In January 2013, Formula 1 was hit with some shocking news; a driver whose future looked secure was dropped from his team due to a lack of funds. Formula 1’s elitist generation claimed another victim in Timo Glock. He has been added to the same list as Kamui Kobayashi and Heikki Kovalainen who must now rely on poor performances from wealthier rookies if a return in 2014 is to be possible.
Perhaps their exits from the sport isn’t such a surprise? After all, I have lost count of the number of times a team, driver, broadcaster or publication has used the words “funding” or “sponsorship” in conjunction with a driver announcement.
I know I will always remember that sickening feeling I felt when sources confirmed to me that Kobayashi, Kovalainen and Glock’s careers all seemed to be over. Talent, years of fighting and for what? A chance of the big time that is so cruelly ripped from under your feet. I know F1 is not the end; DTM, NASCAR and the WRC offer the poorer drivers a reprieve. Though it would be nice that their own hard work and talent dictated their future and not a crippled bank balance.
I, and many race fans like me, fear for the career of Paul Di Resta. Force India find themselves stuck in a stagnant position – not as slow as the Toro Rossos but not as quick as the Saubers. This elusive fifth place they are so desperately fighting for could decide his future. Di Resta almost seemed under confident in 2012; though he did have Nico Hulkenberg as a team mate, a man who does have an arrogant aura about him. Turned down by McLaren, the opportunity for a top seat will only come a knocking when the big guns at the front trade drivers or retire.
It is those drivers who futures are guaranteed I wouldn’t want to be the one who fires Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button or Lewis Hamilton because we can’t afford them. Alas it seems that only a World Championship is a sufficient alternative to funding.
Hopefully Formula 1 will ever be able to remove itself from this vicious financial cycle, though I’m not holding my breath. To get to Formula 1 takes a years of work and sacrifice, to stay there it takes even more.
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