Fernando Alonso, Pastor Maldonado, Esteban Gutierrez, Interlagos, 2013

Most teams take paying drivers – Montezemolo

F1 Fanatic Round-upPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fernando Alonso, Pastor Maldonado, Esteban Gutierrez, Interlagos, 2013In the round-up: Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo says most of the moves on the driver market this year have been motivated by money.


Your daily digest of F1 news, views, features and more.

Ferrari chief doubts cost cap can work (Autosport)

“This year all the movements of the drivers has been basically based – except for [Kimi] Raikkonen to Ferrari – based on what money drivers can give to the teams. This is for Force India, for Sauber, for Lotus and for Williams. It is not healthy…”

Schumacher helmet camera ‘examined’ (BBC)

“Investigators in France are examining a camera which had been fixed to the ski helmet of injured Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher, media reports say.”

Schumacher fans project tribute on hospital (The Telegraph)

“Light projectionist Olivier Beinkowski wanted to send a special message to Michael Schumacher on his 45th birthday. So he drove down to Grenoble with his friend and fellow Schumacher fan Florian Merkr and at night’s fall, set up a projection on the hospital wall that read: ’45 Schumi Stay strong. keep fighting’.”

Ferrari’s heart beats for Michael (Ferrari)

“Over two hundred fans from Italian and French Scuderia Ferrari Clubs converged on the Grenoble university hospital today, while many others, from Germany and Spain, responded to the call from Ferrari, to pay a special tribute to Michael Schumacher on his forty fifth birthday.”

We are overwhelmed! (Michael Schumacher)

“The incredible sympathies shown today by the Ferrari fans outside the hospital has utterly overwhelmed us and moved us all to tears. We are deeply grateful for it and also for all the heartwarming and heartfelt wishes for Michael to get well soon, which have reached us from all over the world.”

Merc ‘constantly learning’ with engine (ESPN)

Niki Lauda: “Oil and water must be in a precise temperature window. If it goes beyond just a few degrees above a certain limit, it tears up everything.”

The shortest month (Toro Rosso)

“On the Scuderia Toro Rosso front, the first STR9 chassis is currently being assembled in the Faenza factory. New rules or not, the same procedures apply and over the Christmas period Jean-Eric Vergne and Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat turned up at the factory for the traditional seat fitting in the new chassis that will carry all our hopes in 2014.”

Bernie Ecclestone Could Lose F1 Empire in Court (International Business Times)

“Bernie Ecclestone could lose his 40-year hold on Formula One when legal action over the sale of a stake in the motorsport concludes within weeks.”


Comment of the day

@JerseyF1 on a noteworthy development on the engines front:

If could be interesting between Williams and McLaren next year with both using customer Mercedes engines. Since the days when these teams dominated F1 in the early 90s it has often been a case of one having a top works engine whilst the other doesn’t with Williams dominating with Renault and McLaren having a long run of success (though not always titles) with Mercedes and Williams having a brief spell of moderate success with Mercedes.

With both having the same engines next year and with entirely new car designs being required it will be a straight fight between their engineers which should be a good indication as to whether Williams has still got it.

In terms of the other variables it’s also quite close, each has an experienced driver with race wins and a title fight under their belt both of whom are considered top drivers but not all-time greats. Both are backed up by young hot-shots (Bottas clearly will have more F1 experience but McLaren clearly think that Magnussen is something special and with major technical changes existing F1 experience may not be as useful as normal).

From the forum

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On this day in F1

Three years ago today Chris Dyer was replaced as Ferrari’s head of race engineering. The move came in the wake of Fernando Alonso losing the drivers’ championship to Sebastian Vettel at the final race of 2010 following a strategic error.

68 comments on “Most teams take paying drivers – Montezemolo”

  1. Maybe it’d be better to look beyond F1. I mean, half the field in minor formulas are basically pay drivers that buy their way up the ladder and get there.

    It’s a vicious circle anyway. You need money to compete, that’s a fact. Motorsport is hugely expensive. But not so much to drown yourself in money and buy your way up. Maybe Perez and Maldonado would’ve got to F1 regardless of their money, because, let’s face it, they did well in GP2 and so on. And who Lewis Hamilton would’ve been without McLaren’s support? that’s some sort of pay driver, others didn’t have those benefits.

