Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren, Silverstone, 2011

Some pay drivers “not good enough for F1”

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Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren, Silverstone, 2011In the round-up: Martin Whitmarsh says some of the drivers paying their way into F1 don’t deserve a place on merit.


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Whitmarsh concerned by pay drivers (ESPN)

“It’s sad to say, but the reason that some of those guys are pay drivers, not all of them, but the reason that some are pay drivers is because they are actually and fundamentally not good enough to be in Formula One.”

Tough times ahead for some F1 teams (Reuters)

Marussia team principal John Booth: “It (the sport) had to come to its senses a little bit. Maybe we are going through that period again. I don’t think it’s a crisis, (but) maybe re-alignment is required.”

Trulli happy away from F1 (Crash)

“Me driving [at Caterham in 2012] would not have changed much [within the team], or my life, or my career. What people didn’t realise is that I chose not to drive, even though I had a contract in place. I gave the team a change to survive by getting in a pay-driver.”

David Coulthard’s sister Lynsay Jackson found dead at her home (BBC)

“The sister of former Formula One driver David Coulthard has been found dead at her home in the south of Scotland.”

Lewis Hamilton right to criticise Mercedes car, says Ross Brawn (The Guardian)

“He is interested in everything about the car. He is interested in the fact the stickers might not be put properly on the bodywork. He has got a very good eye for detail. I think he is going to be a very involved member of the team, which is what we wanted.”

Q&A with Mercedes? Lewis Hamilton (F1)

“When I am at the factory I speak to all three of them [Ross Brawn, Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda] – or particularly to Ross and Toto because they have all the connections to all the engineers and mechanics. I mention something to Toto and I reiterate it to Ross – I push from both sides.”


Comment of the day

Are Williams already on the back foot?

In my opinion, Williams not having their 2013 challenger ready for the first test is going to be quite detrimental to the start of their season. I know that they tested certain 2013 components on their 2012 cars during this test, but the 2013 is a different car. Modern F1 cars are very integrated, and the efficiency of a certain part is dependent on the characteristic of other parts on the F1 car. Just because a 2013 component will work on their 2012 car does not mean that it will work as well on their 2013 car ?ǣ and vice versa.

All of the other teams already have have 4 days of testing on their cars, they made big strides towards reliability and establishing some sort of base for their cars. Williams must really make the best of the two remaining tests. If they encounter reliability problems during the first few days of the next test which limit their running then they?ll be even further behind.

I just find it a bit odd that the two back marker teams can have their 2013 cars ready for the first test but Williams cannot.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Aqeel!

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

One year ago today the first test at Jerez concluded and Lotus were the quickest of the teams who had brought 2012-spec cars. But the fact that Fernando Alonso was second in the Ferrari F2012 – which later proved way off the pace – shows how unrepresentative testing times can be at this stage:

Image ?? McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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  • 143 comments on “Some pay drivers “not good enough for F1””

    1. Sad thing about David Coulthard´s sister.

      This video showing Ferrari´s bare moncoque is making the rounds on internet, don´t know if you guys saw it already

      1. mmm the factory looks quite old and dull, good thing they’re building a new F1 building

    2. What people didn’t realise is that I chose not to drive, even though I had a contract in place. I gave the team a change to survive by getting in a pay-driver

      Who are you kidding, Jarno?! If you wanted to leave, then why didn’t you leave before the first test? they sacked you, you didn’t quit… otherwise they’d have put Kovalainen in instead of you.

      They were waiting for Petrov’s contract to be ready so they could show you the door…

      1. He was Trulli blind to the circumstances back then…

        1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
          10th February 2013, 0:16

          Haha I see what you did there ;)

        2. Jarno what you’re talking about (awful I know).

      2. As Dr. House once said, rationalisiations are lies that we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better about something. In this case, Trulli has obviously constructed a fantasy version of events because he doesn’t want to admit that he was a spent force. He probably should have retired before the 2011 season, if not a year earlier. Finishing his career with Toyota would have been a good way to leave the port with his dignity intact. As it stands, all he did was waste a seat for two years, and now he’s pretending that he did the team a favour because he either doesn’t want to or cannot accept what actually happened.

        1. tho true, the fact is he had a contract.

          ok contracts ‘sometimes’ mean nothing. But he had one

          1. All contracts have exit clauses built into them. Provided certain conditions are met, that contract can be invalidated. Trulli, who had been racing for a decade at the time, would have known this. The team could have easily dumped him on performance grouonds, since he was getting thoroughly beaten by Kovalainen by the end of the 2011 season.

            1. Yes they do have clauses. but the contract was for the new season. No race had been run. So any performance clause would not of been triggered.

              Say what you like but you cant totally rule out what he is saying could have some truth in it. Everyone believes Timo took one for the team so why cant Jarno? If we were at round 5 then ok, but we were not.

            2. If I recall correctly, Trulii signed a two-year contract starting in 2010, with an option for 2012 if the team chose to take it up.

              You’re complaining that the team broke the contract, but you can’t honestly believe that Trulli deserved to keep his seat?

            3. nothing do with if he deserved it or not. which he didnt. but petrov didnt deserve it either and neither really does 50% of their current choice when jamie and Hekki dont have a drive .they are 2 drivers who should be on the grid.

              His option was taken up in 2011 and he did the first 2012 test, trying out new power steering.

              You cant just say he is lying without any evidence either way. And this years driver choice by them which is not based on performance shows that what Jarno is saying might have some truth

      3. “She didn’t dump me. I dumped her”

        1. Story of my life bro.

    3. “It’s sad to say, but the reason that some of those guys are pay drivers, not all of them, but the reason that some are pay drivers is because they are actually and fundamentally not good enough to be in Formula One.”

      Then do sometihng about it!

      The teams are the ones with the power to make meaningful changes to the sport so that under-talented and undeserving drivers don’t find a way into Formula 1 at the expense of drivers who should be there – but they won’t do it. They won’t do anything about it because they know that if they spend hundreds of millions of dollars per season, then they will be more competitive for it. They drive the costs up, and then complain about it when teams are forced to take money from drivers who would otherwise have no business being in the sport.

