Williams doesn’t understand pay driver complaints

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In the round-up: Claire Williams says she doesn’t understand the ‘negative connotations’ around drivers who bring money to fund their F1 drives ahead of Lance Stroll’s F1 debut with the team.

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The rookie class of 2017 already has some serious talent and the grid isn’t full yet:

It will be interesting to see how good Esteban Ocon actually is. Sergio Perez is a highly respected driver, and thus a good benchmark for him.

It’s not unlikely that Ocon will regularly meet Stoffel Vandoorne on track as well, if the Force India is able to match Mclaren-Honda, which are expected to make a leap forward. So many rookies to look out for, and many good benchmark team mates such as Perez and Fernando Alonso.

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Keith Collantine
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80 comments on “Williams doesn’t understand pay driver complaints”

  1. Imagine a football manager saying this: “I don’t understand why in this sport that is such a business there is such negative connotation around a player that pays to play for 90 minutes”.

    Football is a massive business, but if teams started to put ‘pay players’ on the pitch then their results would go downhill very quickly leading to massive financial loss. The problem in F1 is that the driver is not that much of an important component anymore, and hence it doesn’t matter who they put in the car. This is clearly wrong for the good of the sport and if Claire Williams doesn’t get it then she needs to think again. For what its worth, I hope the new regulations tip things slightly more towards the driver in 2017 and Stroll and Williams fail.

    1. David Livingstone
      5th January 2017, 0:46

      The key difference here being that depending on the season, there is only ~20 spaces on an F1 grid.

      Most teams would like at least one experienced driver, and the top teams will have two, with Red Bull and Toro Rosso recruiting from their own stables. two redThat doesn’t leave much room on the grid at all, as opposed to in football, where a good player has many opportunities across Europe to play at the top level.

      Then consider that it costs millions of pounds to compete in the feeder series. If you aren’t a Red Bull backed driver, you’re talking about a good many drivers who are “there or thereabouts” in terms of skill level. Some of which can pay the bills. You’re making a tradeoff of choosing someone who may be less consistent, or a little less quick on the day, in order to fund massive development of the car for both drivers, but also all drivers in the future.

      It’s a no-brainer. It’s regrettable, sure. There are plenty of drivers who miss out by a small margin. But it’s still a good decision on the teams part.

    2. Both realities aren’t really comparable, are they?
      Football clubs generate more than enough income for their operations: they don’t need the players to take sponsors.

      Most teams on F1, on the other hand, need that income to be competitive with the top works teams.
      Some of the best drivers in history entered in F1 with sponsor money on their hands, like Schumacher and Senna.

      Stroll too, but unlike many of them he entered in a moment when money isn’t enough: without results you simply won’t get a superlicense, no matter how deep your pockets are. He was champ last year in a terribly competitive championship.

      So while many drivers are/were deserving of such a cry, Stroll is the least problematic of them all. Could he have done more than be a championship winner?

      1. I believe it is comparable. F1 doesn’t need the players to bring sponsors. It generates enough money to do away with such nonsense. Even if Schumacher and Senna brought backers, doesn’t it make you question whether our concept of ‘talent’ in F1 is an extremely low bar? They were good compared to other F1 drivers. You’re not really pulling from the deepest pool there when one of the requisites is ‘rich friends’. Stroll is just a continuation of this. He’s more of a slap in the face though, because they don’t even feel the need to try to hide it from us anymore. They more-or-less tell us, as fans, that we have to watch lesser drivers because that’s the way it is, so suck it up.

        1. The concept of talent isn’t set in an extremely low bar, not with guys like Alonso, Ricciardo, etc… on the grid.

          The midfield has guys like Perez, Hulk, Grosjean, etc.

          There’s just one driver that you may argue should not be in F1. And the rookies that are coming are not low quality. Vandoorne has the skills necessary, and Stroll has the best preparation of any driver. Money was involved, but I wouldn’t consider him a pay driver if he can back it up on the track.

      2. One of the reasons he gets results is that he is mainly only competing against other rich kids. One of them has to win..

        You can tell how unnatural and poor the talent pool is in F1 by looking at how many of the current drivers are 2nd generation kids.

        Compare that with man united and chelsea current teams, where skill alone is the selection criteria.

        Rich or entitled is where F1 is at.


        1. What do you mean by ‘second generation kids’?

          1. Tommy Scragend
            5th January 2017, 13:35

            Presumably he means drivers whose fathers were also racing drivers e.g. Rosberg, Sainz, Verstappen, Palmer, Magnussen.

