Kovalainen doesn’t want to be a pay driver

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: Heikki Kovalainen says he has told his management team not to look for money to support his F1 career.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Kovalainen rules out becoming a ‘pay driver’ (Reuters)

“We are looking at other options… but even the other options require some money, teams asking for money, and I don’t want to go that route.”

Kamui Support (Japanese)

Kamui Kobayashi has set up a website where his fans can contribute to support his racing career after losing his seat at Sauber.

Esteban Gutierrez: “I don’t know if I am ready yet” (Adam Cooper’s F1 Blog)

“To be honest I don’t know if I’m ready yet. I think when I’m going to be living the position of being an F1 driver next season, then I’m going to know if I was ready or not! But definitely I feel that I was comfortable to do the next step in my career.”

Sergio Perez Q&A: I’m ready for the pressures of McLaren (F1)

“In Japan I made a mistake and in Korea we had an issue with the pit stop. Abu Dhabi saw the contact with Grosjean. It was not my fault so I don’t understand why I got a penalty there. And at the last race in Austin it looked okay but then I ran into problems with the brakes. So there you have it – various calamities which ruined my chances of a better position in the standings.”

Tearful Lewis Hamilton discusses McLaren exit (BBC)

“It was the most difficult call I’ve ever had to make because we’d grown so close and [Martin Whitmarsh] had been so supportive and I didn’t want to let people down. But at the end of the day you have to let people down sometimes to make decisions.”

Whitmarsh wants Lewis return (Sky)

“We’d have him back, yes. So let’s hope it’s just a gap year.”

Wasted: Hamilton says he left three world titles on the table at McLaren (The Mirror)

“Should I have had more championships? Absolutely. I feel I drove really well in 2007 and 2008, and in 2009 I was ready to do the same. 2010 was not bad. 2011 was not good so I don’t feel I deserved to win that year.”

Sauber’s poor pace concerns drivers (Autosport)

Sergio Perez: “The heat just doesn’t suit us,” he said. “I found the car difficult to drive this afternoon and I think some big changes are required. Let’s see how we can improve.”

F1 economic tally could take months to add up (Austin-American Statesman)

“Not everyone who attended the race had to purchase a ticket. Of the more than 110,000 tickets sold, track spokeswoman Ali Putnam said, 60 percent of the buyers were from outside Texas and the remainder were Texas residents. She said 15 percent of the ticket buyers came from 46 countries, primarily Mexico, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and a mix of Western European and Central/South American countries.”

La Ferrari per la gloria Alonso anche per i bonus (La Stampa, Italian)

La Stamps claims Fernando Alonso will receive a ??10m (8m) bonus if he wins the drivers’ championship tomorrow.

Raging McLaren chief Dennis snubbed Hamilton’s goodbye party (Daily Mail)

“McLaren chairman Ron Dennis was the only notable absentee from Hamilton’s leaving function on the pool terrace of the Hilton hotel in Austin, Texas, last Saturday.”


Comment of the day

Many readers were disappointed to see Kobayashi lose his seat – a subject of a recent Comment of the Day – but @Hotbottoms was a dissenting voice:

I don’t get it why everyone’s so upset about Kobayashi losing his Sauber seat.

Sure, his debut drive in 2009 was promising and great entertainment and he’s also Japanese, but has he really proven enough to get his fourth full season in Formula One instead of a rookie getting his shot?

It’s true that Mexican money helped Gutierrez, but Sauber might’ve let Kobayashi go anyway. Or at least they chose Hulkenberg over him.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Heart of the Sunrise!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

It’s six years to the day since McLaren announced Lewis Hamilton would make his debut for them in F1 in 2007. Hamilton became the first rookie to start his first race with McLaren since Jan Magnussen 12 years earlier, and the first to start a new season with them since Michael Andretti in 1993.

However tomorrow’s Brazilian Grand Prix will mark Hamilton’s last race for the team that gave him his F1 break.

Images © Caterham/LAT, McLaren/Hoch Zwei

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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103 comments on “Kovalainen doesn’t want to be a pay driver”

  1. We all know money talks in this game, but we’re going back to the mid-1990s in terms of how many drivers owe their seats to sponsorship. If Kobayashi and Kovalainen — two drivers who more than justify their place — aren’t in F1 next year I’ll lose a lot of respect for the sport.

    It does open up the question as to where they’ll go. I feel Koabayashi could be a big star in IndyCar, and both would be assets to Le Mans teams (Toyota, for example, would surely love a top Japanese driver in their cars). At least they’ll get their place on merit outside F1…

    1. @lin1876

      If Kobayashi and Kovalainen — two drivers who more than justify their place — aren’t in F1 next year I’ll lose a lot of respect for the sport.

      But that’s the problem: simply justifying your place in the sport isn’t good enough. If you don’t excel, teams will be tempted to find someone who might be able to where you did not.

      1. Joe Saward had a very insightful piece where he did the math and showed how non-pay drivers really need to rack up quite a lot of points to make up for the money that pay drivers can guarantee straight away.

