Well done to Oscar Piastri who gained 10 places, and Liam Lawson scoring his first points, seventh and ninth respectively, doing a great job for themselves and their teams,” Brundle wrote in his column for Sky Sports.
“And also disproving a widely held theory in F1 that you can’t take a risk on rookies, thank goodness.”
An experienced Formula 1 driver who had a nightmare Singapore Grand Prix meanwhile was Lance Stroll, who while thankfully not seriously injured in a huge Q1 shunt at the final turn, did sit out the race as he felt the aftereffects of such an impact.
Brundle was keen to heap praise on all those involved in driving safety improvements in Formula 1, declaring that Stroll would not have survived that crash in his era as a driver or in the early years of his subsequent career as a commentator.
“There were 19 cars on the grid because Lance Stroll had a nasty shunt in qualifying,” Brundle noted.
“Congratulations to F1, the FIA, the teams, the circuits, and the medical team for all their diligent safety work because during my time as a commentator let alone an F1 driver that was an unsurvivable crash. Hopefully he’s fit and motivated for Suzuka.”
Stroll has indeed confirmed that he is ready to return to the Aston Martin cockpit for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.