    It’s funny Montezemolo mentions all this given that their Ferrari Academy programme hasn’t really put a driver in the team yet…

    1. It doesn’t have to be as expensive as it is though. Relentless aerodynamic development within constrictive rules is what is costing so much, so really a cost cap of sorts is what is needed – after that it should be okay. Most teams could easily gather £30m+ in sponsorship, so only the very smallest teams would actually need to employ pay drivers if the cap was say £50m (a large amount absolutely, but well within the capabilities of Red Bull, Ferrari and I would imagine almost every team).

      1. There are two sides to the coin.. the big teams spend 3x that amount, while Williams spend less than 2x that. But F1 also generates a lot of money, and half of that could benefit Motorsport in general, if someone benevolent was in charge.

        Ferrari actually have a good junior program now – Marciello and Fuoco could be top level drivers, and Bianchi could drive a Ferrari eventually with the number 27.

    2. And who Lewis Hamilton would’ve been without McLaren’s support? that’s some sort of pay driver, others didn’t have those benefits.

      Please explain that one to me. As far as I know Hamilton didn’t bring any money, but he was “adopted” by the McLaren young driver program to prepare him for f1. That is to me the exact opposite of a pay driver, namely a driver picked for his talent alone.

      1. And was it not Mercedes that actually paid for his development? Hence his going to Mercedes, and reuniting with Rosberg (who was in the same junior team, Team Rosberg, that Hamilton was placed at by Merc), akin to their junior setup. When Rosberg was offered being Hamilton’s number 2 in 2008, he turned it down, knowing something better would come along – now he has slightly more equal status at Mercedes.

        1. “slightly more equal status…”

          I get no vibe whatsoever that NR is anything but in fully equal standing with LH on the team. I think that those who designate NR as a number 2 are just labeling him as that due to LH having a WDC. That’s understandable to a degree, but in reality does not mean that NR gets lesser treatment and that the team is skewed toward LH.

          The new car may well suit one driver more than the other, or they may have relatively equal issues, and the car may not be of race winning level vs. the competition in spite of everyone expecting it to rock. We’ll have to just see, but I am confident that if NR lags behind LH it won’t be by design.

          But this is about pay drivers and I think that LH and NR do not apply…all drivers needed a ton of backing since their youth to get to F1 and LH with Ron Dennis and NR with his Dad were as close to ‘shoe-ins’ as you can get.

          The phenomenon here is that too many pay drivers exist, and some with truly lacking skills for it, truly not all the ingredients the better racers have, which takes something off the ‘pinnacle’ status F1 enjoys.

          I defer of course to the teams that feel this is the route to go for them…how would I know what is best for them financially, but I’m stuck on the belief that pay drivers equals good money after bad. The cheque is great, but if the driver can’t help advance the car, was it money well spent (well accepted) in the long run? And what a shame that in the pinnacle of racing the driver is secondary for some teams. I suppose having technical regs that require tire and fuel monitors behind the wheel rather than racers most of the time, helps the lesser teams. But with less, albeit improved, testing time, the emphasis should be even moreso to have the best driver’s behind all F1 wheels on race weekends, which make up the bulk of the track time these drivers get now.

  2. Luca’s not being completely nonsensical here.

    “Di Montezemolo is sceptical that engineers should get involved in defining areas of cost control, as he suggests a more unilateral approach from the FIA may be the best way forward.”
    Let’s face it, the teams are never going to be able to come to an agreement where money is concerned, they care too much about their own skin to look past their own noses.
    FIA has got to man up, play the bad guy, and basically show the team who’s the boss around there.

    1. @fihar – At which point, the teams will band together, scream loudly enough and often enough to get the fans riled up, and then apply as much pressure as they can to the FIA to try and force them into relenting. And when they succeed, they will pretend that they did it for the good of the sport.

      Why do you think the Powers That Be put so much faith into temporary solutions to ongoing problems, like DRS abd double-points races? It’s because they know the teams won’t agree to anything more, and they can at least give the appearance that they are trying to address the issues with the sport.

    2. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      4th January 2014, 4:19


      This is exactly what I was saying a week ago.
      F1 teams are seemingly unable to make decisions for the good of the sport.

      All they care about is how they can best get an advantage over everyone, and if that means making the overall sport worse, then they’ll take it in a heartbeat.

      FIA have to put the hammer down and make the tough, but correct decisions. Otherwise, Formula One will no longer become the pinnacle of Motorsport (I already think the WEC has become the best form of pure racing IMO).

      1. Yeah as it gets to be that half the grid consists of drivers that are not the best available, and they need a gadget to make easy passes, I think the ship has already sailed in terms of F1 no longer being the pinnacle of motorsport.