      2. Except it’s got nothing to do with excelling does it?

        Rather, they are trying to find drivers who can cope, but also bring money.

        That’s not good from a sporting perspective. It shows that the teams are having a hard time in getting their budgets in order.

        1. @mike – Which just brings us back to the root of all evil: money. Teams are having a hard time getting a budget together because it is so expensive to compete in the first place. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed, and soon, but so long as the top teams are content spending hundreds of millions of dollars, they’ll continue spending hundreds of millions of dollars with little concern for the smaller teams. Some would probably even welcome one or two teams dropping out of the sport, because then it is less likely that they will get held up on the track.

          1. You’re right…. But we were talking about drivers, and in terms of drivers, the seats being dependent on money over, to some extent, talent, is always a bad thing.

            And now even some of the stronger teams and asking for money. So that’s not an ideal situation.

    2. I have to agree with this, It actually does seem like we are taking a trip back to the mid-90s and at this rate, we wont have very many constant drivers. Especially if teams start doing what Marussia has, and switch out drivers every season. I love F1 but if there is one downfall to the sport it is wanting miracles out of the box. How about more changes in the team and less on the driver, not everyone can be a Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alosno. Teams need to look at the fact that they are not RBR, Ferrari, Lotus and McLaren, and figure out how to emulate those tops team more.

      This season showed that the rules helped the mid tier teams and gave teams that we didn’t expect a fighting chance to win. Now the mid tier teams need to actually put it all together better. However, those teams have an answer to this by getting drivers with massive financial backing but still after the financial boost given to William and Sauber they still didn’t have a car (though both had good cars) to be near the top three, especially over the developmental length of a season. Which is what matters

    3. To me, it really says a lot about the competence of the marketing / business development departments of various Formula 1 teams when they have to start relying on individual drivers to find them sponsors. How come individual drivers and their management can find sponsors, but marketing / business development departments of Formula 1 teams cannot?

      Maybe these teams should be keeping the drivers, and replacing their marketing / business development departments with people who can pull sponsors for the team. Let the drivers do their job, drive, and find business development people that can do their’s, find people to pay the bills.

  2. “We are looking at other options … but even the other options require some money, teams asking for money, and I don’t want to go that route.”

    Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Will Caterham finish tenth this year, or only eleventh?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is Formula 1, the highest level of motorsport in the world, and you’re being beaten by your team-mate, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: “Do I want to keep racing?” Well, do ya, punk?

    1. Very – very funny PM.

      I’ve met Heikki and I have to say he’s a very nice bloke. But I hear too much about his golf etc from twitter, and to be honest whether we like it or not, drivers like Heikki and Kamui need some money behind them.

      It may be if Caterham can pull off 10th this weekend they’ll keep him, otherwise they’ll look for a contribution from a driver to the $10m lost in prize money.

      When you are an F1 driver, you can spend time talking to businesses and offering your services in return for sponsorship. Heikki has not done this – he prefers to play golf. So he may well be perfecting his golf swing in 2013 – and that’s just the way it is in F1 2013.

      1. It irks me that established mid level drivers have to pay now, Let alone rookies or drivers less suited to the sport.

      2. Who knows, he might agree with Caterham / Renault Alpine to work with them on development of cars + simulator work in F1 to add to the golf. Lets wait and see

    2. But then Kovalainen doesn’t get beaten by his team-mate, so what’s your point?

      1. @patrickl – Petrov is much closer to Kovalainen that Trulli ever was. He’s out-qualified Heikki four times in the past six or seven races, and in the sixteen races they have both finished, Petrov has beaten him nine times. The only reason why Kovalainen is ahead of him in the drivers’ standings is because he scored a 13th place (in Monaco) before Petrov did (in Valencia).

        But that’s beside the point. Both Kovalainen and Petrov are believed to be leaving Caterham at the end of the season, replaced by Pic and Giedo van der Garde.

        1. @Prisoner Monkey …Uh he is ahead of Petrov due to two 13th place finishes Monaco and Abu Dhabi, as to where Petrov only has one. Thus Heikki averages out better. Also as far as the entire season goes, they have beat each other 9 times that to me shows something teams strive for having drivers that can match each other, no one driver outright beating the other.

          If Petrov was a rookie then this bit of information would be compelling, but it isn’t. Rather shows that both have gotten the what seems to be an equal extraction of what the car will give.

          1. @magillagorilla

            he is ahead of Petrov due to two 13th place finishes Monaco and Abu Dhabi, as to where Petrov only has one. Thus Heikki averages out better.

            I disagree. Monaco and Abu Dhabi were races of attrition, and saw more retirements than any other races this season.

            And you still don’t account for Petrov beating Kovalainen in nine of the sixteen races they have finished so far.

          2. @ Prisoner Monkey I just did…at the end of the day he came out ahead, and I am not giving one driver more attention over the other. Rather just saying the stats show why one is ahead of the other.