      The teams are the only one who can do anything about this situation. The FIA has been pushing for cost-cutting reforms for years now, and the teams have refused to ratify them. As far as I’m concerned, they have no right to complain about it then they have the means to fix the problem and refuse to do so. It’s a case of trying to have their cake and eat it, too.

      1. Comment of the day for me.

        Well said, man.

      2. Whitmarsh tried. All that he achieved was FOTA effectively breaking up. Costs cannot be controlled in F1 until all the teams want them to be, since the effect of not spending as much as your competitors is that you lose.

      3. Yes please.

        As Bernie mentioned during the last season, if he had a second chance he would never let so much control out of his hands, but GFC at that particular time forced him to sell off. Now all the stakeholders want their interests promoted and no one to put the foot down and tell them how it’s going to be.

    4. I watched David Coulthard on Saturday Kitchen and he looked himself and appeared to be very happy to be there. I can only imagine what it was like to hear the news right after being on the show.

      The pay driver debate is very interesting. Watching GP2 last year I didn’t feel anyone on the grid deserved an F1 drive for this year, I certainly didn’t expect to see as many GP2 rookies on the grid this year as there will be. Whilst some of them do seem to have something in them, none of them seemed ready to step up just yet.

      1. I was watching Saturday Kitchen as well and he seemed to be enjoying himself, it’s shocking to think how he might have reacted after the show.

      2. i don’t agree with you ….there is one driver from GP2 Gutierrez who is really something, watch out closely this kid you will surprise how good he is …

        1. I was hoping he would show how good he is in GP2 last year, but he wasn’t as good as I thought he might be. He does have something great in him, but he didn’t consistently demonstrate it in GP2 last year in a field where the standard of drivers was not great, I definitely think he needed another year GP2 or maybe in 3.5.

          @wsrgo I’d say that if Gutierrez has a seat in F1 this year then so should Calado, but as I said, I didn’t think anyone from GP2 last year did enough to show they deserved a seat Formula One this year.

    5. Terrible news about DC’s sister, thoughts go out to him and the family.

      Strong words from Whitmarsh, although I agree with him to an extent. There are huge question marks over Pic, Gutierrez, Razia and Chilton. Some of which may never actually get answered, as in the majority of those cases they won’t have a car to push for any decent results.

      However, this view should be tempered by the fact that some talent has made it’s way into F1 recently, i.e. Perez and particularly Maldonado, with the benefit of huge financial backing. Personally I don’t like Maldonado as a driver, but he’s shown himself to be fast enough, and certainly ruthless enough for F1. Plus his win in Barcelona last year more than justified his place on the grid.

      1. There are huge question marks over Pic, Gutierrez, Razia and Chilton.

        I think it’s a bit unfair to throw Gutierrez in with that lot. He was, after all, the 2010 GP3 Series winner, and that alone is enough to qualify for a superlicence. While he did disappoint in his first season in GP2, ever since 2010 the series has pretty much demanded that drivers do a two-year programme instead of a single season. In 2011, he finished third overall, which is no mean feat. I don’t see you accusing Bottas, the 2011 GP3 series champion, of being undeserving.

        On the other hand, you’ve got Razia, who was in GP2 for four seasons before he became runner-up. Then there’s Chilton, whose career really stems from his family money – his father bought Carlin Motosport to run his son in GP2 in 2011, and he’ll have a devil of a time trying to throw the pay-driver mantle, even if he did have a stunning turnaround in form between 2011 and 2012. As for Pic and van der Garde, they’re not as bad as some of the drivers in the junior series, but they’ve kind of just existed on the same level, never getting worse, but never getting better.

        I also think that a big part of the dislike directed towards Gutierrez stems from the way he replaced Kamui Kobayashi, who was very popular among fans.

        1. Well, the Mexican himself wasn’t sure that he was ready enough for an F1 seat.

          1. Based on what I’ve seen in the past, it’s the drivers who announce that they are ready that you have to watch out for. Formula 1 is different from the junior leagues by a whole order of magnitude, and until you actually race in it, there’s no telling how prepared you are for it. But when drivers like Gutierrez admit that they’re unsure if they’re ready, they are at least acknowledging that they still have a whole lot to learn about Formula 1 – and they’re usually open to learning it. They’re not so convinced that they know what they are doing that they will press on regardless and make no effort to better themselves.

            1. VdGarde has been saying he is ready for F1 for at least 2 years now …

            2. He was the 2008 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion, but then spent the next four years in GP2 without winning the title. I don’t think he’s ready at all, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets replaced halfway through the season.

            3. Given the way F1 works, I don’t think he will be replaced during the year, but I do seriously hope that for 2014 Caterham will find themselves a driver selected more for his promising driving than for his father in law’s chequebook indeed.

              Even being Dutch, I feel rather disheartened by him making his debut, although you never know, Petrov did better than expected and Kobayashi surprised too when Toyota gave him a go late 2009. I would rather wait to see Frijns drive for someone next year or so.

      2. I’m sorry but Maldonado should not be allowed to race in F1 ! Money is the only reason he’s in F1.

        1. @f190 – I assume you missed last season then. Absolutely, he has his rough edges and is still doesn’t know when to back down but I like to see fight in a driver – nobody likes a driver who will jump out of the way anytime somebody pressurises him. For sure he needs to stop crashing so much though.

          There were many positives to his season though: the win in Spain was fantastic; he set a brilliant lap in qualifying (only beaten by the underfueled McLaren) and despite losing the lead at the start kept his composure and duly re-took it with a blinding couple of laps after the clever pit-stop by Williams. From there he resisted pressure from no less a driver than Fernando Alonso and in the end actually began to pull away from him.

          He may have been set for a few more podiums were it not for a slightly silly collision on both parts in Valencia, a retirement in Singapore after a brilliant qualifying lap yet again which put him ahead of Vettel (widely tipped for pole) and a KERS failure in Abu Dhabi.

          So yes he has his faults, but you’d be stupid to deny he’s bloody fast when he’s not crashing!