        The regs are new, so the quality of the product for 2014 is yet to be determined, and if it has improved then F1 has bought themselves some time, but if it comes down to just more delta time running, and a cakewalk for RBR, I think we will just have to depend on FIA/F1/the teams to either take things seriously and make the necessary hard decisions, or perhaps water should just find it’s own level and they should just live with a diminishing audience of a no longer relevant series.

        Perhaps the real solution comes down to the purely capitalistic reality that as long as there is a relevant paying audience then the entity will carry on status quo, and if the audience starts to decline the entity has to either change or die. Perhaps the only solution is in fact in the hands of the viewers without whom racing would not exist. Extreme example…if the viewership of F1 were to fall to half what it is, methinks the top teams would quite quickly find some viable solutions that would involve pleasing the audience rather than insulting it with constant rhetoric without action, and fake passes.

        1. So c’mon Robbie, if F1 is not the pinnacle of motorsport any longer, what is?

          1. WEC perhaps?

            Its now a world championship, Has factory teams, More advanced technology compared to F1, High performance & a very talented field.

          2. I don’t know. Maybe that is up to the individual. Maybe it is still F1 for many. Maybe F1 is the pinnacle in only certain aspects. Certainly in money spent. Certainly the field is diluted with pay drivers. Certainly DRS has changed the flavour of things for millions, whether they like it or not…and I think most don’t. The massive outcry over the final race double points rule has many fans seemingly teetering on giving up F1 altogether.

            And perhaps the new pinnacle has yet to be established if F1 is spiralling downward, by more and more fans’ opinion. If they do leave F1 but need to get their racing fix elsewhere, then perhaps another series will get a stronger following and flourish. If more F1 racers like Mark Webber go to Lemans while at the same time some of the lesser teams have to bow out and F1 can’t fill a grid, who knows how the viewing audience will sway.

            I do know that I will be watching, intrigued at the new regs and what they will bring. And then we’ll go from there. I’m sure the last thing BE wants and needs is for another fairly easy ride for RBR to another set of Championships. Then what will the viewers do?

            What I do feel more and more strongly the more I think on this topic, is that the viewing audience has more say then it is exercising, and I have to believe if the product were to remain disappointing to many, and were viewership to fall off drastically, F1 would have to take a different tack.

  3. “For the first time it has been said that we have to define a [cost] cap. You know why I have doubts about the cap – because it is very easy to cheat – particularly for [manufacturer] teams. And Ferrari could be one.

    “I could go to Chrysler in Detroit to ask them to do something for us. Mercedes could ask their company.

    “We have to find something that is credible but the cost is the problem number one.”

    For once I agree with LdM.

    1. @bullmello I do not…

      Chrysler left Detroit years ago :p

      1. Fiat have just bought the remaining 40+% of Chrysler (HQ in Detroit) so now are sole owners. Fiat currently own the Fiat, Ferrari, Lancia, Alfa-Romeo, Maserati, Iveco and a few other makes, and Chrysler brings them Jeep, Dodge, SRT and Chrysler brands. And Luca Cordero di Montezemolo sits on the Fiat board of directors…

      2. Apologies — corporate HQ is in Michigan, Jeep HQ is in detroit.

    2. I’ve always had an issue in that respect, but what I would do is ensure the F1 team is bankrolled separately and not include engines within that cost cap. If that would indeed be possible, you would have to register any payments for car development outside of the parent company.

      But I wouldn’t bet against me just being naive.

      1. @vettel1 – That would be one approach that might work, but I can imagine the protests by those teams being told how to structure their business. They pay lip service to cutting costs, but agreeing how to actually do it becomes elusive at best. You are on the right path though. How to separate costs for works teams and customer teams need to be worked out before the rest of the any budget cap agreement can begin to work.

  4. From Luca: “This year all the movements of the drivers has been basically based – except for [Kimi] Raikkonen to Ferrari – based on what money drivers can give to the teams. ”
    Well yes that is true, if you ignore Hulkenberg, Magnussen and Ricciardo. Possibly Kvyat as well (not sure). In the case of the last three, the teams (or organisations in Red Bull’s case) have actually paid money to bring them into F1 in their own teams (not paid a smaller team like Marussia for example).

    Also, while the comment is correct for a particular former driver of his, it hardly reflects well on said driver.

    1. Mind you, Whitmarsh has stated that Magnussen was supposed to have driven for a midfield team that later backed out of the deal, and you would have to assume that McLaren would have provided some sort of financial compensation to the team in question.

