The pay driver debate needs to move on


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In professional sport the viewing public expect the competitors to be the best in their discipline.

If I were to turn up at Old Trafford with 20 million quid I would not be able to buy myself a place in Manchester United’s starting eleven. Nor would my wad serve as a ticket to the middle of an England rugby scrum or get me in the starting blocks alongside Usain Bolt.

My imaginary budget pales in comparison to the enormous revenues Formula One generates every year. And that is precisely why a lot of people have a hard time accepting the place of pay drivers in Formula One.

A cause for concern

The subject of pay drivers has been a theme of the off-season. Experienced drivers like Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock have been shown the door while the sport has welcomed drivers whose passage through the lower ranks owes much to their funding as well as their ability.

It’s a debate which provokes some unsatisfactory knee-jerk responses. The first is that it is nothing to worry about because there have been pay drivers in F1 before.

Of course it is true that drivers have bought places in F1 before. And many of them were more egregiously unqualified for the job than those who are paying their way in today.

But as long as there are objectively better qualified and less well financed drivers being left on the sidelines, the disquiet over pay drivers will not go away. The sport has greater media exposure today that it has ever enjoyed, and unpalatable facts like these one are less likely to be glossed over.

Others respond to the pay driver debate by pointing out that there are still many fine drivers in F1. This is certainly true as this recent article makes clear.

But if F1 is not going to be about the 22 best drivers in the world then how few are we prepared to settle for? Eleven? Five? Two?

Fernando Alonso may not be in imminent danger of losing his seat to Channoch Nissany. And Ma Qing Hua is not about to be announced as an 11th-hour replacement for Sebastian Vettel.

But at the other end of the grid drivers who were being paid are being replaced by drivers who are paying their way. And I do not believe any argument which says that is a good thing for Formula One.

Survival, not greed

The most unhelpful debates are those where opposing sides don’t engage with each other. That’s what I feel is happening when I read comments from fans complaining about the rise of pay drivers and responses from journalists saying ‘it’s OK, F1 has had pay drivers before’.

I agree that paid drivers being replaced by paying drivers can only be bad for the sport. And I agree that there have been paid drivers in F1 before. Can we accept that both these points of view are reasonable, not mutually exclusive and move on to the next point?

F1’s smaller teams are not getting rid of their experienced drivers and bringing in well-heeled rookies out of greed. They’re doing it to survive.

The sport has already lost one team over the winter. The rise in pay drivers is not just bad for F1’s reputation as a professional sport, it’s a sign that its financial model has become unsustainable even with a less than full field.

It’s time for the pay driver debate to move on and become a discussion about why F1’s huge income is apparently inadequate to sustain what should be the 11 best teams and 22 best racing drivers in the world.


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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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167 comments on “The pay driver debate needs to move on”

  1. mattshaw85 (@)
    15th February 2013, 9:26

    Fully agree with this. I suppose it’s easy to get caught up on one issue when it’s the one that seems most prominent – but as you say it’s more a sign that the greed cannot be sustained. Circuits not being able to afford to stage the races, dwindling attendances in places (germany for example?), and the simple fact that teams have to resort to employing the most valuable driver rather than the most talented point to this.

    The nature of greed though, I think will mean not much will change until it absolutely HAS to.

    1. You’re right to bring the circuits into this – the bigger picture needs to be considered.

      Formula 1 has left many of its traditional homes in Europe behind to head for pastures new in any country rich enough to hold a race, such as Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. Presumably Bernie Ecclestone is charging the organisers of those races a fortune, because he knows he can. Meanwhile, the remaining traditional circuits are feeling the squeeze of the year-on-year fee escalator. All of that means that the teams should have more money than ever before, yet only a few of them are able to employ drivers purely on merit, with no financial considerations. Why is that?

      I think it comes down to two things. Firstly, I think the teams aren’t getting a large enough share of the cake. But that’s largely their own fault – every attempt at collective bargaining so far has unravelled when one or two teams realise they can get more for themselves by going it alone. Secondly, I think they need to control costs a lot more effectively than they have been doing. As someone said a year or two ago, fans don’t care whether the teams are spending £2 or £2000 on each wheel nut, as it doesn’t affect “the show”, but any team rich enough will still spend £2000 on each one if they feel it gives them even a one-hundredth of a second advantage, while those who aren’t rich enough will start to look for extra income so that they can keep up. Again, the teams could quite easily sort that out themselves if they really wanted to.

      I don’t think the situation will change as long as Ecclestone is in his job. He is too powerful and too shrewd a negotiator to give anything away to the teams, and they in turn are too greedy to look beyond their own short-term self-interest for the good of the sport.

      1. Probably one of the more measured analysis I’ve seen in a very long time. Well said.

  2. Completly agree with that statement Keith!

    It’s rediculous to see how much money is pored into f1, from sponsors, teamowners, televisionrights, hosting fees etc. It amounts to billions of euro’s/dollars/pounds….

    Which just goes to show that tyhe money is not going where it should, and by that I mean Bernie’s backpocket

    1. I think the sport’s younger and poorer teams can survive without resorting to pay drivers, but most of that help would have to come from the FOA. Maybe changing the payouts to teams of television rights and points to cash allocation system needs to be tweaked to give the smaller teams a chance.

      I do not see any of this happenning while Bernie is around though..he seems way to concerned with hoarding all the money he can before he pops it.

      1. I have been banging on about the financial drain foisted onto F1 by B.E. so long that I worry other readers are going to brand me a grumpy old fart and skip my comments. This is a serious threat to F1.

    2. @keithcollantine – you can rightfully give yourself comment of the day, well done sir!

  3. Drop Valencia!
    15th February 2013, 9:32

    Maybe we should let these pay drivers actually drive a GP or 2 before we **** can them….

    1. The issue isn’t the drivers themselves, but the reasons they get the seats, surely it should be results and talent that attract them opportunities in F1, and not their wallets.

    2. There is a regulatory process already in place when obtaining a super license. All drivers wishing to race in F1 must meet those requirements. So I say, if drivers meet those requirements then they deserve to be in F1, be it a paying driver or not. So the only thing that can really have any influence to “paying” drivers is the FIA and their rules.

  4. I wholeheartedly agree with this article. The fair distribution of F1’s significant earnings is a topic that needs to be addressed. If not, only a handful of teams will be able to survive, & the sport cannot survive with just a handful of teams.

  5. Why is it upsetting to see less capable pay drivers take the place of great paid drivers? It’s us fans that romanticize F1 and think of it as a drivers sport. But I don’t think it is. It’s a team sport, so F1 doesn’t need to have the best drivers in every car. The teams have different objectives, for some, it makes sense to put in a pay driver.

    I don’t worry about it. My attention is focused towards the front of the grid. The regular drivers there are paid drivers.

    1. I don’t worry about it. My attention is focused towards the front of the grid. The regular drivers there are paid drivers.

      Well, isn’t that a bit short sighted, if not naive? If the trend of increasing number of pay drivers continues, the “front of the grid” too will consist of pay drivers in a not too distant future.

      Besides that, if you don’t see this as a problem anyway because “it’s is a team sport”? Why would your attention only be on the front of the grid where “the regular drivers there are paid drivers”?

    2. I don’t think it “romanticises” any sport to suggest that at its pinnacle it should not be contested by those who are less than the best. It’s not as if there are many other major international sports where that is the case – certainly not those F1 likes to compare itself to in terms of popularity such as football or the Olympics.

      1. Another often overlooked fact about past pay drivers is that they often purchased their “customer cars” from a top team and ran as amateurs alongside (behind mostly) the full field of teams.

    3. I tend to agree with this.

      I think most of us probably overemphasize how much the driver really contributes anyway. It’s kind of hard to measure because of the qualifying format, but how much is the back of the field off the pace of the front? Three or four seconds, maybe?

      Okay, how much of that is the driver and how much is the car? Honestly, we can never entirely know. But, the cars at the back of the field are not capable of competing with the front, or even middle, of the field. Insert Alonso, or Vettel, or Hamilton into a Marussia and they’re not going to miraculously put that car in the top 10. People may bring up Senna, but what he was able to do happened in a much different era and he was clearly a talent beyond the norm.

      I think if a “pay” driver were really terrible and incapable of holding his own, first he wouldn’t even get a super licencse, and second, his pace would be so far off the field, he wouldn’t meet the 107% rule.

      Ultimately, just becuase someone is paying for a seat does not mean they’re not a good driver. That just seems to be the perception.

  6. It’s a shame that formula 1 is about money and about surviving, but all the so-called pay drivers at Marussia and Caterham have proven their racing skills in lower formulae (in my opinion that is).

    The debate has reached it’s peak after Kovalainen was replaced by Van der Garde. Although Giedo spent way too much time in lower formulae, he did manage to win races and/or fought for the championship in every class he has competed in. Mainly because of this he managed to attract sponsors rather than the other way around. It’s not like the pay-drivers from today are the new Nissany’s, Hua’s, Belmondo’s, Rosset’s or Délétraz’s, are they?

    1. @matthijs It’s true that the quality of drivers paying their way in is better than it has been some times. But I don’t think it’s good enough that a driver can tread water in junior championships for year after year courtesy of his sponsors, then get a seat at an F1 by dint of the fact that more capable drivers have been priced out of competing.

      1. I agree with you in the basis. I believe that drivers as Kovalainen, Glock and Kobayashi are too good to be replaced, so in that way it is a negative development. But it’s not like (future) world champions are being replaced by idiots. Furthermore, Maldonado fits your definition of a driver that treads water in junior championships for year after year courtesy of his sponsors, but appears to be a valuable driver now.

