Dj_bereta wrote:This led to another unpopular opinion: Toro Rosso only picked Harthley because Red Bull lack of options due the super license points. I'm going even further to say TR might had given Newgarden a chance if Harthley wasn't available, considering Indycar season ended before Kvyat getting kicked out.
I agree that there probably was an element of Red Bull having to cast around for a replacement because it was difficult to find an alternative driver with a superlicence and at least some sort of link to their team.
What probably compounded those issues was the desire to promote from within their own ranks, but their junior team has gone through a rather fallow season - the number of drivers that they have hired does seem to have dropped off after 2014, and out of those that they did hire after that, Illott and Leeds have both been dropped, Lynn chose to go to Williams and Stoneman went firstly into the Indy Lights series and now races in the Blancpain GT series. The situation with Hartley highlighted that there was a generational gap in their programme, and it's something that they still have given they will probably still need a few years to train up new drivers.
I have a feeling that might have happened because Red Bull had become a bit complacent about their junior programme, since for a long time they were pretty much the only team that had an established system for bringing drivers into F1 and therefore could drive a hard bargain with prospective drivers.
These days, Ferrari, Renault, Mercedes, McLaren and even Williams have young driver programmes, whilst Force India and Sauber are effectively aligned with larger outfits (Mercedes and Ferrari respectively) to give opportunities to young drivers coming up through the ranks.
Where once Red Bull could easily pick whom they wanted, now they are having to compete against a much larger number of teams for new drivers, and those other teams have managed to get quite a few young drivers on their books. Mercedes have already managed to get Wehrlein and Ocon into F1 and Ferrari could well get both Leclerc and Giovinazzi onto the grid next year; meanwhile, Renault has Latifi and Rowland whilst McLaren managed to get Vandoorne into F1 and have Norris in the wings. Even Williams could draw on Lynn in principle (I think he's still affiliated with them), and I think they have some links with Ghiotto as well.
I wonder if Red Bull were a bit lax, given their past success, and that complacency let their rivals scoop up quite a few drivers who might, in the past, have signed for them, leaving Red Bull short of prospects when the time came for a change. Aligning themselves with Honda might give them access to some of their drivers, though Matsushita hasn't stunned the world in Formula 2 this year and might not be a prospect for a while.