      After all, Kravitz stated that, when Bianchi was negotiating with Force India a few years ago, Ferrari offered a financial inventive to Force India in the form of a potential technical partnership and a cut price engine deal. Let us not forget that Marussia, for whom Bianchi will drive this year, have signed an engine deal with Ferrari that some believe was influenced by Bianchi’s presence in the team.
      If, as was speculated, Magnussen was being lined up for a deal with Force India, then McLaren, who already have a technical partnership with Force India, might have offered a similar discount on their services for Force India to sweeten the deal.

      As for Hulkenberg, whilst his contract with Force India wasn’t directly directed by his personal sponsorship, his decision to sign for them was influenced by the finances of the teams and the backing other drivers have given that he did not end up at his preferred team.
      His contract at Sauber was allegedly voided because they didn’t pay him, Boullier made it clear that Maldonado beat him to a seat at Lotus because he brings more sponsorship and the fact that Perez – whom I think McLaren are heaping more blame on than they should – has enough backing from Telmex to at least partially offset Hulkenberg’s salary demands seems to have helped him in his negotiations with Force India.

      As for Ricciardo, I’d agree that his current move from Toro Rosso to Red Bull isn’t directly due to sponsorship, although his initial contract with HRT in 2011 was almost certainly due to Red Bull paying off Karthikeyan’s contract.
      Mind you, his situation is abnormal given that his move is, effectively, an internal transfer given that Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing are both under the control of the same parent company.

      As for Kvyat, despite the rants that went on at the time he was announced, I’d agree that his deal probably isn’t down to money (it is probably more down to da Costa’s dip in form coinciding with a strong run from Kvyat).

      1. All true. Force India actually profit from this line up, while still improving their line up. Usually they profit from driver line ups. So you can see why Mallya changed his mind from Magnussen to Perez.

        Magnussen – £8m McLaren technology debt wiped off. Could be fast once up to speed.
        Perez – a known quantity, after losing McLaren ride brings increased sponsorship, from £5m to 15m Euros. Good number 2 to Hulk, and pays off his peanuts salary (less than £1m), McLaren’s debts (£8m) and there is still a net gain of £5m for the 2014 team budget.

  5. Regarding COTD…. can someone remind me of when williams had a period of moderate success with mercedes? Cause im fairly sure it was BMW. I cant think of once when williams used mercedes engines, unless I’ve been misinformed somewhere down the line.

    1. He meant BMW of course.

  6. Lauda stating the obvious there, can’t wait for Malaysia I bet the cars will have holes all over them.

    1. “Multi 21, Seb. Multi 21. And you better listen this time or else your life will be in danger…literally.”

    2. Here’s hoping it’s hot at Melbourne, then we will see who’s got the best package for the get go.

      1. @funkyf1 – Define “hot”. Melbourne is currently at around 20℃, which is hot by their standards.

        By comparison, Brisbane is 40℃.

        1. Obviously you haven’t lived in Melbourne @prisoner-monkeys, or maybe you were using hyperbole to make a point. Haven’t I told you a million times not to do that.

        2. @prisoner-monkeys I think @hohum answered the obvious part of your question. We all know that 20 is not considered hot in any part of Australia

  7. I’ve been watching F1 for about 20 years now, so the gradual progression to more pay drivers has seemed to be somewhat acceptable to me. But a few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend who only started watching this year, and it really threw my perspective around. As someone who wasn’t acclimatized to F1, he told me that any sports fan who looks at it from the outside sees it as a bit of a joke. That made me angry. He said that he couldn’t think of other sports where it was guaranteed that you couldn’t have the best field, because many have to buy their way into the sport. Or that the rules were constantly in flux and changed on a whim, resulting in some teams gaining advantage, just to make the sport more entertaining. So I gave him the old ‘that’s the nature of F1, because, by nature, it’s different from any other sport’. Then he zinged me with a ‘so instead of accepting it, stop being lazy and support measures to make it better.’ Ouch. Of course I thought he was a dunce, and made some tea to calm down. After thinking about it for awhile though, and trying to see F1 from the point-of-view of someone who doesn’t love it so much that they make excuses, he has a good point. F1 is losing credibility. So many of us in the fan community are letting it happen because we can’t get past the ‘money’ issue to see the bigger picture. Money (and making it the prime goal, a la Ecclestone) is ruining this sport, and it needs to be brought under control. I think it’s wonderful that Montezemolo (altruistic or not) is exploring ways of doing this, even if he doesn’t have solid answers yet. Maybe we should do the same instead of accepting this downgraded version of something we love?