            Also I did account…he was better than Kovalainen I mean (laughing here), do you actually believe I am trying to up play Heikki? Maybe you should look at my other comments.

            My point was just to show that true reason he is ahead of petrov is due to two 13 place finishes. Also trying to be fair and say that both have equally matched each other.

            The point was also to say if I were a team owner, I would hope for two drivers that can match one another, rather than one driver just smashing the other.

    3. @prisoner-monkeys as we both said the other day, I think it’s sad to see Kova go, but he let himself down. It’s not F1 that changed, it’s his career that went the other way. It was going up, and then he decided to join a new team… that says a lot, otherwise other teams would’ve chosen him instead, or maybe now.

      It’s sad, but that’s the way it is. Pay drivers, specially if they match your pace (ehem, Vitaly), will always get the seats.

      1. To be honest, I’m not going to miss him that much. Most of his reputation seems to be built on the idea that he’s a nice guy, not that he’s a fast guy.

        1. I have to agree with this. Kova is an average driver and the fact Petrov cannot beat him means Petrov is also decidedly average… in most of our eyes anyway, maybe not to his fans’ :)

          Kova got crushed, absolutely crushed by Hamilton at McLaren and we have seen from Button that it didn’t have to be the case. Yes he was a rookie, but he was usually a second a lap slower at every race and that cannot be made up from experience alone.

          I admire his stand against becoming a pay driver, but in all honesty, he won’t be missed that much (as a driver).

      2. How was it going up? Didn’t McLaren let him go not the other way around? He was no where near the level of Lewis in both seasons.

        1. @magillagorilla a bit of a mistake there. Should be “it was going up, until Hamilton trashed him, and his reputation went no where”

          1. Yes, that helps others who may not know. Oh well I agree, I would be fine with Heikki gone. It doesn’t hit me like it does with Kobayashi.

    4. @prisoner-monkeys Saying a thousand times that Kova is beaten by Petrov will never make it true. Plus, all on F1fanatic know about your bias toward Petrov. He’s certainly much closer to Kova than many people(not me) expected but he’s still being beaten. Nothing against Petrov, but everything against re-writing history

      1. @montreal95 – Right, because when a driver like Petrov who is known to be a weak qualifier out-qualifies Kovalainen five times in the last seven races of the season, he’s clearly the worse driver.

        1. @prisoner-monkeys Way to twist it. why don’t you take the last 10 races? or 12? It’s still 13-7 to Heikki for the season which is about what I’ve expected. VP is not slow. People take one season’s result and extrapolate away from it for no reason. So if Heikki beat Trulli 15-4 last season, then it must be 20-0 Vs Petrov this season right? Wrong! Different team-mate and more importantly different car. What if 2011 Caterham suited Heikki perfectly and didn’t suit Jarno at all? Heck, even with the same team-mates situation can change year year from year. Vettel also out-qualified Webber 15-4 in 2011. And this year it’s 11-9. What does that tell you?

          HK is a good driver and he has beaten Petrov this year, and JT beforehand. Both him and KK might be without seats next year for reasons that aren’t related to their driving. It’s a sad state of events and fans need to show their anger at the direction the sport is heading. Not that it’ll help in any way…

          1. I agree with you for the most part and that was the point I was trying to make to the same person. They are more equal then being worlds apart, as it is being shown to us by PM.

  3. I’m just wondering, what would Heikki actually have to do to bring money to the table? Obviously he has to find someone to sponsor him, but after that would he just have to do adverts and things? I’m just struggling to see why some drivers are so opposed to it.

    1. I suppose it’s a principle thing. He wants to earn his seat on talent alone rather than through sponsorship money. I understand and respect that view. That being said I wouldn’t be disappointed if he did go down the sponsorship route to earn a seat.

    2. @george

      I’m just struggling to see why some drivers are so opposed to it.

      Some drivers feel that once they start finding sponsors, they’re committed to it for the term of their natural careers. Especially if they have already been in the sport for some time the way Kovalainen has been. From that point on, their future in the sport will hinge on their ability to find sponsors, and that’s not a path that some want to take lightly.

      At the same time, they need to be mindful of the way they present themselves. There are some midfield drivers who will refuse to find sponsors when they really ought to be out getting them because they haven’t done enough to stay in the sport on merit alone, and to insist that they don’t need sponsors implies that they think quite highly of themselves. Nobody likes being forced to keep their ego in check like that, but teams rarely like drivers who give themselves more credit than their due.

      1. I think you are really being unfair to these guys here @prisoner-monkeys. Drivers like Frijns, Hulkenberg, and now Heikki (but it goes for Kamui as well, I guess) just want to appeal to teams by being able to get solid results. To help their team progress to a point where it can earn good points and get sponsors on board.
        What Heikki says about not wanting to search money to buy a seat for a year (compared to having a backer and going for a long term plan together) just does not make sense for him. All of us agreed with Massa when he said the same about Rubens last year. I think its good Heikki realises this himself.