            Not saying that they aren’t all worth a place on their own merit – Rosberg is (only?) a world champion, and Max V is going to be a star – but would Jolyon Palmer have been anywhere near the F1 grid if Dr. Jonathan didn’t have an influence/money?

      3. I think it’s more because in football people tend to be fan of a team. In Formula 1, people tend to be fan of drivers, and the drivers get way more exposure than individual football players, bar a Messi or Ronaldo.

      4. The only point in which the comparison between F1 and Football is accurate is that there are about 21 teams in each, beyond that it is completely irrelative.

        A football club does indeed generate income from sponsorship and prize money, but, this is a tiny proportion of their income, the majority being from the gate. As an average this ranges from between 11,000 (Bournemouth) upto 75000 (Man U) for each match. Obviously they still have to make their payment to be a part of the FA, but, they do get considerable returns, including additional funding should the team be relegated.

        Attendance figures for a F1 race, however, are around 300,000-400,000 per race weekend (around the total attendance figures for the top 10 highest attendance for a football match), of this, the actual teams see very little. They dont get an even amount of money back at the season end either, despite how much they pay to race in F1. Formula 1 management have for a very long time held the money within their own ranks, with lower proportions filtering down to the teams.

        I feel the reason that there are very few 2nd generation drivers entering into F1 is simply that they don’t need any pressure being linked to their family member. Bruno Senna came into F1 and as he was a Senna, he was expected immediately to produce racing like his legendary former namesake…

        1. “of this, the actual teams see very little”

          Maddme, that’s exactly one of the problems that needs solving. In football, the money from TV deals that ends up with the teams is huge – but in F1, where exactly does all this money go???

          I see a couple of comments above saying the two are not comparable. Admittedly there are many many differences, but I’m using Claire Williams’ insinuation that because F1 is a business it inevitably ends up this way… for which there are many counterexamples from other sports. Therefore, I think its fair enough to compare the two in this context.

      5. of course it’s comparable

        – Formula 1 generates bucket loads of money, and could generate bucket loads more if it had a proper monetisable fan engagement strategy beyond pay TV
        – I don’t know if this is true, but once heard a reputable journalist claim that Adam Parr asked Bernie Ecclestone why F1 TV rights were lower than Turkish football -> sounds like an opportunity to make a lot more money
        – if the bucket loads of money that are being made now ended up more with the teams, they would be able to pay every driver. A promoter’s fee in a sport should be 15-20%, not 40-50%
        – if the sport engaged a lot more fans in the right places (more races in the US, less in Azerbaijan), a lot more sponsors would be attracted

      6. James Coulee, don’t forget that the teams in the Premier League are now obliged as a condition of competing in that championship to run a financial surplus or face a range of penalties.

        Up until 2013, when those financial restrictions kicked in, the teams in the Premier League were collectively running at a loss (I believe that 2014 was the first time in about 20 years that the Premier League teams actually ran at a collective profit). The comparable situation in F1 would be if all the teams had to adopt a cost cap.

        1. except for the big difference, in football, like basketball or anyother athletic sport, the player is the main ingredient. You can’t hide the costs of building a player half way around the world. A player doesn’t even need that much money in order to get the right nutrition, physical condition, physio, w/e. Where as F1, which is a sport based on technology, and even less determined by the physical ability of the driver these days, the costs are in the car, and other physical capital investment. This is the big difference between motorsports and athletic sports where you actually have to be in reasonably good condition to play otherwise you are not competitive, where as in say, a racing class like MotoGP, you can challenge for podiums even if you are injured as long as you have the right engineering support, bike, the tires work for you, etc….

          It is much easier to hide costs in F1 than it is in say Foot ball, especially if you are a major manufacturer, with lots of subsidiaries, associates, who can take on the costs. And like was mentioned by the guy from Ferrari, it doesn’t matter about trying to reduce spending, those guys will spend the money regardless, rules just dictate where money can be invested with greater ease, and right now that ease is favoring Ferrari and Mercedes, Renault and Honda are hopeless unfortunately. What is even more perverse, is the poor teams have to spend more, take more risks in order to achieve what the big teams do, because they have less say in the sport, and less potential. It’s really a game where someone sits at the top of a pyramid scheme, and the FIA pretty much regulates who can try to climb it, even though the field is setup to promote losers.

      7. He was champ last year in a terribly competitive championship.

        Not really, his team was even way better than Mercedes was in F1 and the hardly any serious competition.