    1. Luca is just playing the PR fiddle. Teams like Ferrari and Redbull are part of the reason the campaign hasn’t worked. Unfortunately we as fans are no more in control of this than the likes of Caterham, we don’t have a choice. Everyone wants to win and Ferrari and Redbull are in positions to spend what ever is required to do that and further more hide those costs through other avenues. In terms of the sport, what the fans want and what they the think the fans want is where the problem lies. Introducing gimmicks and restricting development hasn’t done anything for the sport, we want to see the best, not cars going slower year by year, not engines being changed for the environment or the economy, we want what teams like Ferrari and Redbull are capable of producing, it’s a double edged sword. We want a field where everyone is competitive and all teams have a chance, but that has never been the case. Nobody is winning this war

    2. F1 has to work closely with GP2/3, FR3.5 and other feeder series to create an “F1 draft” for young drivers. That’s, to me, the only solution to get the best field available.

      Giving the selected draft-drivers Friday outings and mini-races/championships. That would add fun and talent to F1.

    3. Pretty much everyone in my town thinks F1 is a joke since the schumacher days. One sunday me and couple of friends decided to watch a GP in a local bar together, but some other guys wanted to watch some utterly unimportant italian C-spec football series instead.
      Another example: all my relatives who only watch f1 if it happens to be on tv believe 100% red bull is cheating and how it’s impossible for a drinks company to dominate F1 and so forth.

      1. I don’t see how you can say for certain they aren’t cheating.

      2. They’re just outspending the rest, and with cash comes the right expertise (and the best car development).

      3. Whoever thinks redbull is a drinks company are just as fickle as Hamilton who said that quip, redbull bought out a racing team and are a professional racing outfit who realise what racing is all about not a Ferrari team who feel because of their history not hard work, that they should be winning!

      4. Red Bull is a joke as a drinks company. Too bad they are are a marketing company now. They sponsor a lot racing teams, own an air racing series, extreme sports and others I have not heard of. They may be jokey but I hear the parties are fantastic and they put the money down like it is Chinese take out. I am amused that there is a Paris Hilton racing team and Leo DiCaprio has a team in FormE. But if the teams are competitive then keep it up celebrities.

  8. LDM makes a good point. a cost cap alone won’t work – F1 has a structural problem with self-governance being used to maintain a status quo. Without drastic steps either by the FIA/FOM or CVC, forcing the teams on a different path, nothing will change. As seen during the exodus in 08/09 – which didn’t scare them enough and only produced a few “reforms”.
    Right now I’m a bit pessimistic and think that at least 3-4 teams will declare bankruptcy in the next 5 years and they won’t find replacements to fill up the grid. Maybe that’s going to be enough of an incentive to change.

    1. If Bernie’s found guilty things could change, but that would require the FIA to be Max Mosley like and take control.

  9. Mr. Montezemolo used to come up with ideas I really had to question his sanity. This period of him seems to be over, and points out quite important issues, however he doesn’t show possible soultions.
    I liked that he pointed out the negative effects of the simulators, but his explanation was a little odd, though, saying that what would happen to soccer teams without being trained 6 out of 7 days a week, on the pitch, with a ball. That would be a disaster for sure. However, almost every teams, even in the lower division have their own stadium (or at least training ground), it’s not really a costly issue to let the players train on it. In F1 the situation is different, some teams don’t have to travel too far and invest money in bringing the car to a nearby testtrack, but most of them do, packing up everything in trucks, travelling back and forth, it need enermous resources of time and money. (what wouldn’t, is to let the teams have the complete monday test on the track they raced on the last weekend, as they are already “there”). and considering that Ferrari is far from bests in terms of simulator efficiency, Montezemolo has every reason to argue like this.