    3. Perhaps he doesn’t fancy a trip to Wall Street ;)

      1. Somehow I read that as “he doesn’t fancy a strip tease on Wall street @john-h :-)

    4. Yeah, makes you wonder why Kobayashi, and last year Barrichello, didn’t come up with a load of money. Surely it’s easier for an F1 top-3 finisher to find sponsors than a young driver trying to find backing for GP2? Drivers have no problem doing personal deals if they keep all the money themselves (or even waste half of it on their agents and entourage) – think of Lewis Hamilton, or going back a bit Ayrton Senna or Keke Rosberg. Do they think bringing in money is beneath them? If they’re desperate to race, then after several years earning F1 drivers’ salaries, they’d be able to put a bit in themselves.

      Heikki loves his golf, on Twitter he bangs on about playing with Caterham sponsors and partners – and golf is “flog” backwards. Surprised he couldn’t arrange some new deals out on the course. And those Angry Birds people must be pretty loaded by now.

      1. One really has to ask the question what would be in it for Heikki to do so.
        He went to Caterham to build something up, and buying a seat to hang on another season is not the same.

      2. Yeah, makes you wonder why Kobayashi, and last year Barrichello, didn’t come up with a load of money.

        Barrichello actually tried to get his hand on sponsors but that enterprise was hopeless against the Senna name. If I remember correctly I have read a report that he had somewhere around 1.5 million collected which obviously did look not too good compared to the 8 million Senna is rumored to earn Williams.

        1. Rubens will be back next year. :)

  4. Poor Kobayashi, I’d love to see him in a seat next year. Ideally I’d like to see him partner Pic at Caterham, rather than them have 2 inexperienced drivers in their lineup.
    Oh and 3rd year straight my birthday’s not in the roundup!

    1. Happy Birthday nackavich. I’m eating some chocolate right now in celebration :)

    2. Happy birthday @nackavich – I’ve added your name to the list for next year.

      I don’t know if you’ve contacted me about your birthday previously. The only mention I could find of it was this one, which was after today’s round-up was published.

      1. @keithcollantine Just made my day! I have a feeling when I originally added it, for some reason the comment wasn’t uploaded; probably to do with my lackluster Australian Internet.

    3. But third year straight we have gladly congratulated you with it anyway! So happy birthday to you @nackavich :-)

  5. Kovalainen’s problem is that this era’s crop of pay drivers seem to actually have a modicum of talent. So when you have Maldonado winning races and bringing with him Venezuelan money and Gutierrez having pedigree in GP3 and GP2 as well as money, it’s very hard to resist. They’re not Gaston Mazzacanes

  6. Quite a surprise Hamilton is not talking about this year as a championship left on the table … we have to reckon his driving has been great this year.

    1. Yes, his driving has been great, but I think it’s too soon for him to talk about this year. My guess is he doesn’t want to put McLaren in a bad light while he’s leaving.

  7. The economic tally for Austin eh? The state will provide $29m of the hosting fee each year based upon economic impact. But the promoters of Austin – McCombs and Epstein – shafted Tavo Hellmund a family friend of Ecclestone – who had the idea for a race in Austin and pursudaed Ecclestone to give him a contract – because they wanted it all for themselves.

    Bernie in an unusual moment of sentiment when asked about Tavo’s inability to guarantee the finance said, “I was disappointed insofar as he {Tavo Hellmund} had what he thought were partners that could finance the business and wouldn’t let him down. Really, they let him down, and they’re trying to steal from him, get him out [of the project] and do the whole thing themselves.

    It is reckoned that 30% of the fans in Austin were from Mexico – mexico City is a 90 minute flight away and the border is 200 miles. Tavo is now working on a Mexican GP with Bernie’s approval which would scupper the Austin economic impact and the subsidy to McCombs et al. (Full deatils)

  8. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
    24th November 2012, 0:46

    Abu Dhabi saw the contact with Grosjean. It was not my fault so I don’t understand why I got a penalty there.

    Really Checo? Maybe time to start second guessing McLaren’s decision….

    1. @braketurnaccelerate – Perez probably feels that Paul di Resta should have gotten the penalty, becaue he had taken the place from di Resta, but di Resta forced him off the circuit. And he probably feels that Grosjean should have seen him go wide and realised that he was about to come back onto the circuit and that he shouldn’t have tried diving down the inside. It was a pretty opportunistic move that had very little chance of actually working.

      It’s easy to dissect the incident from a lounge chair with a plethora of camera angles to aid in our decision. But at the time, the only information the drivers had was what was right in front of them, and they had to make a split-second decision based on that information. Perez received a penalty for his actions, but that does not mean that he is the only one who bears any responsibility for what happened – Romain Grosjean could have backed off and let Perez re-join the circuit, thereby avoiding the accident entirely.

      1. He was guilty as soon as he forced Di Resta off. One of those move – if I don’t see it in front of me I’m right!

        Makes me feel like he got a deserved cut in Monaco. Wonder if Maldonado and Perez share same history in previous categories.

