“We’re going back to ’90s, when the grid was composed by 18 squads – mostly private – who had to integrate their budget by choosing rich drivers,” said Minardi.
“Starting by saying that if a driver gets the superlicence, then he deserves to race in F1, the impossibility to get enough money through sponsorships, forces a team to choose those drivers who can either rely on the support of multinational companies or on the support of countries which use sport to promote their own products and tourism; their choice is not based on sports meritocracy.
“Teams’ financial situation won’t be better, as the reintroduction of the turbo engine in 2014 will further increase costs.”
The debate over ‘pay drivers’ in F1 has resurfaced since Timo Glock lost his seat at Marussia. Other teams are expected to cut established drivers to make way for paying newcomers.
Minardi says this hows the cost-cutting measures introduced in F1 in recent years must go further:
“Private testing restriction has forced teams to concentrate their resources on new sectors, such as virtual simulation. Moreover, top teams can rely on an in-house team who supports technicians in managing the race.
“To reduce costs, it should be necessary to have less sophisticated cars, reduce the employment of electronics and aerodynamics and set rules which will help the development of material and technology to be applied on the series production.”
“Car racing has always been one of the most expensive sports ever,” he continued. “Since a long time ago, all the drivers who made it into F1, could rely on the support of their family and important companies. It’s hard to see a driver pushing forward with his own resources.
“The revolution FIA is carrying on now is aiming at reducing the number of categories in order to make the talent identification process easier. In the past, we had only few categories: Formula One, Formula Two and Formula Three. In F2 there were four or five constructors and more engine suppliers. That was the right way to emphasise talent.
“We must have the courage to make some steps backwards, even if it’s not easy.”
Minardi pointed out that “GP2, GP3 and [Formula Renault 3.5] teams have many vacancies” which is an “alarm bell” for the sport. And he pointed out that some of the new sources of funding some teams are using may only work in the short term:
“Furthermore, there is another particular circumstance that should be taken under control: many parents are either buying or becoming part of racing teams to assist their sons’ professional development. No doubt this means certainty to some teams, but, if results didn’t come, they could give up.
“That is what happened when car companies got into F1. As soon as the crisis started to affect the world of car racing, car companies left the scene, causing problems for the entire system.”
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