        So, I agree with you on the negative trend, but in the end the trade-off in talent is not that big.

  7. I think Commercial rights holder (CVC) should be made to have a proportional share holding in each F1 team – That way they would be reluctant to drain their assets of as much money that they do and ensure they have an eye on increasing the value of the teams rather than compromising it.

    That said, F1 teams receive massives revenues and alot is spent on drivers salaries, top managaement salaries and expensive marketing activities. The whole sport needs to have a look at its self and get some regulation in place to ensure that if the current financial climate continues that there is a sport in 5 years time.

  8. I do sometimes ask myself whether the teams how too much power over Formula One. Barcelona and Real Madrid don’t have any power over the rules of football, so I don’t really understand why teams in F1 should have power. Perhaps the FIA need to give the teams the impression that the teams need Formula One, more than the FIA needs them and if any team threatens to go, then the FIA should stand their ground and let them. If this happens, then there would be fewer problems in implementing budget caps.

    Perhaps I’ve missed something here, but I don’t like how the teams can protest against changes in the rules.

    1. Barcelona and Real do can protest rules change, they just act under a more stable framework. Plus, Spanish football economics is just as bad as Formula 1, it’s a club with two very important member who eat 80% of the pie leaving the rest for the rest…

    2. I agree that the teams have too much input into the rules of the sport at the moment. Lots of the proposed aerodynamic changes have been watered down at the teams’ insistence, because the big teams are afraid of losing their position at the top of the pecking order. We could have ground effects back by now if not for the teams.

      FOTA has made things even worse – the teams operating as a bloc has meant that the big teams have subdued the smaller ones. At least in the old days the dissenting voices of smaller teams like Jordan and Minardi (under Paul Stoddart) meant that the big teams couldn’t change absolutely everything to their advantage.

    3. When one looks at the reluctance of Spanish justice to give information on other sporters using dope from doctor Ferrari (claimed to have contained a lot of Real Madrid players), I doubt that in effect these teams have much less influence in Spain than teams like Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren have in F1 @slr

    4. It’s a very different situation- the rules in football don’t regularly change to anywhere where the same degree. Changes in F1’s rules can dramatically affect teams, and sometimes (not always) they are best placed to argue why a particular change might not be for the best.

  9. Valentine’s Day might be over but let me say that I truly love F1 Fanatic for articles, such as this.

    I’m a Kovalainen fan but I don’t think that I’ll stop watching F1 just because Kovalainen has left to give way for a combination of less talent and more cash. And I certainly won’t stop watching F1 just because the current GP2 champion isn’t on the grid, while four guys, who were behind him are going to make their F1 debuts this year. Even more, I wish all the rookies best of luck and hope that they are going to do well and exceed expectations. One could also say that most fans cheer for the best drivers and the top teams so, as long as McLaren, Ferrari, Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton are there, everything’s fine.

    But the trends are worrying. If there are persistent rumours that McLaren hired Perez (instead of Hulkenberg or di Resta) because of his sponsors, then something has clearly gone wrong here, even if these rumours are not true. Is the current business model of F1 sustainable? Who will replace Hamilton and Alonso when they retire? Who is going to come in place of Red Bull, Mercedes and Lotus if these teams drop out of F1 for whatever reasons? Small teams with more pay drivers or maybe no one? These are the questions that we should ask ourselves today and saying that HRT were miserable anyway and that Glock was no world champion anyway won’t help to find the answers to them.

  10. I also agree that pay drivers shouldn’t be driving in F1. If a team cannot survive without pay drivers, than it shouldn’t be on F1 grid either.

    But one thing that I read a few weeks ago in BBC article about F1 astonished me. It said:

    “F1’s entire global TV rights income is about the same as that of the Turkish football Premier League – in the region of $490m.”


    F1 is one of the most popular sports in the world, it’s viewing figures are about 600 m (correct me if I’m wrong) and Bernie is trying to sign very profitable agreements with tracks around the world and he knows how to do business. So I don’t get it, why they can’t earn more? What’s the problem?

    1. @osvaldas31 I wonder whether that figure is after CVC take their slice.

      1. @keithcollantine, I also thought that figure very strange, but as you say maybe that is the “profit” after FOM/CVC take their costs/fees .We really need clarity in this area, after all, Bernies great talent is screwing every last dollar out of “partners”, why such a poor result from TV. ?
        BTW how much was the Sky UK deal worth?

        1. Given that most of the “cost” at CVC are actually interest payments for loans taken to give them their investment back up front, its a figure that is certainly lower than it could be to reflect how much the sport really brings to the participants.

      2. By coincidence (or not), there is an article on the BBC webs ite ( which states that –

        F1’s income was about £963m ($1.5bn) in 2011, the last year for which figures were published.

        1. that figure has been known for some time but the breakup into various sources of income like TV sales, track payments (20x$30m?) are not available.

          1. Yes, quite so. CVC is a private company, isn’t it? So they don’t have to publish accounts, so we can’t do a back-calculation from there.

  11. I think thier is to many pay drivers in f1 and I think it sends a bad message out about F1.

  12. The comparison to football is a little unfair. The fact is that F1 is about the performance of driver, team and machinery. It’s not just about individual raw talent. Indeed, this complexity is precisely what draws most of us to F1. If the difference between a good an great driver is say 0.4 seconds a lap, and a good driver can bring to a team the investment required to produce a 0.5 second per lap improvement, then it makes sense for the team to take this ‘pay driver.’ That’s nothing to be ashamed of: it’s part of the sport and should remain so, in my opinion. There are formulae out there in which everyone races in more or less the same car, and in my view these lack the on and off track excitement and fascination of F1.

    1. @davidjh But they aren’t making that determination based on a few tenths of a second here versus a few tenths of a second there. They’re making it based on “if we don’t get in someone who can pay we can’t go racing”.

      1. Well, then that’s the difference between 0.4 sec per lap and 1’21.345 per lap, isn’t it?

        1. @azwing yes, which is brings us on to the topic of costs. That is a whole other discussion though.

          I definetly think that that money shouldn’t influence who gets a seat – money doesn’t buy you talent. When it comes to two drivers who are very closely matched but one brings £10m in sponsorship I have no gripes against the team taking the funds but when we are seeing drivers like Chilton, who definetly aren’t the best drivers out there, something needs to be fixed.

          Perhaps if the junior leagues put less emphasis on money and more on talent we would see more great drivers coming through the ranks as apposed to living sponsors, enough to justify the extra talent over the speed which money undoubtably brings. So maybe this is an issue that needs to be tackled in the embryonic stages, which is what John Surtees has rightly highlighted.

      2. I agree with David’s comment, that just because one driver has to pay for a seat in a team while another draws a salary doesn’t mean the first driver is lesser of a driver than the second. There are corporates who like to be associated with particular drivers, for example there is a Spanish bank that liked to be associated with Alonso, so whenever he shifted teams, they would cancel their sponsorship with the ex-current team and shift to the new one. It wouldn’t surprise me if all of the top drivers have corporates that do this. No one thinks this is wrong.

  13. I don’t mind pay-drivers too much, there are staff bills to pay after all and some of them are pretty handy behind the wheel. These teams have hundreds of staff with all hopes resting on the talents of two drivers, I suspect they don’t hire those with no skill at all.

    What I really object to is all the money that comes into CVC only 47%* of it reaches the teams.
    If that is true that means around £500,000.00 is going disappearing to the hands of speculators and other venture capital types.

    As you mention it Keith; considering the debt of a lot of football clubs I wager that if you turned up with 20 million quid in a few years time they would let you kick the ball for a few minutes towards the end of the game if the result was secured.

    * (

    1. £500,000,000.00 even

    2. I was thinking that too. Drawing comparasions between pay drivers in F1 and paying to play at Manchester United or Real Madrid is unfair. If you think of these teams as the Ferrari’s, Mclarens, and Red Bull’s – they don’t take pay drivers.

      My football team play in the Blue Square Conference. I can pretty much guarantee they’d sign me up for a season if I gave them £20 million quid. Infact, there’s rumours of it happening in the past. (Players being kept on because their fathers funded the youth teams for example).

      When you get to the level I follow football at, our budget deficit runs at around £1.5 million a year. You’d be mad to think that the chairman wouldn’t be happy to plug that with a pay-to-play player. Whether anyone would want to on the other, based on how fans and teammates might react is another matter.

      1. thats interesting @danbrown180

  14. I’m not as young as I’d like to be but being just under 30 doesn’t qualify me as “old” enough unless I’m a professional athlete. But I started watching F1 in early 1990’s when I was a kid and by the end of 1990 I was already addicted to F1 and I struggle to recall a grid without the so called “pay driver”.

  15. I don’t think the pay driver issue is any different today than its always been, Less funded teams have always brought in at least 1 driver who has backing.

    I also think that the concept of a pay driver is different now compared to what it was in the past as you have drivers who are part of a driver development program or have backing from companies aiming to assist local talent etc….

    Also the drivers who do pay there way into F1 today tend to actually be decent drivers who have had success in lower categories such as GP3/GP2 & WSBR.
    In the past pay drivers simply brought there way into F1 having done nothing in lower categories & were clearly well out of there depth in F1 & that simply doesn’t happen now.

    Also there’s this illusion that F1 only features the very best drivers in the world, In reality that has never been the case & likely never will be.

