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

CommentPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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?

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

  1. what about Bourdais and 24h LeMans?

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

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

  8. Architrion
    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
    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
    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. 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. 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.

  16. PS- I thought Kimi entered an Ice Race (and won it) under a pseudonym?

  17. If nothing else I would like to see all the F1 drivers take out 1976 Dodge Darts (4000lbs and sways like a boat)… Then will see who can actually drive!

  18. Robert McKay
    6th May 2008, 22:22

    Firstly, all the F1 drivers should get a race or two in the GP2 cars (I’m not going to let up on this – I want to see GP1). Secondly, there’s not many races in the winter months…and thirdly there’s a lot of countries that want F1 tracks but the calendar lacks room, see where I’m going? :-D

    Finally, as has been pointed out, plenty of American drivers moonlight in multiple series. In fact there’s plenty of Europeans moonlighting in multiple series too – people jumping between F3/A1GP/GP2 Asia/DTM/GT/LMS etc. It literally seems to be the drivers in the top series, F1, that don’t have that opportunity at all. Understandable in a way, because if you did get injured doing something else your team would look pretty stupid, paying you all that money only for you to crash a WTCC car or something instead.

    We’re not going to see this happen while F1 is so awash with cash (at least, up top).

  19. @ chunter…Kimi entered a snowmobile race shortly before his first season with Ferrari….I think he used James Hunt as his entry name.

    and..on the multi race issue,I say they can go out and do some proper racing and then do their parade laps on Sunday in F1.

  20. I remember Michael advising Ralf not to enter DTM, saying ‘I don’t even think I’d do very well in that series’.

    You can’t all believe that the best racers in the world race in F1? Look at Montoya. You would’ve said he was wonderful in F1 – he is PIES in NASCAR. I will conceed that Kimi, Lewis, Fernando, Vettel, Adrian, Robert – they might be awesome in any vehicle. But not Jenson, Ruebens, Giancarlo, Mark, David, Heiki et al.

  21. The motorsports fan inside me would love to see F1 drivers go racing in other series but the reality is that these guys are an investment and there is no way the teams will allow it. And I kinda agree with it. It’s very rare a pro athlete gets to enjoy his sport outside of his main arena. The greatest example of this was Michael Jordan who had a specific “love of the game” clause in his contract which allowed him to play pick-up basketball. This is unheard of otherwise.

  22. the limit
    7th May 2008, 3:54

    Firstly to Bruce McLaren.

    I agree with you that Montoya has failed to light any fires in NASCAR, and his last outing at Richmond was a classic example, but don’t forget, for all the attention and kudos he recieved, he never won a championship in F1 either.
    This despite the fact that he raced for some of the biggest teams, namely Williams and McLaren, who in 2003 and 2005 respectively, provided him with potentially championship winning cars. Would you say his Chip Ganassi #42 is a winning car, compared to those of Hendrick Motorsports?
    On to the point at hand. As I have suggested in previous posts, F1’s biggest problem is that other series are beginning to overshadow them, and GP2 is a prime example.
    As you mentioned Keith, were are seeing more overtaking and drama during the GP2 events than we are at the F1 races, and on the same circuits under the same weather conditions. This I find highly embarrassing for F1, as F1 is supposed to be an ‘elite’ driving series, yet is becoming less entertaining than its junior.
    Maybe Lewis Hamilton’s point is that he finds GP2 more enjoyable as a racing driver. I have not forgotton what Raikkonen said once in an interview last year, after winning a race quite convincingly.
    Towards the end of the race, Kimi set a lap time that was by far faster than anything anyone had done all weekend, when he was under no pressure or under no obligation to do so. When asked on this he coolly replied that he simply wanted to see what the car could do, that he was in layman’s terms, bored!!
    Now when a man gets bored racing a car that produces 19,000rpms, then there is something seriously wrong with our sport!

  23. As Daniel points out, F1 has now become a Manufacturer’s race, so it is strange that their drivers don’t ‘Guest’ in the other race series where that manufacturer has cars – although Mika did go to DTM via Mercedes, and JPM went to NASCAR through Mercedes/Chrysler/Dodge….are Mercedes the only ones to do it?
    I would like to see the F1 drivers ‘jump ship’ and go into IRL and ALMS occasionally, to gain experience in proper racing, and even WTCC and DTM, but it will need the likes of GM/Chevy/Opel and VW/Audi/SEAT/Skoda to enter F1 before we can get some serious crossover.
    Robert McKay – do you really want a GP1? Identical cars? Which chassis are you thinking of (Bernie permitting)?

