If Hamilton and Kubica want to race elsewhere they should be allowed to

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Ford, Rally of Argentina, 2008

I wouldn’t complain if the F1 calendar grew to NASCAR-like proportions with 30-plus races per year. But given the expense of moving the cars from country to country, it doesn’t seem very likely.

But why shouldn’t F1 drivers participate in more races besides Formula 1? In the past week both Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica have expressed a desire to do just that, and I don’t think they’re alone.

Hamilton recently revealed his wish to try out the latest generation GP2 cars:

I really wish there was a way we could wish F1 and GP2. The cars look fantastic.

By that I don’t imagine he means the cars are good to look at (although they are), I suspect he means they look more fun to race than F1 cars. You only had to see how much more overtaking was going on in last weekend’s GP2 races to realise that.

Robert Kubica also gave voice to a similar desire:

I think there’s a good possibility of moving into rallying one day, but there are two ways to do it. If I want to rally properly, as a serious driver, I can’t wait a long time. But first I would like to achieve something in F1.

The second option is when I stop F1, to just do rallying for fun. I think this option is more possible.

That would be music to the ears of the promoters of the World Rally Championship, which has suffered a serious decline in popularity since the highs of the mid-1990s.

Sadly Kubica’s wish to try rallying is no more likely to come true than Hamilton’s desire to do GP2 and F1 on the same weekend.

Why? Usually it’s because their contracts forbid them – there are potential conflicts of interest if a driver from one manufacturer wishes to race in a series where they are not present, and historically there is always the concern of injury.

But I think that injuries have become so infrequent in motor racing now that it’s time to re-think the latter point. And surely there is a potential marketing value in the activity as well – why couldn’t Hamilton have raced for Mercedes in ast weekend’s DTM race at Mugello in Italy? Equally Kubica could moonlight for BMW in the World Touring Car Championship.

What do you think? Which drivers would you like to see in which series?

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31 comments on If Hamilton and Kubica want to race elsewhere they should be allowed to

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  1. frecon said on 6th May 2008, 8:00

    what about Bourdais and 24h LeMans?

    I would like to watch drivers fighting for triple crown (Monaco F1, 24h Lemans, 500 Indy)

  2. Journeyer said on 6th May 2008, 8:15

    frecon brings up a very good point – imagine if someone pulled off the triple crown in this day and age! But even if F1 is very safe now, you can never discount a freak incident leading to injury. So it’s really hard to blame the teams for being so protective of their drivers – they invested millions of dollars on them and their equipment, after all.

  3. Michael K said on 6th May 2008, 8:54

    I’m sorry, how could anyone even think of a driver competing in two complete series??? Taking part in a 24h race, ok, but it could never work with the schedule that the drivers already have today. And no, no F1 team would let one of their most expensive assets race in anything else than F1.

  4. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 6th May 2008, 9:30

    Who said anything about letting them race in entire other series? I’m talking about letting them do the odd race like, as Frecon says, Le Mans or Indy. Franck Montagny did Le mans while he was in F1 two years ago, but that’s very much the exception and not the rule.

  5. Sam B said on 6th May 2008, 9:46

    Freak injuries can happen without people racing in other series – see Montoya’s ‘tennis injury’ for evidence.

  6. well while injuries are rare in F1 these days, there are still common in rally races. I am not surprised that F1 teams do not allow their drivers to race … although I agree it would be nice to see them doing something else from time to time … right now all we have is the Race of the Champions :-)

  7. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 6th May 2008, 10:52

    …which is rubbish. I want to see them in proper races.

  8. Architrion said on 6th May 2008, 10:55

    Some of these guys should keep apart from other racing series, cause there is a serious probability to find out that there’s a bunch of racers out there who can outperform them. F1 driving on a space ship full of driving aids (declared or not) is not compatible with going out there to show your abilities against the world….

  9. Architrion said on 6th May 2008, 10:56

    And knowing that half of the F1 racers pack begun their career paying for their sit…..

  10. The point is that Formula 1 today is boring not just for us, the audience, but must be unbelievably boring to the guys inside the car. I imagine Lewis, the guy whose made great races and movies in GP2/06 and came to Formula 1 to face all this procession races. Must be very tedious for him! So lets the guys have some fun!

    About which driver in which series: Ummm…I´d like to see Lewis in GP2 again and if it would be possible, Fernando too… both at the same team!

  11. Unfortunately, Monaco clashes with Indy 500, and most years Le Mans clashes with the Canadian Grand Prix. While this probably isn’t the main reason why F1 drivers don’t get to do other series, calender clashes like this can’t help.

  12. Chris Johnson said on 6th May 2008, 16:19

    It would be fantastic. I was just thinking about this very topic Saturday night. During a red flag at the Nascar race, the commentator was interviewing one of the drivers (Kyle Busch, I think) who said he had raced Thursday, Friday, and would be racing Sunday as well. As you said, how cool would it be to have Lewis and Kova in the DTM, Alonso racing for SEAT in the WTC against Kubica, etc. Each series is so specialized that you might not see the type of results Clark for example, used to show in touring cars, but who knows? It’s too good of an idea to ever happen.

  13. Dan M said on 6th May 2008, 17:25

    I’m sure if someone like Hamilton or Alonso was allowed to race the Indy 500 that would be reason enough to push the start back by a week…. Its already a three week event.

    I would love to see something like this. These guys are race car drivers because they love to compete in anything that has a motor, loosen the leash a little. If the team can cut a drivers contracts like the paper its written on, then a driver should be able to have a life outside F1.

    “what about Bourdais and 24h LeMans?”

    I don’t know if Peugeot would like that too much, Wasn’t it Bourdais who spun out on lap one starting from P1? Maybe I’m thinking of someone else.

  14. Daniel said on 6th May 2008, 18:21

    I think Keith suggested a viable way to make F1 drivers compete ocasionally in other series: since Formula 1 now became a manufacturers series, Hamilton could drive a Mercedes in DTM, Kubica could run a BMW in the WTCC…

    Frecon has a point on the Triple Crown, and the calendar stuff could be solved, by adapating the three-week breaks that happen in formula 1 twice a year, and allow drivers to race during their short holidays…

    I would like to see Felipe Massa running in Brazilian Stock Cars Series or the WTCC race held in Curitiba, and Kimi Raikkonen in the Andros Trophy, or in any other Ice Racing series, which would be commercialy justified by his nickname…

  15. In the US, there are many drivers that have competed in both sportscars and single-seaters, but I think that’s more of a “money” than a “fun” issue.

    What Hamilton is describing sounds a lot like the Nascar drivers that drive both in the top series (Sprint, is it?) and the feeder series (Nationwide, now, I think?) and since a seasoned driver would usually spoil the championship for a younger one, they used to be called “Busch-wackers” after the beer that sponsored the feeders.

    In other words, it’d be neat to see once, but after a while it would take seats away from the drivers we’d really need to see in GP2.

    Kubica and others wanting to race in different genres is a little bit different, and I agree that F1 teams shouldn’t have a problem with it if it provides them exposure on weekends when the team is otherwise inactive.

    The problem I have with Kubica wanting to rally is that although he has the right body for it, most drivers in rally are younger and retire to other forms of driving. The idea is, when you retire, you move on to the less brutal sport, like Nascar or sportscar racing.

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