    1. I don’t think the pay driver issue is any different today than its always been.

      Did you read the article? We all know that there have been paid drivers in F1 before. It’s not a secret. It’s not some obscure fact that needs to be pointed out every time. But it’s not an argument. This is still a negative phenomenon and we should try to reduce it. Just because it’s a part of the status quo, doesn’t mean that it’s a good thing.

    2. Two rongs don’t make a right!

      1. @stefmeister Maybe the pay driver situation is not worse (or even better) than the situation 10-15 years ago, but the reason I and probably many others are so annoyed about it this time is that there was a period in the 2000s when pay drivers had all but disappeared from the sport. In fact 2008 was probably the only season in history when every driver uarguably deserved his place in Formula 1 merit (yes, even Piquet), either based on past F1 acheivements or success in junior formulae. The pay driver plague of the 90s had been all but eradicated but now it’s back, and there are fewer teams to soak up the chaff.

        1. You mean to say that in a sustained economic boom with a massive amount of commercial revenue flowing into F1 (which was also buttressed by several manufacturer teams), there was an almost total absence of pay drivers? And now we’re in a prolonged period of austerity and low growth teams are beginning to employ them again?


          1. Well now you’ve put it like that @ilanin I think it’s perfectly fine for my favourite sport to compromise its quality and it doesn’t bother me at all that wastrels like Razia and van der Garde are taking drives from quality drivers. I mean, what’s the point of getting passionate about anything when you can just look at in the context of the wider economic climate and shrug.

  16. Who cares? As long as the top drivers are in the cars fighting for the championship. I’m sure there are plenty of better drivers than the pay drivers but if they are truly exceptional then they shud still make it through….

    1. With such an attitude, how do you expect new top drivers to get into the sport and to the top teams? Alonso and Webber started with Minardi, Massa and Kimi with Sauber. Top drivers who all started and developed in teams further down the grid.

  17. I have voiced my opinion before on this matter: in my opinion Formula 1 is too ‘big’. Bernie Ecclestone’s vision was to have as many people watch Formula 1 as possible. And because more people have started watching Formula 1, the ‘income’ of many parties has increased spectacularly. Just to name a few: TV broadcasters pay huge sums of money to broadcast Formula 1, but still are able to make a profit out of that. Teams are able to spend more money on developing the car meaning that most Formula 1 cars are almost at the end of their iteration process, making the cars more similar than ever. Circuits are able to spend money to accomodate for the enormous attention they get. In a way, the amount of money that parties are able to spend is directly influenced by the number of people watching races.

    But this system that has been created over the past decades simply isn’t stable: the money flow in Formula 1 today is enormous. And this has got to the point that those parties that I mentioned earlier simply cannot keep up with the costs increases: teams are forced to hire so-called ‘pay drivers’. Free-to-air broadcasting has become unsustainable and therefore many countries now only have F1 broadcasting on not pay-channels (for instance Canal+ in France, which was announced just this morning). Circuits like the Nürburgring are on the verge of collapsing.

    I have used this sentence before: in my opinion, Formula 1 is fundamentally flawed. The philosophy that Formula 1 needs to be watched by as many people as possible is a business approach. I think that the big bosses of Formula 1 should see Formula 1 as a sport and make the quality of racing the most important issue. This would redeem us from gizmos that are a tool to make the sport more spectacular and therefore more ‘attractive’ to watch (DRS to name one). The consequence of this is that the sport will have to shrink, meaning that the number of sponsors goes down, team size and expenses will go down and of course the quality of media coverage (which is at an all-time high) goes down. But I am willing to watch Formula 1 with poorer media coverage if that would mean that the show becomes an actual sport.

    The reality however is that this is a utopic situation I’m sketching. So instead of the ideal situation (in my opinion that is) Formula 1 should shrink artificially. Budget caps for example are a good place to start. I’m not an expert in the financial side of Formula 1, but if there is any way that the circuits will pay a smaller entry fee, and broadcasters would pay less for the broadcasting rights, then this should be done as well. But if Formula 1 will continue its path with a ‘grow is the way to go’ mentality, I seriously doubt whether I’m still watching this ‘show’ in ten years time.

    1. I honestly don’t see a problem with drivers being able to field cars from previous years and having to pre-qualify them if they want to race so badly.

    2. I think I agree.
      ‘Grass roots’ racing is progressivelly more attractive to me than the all-singing, all-dancing, Paddock Club approach of F1.

  18. Well… it’s never going to be about the 22 best drivers in the world. Some countries still have it difficult to place a driver in the top series even if they do very very well. I mean, without backing, it’s certainly impossible.

    I’m sure in football it’s the same. It doesn’t show much because there are a lot more top tier footballers than F1 drivers around the world. But without that contact, that guy that put you in, it must be terribly difficult.

    The problem is that motorsport generates a lot of income, but it comes at a huge cost aswell. Teams need much more money than a football team might need. And in a short period of time, they might be out of bussiness altogether. So I understand Marussia for signing Razia and showing Glock the door… they didn’t put a 35 years old guy on the seat, they got a young, talented driver.

    Yes, it’s not ideal. But van der Garde, Chilton and Razia are good drivers. I do think it’s good to look back and see past “pay drivers” to understand that at least there’s a minimum, acceptable, standard now… at least with teams like Marussia and Caterham that are willing to improve rather than just survive like HRT:

    1. @fer-no65

      I do think it’s good to look back and see past “pay drivers” to understand that at least there’s a minimum, acceptable, standard now

      Is there? Last year a touring car driver who’d made a grand total of four starts in single-seaters in the previous three years was driving in official F1 practice sessions.

      1. But not in qualifying or races. I personally don’t particularly care if they fish 24 guys out of the crowd to run in free practice sessions.

      2. Also, in 2011 a touring car driver who’d made a grand total of no starts in single-seaters in the previous four years scored 27 points for Force India.

        1. But that driver won a prestigious championship in the year before he joined the F1 grid. I hope you admit that is a big difference @ilanin

          1. Not to mention the fact that he’d had extensive testing experience in F1 cars including in free practice sessions the previous season. It was a completely different situation. I was just protesting against using having started single-seater races as a universal measure of driving experience.

          2. Ok, I get your point there @ilanin. But as you write yourself, even if it would be, then Di Resta would still have more single seater experience to prove he is up to it.

      3. @keithcollantine read:

        at least with teams like Marussia and Caterham that are willing to improve rather than just survive like HRT:

        Other than that, well, in the 90’s that’d have put him on a seat at a proper Grand Prix…

        I also want to say that I agree with what you’re saying, It’s bad to see stuff like this happening, but we’ve seen worse. It’s up to F1 to adjust itself to the current financial situation, so “pay drivers” don’t exist. But we have to be grateful that we don’t have Karthikeyan racing again this year.

  19. The whole problem of pay drivers can easily be traced back to the ownership model of the sport. There’s no problem with the amounts of money the sport generates – the broadcasting contracts, the hosting fees, the ticket revenues etc. – the problem is that a massively disproportionate amount of this money doesn’t go to the participants in the sport but is simply syphoned off to pay Bernie and CVC.

    I see that Martin Whitmarsh has told the BBC today that seven of the eleven F1 teams are in “survival mode” due to their lack of funds. However, I really do think that the teams need to take a look at themselves and realise just how badly they’ve played their hand over the past few years. The time has been absolutely ripe for the teams to collectively come together and change the terms on which revenue is shared. The short-term duration of each of the last few Concorde Agreements, the recession in the Western world, the exits of Toyota, Honda and BMW, the Ecclestone bribery scandal – all should have been exploited mercilessly by the teams to get the deal they want.

    I for one was actually quite happy when FOTA announced plans to form breakaway series in 2009. By removing CVC/Ecclestone from the equation, many of the problems of the sport could be solved – we could have cheaper tickets for races as circuits would not be bound to pay ridiculously expensive hosting fees, races in countries where there is actually an interest in the sport rather than races in the cities that pay the most and teams that are independently viable rather than having to rely on sponsorship or cash-rich parent organisations. This would not only solve the “pay driver” issue but also in turn attract more teams to the sport and raise the standard of competition as a whole.

    Essentially, CVC/Ecclestone are being paid a vast proportion of the revenues of the sport to fulfil an administrative role – arranging the calendar, delivering the equipment and organising the broadcasting contracts. The role they perform cold easily be performed by another organisation. It is the teams that hold the power – the names of Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Lotus etc. and the drivers they have under contract – these are what the sport derives its value from.

    I therefore have little sympathy for Whitmarsh and the other team principals when they complain about pay drivers or the distribution of revenue. The fact of the matter is, the teams held most of the cards in recent Concorde Agreement negotations but failed to press their advantage home. They fell to the usual Bernie “divide and conquer” tactic and only have themselves to blame for not getting the deal they deserve.

    1. Good comment, you’re definitely on to something. But I don’t think this entire matter can be solved by removing Bernie and friends from the equation – it’s more complicated than that. It doesn’t solve the problem that teams like Caterham and Marussia can never become competitive, simply because their budget is way less than Red Bull’s, McLaren’s and so on. The issue of pay drivers will not be resolved because of that. I also disagree with you that there’s no problem with the amounts of money the sport generates: from a sport’s point of view, the desire to satisfy an enormous audience is effectively killing the sport.

      1. I read both your comments and I think the truth is, you are both right.

        The reason as you say that the business model is wrong, can in part be attributed to the need to take money from the sport into Bernie and others hands.

        If you could reduce the middle man, you would have less overhead, and wouldn’t need to raise as much money from circuits or TV stations.