          1. @vettel1 – I was referring to the fact no team in F1 would want him had it not been for money, which is what true. The guy got a lifetime ban from Monaco, which his father was able to pay to overturn. Without money the ban would stand and no one would want a driver who wasn’t allowed to race at one track per year. I understand it’s a little off topic of ” Pay drivers” but without his dads money no one would want him.

            He then disregards the safety of marshals at the same track by swiping into Perez.

            I know the guys got some raw pace, but his crashing and dangerous side is just too much for me. F1 is the supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport, what message does it send when he twice uses his car as a weapon with little punishment ? One of which was at the very same time track where he received his ban ! Again disregarding the safety of marshals by swiping at Perez. I also dislike his attitude to crashes, he never accepts even 1% of the blame despite most being 100% his fault.

            Overall I just worry for others safety when he’s on track, I get the impression that he’s just living in his own little Maldonado bubble where he’s perfect, which he’s simply not. Fast yes, but should good speed on a couple of occasions really overlook the danger he brings to F1 ? I really don’t think so.. Every team states ” safety first, speed second” a phrase which has been said in the building of new cars. Maldonado simply is unsafe and therefore removed for others safety.

            1. @f190 – many drivers are crash-prone near the beggining of their careers (Sebastain Vettel is one of them) and Vettel has matured significantly to the point where he is very good wheel-to-wheel. I too would like to see him accept more responsibility for his collisions as obviously they are largely his fault but if his attitude changes he will be very good.

              I haven’t heard anything of this ban, in fact I’ve yet to see conclusively that he used his car as a weapon, so would you mind please referencing your claims? I doubt the FIA would succumb to such a ban purely on the basis of a bribe. Anyway back on topic of the danger he poses, I would say that he was “safe” towards the end of last year which suggests that he may be acknowledging his recklessness and acting upon it, so the inherent danger now is Grosjean, who at a fundamental level can’t focus on several cars at once and so has had many first-lap collisions. Maldonado hasn’t.

            2. Max, he ran over a marshall at monaco prior to F1, ignored red flags I think…

          2. He drove really well in singapore. i was hiding behind the sofa (not really but you know what i mean) when he was wheel to wheel with fernando but no he was excellent and fair.

          3. were it not for a slightly silly collision on both parts in Valencia

            Hamilton was blameless in this. Categorically. If somebody decides to rejoin the track by driving into the side of another drive, you can be pretty sure that they carry the blame.

            1. Steve W (@westcoastboogaloo)
              10th February 2013, 18:06

              + 1

            2. @matt90 absolutely, but it was pretty much a formality that Maldonado was going to overtake him at some point, and with Maldonado’s history wouldn’t he have been cleverer to concede position and take the 12 points?

              Definetly though he was entitled to do what he did and Maldoando was entirely in the wrong, that doesn’t stop it from being a needless collision from both parties.

            3. @vettel1 Hamilton had no duty to give Maldonado his place, regardless of how likely it was that he would lose the position eventually. Therefore, it was needless for Hamilton only in so much as it was needless for Maldonado to go out of his way to collide with him. Ceding position to Maldonado because he has a reputation for crashing is a bad precedent in my opinion. Also, anything could have happened (i.e. a safety car, or Maldonado spinning of on his own as in Australia) which would have fully justified holding position.

            4. @matt90 – I think I made it pretty clear that I agree with you, Hamilton was perfectly within his rights to defend against Maldonado. Again though I don’t think he necessarily had to defend against him and that is where we disagree: I think he would’ve been clever to not put up too much of a fight against a much faster car and take the 12 points, you think he should have upheld his right and his racing driver instinct to defend position – I think it was a futile task in the end.

            5. @vettel1
              In essence what you’re saying is this: “it wasn’t Hamilton’s fault… except it was”.

              You are suggesting that a slower car should give way to a faster car, just as a precaution. That’s what your logic boils down to and I’m sorry, but it’s not clever. It isn’t clever to give your position away just because your car is slower, or because someone might think that defending is “futile”.

            6. @maroonjack – absolutely, although not when your car has no hope of defending until the end and the punishment for losing out is 4th place: not a bad result. This wasn’t a fight for the win or a fight for the last world championship point, it was over 3rd and 4th, so Hamilton wasn’t losing out on a huge amount by conceding what was an inevitable loss of position.

              Of course Hamilton was entitled to defend his position though and perhaps Maldonado should have rejoined safely (which the stewards and I agree with) but in the end he didn’t, and it would only have helped Hamilton to give Maldonado the position.

            7. I do feel this argument is getting rather off-track though, we are picking at crumbs here.

    6. some pay drivers not good enough? why has he got one then…

      1. Who, Perez?

        Yes, because three podium finishes in a season is clearly the mark of an untalented and undeserving driver.

        1. On top of that, in only his second season in F1, and at the age of 22.

          The bitterness of many Hamilton fans over Perez taking their boys seat is pathetic.

          1. Who said he was a Hamilton fan? It was a silly thing to say, but doesn’t really imply anything much about who he supports.

            1. I’ve just recently checked his profile, he’s a Raikkonen fan, my mistake.

              Sorry for making a generalization, but I know from personal experience, that on another forum (AS, not this one) Hamilton fans are extremely bitter that Perez has taken over his seat at Mclaren; constantly luring every opportunity to bash him, as they’ve been doing to Button since 2010.

              Then again, that’s not the case here, so my mistake.

            2. @kingshark – Why do you think I left the Autosport forums?

              Technically, I got banned for causing trouble – I didn’t worship the ground Kimi Raikkonen walks on, which raised the ire of Raikkonen’s fans – but one of the moderators explained to me that they had discussed it among themselves and decided to ban me for the sake of placating tempers; he disagreed with it, which is why he sent me the message. They’ve since cleaned it up a bit by closing down all threads dedicated to specific drivers to try and break the factions up, but they’ve only done it recently. I still browse the forums as a guest from time to time, but that’s largely because the only thing they’re good for these days is picking up gossip about driver moves and technical rows.

