F1’s Financial Curse

heikkifunding

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.

Thanks for reading. What are your thoughts on Formula 1’s Financial Curse? Let me know by commenting below. Please note you do not need a WordPress account to do so.
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9 thoughts on “F1’s Financial Curse

  1. Bernie Ecclestone does share some of the blame, but so does the FIA-Formula 1. When you charge more money than what exists in the universe, you’re eventually going to bring about your own downfall. These folks are trying to kill the goose that’s laying their golden eggs, and they’ll end up killing their own financial selves right along with it. There’s a reason why greed is a “deadly sin”, and this is one of them. If they don’t curb their greed and rachet back what they demand, they’ll soon be left with nothing, and then they will be gone. Then what? The market isn’t what it was before. Everyone needs to adjust to that or it’ll be all over. That includes Ecclestone and the FIA.

  2. A rather passionate comment there! Thanks Paul, it’s nice to know your thoughts. Do you think that the recent upset regarding Kamui, Heikki and Timo could force change or is the FIA’s policy too dominant in your view?

  3. That would depend on the individuals within the system. Bernie’s too far down the road in life for him to change, though it would be nice. The individuals within the FIA would have only one chance at this point to turn from the Deadly Sin of Greed and make the right choices, but it’s more likely that other individuals must step in and take over the process in order to change it. We all know that Ecclestone’s time in this universe is limited, so we’d have to prepare for the possibility that someone or perhaps an entire group of people will take over where he leaves off (as an aside, the “bribery” issue in Germany may speed this up). It will be up to them to determine what’s the best course to chart for Formula 1, and those are the people that we can influence the most.

  4. I have been a follower of F1 for a number of years, my first GP was the British in 1976 when Lauda and Hunt were sworn enemies. Regrettably this issue of funding has been going on for years but nevertheless it remains unpalatable. We had little rich boys playing F1 cos daddy could fund them even tho’ they were dangerous, hence the introduction of super-licenses, and the talented ones being by passed.
    The situation I think was made worse many years ago when Bernie actively encouraged manufacturers to get involved, Toyota, Renault, BMW indirectly. They inevitably drove up costs with their big budgets and then pulled out when their budgets were slashed by the parent companies.
    We are now left with division one players, McLaren, Red Bull, Ferrari who are exceedingly well funded and a host of division two players who have to get funding from wherever they can. (This in itself is a problem given the current world financial crisis).
    There are I suppose a number of solutions, but none will suit all,
    1) we continue as we are and we lose many good drivers in return for smaller teams running less able drivers to enable them to continue.

    2) We lose the smaller teams and have a smaller less exciting championship.

    3) We try and put a cost cap on the big teams, who will argue from the standpoint that F1 is supposedly the pinnacle of motor sport and therefore should not have financial restrictions placed on them in order to support the smaller teams.

    None of them are ideal, perhaps it’s just a case of which is the lesser of the evils.

  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I like the idea of a cost cap, though F1 is so elitist it is unlikely to happen in this modern era.If there was a viable solution then I’m sure the FIA would have crumbled under the intense pressure of the fans. Unfortunately this is the case.
    I appreciate that this is not a modern phenomenon as such; funding has always been a requirement somewhere along the F1 ladder. However I do feel it’s at its worse during a time when Formula 1 has so many drivers to choose from. I would personally argue this is the ‘Golden Era’ of F1.
    It won’t deter me from watching F1 but it certainly is an annoying attribute for a sport that I love to possess.

    • If you really want to make it equal, make it cost “sharing”: The richer teams contribute to the cost of the poorer teams. That way, everyone’s on equal footing.

  6. I don’t think we can put Kamui in the same bag as Heikki and Timo, it seems to me that he said he had found €8m but had not found a seat? (and did not want to consider Caterham and Marussia)

    • They all lost their seats due to to funding but yes I do admit their circumstances are different. This blog post was a general response to this and not focused on a particular driver.
      He is not in the running at Caterham. However, you never know, Marussia may still be on the cards. Kamui did express his want to join a big team in 2014, a seat at Marussia would not allow him to do so.

      • Not sure about that, Heikki’s story shows that even if you’re really good as at the back of the field, it’s hard to come back at the top.

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