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

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

  2. Dan M said on 6th May 2008, 21:13

    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!

  3. Robert McKay said on 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).

  4. Wesley said on 6th May 2008, 22:47

    @ 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. the limit said on 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!

  8. DG said on 7th May 2008, 8:27

    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)?

  9. frecon said on 7th May 2008, 10:26

    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.

  10. sajonaraman said on 7th May 2008, 13:06

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

  11. Robert McKay said on 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

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

  14. DG said on 8th May 2008, 8:11

    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!

  15. Robert McKay said on 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.

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