        2. Have some people forgot about Perez’s consecutive no-scores in the last quarter of 2012?

          For a guy who scored 2 more podiums than his teammate Kobayashi (3vs1), he only has a 6 pt lead over him.

          Says something about Perez’s lack of consistency really. (even though he has shown flashes of talent, he needs to be able to sustain it for the whole season).

          Kobayashi was able to score in a more consistent basis, which people seem to forget to acknowledge that’s important too. (especially when Perez’s target is to win championships with Mclaren)

          1. Have some people forgot about Perez’s consecutive no-scores in the last quarter of 2012?
            In Japan and Abu Dhabi, he made silly mistakes – but those are the only poor results that he is directly responsible for. In Japan, he was a little over-enthusiastic on the approach to the hairpin; in Abu Dhabi, he was racing in a gaggle of four cars when he was forced wide, and probably thought he had more room than he actually did when he rejoined the circuit.

            While the Sauber C31 was a good car at times, it was also very sensitive to the varaiges of circuit design. Korea and Austin simply didn’t suit the car; Perez and Kobayashi were uncompetitive at both events.

            Perez retired from the Indian Grand Prix with a puncture after he made contact with Ricciardo. We saw three spearate punctures over the course of the race; for some reason that was never adequately explained, the Pirelli tyres seemed very, very fragile.

            And as for his retirement from the Brazilian Grand Prix, he was simply caught in the crossfire when Vettel and Senna collided on the first lap.

            1. I remember Abu Dhabi and Japan slightly differently.. Firstly, In Japan Perez tried an over ambitious move on the outside of Hamilton, it went wrong and he crashed, 100% driver error. In Abu Dhabi he again tried an over ambitious double overtake, it didn’t come off and he found himself off the circuit completely, he then dangerously rejoined and was clipped by grosjean who was already on the racing line and 100% committed to the corner.

              There’s no doubt that the guy has some speed, but I worry about his wheel to wheel racing. He, like many in the mid field seem to try over ambitious moves and hope they come off, many depend on the other driver backing out or leaving space to avoid a crash.

          2. heX nevertheless, he scored six more points, which is obviously the most important aspect.


            In Japan Perez tried an over ambitious move on the outside of Hamilton, it went wrong and he crashed

            I don’t think anyone was disputing the fact that was Perez’s fault – it absolutely was (he was stupid to think he could pull the same move twice on Hamilton).

            Abu Dhabi he again tried an over ambitious double overtake, it didn’t come off and he found himself off the circuit completely, he then dangerously rejoined and was clipped by grosjean who was already on the racing line

            Again, I don’t think anybody was disputing the fact Perez was at fault here. I don’t however feel as strongly about it as you, he simply just didn’t recognise that the space wasn’t there.

            His lack of scoring was of course influenced by some needless collisions (namely in Japan – the car was definetly very quick and a capable of a lot of points as Kobayashi proved) but for the large part of the last quarter the Suaber wasn’t the car it was earlier in the season; everybody else had caught up in development.

            Of course Perez needs to improve and perhaps needs to rid himself of the GP2 banzai mentality but he does have the speed and he could prove himself worthy of the McLaren seat, although I am going to be very critical of him as he likely has a car that will be in contention for race wins on a regular basis. Unlike himself though I’m not expecting titles just yet.

          3. Jenson Button had a lame stint of races after the first couple flyaways… that doesn’t mean he’s a pay driver, is he?

      2. Well I haven’t seen any mexican sponsors on McLaren yet, there’s rumors that some will come but not in a big Sauber sort of way, that to me shows that McLaren weren’t mainly looking for money when they signed Pérez.

        1. Of course they weren’t looking for money when they took Perez. They don’t need it. As a front-running team with a massive budget, they can afford to take drivers based on merit and merit alone.

          1. I am not suggesting you are wrong here… but I believe that it’s a combination of the two, @prisoner-monkeys. McLaren is not as desperate (financially) as other low budget teams but I think that hiring Perez obviously increased the likelihood of getting Mexican money in the future and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sponsors baking Perez, especially if he does well. That would be the killing two birds with one stone – having a successful and “paying” driver. Any team would welcome that with open arms.

            MW’s comments are exactly about that.. I agree with him that to be in F1 you have to show potential (ideally) with or without financial backing as opposed to just having financial backing and no real potential.

            1. @zicasso – There’s a difference between hiring a driver on the condition that he provides sponsorship, and hiring a driver in the hopes that it will attract sponsors. Perez falls into the latter category.

            2. @Prisoner Monkeys

              Your first statement is definitely correct – a driver who excels will eventually attract sponsorship. However when it comes to Perez, my understanding was that McLaren held discussions with Carlos Slim or knew that Perez was supported by him so the money would be there.

              Plus, how did Perez get his drive at Sauber? If I recall correctly, the Saubers sported Mexican flags on the rear wings for a while…

            3. There is no evidence that Perez is contractually-obligated to bring sponsors to McLaren.

      3. I can’t believe I’m defending MW’s choice but what other option other than Perez did MW have? No one was significantly better than Perez and when you factor the extras that Perez brought the table, it made it the choice easier.

        1. Hulkenberg is better than Perez.

        2. what other option other than Perez did MW have?

          Nico Hulkenberg?

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            11th February 2013, 2:38

            Not at the time that they started talking to Perez about replacing Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg scored 7,6,8,8,5 in the last 6 races. Suzuka was October 5 2012. If I’m not mistaken that’s about half of Hulkenberg’s points.

            I guess if they had the foresight to see the future, then sure but why wouldn’t they have fixed their car issues instead and kept Hamilton instead?

            I’m pretty sure if Hulkenberg had scored 50 points instead of 31 in the first 13 races he would have gotten the seat – quite unfortunate for Nico indeed.

            1. Also, we don’t know if Hulkenberg actually WAS available for them. Given that he had been in line to replace Massa in 2009 already, it might well be that he has some kind of agreement with Ferrari giving them first call on his services.