    Now the cost cap, an actual issue. back in 2010 when the budget cap was about to be introduced, that was one of the factors that attracted the newcomer teams, and that it wasn’t actually introduced, let them down, especially Hispania, and that’s one of the reasons that new teams don’t really appear on the horizon.
    As the head of the maybe wealthiest team on the grid, this argument might seem to be odd. But if we would look at a statistic that shows the value of each point scored, considering the budget and costs of a team, Ferrari would not be on top. They spend a hell of a lot, but it’s still not enough in absolute comparison, and the difference is bigger relatively.
    But where is the fine line? How should the sport change to remain the king of motorsport (is it still though?), to represent the finest technique and engineering and showing diversity, the most skillful drivers while getting back to its roots, to reasonably affordable sustainability, and most of all, pure racing. I’m absolutley sure that stakeholders and brainstorming on this day and night, but the possible solutions might have such radical impacts on the sport, that the ideas have to fall down, and out-of-context ones come instead of them, like the double-points joke. F1 does not need a reform. It needs a revolution, a well planned one, and not only for keeping the disillusioned fans, but for the very existence of the sport which could tear to shreds any time now. And this has to be done as long as we don’t lose too many teams, as those few are the bases this whole sport could build its future on.

  10. Luca “The only way to approach this is to say to the FIA that all the teams are unanimous in agreement to cut the costs. Do whatever you want – come back to us with a proposal that for sure can decrease the costs in a heavy, heavy way. Then we adjust ourselves.”

    Is Luca just passing the buck over to the FIA because he knows the teams could never agree among themselves, or is he now realising he has little influence among the other teams and is unlikely to get his own way as things stand. By giving all the decisions over to the FIA he only needs to influence one man ( Todt ) to get exactly what he wants.

    Or am I just being a tad cynical?

  11. So Mntezemolo says, that Massa is pay driver? Interesting…

    1. it’s known he brings some money with him from some brazilian companies. Not near as much as some others though.

    2. Isn’t Alonso as well? Doesn’t that bank pay for his salary and then some? Or is that not true?

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        4th January 2014, 14:59

        In 2012 Petrov said that Alonso was “a pay driver too,” because of Santander. However, Alonso got the Santander backing after winning the championship.

        Though what also bugs me is that Hülkenberg has been one of the most talked about drivers from the end of 2012 throughout 2013, and yet he still has problems getting sponsorship. Wouldn’t corporations want to be associated with the driver that has been getting lots of well deserved hype?

        1. He is german, if you were a german sponsor, you would be running after some other guy…

          1. …Adrian Sutil?

          2. I think it is silly to try to generalize that since top drivers have sponsors who go with them when they change teams then that makes them pay drivers. Obviously FM and FA are proven entities who have strong backing given what they have on their resumes. But are they not also paid? For sure FA is, and I don’t recall hearing that FM volunteered to drive for free and in fact would pay for his ride. There’s a big difference between proven drivers inevitably having backers, and unproven rookies and near rookies who only got the seat because of their money, and have nothing on their resume that would indicate they necessarily should be in F1, which is the heart of the pay-driver issue. Does a driver belong in F1 or is he only there because he brought money to a lesser team? One cannot ask that question of FM and FA.

  12. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    4th January 2014, 11:33

    One can’t but detect a sour note in that Montezemelo article. Is he getting revenge on the hugely compromising interview Massa gave in yesterday’s edition of AUTOSPORT by suggesting that he only remained in the team as long as he did due to his sponsorship?

    That aside, I can’t help but think that the whole issue of pay drivers deserves a fresh perspective. And when I say fresh perspective, I’m not about to dig up that old throwaway of “Alonso could be considered a pay driver”, because Alonso had the talent. I think I speak for all F1 fans when I say that I don’t have a problem with driver sponsorship, in fact in the junior categories it is essential, but it is problematic when a team, say Lotus, picks a Maldonado over a Hulkenberg sheerly out of financial necessity. However, what is important here is not to lay blame at the door of the team. I remember some harsh criticisms of Lotus following their announcement of Maldonado, and it was completely misplaced, because Lotus’ only crime was being a victim of contemporary financial famine in F1. Now if I am to continue taking the contemporary style of historical interpretation, I must look for someone to blame, and I can’t help but find myself at the doors of the FIA. Proactivity, in many areas, but especially in finding alternative revenue streams for team has been rather lacking. In fact, the whole issue of pay drivers has rather been ignored by the FIA, which is strange as it is factor seriously diminishing my enjoyment of F1. And it is not like there is nothing that can be done about it. A cap on driver sponsorship, whilst hard to police, would most certainly be possible, but more likely the FIA needs to incentivise the signings of drivers that have gone well in the junior categories, and that could be done through a short term sponsorship programme for say the top three finishers in the previous year’s GP2, GP3 and FR3.5 championships. Or frankly any effort, even it is merely tokenism, to give the talented preferential treatment would be gladly received. Pull your finger out Jean…