        1. It’s not really quite as simple as that. Both were at fault really, and Di Resta didn’t have to cut the corner to avoid any incident. Just take a look at the same move being applied when Vettel tried to overtake Button at the same corner. What did Button do? He backed off, knowing that cutting the corner is:
          1. Essentially breaking the boundaries of the track, and possibly gaining an advantage doing so.
          2. Dangerous, considering the line he would have to take would bring him back on to the racing line and possibly cause a collision with Vettel.

          What it comes down to is that these younger, inexperienced drivers seem unable to yield a position when necessary, which has inevitably led to a number of avoidable incidents this year. I don’t know if they lack spatial awareness, or are so pressured that they don’t want to be seen as giving places away, but clearly something is wrong.

          Anyway, my point is that, while Perez got the penalty, he was not the only one at fault here. As I said before, Di Resta didn’t have to cut the corner, just as Button did later on, and Grosjean didn’t have to shoot one up the inside, hoping to get to the apex before Perez. All three of them are to blame for causing an avoidable incident.

      2. Romain Grosjean could have backed off and let Perez re-join the circuit, thereby avoiding the accident entirely.

        what?? lol. Perez went of track it’s 100% his responsibility to rejoin in a safe manner. Other drivers expect drivers to rejoin in a safe manner as well.

        That was a bone-headed move by Perez and I’m actually disappointed that he doesn’t acknowledge that. Folks skewered Vettel for instance on a 49/51 accident with Webber in Turkey 2010, the more so because Vettel didn’t admit he was in the wrong. This was 100 Perez and he doesn’t get it? Gobsmacked. And not impressed.

        1. @uan – A driver is strapped into the cockpit and his head is fixed into position by the HANS device. Even if it was possible for him to turn his head to check who was coming, he would not be able to see because of the high sides of the cockpit, and his mirrors only give him a narrow field of view. So how was Perez supposed to know that Romain Grosjean was practically on top of him? Was he supposed to be able to pick out Grosjean’s engine note from his own, Webber’s and di Resta’s? And was he supposed to be able to do it in the fetmoseconds he had to make a choice before he crashed into the wall on the outside of the corner?

          Or would it just have been easier for Romain Grosjean to see Perez go off the circuit, realise that he had very little space in which to rejoin and no way of seeing exactly where Grosjean was when he rejoined? In Grosjean’s position, I would have backed off and avoided contact because the awkward line Perez took would have left him vulnerable to a pass later on. At the very least, Grosjean should have spotted the potential for the incident to end in contact. He didn’t, and instead went rushing in to make a pass, and he was surprised when it ended in contact.

          1. @prisoner-monkeys

            Perez should have know Grojean was there. It’s called situational awareness. He had just passed Grojean and opportunistically tried to get DiResta as well. He should know going off the track will slow him down (not to mention the tussle with DiResta) allowing the cars behind to catch up to him again. He should’ve known this. But worse he came back on the racing line straight to the apex and caused the collision.

            There’s a reason why the stewards gave him a stop and go (that’s the Grojean punishment now for egregious driving).

            But even given the difficulties of the situation, being a young driver focused on moving forward, it’s that he doesn’t recognize in HINDSIGHT that he made the mistake.

            As for Grojean rushing in to make the pass, he didn’t, he stayed on the track and on the racing line and did nothing wrong. Sure you could say Grojean could’ve done something differently and perhaps next time he will (Webber admitted he could have sat back just a bit as well), but neither Grojean or Webber bear any responsibility. Perez should know that.

          2. So being in a position to do something, but choosing to do nothing because it means leaving racing line means that someone bears no responsibility for causing an accident?

          3. there you go “no responsibility for causing an accident.” Absolutely. He didn’t cause anything.

            In fact, your supposition on what Perez could have seen being all strapped into his cockpit, applies equally to Grojean. Grojean would have seen Perez go off track to his right. He then focuses left on the left turn (to hit the apex and also looking beyond the apex). He would have no way to know that Perez would come shooting from off track to the very apex from off track.

            Perez should have just accepted he blew it and rejoined on the far outside of the turn and returned to the raising line after that. If he lost 2 places (to Grojean and Webber, well, that’s racing).

            Perez made the mistake. He should own it. I don’t know why you need to bring Grojean into it.

            The real point of it is, Perez has been very sloppy with his driving since his signing with McLaren.

          4. At the end of the day people can argue all the nitty gritty details of why and how Perez rejoined the track,

            The end overall opinion from most if not all are that Perez was in the wrong.

          5. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
            24th November 2012, 8:17

            @prisoner-monkeys – By your logic, Hamilton is at fault for not letting off at Spa this year, when Grosjean pushed him to the edge of the track, and they wrecked? Clearly Grosjean couldn’t see Hamilton, because of his HANS device restriction his movement, and the mirrors being to narrow a field of view..


          6. I never said that Perez was not at fault. Only that he was the most at fault.

  9. Tony Fernandes, whatever you do, use whatever influence you have within Caterham to keep Kovalainen in the team. He’s your best bet into the points, and subsequently, the midfield.