        I personaly believe that F1 is failing because it needs too much money to operate(taking money away being a major reason) and at the same time, it tries to force teams into a financial paradox.

        They need results in order to get money in order to get results. How is this supposed to work? Right it doesn’t, we see proof today. Unless a team comes to F1 with a huge amount of money to burn(like manufacturers), you can’t break the paradox. Simple luck(like Brawn’s miracle just because of the technical rules) is not enough. Eventualy they fail and they will leave.

        In my opinion what F1 would realy need is to reduce the vast financial gap between the teams. Call me utopian, I don’t care(frankly F1’s current model is more of a failing utopia than mine), I’d like to see is say 100 million(imaginary numbers here) to each team minimum budget for every team, plus 10-20% of that to be earned extra according to finishing standings. That minimum budget would exist together with a cap.

        With that it would be up to true technological innovation, effort and brains for each team to find performance within the budget, and NOT be a competition based on who got most fans or brand. But good luck with that, some people will rather let it become a competition between 1-3 teams and 2-3 drivers and everyone else is just moving chicanes(evidenced by opinions last year about how the championship was “too” unpredictable).

        1. I don’t think it’s too utopian to call for some sort of budget cap. Look at football where the Premier League teams have just agreed to costs controls (from next seasons, clubs will not be permitted to make a total loss of more than £105m over 3 seasons and must limit their wage bill) and where UEFA have imposed financial fair play rules on clubs competing in European competitions. I think if more teams drop out, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and co will be forced to recognise that without some control on spending – there won’t be a grid for them to compete against.

          However, I think a buget cap may be unnecessary if each team was receiving a larger proportion of the sport’s revenue. Although I don’t have reliable figures to hand, it’s generally accepted that it costs a certain amount to reach a base level of competiveness (say, within 0.5 seconds of the leaders) and then, to make up each tenth of the second to and beyond the leaders, the costs rise exponentially (Mark Webber says in this article that it costs $100m per tenth but I think he may be exaggerating!).

          At the moment, Marussia, Caterham and possibly Torro Rosso aren’t even funded to the extent where they can reach this base level. Give them a larger proportion of the sports revenue and they will.

          1. The “total loss” criterion in UEFA’s financial fair play rules isn’t really a stepping stone to equality, though – maybe it’s a stepping stone to equality for everyone except Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid who have far more revenues than anybody else, but that wasn’t the intention. The intention was to stem the run of bankruptcies and teams going into administration in European football over recent years.

            Ultimately if you want parity you have to provide negative incentives for performance (just as in American sports, where the teams with the worst records get the highest draft picks) and hope that teams ignore them.

            In F1, this would mean assigning TV money either equally between teams or in reverse constructors’ championship order. And if you can come up with a way to make Ferrari agree to that, I take my hat off to you.

          2. The intention was to stem the run of bankruptcies and teams going into administration in European football over recent years.

            which is something F1 lacks

      2. @andae23 – hopefully my response to Churaragi above will explain how I think dishing out more money to the teams will help make the sport more competitive but, on your other point about F1’s desire to cater to a wider audience, I agree that this may sometimes detract from spectacle (DRS for instance has definitely devalued overtaking) but I don’t think it does anything but help the sport’s revenues. More viewers equals more revenue for the teams (through increased broadcasting deals, merchandise sales, ticket sales etc.). Cut out CVC/Ecclestone and give more to the teams and you’ve removed the need for pay drivers.

    2. After a bit of Googling, I found this excellent article which breaks down the revenues and costs of Bernie’s F1 group. In total, 47.5% of F1’s income is paid to the teams. The remainder goes to the owners of the F1 teams (Bernie, CVC and other private equity firms).

      By way of comparison, according to this article, the 2010-13 Premier League TV deal amounted to around £1.17bn per year with £1.055bn being split amongst the 20 teams in the league (and those who are receiving “parachute payments” having been relegated). That means that only £120m is withheld from the teams and this amount isn’t simply profit for one man or a private equity group but actually is used to pay the League’s running costs and to make payments to a number of bodies such as Professional Footballers Association, the League Managers Association, the Conference, the Football Foundation, the Football League, the referees’ body and a number of charities. That means 90.2% of the total TV income is paid directly to the teams – twice what is paid to the F1 teams.

      1. *owners of the F1 group

      2. Some outdated data been used in that article, For one teams get more than 47% of the Tv revenue, They now get over 60%.

        Also consider that a sizeable portion of the cash FOM gets from the TV revenue goes back into the TV broadcast in the form of maintaining the TV equipment, Buying new equipment & investing in new broadcast technology.

        I gather they have some interesting new stuff for us this year, Including High-Def In-Car cameras.

    3. To be fair to Withmarsh @bpacman he argues much the same point as you do. That the teams have been wrong not to stick together and make better arrangements for themselves, which in turn would give the sport more stability.

  20. I believe the fundamental problem with this sport is the actual cost to participate, for the established teams they have the inherent competitiveness that is rewarded financially, yet for new teams it becomes a vicious financial circle and pay drivers are a way of increasing revenue. If this helps them survive and move up the grid and thus earn a greater reward I for one think this is a price worth paying.

    I just don’t see a way forward in restricting budgets on teams that the established top teams would themselves sanction. My biggest worry however is the cost involved to host a GP becomes so excessive that we are left with little or no historic tracks remaining and what remains are tracks that have little character.

  21. Your analogy with football is wrong, you would struggle to buy a seat at Mclaren or Ferrari, just like you would struggle to buy a place at Man U, but if you were a Championship player and offered a lower end Premier League team some money you could almost certinally buy your way in; these pay drivers aren’t incompetent.

    A team with more backing can buy better engineers and facilities; a driver with better backing can buy a better seat, I really see no difference.

    The driver is just part of the whole package, and the lower end teams are just putting together a package that will produce the best results; a pay driver may be a bit slower, but the extra cash will build a faster car.

    While F1 teams have different budgets, we can hardly complain about pay drivers

  22. I for one was actually quite happy when FOTA announced plans to form breakaway series in 2009.

    And do you know why that didn’t happen?
    Because for as much as they complain, The teams know that forming there own breakaway series would have never worked.

    The teams have had opportunities more than once to breakaway from F1 & they have got serious at least twice, In the end they always back down because they know breaking away would do more harm than good, Something the CART/IRL split in the US helped demonstrate.

    Perhaps just as importantly however, Setting up a new series & sorting out all the contracts/deals you need for a world championship requires a lot of money, The sort of money none of the teams are really willing to spend (Or really have).

    1. I too hoped that the teams would break away, the problem they faced is that Bernie did a sweetheart deal with his pal Max to secretly transfer the rights to F1 from the FIA to Bernie not FOTA who should have had the opportunity to acquire the name or block the deal.
      Once Bernie controlled the name he also controlled the income and contracts already in place, to break away the teams would have to set up contracts with the same people Bernie already had contracts with, it would have been very messy and if Bernie fought a scorched earth fight many of the smaller teams would not have survived a year without races, which is I believe the reason Bernie likes to have half the teams near bankruptcy.

      1. Further thought, I wonder if there may have been parallels in the transfer from the FIA to the transfer to CVC, but of course Max would not threaten Bernie with the taxman like Gribowsky is alleged to have done, so we can rest assured it was above board.

  23. A few years ago we didn’t have Caterham, Marussia or HRT. To me it was a better world. Eliminate those teams from the grid and you won’t have many paydrivers. These are just subpar teams which the sport dont really need. To me HRT was like a GP2 car in F1 (it almost was). That is not good for the sport either. F1 is about having the elite. Why should this be restricted to drivers? You also need the elite teams. Not the ones like Marussia, Caterham or HRT… They should get their game together or just quit F1. Can’t make it? Too bad, you knew it was F1, it is not go-carts.

    1. So you think it was entirely their fault that they sucked and not at all related to how little money they have/had to get things going?

      Sorry your argument is a bad one, you also don’t consider that it is not just the last 3 teams that use/need pay drivers. Teams like Williams use them too. Is Williams now a subpar team we should just get rid off?

      If you think the solution is a progressively smaller grid, then well, that is just not a solution. We could just as well rename F1 to Ferrari vs McLaren vs Redbull championship and only have 6 cars on the grid, but that would just be a disaster.

      1. You know F1 cost money right? If you don’t have the money, why try to compete? You know it is useless and you will be at the back of the grid. That was my point. Not that everyone should just go away. F1 should be the elite, for constructors and drivers, not only for drivers.
        Please tell me the added value teams like HRT, Marussai and Caterham have produced over the years?

    2. Mate, those teams are trying to improve and trying to catch the others up.
      It is very simple, they have to start somewhere. It has only been what, 4 years since they joined the grid.
      RedBull, Mclaren, Lotus, Williams, Mercedes, Honda, Toyota, BMW, Brabham, Beneton and the list goes on. They all had to start somewhere and not many of them saw any success in their first 3 years of racing. Some, like Toyota, never saw success at all and I guess you wouldn’t want to get rid of Toyota when they were still racing.

      Don’t think shallow Just look at RedBull. How long did it take them to catch everyone up? Or do you think RedBull started in 2009?
      Remember that everything takes time. (and money in this case)

      1. But was RBR a lot of years at the complete back of the F1? Like HRT, Marussia and Caterham?
        Don’t think so. There was improvement with the RBR.

