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Drivers of Formula One

SENIOR ANALYST
Feature
859   //    04 May 2013, 18:17 IST

Formula 1 is an ever-changing sport: in terms of technology, in terms of venues and in terms of talents. The sport has an array of drivers, all of whom have achieved a spot in their teams. In recent times, however, this isn’t the case. It started in 2008 with Adrian Sutil being sponsored by a third-party organisation; now there are many drivers who come with bags of money to get a seat.

McLaren Team Principal, Martin Whitmarsh, said, “I think, personally, it’s sad to have so many pay drivers in Formula One. The numbers have crept up, and while I’m sure it’s good and exciting for those that can afford it, you would hope that in the premier form of motorsport worldwide that you wouldn’t have to have pay drivers and that means there are some good young, professional drivers who can’t get in and aren’t getting in.”

This coming from a team that has a driver with the biggest backing.

Many drivers in the smaller teams prefer drivers with green paper over those who have natural talent. Marussia, this year, was set to unveil their driver line-up of Luiz Razia and Max Chilton. The former of the two, however, failed to pay a sum of $5 million and thus lost his seat to Jules Bianchi.

In a similar situation, Williams replaced Bruno Senna with Valterri Bottas. Bruno Senna had a far more productive season last year and outshone Pastor Maldonado in almost all the races except for when the Venezuelan won the Spanish Grand Prix. Pastor was funded by Hugo Chavez and after his death, many wondered if Pastor would continue, but the payments seemed to have been paid in full and he got his chance to drive for the whole season. Senna, on the other hand, didn’t have a strong financial backer which meant Williams had to look elsewhere and luckily, their test driver, Bottas, had the cash.

He was drafted right in and Senna was forced to quit the sport. Another talent, maybe not as bright as his uncle, lost from the sport.

The only teams who pay drivers are Ferrari, Lotus, Mercedes and Red Bull. They judge drivers by their talent and they’re the ones who are successful. Agreed that the small teams need money to climb up and that it’d be a risk to put your money on talent rather than…money. However, no one has tried that yet and we’ll not know unless someone does.

‘Pay drivers’, as they’re called, are ruining the sport to an extent. At a time where we’re seeing dominance by a few drivers, true talent is the talk of the day. In 1991, when all eyes were on Prost, Senna and the like at the Belgium Grand Prix, one driver stood out. He qualified seventh and he showed the sport that even with a fairly inferior car, he could steer it to the top of the table. That gentleman was Michael Schumacher and he had talent. A lot of it.

In today’s scenario, a similar situation can’t be expected. Bernie has made the sport run on money and drivers are just all part of the plan.

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