Please welcome Geoff Collins, Badger GP’s latest writer who’ll be using his in depth knowledge and experience of being within F1 to bring you weekly articles about current goings on in Formula 1.

Yesterday I was looking at a website that I used to write for, and saw that in a poll about whether Bruno Senna is the right driver for Williams this year, only 25% of respondents said yes. Admittedly, another 25% weren’t sure, which as far as I am concerned is a better answer, but 50% seem to think that they know better than the Williams team management.

They don’t phrase it like that of course, it’s probably never occurred to them. And undoubtedly people have different reasons for saying that he’s not. So let’s take a look at a few of those reasons:

  • Rubens is doing a good job and deserves another year in F1. I’m sorry, but nobody “deserves” anything in F1. If you are not doing absolutely the best job that can be done for the team, you should be replaced with someone that can do the job better. Regardless whether you are the driver, the technical director, an aero analyst or the guy that drives parts to the airport. What’s more difficult, is how you define the role of “driver”, but we’ll look at that later.
  • Bruno is a pay driver and F1 shouldn’t have pay drivers. Some of you may know my view that Bruno, Adrian, Jérôme and Co are not pay drivers, but drivers that bring a budget. A “pay driver” is someone who is there only to bring the team money, in much the same way as Brands Hatch makes money if we pay to drive one of their single seaters. Giovanni Lavaggi was a “pay driver”, Bruno et al are not. When you accept that all drivers get paid different amounts, is it actually a big step to accept that some of those amounts could conceivably be zero or negative?
  • Bruno is not likely to drive as well as Rubens. Well, Rubens has certainly had some mega drives at various stages in his career and didn’t do too badly last year but we are simply not in a position to analyse this. We know he is “experienced” and although we hear that he communicates well with engineers, maybe Bruno is even better? He apparently had extensive time in the simulator for the team to evaluate him, and looking at his performance against Petrov, after stepping in mid-season (remember Fisichella and Badoer at Ferrari) he did well in what was effectively his first F1 car
  • Someone else should have got the drive. Well, clearly not – otherwise Williams would have picked them. I’m sure they’d have loved to have kept Hulkenberg after 2010, but that wasn’t an option, for financial reasons, but I’ll cover that in a later piece.

The driver is a figurehead of a team, a key personality and undoubtedly some drivers are better than others. But they are not just slotted into a car and off you go. Every driver has strengths, and areas that are not so strong, and these areas need to be matched to the team and the car.

When a team picks a driver, they do it for reasons that are unique to that team. The financial package, much talked about in connection with Bruno, is one of those aspects, but it’s far from the only one; a topic for another time perhaps? And as Williams picked Bruno, he’s right for the job. It’s as simple as that. If you don’t agree, you could always start your own team.