      2. Please have a look:


        Virgin – Marussia:


        And keep in mind that this year was a fairly easy one to bridge the gap. No blow diffuser, no flex wings, no exhaust blowing, etc. Still they all didn’t improve. We have had a 2 tier F1 championship for the last years. Caterham – Marussia – HRT vs. decent teams. That is something really bad for F1. What is the added value of these teams? Please tell me.
        If you want to compete in F1 you know you need a lot of money. So either provide funds and try it, or don’t begin in F1. Simple.

    3. Get rid of Caterham and Marussia and we’d have an 18-car grid. A 22-car grid is poor but 18 would be absolutely pathetic.

      1. Agreed. But I do think it’s sad that F1 should have to fill out the grid with sub-par teams.

        MotoGP introduced CRT teams – a true two-tier championship – and for me it has almost destroyed the sport. Now when I watch it it is like watching four or so good bikes, a few more decent bikes and then loads of pointless bikes from another category to make the race look less pathetic.

        I really hope F1 doesn’t end up like this by filling the grids with so-so teams! F1 needs to find a way to appeal to the Audis, Hondas and BMWs of the world.

      2. Please elaborate? I would prefer a 18 car grid. The last 3 (now 2) just have no added value.
        I would prefer a 22 or even 24 car grid if the back end teams would have any future. Right now, they don’t even have KERS… That will be fun for 2014. Just put them out of their misery.

        1. The last 3 (now 2) just have no added value.

          I don’t agree – Caterham and Marussia were closely matched last year, the contest between them swung back and forth and was decided at the last race. It was definitely worth following.

          Even HRT had their role to play in the championship – if it hadn’t been for Narain Karthikeyan the drivers’ championship would have been decided one race earlier. They may not have been a match for the other teams most of the time but they competed and their presence added to the sport, if only in a small way.

          Right now, they don’t even have KERS

          Yes they do. Both of them.

          1. Keith , I agree, I think a large part of the problem of costs is down to Bernie and the FIA, they talk cost containment but introduce hugely expensive rules like re-fuelling, multiple tyres etc that require a huge pit-crew to pay, transport and accommodate. Would Minardi have survived its start-up years under the current regime?

          2. Just like I said, a 2 tier F1 championship. It was a battle outside the normal league of competion. And honestly, did anybody really care? It was fun to watch, but it was not F1.
            They only have KERS this upcoming season. The season hasn’t started yet.
            Like you confirmed they were only good for ruining others people race and driving in the way of people in the tier 1 championship battle.
            I respect your opinion, but I don’t know why you so desperately defend them. The just have no added value, and they will never ever get a podium, let alone a win. Even when there were 2 other teams instead of 9 other, this would be the case. The are just too bad, too low on funds and talent. They do not belong in F1 where you need to have the elite and the best.

          3. having the best, high funds and talent does not necessarily mean success. Just look at Toyota’s stint.
            When you say @Veteran “It was fun to watch, but it was not F1.
            They only have KERS this upcoming season”
            So what is the definition of Formula 1?
            And yes, they finally got KERS. And that is what this debate is all about. They are slowly making a step forward.

        2. These rows have no added value? I remember the monaco 2010 race where the first 3rd of the race was interesting for Alonso fighting through the backmarkers.

          And as Keith mentions, there have been several times where on track battles as well as a season long battle between these teams have made for a very interesting part of the racing and backstory.

        3. @Veteran If I’m not mistaken back in 2010 the three new teams were promised big budget cuts by the big teams. That hasn’t happened, infact Red Bull spent more then double their budget in 2012 then they did in 2010 on car development.

          And Caterham had KERS starting from 2012 so that is no argument. The reason why Marussia hasn’t had the chance yet to use KERS is because when they still designed their cars fully with CFD their technical director didn’t believe KERS was worth it.

          Actually what KERS is Marussia using? Did they manufacture one themselves or did they buy it of Williams who still used Cosworth engines in 2011 when KERS was reintroduced?

  24. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    15th February 2013, 11:18

    In professional sport the viewing public expect the competitors to be the best in their discipline.

    That is a terrific point!
    And is partly why I disagree with pay drivers. The other reason I disagree with the notion of paying for a position on a team is that it’s just not sporting. The fact that a less experienced and (most probably) less talented driver has a higher chance of getting a seat, rather than a more experience driver, just because they want more money is not right.

    Drivers like Kovalainen, Glock, and Alguersuari deserve to be on the grid based in merit and talent.

    But at the same time, younger drivers also need the chance to prove themselves.

    I agree that young drivers deserve a chance, but they need to get there on talent, not money.

  25. It’s about what is the best car + driver package. The driver is just one component of the package, value for money may mean that you’ll be quicker with a pay driver than with one or both of your drivers drawing large salaries.

  26. KOV, GLO, KOB, PET. All have had podiums in F1 and don’t have drives, but then KOB, PIC had unspectacular junior careers and seem to have proved themselves in F1. Then you have PER who was a pay driver but with talent. Then there is GRO and MAL who have had success in junior careers but it took them years, rather then HAM and HUL who won in GP2 in their rookie years. Its very difficult to decide who is “worthy” for F1.

  27. Paying participants are just a fact of life for a so-called “sport” that’s actually a show.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like F1, I find it entertaining, and have been watching it for all my life.

    But it’s such an obviously elitist non-sport that to expect the “22 best drivers in the world” to compete in F1 is like expecting the world’s best marathon runners to turn up in a Moon Marathon for Space Tourists.

      1. A real sport is accessible.

        On a basic level: I can go running whenever I want to, or play football with friends.

        On an advanced level: if I can run a certain distance faster than anybody, there is no way I will be left on the sidelines of the sport; and even if I’m José Nobody Gumirez, 16-year-old village boy, but I can do magic with a football, I have a realistic chance of actually one day playing for a big team.

        Even with sports like golf, polo, sailing, or lower categories of motorsport, I have a plausible chance of competing if I am reasonably well-off or a fanatic spending all his money on his hobby.

        Formula 1, this so-called sport, is inaccessible for 99,9999999% of the world’s population from the word go, regardless of talent or fanaticism.

        That’s why I made a comparison with a fictional moon marathon that’s available only for billionaire space tourists.

        Sure enough, some of those billionaires may actually be great marathon runners. But will you ever have a situation when all the best marathon runners are also billionaires, so they are able to take part in it?

        A real sport takes itself seriously.

        You’ll find no sport where rules are so egregiously inconsistent, their application is as murky, as in F1. And where even the will or interest to change this fact is so sorely lacking.

        In no real sport are rules modified mid-season simply to prevent some participant from running away with the title.

        I can’t think of any sport where the referee has access to certain footage of a situation but an average viewer does not; or where a decision is sometimes explained, sometimes not, depending on … er, depending on what, exactly?

        Outstanding physical/mental performances do not necessarily indicate a sport

        A Formula 1 driver is a great athlete. But then, a world-class circus performer is also a great athlete. A special commando is probably also a great athlete.

        Still, a circus show is not a sport. A mission in Afghanistan is not a sport.

        F1 is not a sport, either, but it can be marketed and sold better in the disguise of one.

        Ultimately, few people will care much about a “show” (marketed as such) in the long run; while a “sport” produces armies of long-term fanatics who gather statistics, debate arcane details etc. and in the process, perpetuate the interest in that “sport”.

        1. On a basic level: I can go running whenever I want to, or play football with friends.

          Formula 1, this so-called sport, is inaccessible for 99,9999999% of the world’s population from the word go, regardless of talent or fanaticism.

          Your analogies just don’t work. F1 is only one division of MOTORSPORT.

          F1 is inaccessible, but MOTORSPORT is not. You can go karting for fun, for example. Similar to how you can play football easily, but you’re not exactly going to be in one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s starting lineups are you?

          1. F1 is only one division of MOTORSPORT.

            Just like a moon marathon would be only one “division” of running, yet it would not feel like an actual sport at all.

            There is a point where something that does have its roots in a sport becomes so rarefied it does not qualify as a sport itself.

            Karting is a sport in that it is accessible for almost everyone, and therefore the cream probably comes to the top. Not so with F1.

          2. @mj4

            So the cream doesn’t rise to the top in F1 through their results? Very few sports are accessible at their top level. Karting and F1 are under the umbrella of motorsports, with karting near the bottom rung (and naturally more accessible), and F1 at the top rung (which will of course be far less accessible).

            As for your moon example, if there was an actual demand for it, then someone may choose to organise this competition, and it would qualify under a sport under the word’s official definition.

        2. @mj4 I really think this comparison does not work:

          A Formula 1 driver is a great athlete. But then, a world-class circus performer is also a great athlete. A special commando is probably also a great athlete.

          Still, a circus show is not a sport. A mission in Afghanistan is not a sport.

          F1 is not a sport, either, but it can be marketed and sold better in the disguise of one.

          That is because you have to look at the background and reasons for being there. If said expedition in Afghanistan would not be about fighting out a war of power over an area (or to find something buried in the wilderness) it might become a sport as well (to some survival would be that sport – something that already exists). The difference IS the fact that it has a different goal.
          The same goes for the circus artist. His act is not about competing with other artists for the best performance, but doing a great performance to entertain a public. But its not far away from gymnastics disciplines practiced at the olympics if you would put several of them and rate their performance and give rewards for the best one.

          1. You are perfectly right. I made a too big leap here by anticipating the “F1 is a sport because look how fit they must be” argument.

      2. You and I can’t go and play in the Premier League tomorrow. But we can kick a ball around in the park.

        You and I can’t go drive F1 cars in Australia next month either. But we can go kart racing.