    1. He won’t, I am pretty sure Heikki and Tony already discussed this at lengths. To me it seems they expect to be treading water next year while working on another step forward in 2014. And having 2 drivers there with the purpose to finance it makes sense in that expectation.

  10. Will Buxton reckons that the final Force India seat will be taken by Bruno Senna or Jules Bianchi.

    I’m not sure if he’s serious, though. It might be a commentary on Vijay Mallya’s business model:

    1. Take something that works.
    2. Make it worse.
    3. Pretend there is nothing wrong with it.
    4. ???
    5. PROFIT.

    1. What is number 4

        1. You need to get up to date with internet memes ;)

          1. I hate when this happens…

            That was supposed to be a reply to @f1-98, not you, @david-a.

        2. “???” is always my favorite part of these lists. I just never know what it’s gonna be.

      1. @f1-98 – Allow me to explain with a practical example. Say, manufacturing hand grenades.

        Step 1 – Take something that works.
        In this case, Vijay is getting into the manufacture of hand grenades, because every grenade that gets blown up needs to be replaced.

        Step 2 – Make it worse.
        Now, hand grenades are fairly simple things and can’t really be improved upon … right? Wrong. That pin that the soldier pulls out costs seventy cents to make and attach to the finished product. For every one hundred grenades that Vijay builds, he can save seven dollars. Naturally, he orders the plants to stop making pins for the grenades.

        Unfortuantely, that pin is a rather vital part of the grenade, since it is what arms the grenade.

        Step 3 – Pretend there is nothing wrong with it.
        By now, the insurance company is wondering why we have somehow managed to blow up fifty manufacturing plants while building something explosive. This, of course, is completely unrelated to the manufactuing process, as evidenced by the way we have just build our fifty-first manufacturing plant for pin-less hand grenades.

        Step 4 – ???
        Not even Vijay knows what happens here.

        Step 5 – PROFIT
        By building hand grenades that explode the moment they are built, Vijay has managed to keep the arms manufacturing sector alive, because every grenade that explodes needs to be replaced, thereby keeping up demand for hand grenades. Secondly, he has kept the construction sector alive, because every time a plant blows up, a new one needs to be built. Thirdly, he has saved seventy cents in the manufacture of hand grenades, which means he makes more money.

        And, of course, by detonating the grenades early, he prevents them from falling into the hands of terrorist groups. This means he has successfully privatised world peace, like a tubby Tony Stark.

          1. Rather than try to explain how Mallya runs his airliers or his racing team and get bogged down in the details, I decided to take a completely unrelated business venture and explain how he would run it based on how he has run his airliners and racing team.

        1. This is possibly the greatest comment I’ve ever read. For this, PM, I officislly gift you three internets.

          One of them tastes of pineapple.

    2. Not sure in what sense your comment corresponds with Buxton’s tweet @prisoner-monkeys. But I saw German sources saying its only a matter of time until they announce Sutil back at FI.

      lets see how this works out.

  11. We’d have him back, yes. So let’s hope it’s just a gap year

    Well, that’s a ringing endorsement of your 2013 drivers :-) I like Whitmarsh, and some would say kudos for his honesty. I just wonder if he could have expressed it a bit better.

    1. I think it’s nice to hear – it sounds like they really are parting on good terms. It’s not really a critique of their 2013 drivers, as Hamilton is almost certainly going to be at Mercedes for at least two years, and after that time, Button might be hanging up his overalls. I think Hamilton would be wise to keep the good relationship going from his side as well, because if things don’t work out at Mercedes, where else is he going to go?

    2. @tdog That crossed my mind too…and unless Perez has a disaster that would be curtains for Button. Rubbish.

  12. Alexander Jansson (@)
    24th November 2012, 2:04

    I think Kovalainen has shown almost as good as performance as Alonso has. He should really be awarded with a greater car!

    1. I think Kovalainen has shown almost as good as performance as Alonso has.

      I think Kovalainen has done well at Caterham, but he won’t shake off numbers like these:


      Alonso’s R28 vs Kovalainen’s MP4-23.

      1. Exactly! That is my point as well, Kovalainen is a nice guy…but in a McLaren that won the WDC against a horrid R28…

        Sad doesn’t begin to describe it.

  13. Bit sad if the Ron Dennis story is true and that lewis has had a fallout with him . I knew it was something to do with the disagreement in the team and lewis and not only money . But then every other driver ( except senna and mika , i think ) for Mclaren has left on a frustrated note. Prost , kimi , alonso and now lewis their biggest find.

  14. All this talk of being pay drivers has forced me to think about one of the aspects of sponsorship. In an ideal scenario, it is the duty of the team to find sponsors for itself. Then why are drivers being asked to bring money to the table?