    7. “He is interested in everything about the car. He is interested in the fact the stickers might not be put properly on the bodywork. He has got a very good eye for detail. I think he is going to be a very involved member of the team, which is what we wanted.”

      I think it’s a refreshing change of pace that a driver is entitled to question the car like that. We’ve seen plenty of instances in the past where drivers publicly sing praises of a car that looks utterly horrendous, and deny that there is any problem – and when they do make a justifiable criticism of the car, they run the risk of getting fired for it.

      1. Sure it nice that he is involved, it would just be more comforting that Ross would come up with some thing more valuable than Lewis pointing out crooked decals. I don’t think straightening them out will yield two tenths a lap… :\

        1. @reg – You’d be surprised. When the cars are painted, they have to be thoroughly polished and painted in a sterile environement. If a single mis-placed speck of dust is on the chassis when it gets painted, it can cost up to half a second per lap by some estimates. If the decals haven’t been put on the car properly – if there are loose edges or air bubbles – it would affect the aerodynamics of the car.

          And bear in mind that while it sounds like a minor thing, it might be one of a handful of issues Hamilton has reported. Brawn wants to pay tribute to Hamilton’s attention to detail, but obviously isn’t going to reveal any larger flaws in the car when he does so.

          1. Half a second per lap?!! that would have to be a huge bubble or two kilos of dust stuck in the paint haha, maybe in a whole race and thats a big maybe.

            1. It’s only a theory – it’s never actually been seen before. But I was reading an interview with the firm that does most of the painting of chassis, and they are adamant that it could happen if that speck of dust is in the wrong place, most likely an area that influences the airflow over the entire car. The top teams are now using front wings with five or six elements that are all very specific in the way they crafted, so an errant speck of dust that created an imperfection in the paint on the first element of the wing would disrupt airflow over the remaining four (or five) elements, creating unusual and unintended airflow patterns that would disrupt the rest of the car.

            2. What a load of rubbish. A single speck of dust costing half a second? If this is true, and I highly doubt it, imagine the seconds a lap that things like tyre marbles, oil specks and squashed bugs must cost the drivers in every race! Not to mention during a pitstop where the carbon dust off the brakes might go over the car – there goes 15 seconds a lap eh? By some estimates it has been said that 87.567% of all statistics are made up, however these ‘estimates’ must be coming from some kind of source – one spec of dust costing 0.5 seconds a lap? Who is the reputable source of this info?

            3. If this is true, and I highly doubt it, imagine the seconds a lap that things like tyre marbles, oil specks and squashed bugs must cost the drivers in every race! Not to mention during a pitstop where the carbon dust off the brakes might go over the car – there goes 15 seconds a lap eh?

              Ah, but the difference is that those things would naturally be removed. For instance, that brake dust that coats the car would be blown off as the car leaves the pits.

              But a speck of dust under the paint could not be removed. It would create an imperfection in the bodywork, an unintended ripple that, if in the wrong place, would affect the car’s areodynamics. Just look at the Coanda-effect exhaust the teams were using last year: their effectiveness hinges on using a very carefully-constructed shape to the bodywork to control the flow of exhaust gasses. An imperfection in that area could have disastrous consequences.

              You are generalising my comments far too much, making it sound as if a speck of dust caught under the paint anywhere on the car would immediately cost that car half a second per lap. That is not true at all. I said that a speck of dust in the wrong place could cost the car up to half a second per lap. And this comes directly from the people who paint most of the cars (they don’t paint the Ferraris because the exact formula for Ferrari’s red colour is a closely-guarded secret).

              Of course, they’re just estimating that figure. They’ve never had the problem before, because they take extensive precautions against it. They paint the cars in a hermetically-sealed environment that is kept at a constant temperature and humidity. The cars are thoroughly cleaned before they enter the painting area, and the staff have to go through a sterilisation process that would rival most hospital operating theatres.

            4. a speck of dust in the wrong place could cost the car up to half a second per lap

              This statement is hedged enough to ultimately contain no valuable information.

              this comes directly from the people who paint most of the cars

              …who, along with everybody else, have their own agenda: in this case, verbally demonstrating what an extremely important job they are doing, and how professional they are at it.

            5. That doesn’t automatically mean that it’s untrue.

            6. You are digging yourself into a hole on this one Prisoner Monkeys :)

            7. Why, because I’m not a cynic? Cynicism is nothing to be proud of.

        2. ??? Sticking a Turbo label on a 1989 Corolla will easily give you 3 sec’s 0-100 km/h, importance of stickers should not be underestimated!

          1. When I worked in engine development some years ago, a loose screw in an air cleaner caused vibration. This was enough to sap 3 HP from the test dynamometer. When the screw was tightened, we got the 3 HP back so it’s no surprise these little things have a cumulative effect. I often wonder why people drive cars with items fixed to their roof Arial. I know it helps them find their car easier on a busy car park but it increases the drag co-efficient significantly.

            1. When my brother ties his surfboard to the roofracks, he’s not bothered by the drag co-efficient. He’s looking to get his surfboard to the beach.

            2. Aerial attachments aren’t really the same as surfboards.

          2. @tvm

            Those flame decals I put on my first car definately made it go at least 50 mph faster and cut my 0-60 mph time by 2 seconds…

          3. @tvm – It’s a well known physics principal that racing stripes make a car go faster!

      2. PM this would only be true of painted windtunnel models, an inperfection here could lead to skewed data causing downstream problems. On the car, not so much.

    8. You have to wonder whether the proposed budget caps from a few years ago (that most top teams so heavily fought against) would’ve been enough to help smaller teams survive without resorting to “pay drivers”.

      It’s all very easy for Whitmarsh to criticise the use of pay drivers when his team is one of the very few with the luxury of being able to hire any driver they want.