        I don’t agree with your second point and I’m not sure about the third one but I don’t think either are relevant to the subject of pay drivers.

        1. It’s the same ball, not the same vehicle…

          1. but is it the same sailing boat, polo horse or even bob sleigh? They are equally not comparable because the absolute top level is just so narrow and costly.

          2. The difference between a good horse and a very good horse is not the same as the difference between a GP2/Formula3 car and a F1 car…. It is a total difference. A horse is still a horse. A bobsleigh is still a bob sleigh, a sailing boat is still a sailing boat. You cannot compare those to F1…. It is just impossible.

          3. Veteran, you can go racing horeses with a horse costing about 5-8000 EUR. To win at world level you will have to put down more something close to a million or up to 5 Million.
            If you look at a sailing boat you can get them for 500 EUR for a basic one where you can sail if you want (or rent something for 30-40 a day), but if you want to do something like the Americas Cup, you will be spending F1 nearing budgets.
            An Olympic rower has about half a million investment for his equipment (just paddles come at about 400 EUR per piece). I am pretty sure that if you would seriously look at money spent by the top bobsleigh nations lately you would see budgets for windtunnels, CFD, studies of movement, etc. also skyrocket just like F1 did years back.

        2. I don’t agree with your second point

          …which is, F1 as a sport does not take itself seriously.

          Well, if you really are of the opinion that F1 rules are applied and enforced, decisions are communicated in a way a proper sport applies and enforces its rules, and communicates its decisions, then something just died inside me…

          I don’t think either are relevant to the subject of pay drivers

          Obviously, not directly relevant, only through the assertion that it not being a proper sport, one should not expect proper talent-based selection to work.

    1. Formula 1 is a bt of an elitist sport, but no more (or even less) than for instance tennis or golf. Even back in the 1950s there was this humble, school drop-out car mechanic who was winning races in Formula 1 on raw talent, not on daddy’s money.

      1. elitist sport, but no more (or even less) than for instance tennis or golf

        Are you serious?

        1. YES! If you look at F1’s history, you will find countless examples of drivers with unsufficient or no funds that turned out to be a race winner or a world champion.

          1. …while you surely wouldn’t find anyone with a humble background making his mark in tennis or golf.

          2. I didn’t say that it doesn’t happen in tennis or golf.

  28. I remember a comment made by a F1 insider a few years back that the simplest way to save money would be to limit the wingspan of the corporate jests. Would save money to pay drivers.

  29. The argument that F1 is not a show, but a sport needs to stop. Sports have been a shows for a long time.
    Look at The Colosseum.
    If F1 is a sport, then it is a show and it needs to attract people.

    1. @brunes I have been using the argument “F1 is not a show” frequently. You say the sport has become a show because it ‘needs’ to attract people, but does a sport ‘need’ to attract people per se? Myself and with me many fans love to simply watch the cars go through corners as fast as possible, combined with the most decibels as possible – Formula 1 doesn’t need to be a show to be interesting. That’s partially why I think F1 is fundamentally flawed: the focus lies on how to make the sport appealing to as many people as possible, instead of looking at how to improve the quality of racing and appeal to people that love the racing aspect, not the show aspect.

      1. I would say a sport needs to generate money (by getting attention) the moment you start needing to put in money to be more competitive.
        Taking your own car out for a spin on a track is not much more expensive as renting a court and go tennis playing, renting the pool to have a competitive swim with friends, or go on the golf course (or rent a couple of sailing boats for a day to race them). Therefore it does not need paying viewers/fans or whatever.
        But when you want to invest in better methods of swimming, better equipment, go to more interesting places to play golf or race etc., then you quickly will learn that you need to make a show of it if you don’t want to end up paying for all of that yourself.

        1. But when you want to invest in better methods of swimming, better equipment, go to more interesting places to play golf or race etc.

          @bascb But do we need that? Does F1 need to race in the Middle East or Asia, do teams need ridiculously large motorhomes? Well, at the moment the answer is ‘yes’, but when the costs would go down, then the answer would be ‘no’. That’s why I’d say that F1 needs to change its way of thinking.

          1. The prime question, I guess @andae23

            But do we need that?

            The answer should probably be no (ultimately we don’t need competitive sports).
            But in any place where we have competitive sports, doesn’t every participant look for ways to go faster, further, higher? The moment you want that, you start looking for means to do that, and then you start needing more and more money to make it happen too.
            Its impossible to stop that until all participants would agree on some kind of limit either on the amount they are allowed to spend really (or, to a lesser degree, what they are allowed to spend it on).

          2. @bascb
            When you say “do teams need ridiculously large motorhomes?” . The culture of showing off, and having huuuge parties and media events began when F1 wasn’t a “show” (according to you).

            Since Lotus got sponsorship in their car back in the days, team have been trying to put on a show to attract more money.
            And if you look at F1’s history. It was never an amateur championship that grew up. It has always had an enormous amount of investment from manufacturers, drivers and etc. How many garagist teams were there in the first 5 years of F1? The manufacturers at the time created a big show by competing with each other.
            It is a simple equation. The more people you attract, the more money you get.
            With no public money, F1 would never have left the UK. It only did because people were willing to pay to watch the show in other countries.

          3. I think your comment is rather pointed as a reaction to what @andae23 wrote @brunes

  30. Great article. Have to agree with many of the points made and the overall conclusion: F1 is supposed to be about the best teams and best drivers in motor sport.

    I think the underlying problem is that there can be much more performance gains in spending a few million on car development than using a slightly ‘better’, non-pay driver who won’t provide that extra money.

    Most of the pay-drivers entering F1 are coming from GP2 or similar. By this standard, all the pay-drivers will be of a good enough standard to at least lap an F1 at good pace. Teams face the choice that this driver may be 0.2 sec off Alonso’s pace (in the same machinery), but bring in money to develop the car’s pace by 0.3 sec. And let’s not forget that performance gain affects two cars – a total 0.6 sec gain for example.

    As F1 is heavily sponsor driven, I can’t imagine a plausible way to limit these drivers from making their way to the grid at the moment. You cannot simply ban driver sponsorship for example as sponsors will join teams based on their drivers anyway (Telmex/Sauber/Mexican drivers e.g.).

    I believe that if a budget cap came into place that this could lessen the need to bring in less quality and more money and performance gains may sway back towards drivers’ pace. But this enters a whole new discussion…

  31. Not to play the devil’s advocate, but to me, Kovalainen and Glock being ousted for paydrivers isn’t ‘just’ a sign on the feeble economics of the smaller teams. Let’s not forget Hulkenberg was ousted from Williams for Maldonado, while Williams is generally considered to be a team with a long term commitment to F1 and financially stable. I’m not sure why that case, or Senna for Barrichello is overlooked in the current debates around the web. Heck, Hulkenberg scored more points than Maldonado in a car generally considered to be less competitive than the Williams.

    F1 is simply massively expensive, and I think Whitmarsh had a good point in stating it’s a leftover from the ‘endless economic growth’ hype in the 80s and 90s. Up until Mosley started about it, if an F1 team fell over, it simply didn’t have enough money. When Sauber replaced Herbert with Diniz, nobody cried out about experienced drivers losing their seats to paydrivers. (Herbert might be a bad example since he had a fall out with Sauber, but then again, Kovalainen also didn’t do himself any favors.) The global economic situation has changed and F1 teams are playing catch up, with the top teams having to do much less so than the midfield and especially the newcomers.

    Governing budgets isn’t going to reduce the number of paydrivers, I think. We’ve often seen teams like Tyrell hire drivers for the sake of an engine deal and a lot more teams hiring a driver because he has a large sponsor. If teams can get a driver for free, who can score points AND bring in a couple of millions in sponsorship or other deals, it’s a good economic deal. Imagine you’re Sauber. You’re 15 million short on your max 100 million budget. Sure, you can decide to ‘stick to your guns’ and hire a driver who will increase that gap to 15.5 million, or hire a driver with promise and a few million in sponsorship. As I said, sometimes hiring a paydriver is a great economic deal regardless of budget cap, the top teams spending less, etc. Look at the Caterham or Marussia, I think we all agree they could use some more sponsors, and if a driver brings that to them, it doesn’t just mean money, it also means money for development, hospitality for new sponsors, performance, etc.

    I’m not going to just repeat ‘we’ve had pay drivers before’, because in many, many cases, the paydrivers of the past simply cannot be compared to a paydriver like Perez, Maldonado, Gutiérrez, Pic, van der Garde or Razia. They have all done reasonably well in feeder series, have shown not to be 5 seconds off the pace to their team mates. If anything, they should remind us of other drivers in their pay driver days, guys like Alonso. Let’s not forget, if pay drivers were banned from F1 from the start, I don’t think guys like Damon Hill, Schumacher or Hakkinen would have entered F1 when they did, how they did. Heck, even Niki Lauda took out a loan to keep BRM afloat.

    If we look at the 1995 season for instance, how many non-paying drivers were there on the grid during a GP? 10? 12? 1995 is considered a decent to good season, with pay drivers all over the place, replacing each other and small teams fading due to financial difficulties, despite the pay drivers. The teams were of another caliber, and I think you’re insulting any modern pay driver (even Karthikeyan) by comparing them to Deletraz, Inoue and the likes. Drivers like Katayama, Suzuki, Gachot and Diniz are in my opinion also doing much less for ‘the best 22 drivers in the world’ than Pic, Razia, van der Garde and Chilton are.