    On a completely different note, I would like to present my best wishes to Schumacher, something I’ve not yet had the chance to do this week. Through a couple of Italian engineers that worked on Michael’s car whilst he was in red, I got to meet Michael on numerous occasions. One of which was at Imola in 2003, and it was on the Sunday afternoon that I found myself burdened with the task of congratulating a true sporting great on a fabulous victory but also offering my condolences following the death of his mother that morning. However, my abiding memory is not of terror, but of awe. There was a man of such incredible strength and self-confidence. There was a man of such vehement determination. There was the perfect competitor. That meeting remains to this day one of the most inspiring of my life, and that is why, from my Schumacher memorabilia laden office, I can but helplessly extend my very best and sincere wishes to Michael, and say, F1 is utterly indebted to a man that redefined the margins of competition. My best, Michael, hang in there.

    1. @william-brierty – There is a definite distinction between pay drivers and drivers with sponsorship due to talent and results. As fans we could name those drivers in either category on the grid now with little grey area in between. It is obvious there are some pay drivers in F1 due to sponsorship only at this point.

      The ultimate answer to solve this lies in all teams receiving a more equitable share of the profits. The responsibility for changing this belongs to the FIA, FOM and the teams themselves. But, changing the profit structure, arriving at budget cap agreements or any other matter likely to bring better stability to the teams and a better show for the fans is akin to changing things in the government of any decent sized nation. There are so many facets and separate divisions of government that change comes about slowly, if ever. Even if all sides come to agreement, if it is not practical or enforceable it is meaningless.

      Short of some sort of divisive, threatening revolution, a scenario that could revolutionize F1 would be if FOM put somebody like a Ross Brawn in charge to force all parties to come to agreements on fixing F1. This would include better profit sharing, better technical rules for better racing and for actual cost saving by design rather than by unworkable budget caps. Let Bernie (or whomever) continue work on venues and the calendar while Ross Brawn (or somebody with his skill set) work on the technical and profits side. You need somebody like Ross Brawn to make this work because the teams will give him the time to do his due diligence to fix F1. It could be fixed over say, three years time or they could go back to what we have now.

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        6th January 2014, 15:13

        @bullmello – Sorry for the slow reply.

        You have hit the nail on the head. What I find increasingly frustrating about this situation is the way so much of the blame is laid at the feet of the teams. In the recent Sky F1 Journalist Special, all three of the editors, each as clueless as the next, proceeded to characterize the teams as insular, conceited and selfish, and the reason behind the financial cracks in F1. The truth, as you’ve said, is the complete opposite. Both CVC and the FIA make well over a billion dollars in profits each year, and a comparably tiny percentage of that is given to the teams. A simple redistribution of assets should be implemented, and Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes should not have so many cards in their hands so that they can demand an unproportionate percentage of the winnings.

        But still, why are we attacking the top teams for defending their own interests if the FIA and CVC are guilty of such gross selfishness? The last time I looked a self interested selfishness was what competition in F1 was all about. And that’s why F1 needs dictatorial figures, like Bernie, who have the final word, and in that respect having Brawn at the helm of FOM would be beneficial, although I personally can’t see him taking such a central role in F1. F1 is broken. However, it has been broken before and has been saved, and their are frankly too many intelligent people working in F1 for it to disappear in a cloud of dust and tyre marbles, but because so many of the central bodies in F1 are so anarchic, we may end up at the edge of financial cliff before something is done. I don’t it is a question of whether F1 will be saved, I think it is a question of what will the cost be of saving F1. Two teams? Three teams? Three car teams? Customer cars?

        1. @william-brierty – Agree with your analysis and conclusions. Also agree that it seems unlikely Ross Brawn would take on that kind of a job, but it would take someone of that stature to get the job done. As you said, dictatorial, but in this case someone dictatorial for the right reasons to save F1 from itself.

          The money is there to fix the financial problems. The fighting spirit of the teams to win races and championships is strong and vital. The technology for good racing is available if properly applied. F1 could be saved if all the parties come to agreement on these key issues. Or, as you suggest the cost could be much greater and F1 left with a quite different look and structure than what we have today. I would prefer the former to the latter, but events will occur as situations progress and not always in the way any fans might prefer. We shall see…

  13. Then do something about it, Luca – stop spending so much money. Teams are being forced to take paying drivers so that they can make up their budget. And their budgets are so high because the front-running teams spend so much, which drives costs up. You cannot spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and then complain that the sport is in an unhealthy state because teams are forced to take pay drivers. I don’t what it’s called in Italian, but in English, we know it as trying to have your cake and eat it, too.