    Sometimes I get the feeling that teams have found the easy way out and passed the buck on to the drivers. So instead of doing the hard work and searching for sponsors and backers for your team, you expect your driver to do it now. I think this trend is becoming disturbing. I don’t think we are currently losing out on World Champion drivers, but what’s to say that some talented one’s will not be left out due to this. 3 years ago no one talked about being a pay driver, even though racers might be bringing sponsorship to the team. Now, it has become a pre-requisite.

    1. This is what I concur with, when you look at it, the Driver ends up paying the ultimate price with the team (sport as well). While other individuals seem to stay in the sport even if switching teams such as the various engineers and so on.

      Of the people lost due to pay driver situations…you cant really gauge how great they are because they were with teams that had horrid cars. I can’t tell you if Di Grassi or D’Ambrosio would have been great drivers or not nor will I ever most likely. The other issue I see is there are so many in the wings of the feeder series that F1 teams are highly tempted to ditch drivers when more money is seen. Why not make the feeder series even tougher so the best drivers are found or add more teams (or got back to three cars) and cap the budget so we aren’t weeping over the small handful we grow to love.

    2. I don’t think it is really the teams asking drivers for sponsors. It is that some drivers approach the team with backing sponsors, or the team sponsor may ask the for a driver that they do support.

    3. I don’t think cash strapped Formula 1 teams are too lazy to go chase money, I think it’s more to do with the fact that they are so cash strapped they’re looking at their drivers as a source of income rather than an expense. I doubt they’re taking a ‘can’t be bothered’ approach to bringing in money in a sport that’s so dependent on money.

  15. Kamui Kobayashi has set up a website where his fans can contribute to support his racing career after losing his seat at Sauber.

    If he wants to stay in Formula 1, I think he has left it too late. Pretty much every single available seat has a string of candidates lined up for it: Giedo van der Garde is tipped for the second Caterham seat. Half a dozen drivers have been mentioned in connection to the second Force India seat, and the team has made it known that they want a driver with a sponsor. Both the HRT seats are up in the air given the team’s uncertain future. Max Chilton is widely expected to get the second Marussia seat. Likewise, Valtteri Bottas is expected to join Williams, and the team would be mad to give up on Maldonado given the amount of sponsorship he brings in.

    Lotus is about the only team that has a vacancy, and even then, Kobayashi would have a hard time getting his foot in the door seeing as how he has largely under-performed while Grosjean is off scoring podiums.

    1. If he wants to stay in Formula 1, I think he has left it too late.

      Kobayashi believes he has a better chance of making the grid in 2014, so I think that’s what he’s looking towards.

  16. I can’t get my head round the growing fact that money is becoming more important than talent, it’s too devastating, so don’t bother trying, I just block it out and in my own fantasy world I still believe, and will always believe that the drivers on the Formula 1 grid are the fastest drivers in the world. I ignore the best I can the fact that some drivers are massively backed and some aren’t but I will just try to convince myself that Kobayashi and Kovalainen have had their time in F1 and because they havnt been magic all the time on the track, they won’t be in it anymore. Thinking its just down to money is terrible for the sport.

    1. @rob-wilson It’s bad but at least we don’t get rubbish drivers paying for their seats. We get pretty good drivers with money. Maybe Formula 1 doesn’t have the best 24 drivers in the world, but it has the best 10 and the others are probably all in the top 40 or so.

  17. Only a week ago, I was thinking that Hamilton was fed up with McLaren and that he was happy to go to Mercedes. But then, as his final race for McLaren being tomorrow, he really starts letting his emotions go. And then Martin Whitmarsh is also regretting letting Hamilton go and hopes that he will return soon.

    This all seems very strange to me: I cannot remember the last time both the driver and the team regretted a transfer decision this soon. At least, I don’t know if Hamilton really regrets the decision, but saying that this weekend might be his last shot a victory in a long time, and being teareyed during an interview… that does speak for itself.

    1. I think that maybe Hamilton’s reactions as a result of him finally realising what he is about to do. he knew what he was getting himself into when he signed for Mercedes. He knew what he was giving up by leaving McLaren. But he’s been with them for fourteen years – more than half his life – and it is a partnership that has worked. Moving to Brackley, even if it is just two hours away, is probably a lot like leaving home for the first time.

  18. If I was Kobayashi I would be going to Toyota and getting a WEC 2013 drive, I’d want a decent shot at a LeMans win and a supercar world championship if I couldn’t race F1.

  19. Some of these drivers should set up a Kickstarter campaign for a drive. If half a million fans throw in $2 each that would probably swing it for them to get a seat. I’m sure Kobi could find enough fervent fans in Japan to throw in a lot more than that. Why not? Money from fans is less ‘dirty’ than money from big business or corrupt governments. Then we’d see the drivers we think belong in Formula 1.

    1. Who gets to drive in F1 should not be a popularity contest among the fans any more than it should be a popularity contest among sponsors. The 24 seats should go to the 24 best available drivers.

      1. +1 . Or better, F1 should cut costs and make it more of a level playing field . But Bernie is trying hard to do the latter . Who knows what’s next in the rules .