  24. I remember when Alonso beguin his F1 expirience in Minardi, he said that F1 is the top of the technology and cars, but the fun and competition was in karting.

  25. sajonaraman
    7th May 2008, 13:06

    http://pl.youtube.com/watch?v=LnlOXwHOea0
    Just a small sample of Kubica’s rally skills. Enjoy;]

  26. Robert McKay
    7th May 2008, 20:38

    “Robert McKay – do you really want a GP1? Identical cars? Which chassis are you thinking of (Bernie permitting)?”

    Yes.

    Not as a replacement to Formula 1, don’t get me wrong. But we can watch all the young, rough-round-the-edges hotshoes fight it out in equal machinery. And we can watch their developed, honed, contemporary peers battle it out in unequal machinery. At the very least there’s a gap in the market there, surely – seeing the best drivers in equal cars, in a series that gets something similar to the same level of attention that F1 is afforded?

    It doesn’t really matter what chassis, as long as they can race in it, but GP2 seems to work well – just paint those cars in F1 team colours, give them a few mini-championship rounds in the off season and see what happens.

    Like I say not a replacement to F1. But something a bit different. It’d make it easier for me to appreciate the technology, high-performance side of F1 if we could also get a level-playing field, purely-about-the-driver mini-series as well :-D

  27. Robert McKay wants to promote the internationalization if the ChampCar World Series. Its recent efforts in Belgium and the Netherlands, and soon, in Spain, has proven there is a place for spec-car racing of turbocharged, ground-effect cars, with two grades of tires and a push-to-pass button, and it seems Europeans are taking to it better than Americans have, so in a few months…

    Wait, they’ve folded, nevermind…

    Robert McKay wants to watch Superleague Formula, where the spec Panoz cars look remarkably similar to what the ChampCars looked like, oh, I think that’s because they are, dubbed DP09B- check out the video here: http://www.youtube.com/thebeautifulrace

    No turbos, but big V12’s.

    As for the “purely about the driver mini-series”… What if the spec cars were used to qualify the grid order, perhaps from the results of a sprint race, instead of the raceday cars?

  28. The motorsports fan inside me would love to see F1 drivers go racing in other series but the reality is that these guys are an investment and there is no way the teams will allow it. And I kinda agree with it. It’s very rare a pro athlete gets to enjoy his sport outside of his main arena. The greatest example of this was Michael Jordan who had a specific “love of the game” clause in his contract which allowed him to play pick-up basketball. This is unheard of otherwise.

  29. Robert McKay and Chunter – I see where you are going and I like it! Its a shame CHAMP cars went, and I am very uncertain about Superleague Formula – yes its Panoz cars, and it will be entertaining, but are footy fans really that interested in racing cars?
    I think its interesting that Michael ‘taxi driver’ Schumacher has never been allowed near another type of Ferrari racing car, considering how good he is supposed to be – I really expected to see him at Le Mans before now in a F430 or whatever – hes dabbled in bikes apparently, but he must have a serious ‘hands off’ clause in his contract!

  30. Robert McKay
    8th May 2008, 8:33

    I liked Champcar, and it was a shame that I only really got into it in it’s dying days – I would have liked to see the series in a stronger era.

    The series I am thinking about is similar, but I don’t think it even needs the slightly-gimmicky red tyre rules and push-to-pass buttons. Basically just GP2 racing with as strong a driver line up as possible, and even the GP2 staples such as feature-race-plus-reverse-grid-sprint- race might be unneccessary – just a normal Grand Prix weekend format with a normal Grand Prix distance with them all in the same cars without relying on gimmicks.

    I am watching Superleague Formula with interest (I note the first British team, Rangers, has signed up to it) – the football club thing is a gimmick, but the cars look interesting and I’d like to see what the racing is like. I’m also starting to root a bit more for A1GP – the country thing again is an unrequired gimmick in my view, but these series are looking for some distinguishing feature to try to avoid being “just another feeder series”. I hope A1GP gets a bit stronger, gets a bit more of its own personality and actually make F1 sit up and think a bit.

    I think F1 has become a tad complacent in its position at the head of motorsport and a bit of a threat from another series outside the traditional feeder ranks can only be a good thing in my view.

  31. ALL F1 drivers in ALL GP2 races

    Competing head to head with the new candidates in standard hardware

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