      1. @jackysteeg – The problem with that proposed budget cap was the way it was going to be implemented. It was going to be optional, with a second set of technical regulations published for teams who observed the budget cap. To encourage them to do it, this second set of regulations was going to offer a whole lot more freedom in engineering and design (though some of the proposed regulations were ridiculous – like allowing for four-wheel drive). The teams opposed this because they felt that it was going to create a two-tiered championship, with half the grid observing the budget cap, and half the grid doing as they pleased. Nor did they like the way the FIA wanted them to open up their books to external auditors to police the budget cap. They came very close to agreeing to a budget cap, with the separate set of regulations and mandatory auditing scrapped, but then twenty-four hours after writing to Max Mosley about it, they did an abrupt turn-around and announced the formation of a breakaway series. I suspect the hand of the manufacturers in play: on at least two occasions (Monaco and Silverstone), all parties involved started to show some progress, but then the teams met separately, and everything fell apart again. They always met at a location directly related to a manufacturer (such as Renault’s headquarters at Enstone during the British Grand Prix, despite both Force India and Red Bull having facilities closer to the circuit), and at the time, the FOTA chain of command leaned heavily towards the manufacturers. When the stalemate was broken, the teams presented the Resource Restriction Agreement, which has been voluntarily observed (except for when they accuse one another of breaking it) ever since. It was a very fragile alliance, even before Red Bull left it, triggering an exodus of teams.

        About six months ago, the FIA submitted a new proposal that would see the RRA become mandatory, and teams subjected to private auditing. The FIA would still be able to police it, but it wouldn’t be a public spectacle the way it was under Mosley’s proposals. But the FIA needed the unanimous agreement of the teams to implement it, and only ten teams agreed to it (though HRT have since folded). Red Bull and Toro Rosso are the only ones who refuse to ratify the proposal, claiming the honour system currently used is working. Which is rather odd, considering that they like to portray themselves as a smaller team taking the fight to te heavyweights and winning (see Mark Webber’s comments at the RB9 launch), and should therefore have nothing to worry about if the RRA became mandatory – which suggests that they have something to hide, and that if they had to open up their bookkeeping to the FIA, the FIA would find out just how much money they are spending, and would not be happy with it.

      2. We could have had the budget caps and we would have had 26 HRT/Marussia/Caterhams racing, might as well go straight to GP2 and drop F1.

    9. Yes, there will be a problem with F1’s image as the pinnacle racing series with all these pay drivers. But let’s look at the positives. At least the racing will be more interesting with more potential for crashes.

      1. And more potential for injuries… And deaths…

        Never make light comments such as those about cars crashing.

      2. And the potential for more injuries… And more deaths…

        Never make light comments about wanting more crashes, F1 cars or otherwise.

    10. Sadly, this case of ‘pay drivers’ getting seats is not restricted to Formula 1 alone, but also to GP2. Take Razia for example. If he did not have the money for a fourth season in GP2, would he have got an F1 seat on the basis of his first 3 years in F1? The 2012 GP2 field wasnt very good, but it doesn’t seem like changing much in 2013. Barring a few proper signings(Abt to Lotus and Evans to Arden), 2011=3 could be worse. GP2 was earlier the place to go for drivers from World Series by Renault. But take Jake Rosenzweig. He has done 3 seasons in FR3.5, and has never finished in the top-14 overall, yet he got a seat with Addax for the upcoming GP2 campaign. Simon Trummer(Rapax) is another example. Even f3 Euroseries graduates have been recently heading off to DTM, either packaged by German backers or because they didn’t have enough money(Mortara, Merhi and seems Juncadella too is DTM-bound now).
      The future lies with Formula Renault and World Series by Renault. Although money is required, it is significantly less than GP2, and lots of talented drivers have come through its ranks. Anyway, coming back to Razia, I don’t think he’s gonna last long. He was easily the worst qualifier of the top guys last year, whilst Chilton was the best(I’m not a Brit, so no chance of this being bias). I hope that Mrussia will get the short-term benefit that they need from Razia and then turn their back on him. It sounds harsh, but I’m sorry-if people like Razia can find seats in F1, and the likes of Mortara, Frijns, etc. can’t, then F1 stands the chance of no longer being the pinnacle of motor racing.

      1. If he did not have the money for a fourth season in GP2, would he have got an F1 seat on the basis of his first 3 years in F1?

        Should read as ‘…3 years in GP2.’

      2. I don’t know that the GP2 drivers coming into F1 are really that bad just because they spent a few years in the series. Now if Simon Trummer or Rodolfo Gonzales got an F1 ride, I’d be worried.

        But I watched Razia all year, and to be honest, he was an awesome wheel-to-wheel racer. Driving for Arden (whom no one has ever won a GP2 title before), he defended his position ahead of quicker cars quite brilliantly. He’s not the next Alonso, because if he was, he would have been noticed 4 years ago…..but… he’s going to be perfectly capable in F1.

        I do agree that the pay driver ratio in GP2 is out of whack (see previous comments regarding Rozenzwieg at Addax) though. Thankfully F1 is not there yet.

        1. Yes, but Razia with three seasons under his belt had to have better experience in wheelcraft than the likes of Calado, Nasr, Chilton and Gutierrez.
          And car gradation is almost non-existent in GP2. Dallara provides the teams with chassis and there is standardisation in almost every aspect. The difference could be down to the people working for the team. Foe example, I would expect the likes of Lotus, Arden, DAMS and Carlin to make better pitstops and strategies than the likes of Rapax, Ocean etc.
          Partnering Chilton, one of the best qualifiers last year in GP2, Razia will probably be peerless(at the back)in qualifying unless Marussia come up with a magic wand. And his wheelcraft that he showed in GP2 won’t be tested beyond occasionally jumping out of the way of the big guns. If he can keep a cool head, and make as few mistakes as possible, I’ll consider it a job well done.
          2013, I think will be a baptism by fire for the GP2 series, and a true test of its depth. Despite the grid already looking slightly better than 2012, it is still not like the FR3.5 grid(Sirotkin, da Costa, Magnussen, Nato, Vandoorne, Melker, Jaafar etc.).

          1. Forgot to mention you in the above comment @gitanes

    11. “…the reason that some are pay drivers is because they are actually and fundamentally not good enough to be in Formula One”

      In other news from Martin Whitmarsh, the sky is blue and water is wet. Film at 11.