        1. I also heard some rumours about team orders…

      8. Nevertheless, Ms Williams is being somewhat disingenuous. She knows as well as everyone else
        in F1 today that there was a time in F1 when the racing teams called the shots on who drove their cars.
        And while it was true that some talented drivers brought in money as well as skill-sets, the idea
        of employing a driver with limited talent but lots of cash behind him was generally unacceptable.
        You could not say honestly that every team racing today has the best racing drivers that there are
        available. And that is a thoroughly miserable truth.

        Thankyou BCE and your blood-sucking employer for creating the utterly corrupt financial set-up
        of Formula 1 we have today. We are putting a lot of fervant hope into Liberty, that they will
        set F1 onto a decent and fair financial course which treats all teams as equals. That the very best
        drivers available to the teams get the drives simply because they are the best available irrespective
        of their families bank balance.

    3. Like your point! Does the fans want to see the sons of the richest farthers or the most talented drivers in the world? There should be a limit for the driver sponsor- or just a stadard maximum fee that every rookie driver should be able to collect. Then the teams wouldn’t chose money before talent…this could save the career of many talented drivers who stalls after gp2 or 3.5..

    4. Football is really cheap to get into. Motor racing is very expensive even at a base level. The only none pay drivers are ones that can fund their careers without sponsors? Hamilton was a pay driver but as it was a motoracing team paying it was ok. All F1 drivers have had to get enourmous funds tge higher they go not 1 of them has got to F1 just on talent and never will.

    5. In football, to be competitive you need skill and a pair of boots. In motorsport you need skill and a shed full of cash to be competitive.

      As others have pointed out, some of the best drivers in history had to come up with some money to get a drive. Even Nikki Lauder approached F1 as a business proposition.

  2. “I don’t understand why in this sport that is such a business there is such negative connotation around a driver that brings backing.”

    I’m sure she does understand exactly why, but I’ll help with my reasons…

    F1 is supposed to be the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’ (:/), and I want to see the very best drivers competing in it. So when some sponsor-bunny or rich kid trundles along with a big bag of money and uses it as a replacement for talent, whacking other – potentially more deserving – candidates out of the way, of course there’s going to be a negative reaction because that goes against what I would like F1 to be.

    Once said sponsor-bunny/rich kid proves he deserves to be there, my negativity will go away.

    I understand the business side, but don’t expect me to like it. That’s not what I tune in for.

    1. @neilosjames

      But motorsport is dominated by rich kids at all levels. I think it’s easy to forget that – this is not a working class sport where anyone has an equal chance of success. At the very grassroots level, it’s still an investment of thousands, or tens of thousands, per year to be remotely competitive. Kids at that level are inevitably ‘sponsored’ by their parents until such a time as they can be picked up by a big team. But even then, the reality for the overwhelming majority is that you have to pay to race at basically every level.

      The top levels where drivers end up getting paid are the exception, not the rule. This is why so many drivers are the children of millionaires. It’s not a coincidence that the best drivers in the world all com from wealthy families – it’s nothing to do with genetics and everythign to do with the opportunities which money creates.

      What I’m driving at, is that having money is almost a pre-requisite to being in F1. Paying your way through your motorsports career is the way it has always worked, so you end up with a grid full of rich people. Some of which get paid, and some of which pay t be there, but it’s no reflection on the quality of the driver.

      1. @mazdachris Well said Chris, that’s bang on the money…I have followed F1 since 1960 and this is the way its always been. I believe that that there are many more drivers getting paid “wages” today than 50 years ago and certainly the quality of the so-called ‘pay drivers’ is far higher. Do you remember De Cesaris for example? No matter how much money he (or his family) threw at the sport he had an accident rate far worse than Maldonado who also displayed a lot more raw talent than the Italian ever did. I think Claire called it just right.. And as for the comparisons with football, just stop already…

        1. And as for the comparisons with football, just stop already…


          1. I agree with what’s being said in this block of posts, but would just add that it is about perceptions. We pause and ask a few questions when we hear of a driver bringing personal money to a ride, as to whether they were absolutely the best choice at that time, and we question less when a driver is already backed by those who have believed in him enough to pony up money for him. It still comes down to a driver proving himself on track, but I bet if someone worked out the stats, on average the better drivers with longevity in F1 were backed and weren’t mainly personally rich. On average. I’m sure there’s exceptions.

            I do take Claire’s point, but I do not think we can ignore, with all the weight of finincials surrounding F1 this past decade, that some teams simply can’t afford to pay top dollars for top (best possible) drivers, and do have to compromise somewhat and hope for the best.

      2. Of course… and it’s getting worse every year, as the cost of the lower levels increases (and the more expensive options become the ones that give most points). The overwhelming majority of parents, even those in a relatively wealthy country, couldn’t come close to affording even a national-level karting season for their kids. F4-level is closed to probably 99% of people, even in developed countries… and the circle shrinks with every level.

