Formula 1 has always been money-orientated, the French term ‘Grand Prix’ itself refers to the great financial reward a driver can face if their race day cards are dealt out perfectly.
Sorry for the analogy but in a way Formula 1 back then was more of a lottery or a game of cards. The drivers and teams wait for their cards to be dealt, and the players to pay. Indeed no driver can survive without money. Gone are the days of independent teams dominating GPs and race weekends. Whilst some teams were definitely more prominent Tyrrell and Lotus), the gap between the other teams was much more marginal.
Now a team needs money to lead the way. Caterham and Marussia are all lacking in funding and find themselves unable to fight for points. The closely fought battles have been won by Caterham for the last four years. That extra funding is crucial and can often dictate the driver chosen. 2012 was most likely the last F1 season for the likes of Heikki Kovalainen, Timo Glock and Kamui Kobayashi. Talent thrown out in favour of a new generation of ‘pay drivers’.
The teams can hire the fastest driver but unless they’re an economic asset, the sufficient funds required to earn Championship points may not be found. A pot of gold can be the most important attribute belonging to a driver. You only have to ask karters and racing drivers to know that’s often the case.
This is particularly relevant to Williams, the once great team who are now struggling with exactly one win this season. Pastor Maldonado has funding from his connections to the Venezulean government, a matter that he rubs in his boss’ face. This could help him retain his seat despite several drivers and racing stewards being opposed his aggressive racing style.
Also relevant to the 2012 season is Lewis Hamilton. He is looking set to move from McLaren to Mercedes in a £90 million, multi-year deal. If this is true, he will become the highest paid driver on the grid. The money saving trend will be abandoned by the German team. This is especially unusual considering that Hamilton has not been a prominent championship contender since his win in 2008.
Whilst it is important to note that Red Bull won two consecutive championships with a small budget, the team had a base through the energy drinks brand that owns it and, unlike Caterham and Marussia, was born from the foundations of another team – Jaguar.
The fear is that racing has become more about the money than the technique and bravery such a job requires.
What do you think. Is Formula 1 becoming too elitist? Let me know by commenting below. Please note that you do not need a WordPress account to do this.
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