    12. Just thought this picture of a McLaren M14A painted in the Vodafone chrome livery should be shared. It looks absolutely gorgeous.

      I suggest we go back to those regulation, just make the monocoque carbon fiber, use next years engines and add a few more wings and Bam, we have the best F1 season ever.

      Well, one can dream….

      1. Agreed, it looks beautiful!

      2. I’d pay an awful lot of money to see F1 cars going back to looking like that !

    13. Whitmarsh is right, but its tough to fix the problem. Either play Robin Hood and take from the tops teams to give more prize money to the lower teams, reduce expenses to allow for a full grid giving more opportunities, or take more risks as a team. None seem to be happening to quickly.

      1. I saw an idea on another forum that I actually quite like. It involves only awarding constructors’ points to a team’s second driver. Or, in other words, the team would only get points once both their drivers finish the race, and only if both drivers finish the race. It’s designed to encourage teamwork, offers mathematical proof of how the team is being run and who is being supported by their team, and it makes the tail-enders’ results more meaningful, even fi they don’t get the glory of finishing in the top ten.

        Taking Whitmarsh’s comments on-board, it would also give up (or at least reduce) the need for pay drivers by encouraging teams to take the drivers who can get them the best results – ie, the most talented drivers – because results will yield points, points will determine the championship placings, and each championship place will result in more prize money from the broadcast rights. Teams wouldn’t have to rely on monied drivers, because talented drivers would be more valuable to them.

        1. Only problem is that you would still need money to make a reliable car

    14. In unrelated news, Kimi Raikkonen split with wife.

    15. I don’t understand Whitmash’s argument. I just don’t see how having rookies in top teams in feeder formula’s would get them in to f1 any quicker when the spots in F1 are being filled by pay drivers anyway.

      Forcing every F1 team to have a rookie however… Now that would 100% without a doubt definitely work, funny how he doesn’t suggest it for the formula he’s competing in. :P

      1. @skipgamer

        I just don’t see how having rookies in top teams in feeder formula’s would get them in to f1 any quicker when the spots in F1 are being filled by pay drivers anyway.

        Because the feeder series are gettign clogged up with drivers who aren’t going to advance any further than GP2 (it’s not so bad in Formula Renault 3.5). And just look at some of the drivers who were racing in last year’s championship: Davide Valsecchi (five years in GP2), Luiz Razia (four years), Giedo van der Garde (four years), Rodolfo Gonzalez (four years), Dani Clos (four years), Luca Filippi (seven years, though his 2012 campaign was limited to four races). Likewise, there are a handful of drivers going into their fourth season this year: Marcus Ericsson, Fabio Leimer and Johnny Cecotto. And they’ve all taken seats at front-running teams. Ericsson is with DAMS, Leimer with Racing Engineering, and Cecotto with Arden.

        Compare that to some of the drivers who have graduated from GP2 to Formula 1: Nico Rosberg (one year), Lewis Hamilton (one year), Nico Hulkenberg (one year), Kamui Kobayashi (two years), Timo Glock (two years) and Sergio Perez (two years). There’s a trend here – the best drivers are the ones who are spending the least amount of time in GP2. Admittedly, a driver really needs two seasons in GP2 to get the most out of it these days, but when you’ve got drivers like van der Garde and Razia who are taking four years just to get to Formula 1, there’s a serious problem.

        Part of the issue is the way GP2 expanded out to include four flyaway rounds last year, after merging with GP2 Asia. This drove costs up a lot, so only the most-monied drivers can afford to drive. Also affecting things is the way GP2 drivers cannot race if they take part in a Grand Prix session – even if they’re doing what Esteban Gutierrez did in India last year, and filling in for a sick driver (Perez) in the first practice session.

        Whitmarsh’s comments make sense, because it would get rid of drivers who have no business being in GP2 – much less Formula 1 – and so are wasting seats. Ricardo Teixeria is the main offender here, but the likes of Gonzalez and Rosenzweig are just as bad at it.

        1. Actually, no. The data you list is not relevant to the question. Hami, Koba, Hulk etc were not good besause they spent little time in feeder series, it was the other way around. They spend little time because they were good _and_ because there was room for them in F1. So in fact their case is an argument against effectiveness of Whitmarch’s idea. It would increase the driver turnover in feeder series, essentially forcing both good and bad drivers out after a few years, without making any steps towards making room for them in F1.

          The bottom line is simple: If F1 teams wanted to pick someone really good from feeder series after the driver was two years there, they were always perfectly free to do so. But they rarely did in the last few years. Good teams are conservative and do not pick from feeder series, small teams look for money and talent is just secondary. No mixing up of feeder series would change this attitude in F1. The longevity of drivers you complain about is the consqeuence of this attitude in F1, not the cause of it.

          If a sieve is blocked, it does not matter how hard you stir the liquid. You have to unclog the sieve.

      2. Forcing every F1 team to have a rookie however… Now that would 100% without a doubt definitely work, funny how he doesn’t suggest it for the formula he’s competing in. :P

        I don’t think that’s the solution. Some top drivers need more than 1 year to shine in F1 so replacing them every year would only allow the early bloomers to remain in F1.

        I think a better solution would be for teams to be limited to 1 pay driver. The second driver has to be a “talent” driver. That would open 5-6 extra spots for the top drivers to enter the sport and slowly rise through the ranks until they turn into a future Alonso or a future Senna.

        Now who would decide that a driver is really a talent driver? I guess a committee would have to do that.

    16. Is Fernando Alonso a pay driver from Santander?

      1. Yes.
        Vettel was also a pay driver from Red Bull and Hamilton had his seats paid for by McLaren.
        People shouldn’t bash drivers before their F1 rookie season; they should reserve their judgements for afterwards.
        For example, James Hunt wasn’t exactly outstanding in the junior series, but in a Formula 1 car he was stellar.
        Sometimes, drivers styles suit F1 better than the junior formulae, as was the case with James Hunt.