  20. Regarding COTD: Having a dissenting opinion just for the sake of being dissenting doesn’t make it a good or a well argumented opinion. There is no valid proof of KK “not having prooved himself”. Espesially when you compare him with Perez who’s going to Mclaren. What is it now? 10-9 in qualy and 66-58 in points? Yes, that’s enough to decide that one is worthy of a top team and another not worthy to be in F1, sure…

    I was watching FP3 today and the stupidity of it struck me again as KK and SP were the closest team-mates in the results separated by 2 thousandths of a second. Yes, it’s only FP3 but it’s somehow symbolic for this surreal situation

    1. @montreal95
      I don’t think there are many, who think Perez was a great choice for McLaren either.

      Apparently Sauber doesn’t value Kobayashi as highly as many F1Fanatics, since they chose Hülkenberg instead of him. At the moment Sauber has one spot marked for a Mexican, so the real choice was never between Gutierrez and Kobayashi, it was between Kobayashi and Hülkenberg. Had Perez stayed, Gutierrez wouldn’t be driving for Sauber next year.

      My comment was more like pondering than a statement. I don’t know what’s a “valid proof”, but it’s evident that Sauber doesn’t think Kobayashi has prooved himself. I’m not saying that he definetly should leave Formula One, I’m just saying that I can’t see a reason to be upset about Kobayashi losing his seat.

      But maybe I’ll quiet down now with my stupid comments ;)

      1. @hotbottoms Hulkenberg is probably better than both Perez and Kobayashi, true. He also has the best junior formulae record than any driver currently in F1 except Hamilton AFAIK. I neither argued with that anywhere in my post, nor I said that KK should’ve been kept to partner Gutierrez instead of the Hulk if he’s available at a reasonable cost. He should be driving that Mclaren next year, not Perez IMO.

        But you’re wrong in stating that evidently Sauber don’t value KK highly. Otherwise they would’ve came straight to him after Perez’s replacement by the Hulk, said goodbye and announced Gutierrez for next year. Instead they came to him and asked if he can bring some money. Evidently that means they wanted him to stay. But in the end they chose to bank in on Telmex money, even if they know it may cost them huge amount of money next in points they could lose. It’s a stupid decision IMO as was proven this year by Williams who haven’t signed Kimi, but I can’t blame Sauber for being cautious in their current situation

        To summarize, the fact that Sauber chose to sign the Hulk+a money bag doesn’t mean they don’t value KK. Kobayashi has proven himself worthy of his seat by his results. And yes, it’s very upsetting when Carlos Slim decides who’s driving for Sauber and not Sauber themselves. Just illustrates that they’re in bad shape financially sadly.

        Remember what happened in 2001? An annoying representative of a very rich sponsor had tried to badger Peter Sauber into signing his protege, whose results in junior formulae, by the way, were not dissimilar to Gutierrez’ . But Sauber instead told him his sponsorship isn’t required anymore and signed a rookie with only 23 car races in F.Renault under his belt. Do you need me to name the protagonists? :)
        So yes, I see reasons to be upset both for KK personally and F1 in general. Hence, the “stupidity” I spoke of. I meant the stupidity of this whole situation not of your comment.

  21. Much as I appreciate where he’s coming from, and I don’t like F1 seats being decided on money any more than anyone else, the fact that inevitably that Will be one of the deciding factors makes telling your management not to look for sponsors sit somewhere on the scale between foolish and downright idiotic.

    No-one likes it, Heikki, but we’d rather see you in F1 than out of it. Swallow your pride and look for some sponsors.

  22. I can feel for Heikki, I really can. I don’t have a problem with pay drivers or the philosophy so much but for someone who’s an established force in the sport and a race winner it is sad. I can respect his decision and while I don’t want to see him go, I definitely don’t want to see him have to make ends meet for his seat year in year out.

  23. I think the fact is a good driver nowadays brings money into the team as well. While I do not like it that in some cases money is more important that skill you need to admit that drivers who often times get backing are not the worst ones. When climbing up the ladders the ones with most potential tend to get picked. Not always but more often than not. Nationality often times counts too but it is not all there is either.

    One major part of new and upcoming drivers’ job is to find sponsors so they can keep on working and racing getting to the top. Why should getting sponsors suddenly stop altogether when you get to the top or close to being there?

    And this is even more true if you are not one of the top drivers – or if you are new and unrated driver.

    I think Kovalainen’s opinion about pay drivers is very much an ideological one and not realistic one. What he seems to be saying is that once you go pay driver you can never go back. That is simply not true. Top teams always want skilled drivers and they will never turn you down if you also being money into the team.

    And in modern f1 you need to be in midfield team to have a chance to get into top team. Getting a seat in midfield team means that your skill is not the only thing that matters. If you are not setting the world on fire or if you simply can not prove that you are doing so because of bad car you need to bring money. If Kovalainen had to being 20 millions to force india to get a seat would anyone care if he did bring the money and then did good job as well?

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