    1. Very true…LdM and Ferrari are part of the problem and I read no solution coming from him in the cited article. And this is not news…this has been going on to the degree it has for several years now…to a degree I mean that is greater than years gone by.

      He mentions at least capping costs in specific areas, and I’ll assume he means in areas that are ‘policeable’ but the other side of that coin is that for the teams with money that just frees up funds to dump into areas that are not capped.

      When LdM admits that they themselves could even cheat depending on how a cost cutting measure was instigated, while at the same time decrying the unhealthiness of the utter necessity of pay driver now for more and more teams, I think perhaps it is time the big teams look themselves in the mirror, shake their heads at what their greed has brought them to, and decide that perhaps they should go back to racing for the love of the sport, and to sportsmanship in what should be considered a sport still, not just a business and entertainment.

      Since the current model hasn’t worked out, which I think began when they did the mega deal with MS including a contracted non-competing teammate, including extra hundreds of millions from F1 to end the Ferrari WDC drought, perhaps it is time they go back to honoring the spirit of sport and racing and honoring the intelligence of the viewing audience, or just carry on as they have been and let the chips fall where they may and let F1 die a slow and painful death, with the top teams willing to cut off their noses to spite their faces.

      If LdM is actually truly worried for F1, and would far prefer teams having better drivers that aren’t there just because of their money, and therefore better drivers that could be a threat to his own team even, then he should rally the big teams together and figure this out. Until that happens I think all we are hearing is lip service from those who like to sound concerned but in fact are perfectly happy with their own situation, even to the degree of having one driver having more advantages hand over fist over the entire grid, unapologetically, if that’s what it takes.

    2. A comment I wholeheartedly agree with @prisoner-monkeys.

      If only the big teams would stop spending crazy amounts to win because they can, cut down their own spending and then agree that a limit in the range of about 100 million or so would be the budget cap (it will be more complicated to define, specifying things like engine cost allocation etc.) that would show the way.
      Surely if Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes would commit themselves to stop spending, they would bring about change. Just like they committed themselves to being environmentally more sensible, it would be a step towards long terms self preservation. And I think Mateschitz would happily join in if he would see this to be a serious effort.

      1. @bascb, I am not sure that that is really the way to go. We only have 3 engine manufacturers so why do we have to have 12 chassis/aero manufacturers ? I would rather see an all out unlimited development series between the 3 or 4 biggest teams (and their customer teams) than an overhyped GP2 type series. Certain max and min limits could be imposed such as weight, rpm, total airfoil area and hyper-exotic materials excluded but the designers and engineers should be free to demonstrate their individual skills within those parameters.

        1. What if 2 of those manufacturers would then quit the sport (because they have “met their targets” or “its time to find new challenges” or just “its too expensive” or “we cannot compete with xxx on an even level”) @hohum, and leave us with a de facto spec series? That is what happened in CART

      2. @bascb – I imagine that such an agreement would go the same way as the off-throttle blown diffuser ban in 2011: the teams would smile for the cameras and shake hands and talk about how it was the best thing for the sport, and then race back to their factories to try and find a way out of the commitment they just made, reasoning that everyone else is doing it, so they have to as well.

        1. likely, yes.

    3. Surely that Ferrari were the only team that could pay out such a large salary to get a non-paying driver, is because they get an extra £17.5m over the other teams, “because they are Ferrari”?

  14. my belly fire for f1 is starting to dim i hope this season can throw some thing combustible on it

  15. If I fell and hit my head while skiing, I doubt any “investigators” would have a look at the footage.

    1. Are you just jealous or are you bitter too?

    2. I am pretty sure that if you would end up in a life threatening coma such an investigation is almost certain @timi

      1. They would if there were any legal or insurance concerns, and if there is anything that can be gleaned in terms of safety education, then that information would go a lot further, globally, having come from the helmet cam of MS. That’s just reality. I would hazard a guess that on the day of MS’s accident, he wasn’t the only person globally to receive a severe head trauma, but he’s the only one that made the National News globally.

        1. Given that there were cost made to take MS to the hospital by helicopter, which would likely have happened for other skiers that had such a fall too, that already means about 250-500k EURO in damages involved …

          Yes, given that it is MS, its going to make more waves.

  16. Guillermo Deutsch
    6th January 2014, 17:45

    Niki Lauda was the first pay driver, but I think he was ok, dont you think? *Irony mode:V8*

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