    Money is a big part of F1 and pay drivers help pay the bills. It cannot be compared to another sport, because physical performances matter much, much more than in F1. Usain Bolt is not concerned with the costs of the development of his shirt getting in the way with getting in the way with the costs of getting a haircut, while an F1 driver can help his team afford more development time by having a personal sponsor. Besides, every feeder series, from Formula Ford to GP2 has pay drivers too. For F1 to be different, especially in this economical age, would be very weird, unless Bernie and the teams manage to turn it into a self-sufficient community somehow. Imagine that; Formula One no longer needing sponsors because they can do everything by themselves, that’s the only situation where I can imagine pay drivers would be less likely.

    Again I say that pay drivers of today need talent to get in F1 as much as they need the money. If a driver who finished 20th in GP2 in 2010, 15th in WSR in 2011 and had no drive in 2012 were to knock on any team’s door saying ‘hey, I have 35 million per season going for me, but I haven’t won a race since karting with friends at age 8’, they’re not getting in F1. Meanwhile we have Sauber doing the best they can for Robin Frijns, Sauber hiring Hulkenberg instead of another paydriver, Williams replacing Senna with Bottas, Force India maintaining Di Resta while its sponsors are in trouble and with HRT gone, probably 0 drivers not making the 107% rule in Melbourne. I’m ok with that, having seen the likes of Rosset, Takagi, Tuero, Nakano, Diniz, Marques, Mazzacane, Burti, Yoong, Ide and Yamamoto struggling to stay on the track, get out of the way of leaders and to not wreck more cars than their sponsors can afford.

    1. @npf1 It’s a long comment, but I’m glad I read the whole thing. Well said. :)

      1. Indeed, good comment!

    2. I seem to have forgotten to elaborate on the Kovalainen/Glock point in the beginning: in my opinion, they simply didn’t perform well enough to keep their seats. Let’s be real here for a second, where are the mid field teams trying to lift them from their contracts with the backmarkers? If it wasn’t for Lotus/Caterham, Heikki’s career was over after 2009. Everyone praised him in 2010/11 for beating Trulli, but once Petrov started closing in on him, I think everyone dropped Heikki as a favorite backmarker. Timo was under threat by d’Ambrosio and Pic sometimes during 2011/12 and simply should have signed to Renault in 2010. That would have saved his F1 career, now, all he could do was sit out his Marussia contract and hope a midfield team would pick him up at the end of it.

      Dozens of drivers with promise, but a lack of F1 results to back it up have lost their seats to paydrivers with minimal performance gaps. Sadly, I don’t think Raiza and van der Garde are going to do worse than Glock and Kovalainen did.

  32. The huge costs of F1 are no longer sustainable in the current global economic situation. Top teams should agree a significantly cut on costs but they only think to win whatever the costs. So most of the teams have to rely on the money drivers can bring to compensate. That is why some rookies are getting seats they wouldn’t get on merit. They can be good enough for F1 (way better than the real pay drivers of the past) but should never replace good and solid F1 drivers if it wasn’t for the money they bring.

    Even so many fans and commentators are wrong when they frequently talk of “pay drivers” and how they only get seats because they bring money to the teams. Because almost all young talents coming to F1 now have to bring money and most of them would have deserved to get good F1 seats on merit, thanks to the results they got in junior series.

  33. “In professional sport the viewing public expect the competitors to be the best in their discipline”.

    This is by far the best comment I have ever read on this site!! Well played! Unfortunately not happening in F1 for now, and a long time to come. We have Pastor as a ‘ pay driver’ and now an F1 winner- and FAST- and has deserved his seat. So after winning in F1 is he still a pay driver??

    I am an accountant, so by definition a tight **** :) But I think F1 is the ULTIMATE we have in racing and really dislike ‘costing models’ and ‘budgets’ etc. It is the only form of motor sport where it should be do at all costs. All sports are now run as a business- this is not good!. BE is perhaps the smartest business man since Buffet- how how he controlled and made multi-billions for so long is a credit to him- but now Timo has no seat and rookies like Dan Riccardio work for about $250K in their first year!! Not right IMO!

    That sounds harsh when we have teams like Ferrari, McLaren and now Red Bull with huge budgets. I know we have had the GFC but surely there is enough cash floating around that 12 teams can go racing at the top level??
    And to keep Timo & Heike on the grid……??

  34. The difficulty to compare this with other sports is that in motor racing, unlike sports like football, rugby or you name it, there are only a few seats at a certain time. The scarcity of available spots makes a big difference. Let’s take football as an example. An average football team has more player in it’s squad than formula 1 has as a whole. So, players can easily be substituted by others, as there are many many good player around and many teams that are more or less equal or have a decent chance to beat another team.

    Also, in Formula 1 a big budget is needed to compete. In football, when a team has an exceptional day, any Premier League team could beat another. Not so in formula 1, as has been shown by Caterham, HRT and Marussia the past few years. More revenue is not generated by attracting more fans, but by attracting bigger sponsors. So, the role of the driver as a source of money is far greater than in football.

    And even so, the pay drivers who act in formula 1 nowadays are by no means terrible drivers. All of them have performed well in junior classes. I think it is fair to say that all players are at least in the top 100. Just take a look at the top 100 in other sports. Sure, many of them are in the top leagues but there are players who aren’t. Is this any different from the current situation in formula 1? Not that much.

    I’d say the existance of pay drivers is indeed unfortunate, but also something that can’t be ruled out. There are simply far too few spots available for all good drivers and there is no competition that can be compared to formula 1. The only solution I could think of it either the budget cap or the return of big manufacturers like Honda and BMW, but that’s pretty obvious.

  35. One word: Bernie. Don’t look further for the cause of your problems. That’s the one who needs to step back from the table a bit.

  36. What about the overall package. Maldonado is very fast and brings 40m a year. Alonso Vettel et al need to be paid 20m so 60m more for Williams to spend on development. Would this extra development fund potentially allow a Maldonado Williams package be faster than a Alonso Williams package. The gap in driver pace more than being overcome by the additional development fund. Of course with a near unlimited budget team like the very top laws of diminishing returns mean the difference in budget may not change overall performance much but for Williams etc it may make a faster package.

  37. Excellent articles from yourself, Keith, and the BBC. Thanks.

  38. Thank you very much, Keith for this article. I could not agree more with you and underline all your words 100 percent.
    A small note in addition to what you told…
    Yes, it is true that there have been pay drivers throughout the history of F1 and the World Championship. But this was mainly during the times where we did not have 22 cars participating in a Grand Prix weekend, but 30 or up to 39 cars! (1988/1989).
    And as you said, in those times we could be sure that the best drivers in the world were definitely on the grid, unless they did not decide to stay out of F1 on their own.
    So, we can definitely not compare all that with the situation in F1 right now.
    The more and more dangerous and respectless driving with its countless crashes also speaks for itself. Lacking skills and not F1 worth attitudes like that would have taken many lives in the past.

    Again thanks, Keith, for holding on to this really important topic for every real F1 enthusiast and expert.

  39. I have to say, this is well worked artice and makes me think, instead of arguing if pay drivers should be on the grid over paid drivers, should we be arguing why teams need pay drivers. Now we know why these teams need pay drivers, so ultimately, should we be arguing the overall finances of F1 in this modern era?

  40. Great article Keith! You hit the nail squarely on the head and explained it better than any I’ve seen. Be sure to forward it to Bernie and Jean Todt.

    1. Bernie is the cause of the problem. You think he will want it any other way?

  41. One thing that I can never quite understand is..why the heck young and not so talented drivers can garner so much sponsorship and money (I’m not counting those ones with family money), when talend and proved drivers can’t? It is more beneficial for companies to attach the name to underperforming youngsters?
    I can’t understand, good drivers and whole teams can’t find any sponsorship, while young and not so talented drivers can move millions? why?

    1. Because attracting sponsors and developing commercial relationships is a skill, and it’s one a lot of F1 drivers are too proud to develop.

      1. There’s lots of different elements at play, although I’d say nationalism is certainly a major one. Afterall, a Mexican telecomm company for example, is far more likely to back a poor driver from mexico than they are an average driver from Brazil etc

  42. We should not really be debating pay drivers as they are only a result of a bigger problems, it would be just as relevant as debating why Marussia has started buying cheap generic coffee insteed of the best.

    The question is really why a sport with this number of spectators generate so little money. And you would think that most of the money that is being generated would go to the teams and circuits as that is the whole of F1. Insteed Bernie probably has a bigger budget for toupées than Caterham has in total per year.

    I think that the teams should stick together and be tougher in negotiations with Bernie and CVC. Its really a shame that (mainly) Red Bull and Ferrari don’t care about this problem: they would rather get less money and therefor less competition.

    I really think that they should change the prize distribution in F1 so that all teams get much more similar figures. Who really think that the competition between Red bull and Marussia gets better because Red bull gets 100 million more? Just for winning? They would still want to win even if they only got a trophy and nothing else. You could have only top 3 teams in a season getting slightly more money and the rest equal shares.

  43. This article leads to assumption that Raikkonen lost his seat at Ferrari because of Greedy not Survival.

    1. Raikkonen lost his seat simply because there was a better driver on offer. Even though said new driver got a bigger paycheck then Kimi too.

      1. Then why not Felipe Massa? Some people told Kimi to bring Finnish giants to match Santander offer but perhaps he is not that kind of guy..He doesnt want to give sponsors empty hope.

  44. I don’t know what the big deal with pay drivers is all about. F1 is all about money and it always has been. The first people to race cars were the wealthy and elite. Not the best racing drivers. That was probably the case until the 60s or even later. How many working class accents were in formula one in the 70s. Zero I imagine.

