Saving the lost generation
There was a time when the development path for young drivers was, much like the training of budding doctors or lawyers, relatively simple. Just as the route to qualifying in more 'accepted' professions entailed some form of tertiary training followed by spells of internship, so young drivers progressed through junior ranks before hitting Formula One.
Invariably they moved from karts to Formula Ford (where chassis choice was free), then F3 and onwards to F2 or F3000 - usually combined with an F1 test role - and, finally, a seat with a back-of-the-grid F1 team, more often than not paid for as part of an apprenticeship by a front-running outfit.
There were exceptions, of course, with some drivers taking detours into sports cars or US or Japanese series, but the basic template was simple. Extremely effective, too: as proven by the system's list of graduates, too lengthy to detail in full here, but one encompassing approximately 75 per cent of all grand prix winners and world champions.