      2. No, pay drivers pay the team to race for them. Alonso is paid big time by Ferrari to race for them.

        1. indeed, there’s a big difference between ‘pay drivers’, drivers whose sponsor pay the team to let him drive, and ‘drivers with sponsors’. Santander doesn’t pay Ferrari, they pay Alonso because he is a very valuable marketing tool for them.

        2. When a sponsor obligates the team to hire certain driver that would make him pay driver.

          1. If you’re referring to Santander ‘forcing’ Ferrari to hire Alonso then you’d better bring some evidence to back your claim.

            1. Exactly. From now on, every time someone says something totally stupid or retarded like that and fails to back it up w/ a link to a primary source that we can review to make our own determination, we should call them on it. The journalist Glenn Greenwald, a former lawyer, is the master of this. Rest assured that pretty much anything he alleges is backed-up w/ fact that we the readers can review. And those who disagree with him are doing so for ideology, not out of logic (b/c he would smash them w/ his faultless logic). So why not apply same standards to F1 reporting and commentary?!

            2. Santander paid off Raikonnen in order to get Alonso in the Ferrari a year ahead of schedule. Remember Kimi still has a year of his contract to run.

              Anybody remotely involved in Formula One knows that.

            3. It is your own view revealing who they are..

            4. Anybody remotely involved in Formula One knows that.

              And since you fail to bring some proof to what ‘anybody knows’ , your argument is remotely valid.

    17. Thanks for wishing me on my Birthday

      1. Happy birthday!

    18. Terrible news about Coulthard. My thoughts are with him.

      1. Indeed, what a tragedy for such a young mother with a baby daughter to leave us so soon.

    19. It’s great to hear again from Jarno Trulli: I’ve been a fan of him since I first started watching in 2000. First of all he makes a point that he chose not to drive in 2012, but that he let Petrov drive for the benefit of the team. To be fair, I can say the same of that as James Hunt said about Rene Arnoux during the Monaco GP.

      Trulli then goes on to make some fair points. Pay drivers are indeed not good for Formula 1, this point has been made many times. But then he adds that the lack of manufacturers in F1 is also the culprit: the independent teams have no further interest than F1, so with the global crisis they are struggling financially and are forced to hire paying drivers. I’m not sure if this is really the problem in F1 today: I would say that because the sport has become too big. This puts enormous strain on the teams and of course they are struggling to deliver. That’s why budget caps are necessary for the sport.

      The final point he makes is maybe the most interesting: do we need the smaller teams at the back? Those teams are supposed to be the breeding ground for young talent, but at the moment there are only pay drivers racing at Caterham and Marussia. I would say that the smaller teams at the back are good for the sport, but the state they are in right now is not good. Again I see this as a consequence of the point I made earlier.

      1. First of all he makes a point that he chose not to drive in 2012, but that he let Petrov drive for the benefit of the team.

        What? In the days before he was replaced, Trulli was talking up his chances in the new season. If he was genuinely stepping aside to let Petrov in, why on earth was he acting as if he was going to be racing in 2012? Why was he upset when he got replaced? And why has it taken a year for him to come forward and claim that he was acting in the interests of the team all along?

        1. I suspect that it’s probabaly got something to do with his payout settlement as he did still have a year of his contract to run (e.g. unable to say anything negative about the team in public for 12 months after settlement).

          Notice how he’s come out now to talk about it exactly 12 months after he was replaced by a money bags driver.

    20. Lewis Hamilton right to criticise Mercedes car, says Ross Brawn (The Guardian)

      “He is interested in everything about the car. He is interested in the fact the stickers might not be put properly on the bodywork. He has got a very good eye for detail. I think he is going to be a very involved member of the team, which is what we wanted.”

      Come on! Stickers?! Really?! Maybe I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t even think about it, even if I notice something odd about them. I’d have so much concern about what really matters that it would be stupid to mention it. “Hey boss, look, the car doesn’t feel right, I think those stickers…” sigh

      1. I think you’re missing the point.

        1. That’s why Hamilton is a top F1 driver and not Mr Camp lol.

      2. To be honest, if a sticker lifts up and blocks airflow to a crucial aerodynamic element, then performance will be severely reduced.

      1. How is this relevant to anything mentioned in the round-up or indeed F1 in general?

    21. I feel that COTD is a bit alarmist. The first test is about getting the revised internals ratified and reliable. They can do that by bolting it onto last year’s car. Williams have opted for extra development time and would not have done so without good reason or without planning a comprehensive workaround. I’m actually more hopeful that they’ve found this year’s secret weapon and needed the time to get it right. You just never know! Fingers crossed for team Willy and the 35!

    22. A Brazilian news outlet is reporting that Rory Byrne is going back to Ferrari.. can anyone confirm this?

      1. Yep, its on sky f1 site

    23. I’m thinking Whitmarsh is losing more marbles by the day.

      Is he bashing Perez or what? Because in my eyes he’s one of the drivers not good enough.

    24. A bit of a strange one, and with this being reported in German top Tabloid Bild one might doubt it, but it seems Hülkenberg has to cut the soles of his shoes a bit so his toes don’t bump against the top of the chassis.
      Hülkenberg (in German):

      „Meine Zehen stoßen in dem engen Cockpit immer oben an, wenn ich auf die Pedale gehe. Unser Trick ist, dass wir die Gummi-Sohle hinten an den Fersen abschneiden. Damit gewinnen wir ein bisschen Platz!“

    25. The same things every year. I agreed with an earlier post, the top teams such as McLaren are to blame for the high costs and always have been. The smaller teams really have no other option than to hire pay drivers, its just in recent years become more acute due to the economy and rising costs. The big car makers such as Honda and Toyota masked this problem until four years ago when they left F1, what we have now are more independants without the billions on tap as the manufacturers did and its starting to show.
      Pay drivers are nothing new. Aryton Senna once bemoaned this issue twenty five years ago and it is and will always be there in F1, especially with the smaller teams. Lest we forget, the millions F1 once made from tabacco advertisement years ago which they lost when it was banned. Alot of the smaller teams’ cars are not exactly awash with companies logos adorning their sides, the money, in the end, has to come from somewhere.

    26. That’s why you need to bring Rubens back! ;)

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