    These days talent equates to how much money can I make for my employer. If I am fast I can do two things, I can draw in sponsor ship because the cameras tend to point at exciting racing at the pointy end and I can win money for the team by scoring points.

    F1 is the peak of the world of motorsport. Not a creche for development. Lower formulas should be that stepping stone.

  45. Thank you, Keith, for writing this. It is a boring non-debate.

    The reality is that it takes money, and lots of it, to be competitive in F1. Part of that is running the team. If I take $10 million to put someone in the car instead of paying, say, $5 million, that swing of $15 million is around 10% of a team’s budget at the sharper end of the grid.

    It is a competition. And this is an expected outcome in any economic model.

    1. The reality is that it takes money, and lots of it

      IT takes money? Bernie takes money, to be more precise, and lots of it as you say. And that’s the problem.

      I mean, anyone with a half a brain would stop to think how in the world are they all ending up so short when the sport is supposedly making insane amounts of money, and that is increasing many times faster then team’s budgets are growing.

  46. A lot of positive feedback on this one – thanks everybody!

  47. To me the key question isn’t how bad the worst drivers getting into the sport are. It’s whether the best drivers are still guaranteed to make it.

    As long as the best 2 or 3 young drivers each year make it to F1, we’ll eventually see the best talent at the front of the grid.

    But if we ever reach the point where all of the rookies get their chances at the back – and all the teams at the back hire pay drivers – then the logical conclusion is that some of the (potentially) best drivers never reach F1 in the first place.

    If that were the case, then we wouldn’t even know what we were missing…

  48. Very good article Keith. Agree completely.

  49. How about instead of Bernie sucking up all the income from his deals with the venues, he pays the teams who are putting on the show?

    1. don’t forget to have him leave some of it at the venues, so they can actually at least break even from the sport @n0b0dy100

  50. More money can roughly be handed out 3 ways: everybody the same, the winners more or the losers more.
    So in the end roughly all teams end up with more money. Meaning that if you’re among the last two, it might still be healthy to hire a pay driver, because not even an Alonso can bridge second-gaps.
    It doesn’t matter what teams get, but the big difference matters.
    Maybe a budget cap would work? But then you get all other issues…

  51. I can see both sides of the story. If I was the owner of a struggling team and had the opportunity to have a “pay” driver come in with sponsorship to let me run for the season I know what I would do. However I dont think teams should forced into this approach. F1 has always been at the cutting edge of technology and a lot of day to day things we see on our cars now is a direct result of F1s innovations and that does cost money. No easy answer on this one. I also think Bernie has to be careful on these new pay tv deals. It may generate money in the short term but may in the long run decrease viewing public and interest to other forms of motor sport.

  52. Formula 1 was born out of wealthy men going racing…that will never change in our age

  53. I agree with the opinions but forward in the article, but what continues to baffle me is this; some of these pay drivers have some serious corporate backing paying for their drive, rather than family wealth. Which leads me to the question, what is that these drivers are able to do to convince these corporate backers to part with their money, that the marketing departments of struggling F1 teams cannot?

    I know nothing about running a Formula 1 team, but I imagine having the best of the best marketing, salesmen, and negotiator type people in your team is just as important as having the best engineers, technicians and mechanics. Is it possible that some of the struggling teams are not understanding this?

    In essence, you need people to find sponsors to put on the car, they don’t need to know a thing about motor racing, they just need to know how to get sponsors to part with their cash, and then you need people to build the car and make it go fast. As an outsider it seems like some of the teams figure once they make the car go fast, and they win races, the sponsorship will take care of itself. Problem is it’s next to impossible to get your car into a winning position without a serious amount of money, so you need the money first.

  54. The main thing I disagree with many of the posts on this topic are the belief that the amount of money Bernie (CVC) takes out has any bearing on this. In reality the overall cost of competing is determined by the teams and how much money they have, there is no significant minimum ‘cost of competing’.

    Take the cost of developing the new 2014 engines, for example. There is not some magic number which defines the cost of development but rather the manufacturers decide their own budget and then try to build for that cost (part of that budget calculation will be estimating how much they can get away with charging customer teams). The engines can be designed and built for a budget of $5m or $500m but clearly the more spent the better the likely outcome so you spend as much as you can afford in a commercial context.

    Lets say Bernie decides tomorrow that 100% of profit goes to the teams. So Lotus and Caterham have more money, but then Ferrari and Red Bull have lots more too, their spend goes up proportionately and the backmarkers will still spend all of their resources struggling to keep up and perhaps marginally staying in business. Pay drivers will still win the day (although the % impact the money brought may be slightly reduced since the same sponsorship now represents a slightly smaller proportion of the budget). Commentors also overlook the fact that the teams are actually benefiting from what Bernie has achieved in terms of revenue, without Bernie the teams know that they might have a larger share of a much smaller pie (and probably less direct sponsorship too due to the smaller audience).

    In reality only a change in the way funds are distributed between teams is likely to make a meaningful difference. I don’t tend to have socialist leanings but the reality is that a more equal distribution (I would hate to see no meritocracy at all) would improve things. Winning would still provide positive financial results for the big teams since other revenues (sponsorship, merchandising etc) will still be driven by success.

    I don’t know what the current situation is, but I remember that teams used to get their race freight paid by the commercial rights holder if they scored a championship point in the previous season. My guess is that this type of rule stemmed from the days when there were too many teams and clearly only serious outfits should be funded since there were always enough cars to fill the grid. The current reality is that the sport needs the teams more now and paying freight costs for all teams who competed at every round in the previous season (and therefore contribute to the show) would suffice. This type of benefit could extend to other things (subsidised engine supply, catering & hospitality etc) leaving the teams to focus on building and running the cars with the remaining budget.

    1. Lotus and Caterham

      should read Marrusia and Caterham

  55. Can I make a suggestion regarding the headline for this article? Rather than saying “The pay driver debate needs to move on@keithcollantine please say, “The pay driver debate needs to evolve.”

    At first I thought you were going to suggest that we move on from the debate/discussion as if it was a closed topic. Then in reading the article it became apparent you were pressing for a more nuanced discussion, which I agree with 100%.

    1. Evolve is such an overused word. I’m glad that isn’t the heading.

  56. if you look at f1 then much of it is back to front, f1 cars are surpposed to help make road cars more efficient but a road car manufacturer can make a 120 mph car for a little over £10000,a tyre manufacturer can make a tyre that lasts 15000 miles while f1 tyres last only 15 or twenty laps, long gone are the days of Chapman and the rest who would try new things on a shoe string budget and make it work, now the biggest budget is the only answer and as a consequence f1 teams will look at pay driver over employing a genius of design making more from less and yes to do this you are a genius much like Chapman and the rest of yester year, So how do we stop the onslaught of pay drivers well its easy just inforce a budget cap so the most efficient and innovative teams cannot only survive but win too.

  57. Well, this is usual for a sport and pay drivers are nothing new and when there is 2 drivers equal talent, you can select 1 based on some additional factor, which can be money or a new market…but what i feel is..
    F1 is the highest level of motorsport, when young racers spend fortunes right from the karting to every ladder in the step to reach this point of ultimatum called F1 and also bringing a huge money for F1 seats devalues all achievements and track records the driver has done so far. When only half of the drivers are paid and others have to pay for seat means the sport is not healthy and will kill the fan will lean and eventually come to a close. The term doing it for survival itself brings a negative image for motorsport in general. The term sport will have to be removed if the playground is not fair. It will become like a pre scripted story. Drivers like Senna who came from nowhere to being a legend highlighted the sport, thats pure talent. Pay drivers get too comfortable and lazy and eventually will not help the sport.

    It happened with Fashion Shows when Cosmetic companies selected Miss Worlds and Miss Universes based on new and uptapped markets . Now when people know the truth that its all with commercial interest of cosmetic companies, they dont care anymore about it.

    Same is happening with Cricket in India, the over commercialized and over saturated IPL 20-20 totally collapsed the cricketing balance in the nation. Now people seldom watch one day matches or 20-20s, it was not like 5years ago. Cricket was the most popular but it is not now..its going down because of this money game.

    At one point time we have to see the bigger problem to selfish issues. Its like killing the Goose for the golden egg. Wisdom is less used nowdays.

    From a team’s point of view its ok..because they have to survive..but what FOM is doing? What happened budget cap..If Vodafone, Santander and RedBull doesnt want reduce costs, then it will only be 6car F1 is like that now..and boring.. last year tires made it better than boring but it was not the best. Pure racing was not there..either overtake on DRS or due to tyre wear.. F1 is not just a championship of who mastered the tires better.. An average F1 fan think F1 is the richest sport and all racing in it are rich, but when they realize a driver have to pay $200 million for a seat then they turn away from the sport thinking its a money sucking game and nothing to earn from it. People always like to earn a fortune and not loose a fortune. Pay drivers are not at all healthy for the sport and that too for the top level like F1..

  58. James (@speedking84)
    21st July 2013, 20:54

    Don’t people understand the difference between a pay driver and a driver that has attracted sponsors. Romain Grosjean won the 2011 GP2 championship then got a seat at Lotus, however he gives the team money as he has private sponsors. So is a driver that has outraced and outqualified a world champion in the same car considered a pay driver? Also an F1 team like Marussia or Caterham need pay drivers to survive, I would rather there be ‘pay drivers’ than a championship with 6 teams.

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