        To paraphrase a smart guy (forgot exactly who, but I’m sure his quote referred to football), the best driver in the world is probably a plumber from Cairo.

        I just like to pretend I’m doing something other than waving a little flag for the more talented guys whose parents only have a medium-sized business and a 50ft yacht…

      3. Of course motorsport is not a sport for poor children and their farthers – but at a certain level there is a difference in talent – especial in the even classes…this is where the talent is spotted..and where it should be picked up and promoted..before money..

  3. Well… considering that Claire Williams went through so much trouble not long ago to explain how her team hasn’t been using pay drivers, maybe she can answer her own question. It’s a pretty simple answer, really. As long as there are pay drivers, it’s obvious that we aren’t seeing the best drivers in F1. It sucks being a fan and always thinking that the drivers we consider to be the best, like Alonso and Hamilton, probably aren’t near as good as some kid in Wales (or Ghana, or Chile, or…. ) who will never have backing from a bank or oil company.

    1. Claire’s team ran the biggest pay driver until 2014, when he wandered to Lotus…

  4. If you’re a professional at anything, you shouldn’t be expected to have to pay to do it. It’s as simple as that.

    I don’t blame Williams (or any other team) for taking on paying drivers to prop up their budgets, or in severe cases, ensure survival, but it’s all symptomatic of the financial inequity in F1. I feel sorry for Claire that she has to defend this shoddy system which continually shafts independent teams like hers.

  5. If he’s not sure about the tyres being better and being able to push harder is this from his experience testing them?

    1. He never tested the new tyres.

  6. At its crux, Stroll’s signing really highlights the current problems with F1 in that it is far too expensive to operate a F1 team without manufacture backing (Red Bull being the defunct Renualt factory team), therefore you can sympathise with Claire William’s comments.

    I hope in the near future there will be a breakaway series where privateer teams like your Williams, Force India, Saubers etc. will race with rules very similar to GP2 such as a homologated chassis, engine and other compontents that thus reduce the R&D expenditure that has no relevance to their outside business ventures/interests. This would thus allow driver talent to be the biggest asset to the team and hence there will be no need to sign your Stroll, Palmer, Gutierez type drivers.

    1. @mattybaz Why form a breakaway series, GP2 already exists and as you say it provides exactly what some people want so if they wanted to race in it a much cheaper option would be to race there. Perhaps, though, this proves that teams like Williams don’t want to race in a spec series?

      1. @jerseyF1 @mattybaz And it is not as if GP2 drivers do not come in with any sort of budget either! And to get with a good team you need an absolutely extortionate backing.

    2. I hope in the near future there will be a breakaway series where privateer teams like your Williams, Force India, Saubers etc. will race with rules very similar to GP2 such as a homologated chassis, engine and other compontents that thus reduce the R&D expenditure that has no relevance to their outside business ventures/interests.

      I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There needs to be a way for teams to work their way up to F1.

      At the moment, there are few motorsports like F1 from a team perspective. Designing, building and racing your own car is expensive and requires a huge amount of skill. I would, personally, like to see a sport with rules based on F1, but with restrictions to make it cheaper and slightly easier. This would allow a team to develop in a similar environment to F1, with similar challenges, but more chance of success for a new team (or someone with more limited resources). Promotion to F1 would be offered to the top team(s) once they have proven (and honed) their ability.

      At the moment, the route to F1 for a team is to make sure you have a shed load of money, burn it for a few years at the back of the grid, and hope that you can edge your way up before you run out of dosh. Not exactly an appealing method…

      1. @drmouse

        Designing, building and racing your own car is expensive and requires a huge amount of skill.

        It’s not even just this – the problem with high-end motor racing is because the money is there, it will be spent and as a result, the teams want more, just so they can spend it!

        There’s no reason why the costs sunk into GP2, GP3, FR 3.5 etc even exist as they do, let alone F1, other than as another artificial barrier to delineate the haves from the have-not’s.

    3. @mattybaz and anybody else bashing pay drivers.

      I admit am a Williams fan, and as such have been following Stroll’s career. I’m definitely not defending the idea of the “pay driver”, but this is not an accessible sport for anybody without funding, at any level. And that isn’t Stroll’s, or Williams, fault.

      All I will say, is that every race of the FIA European F3 series is available to watch on their YouTube channel. Watch Stroll’s campaign. And then comment. Because I don’t think any of you could have done to mention him with the disdain you have.

      1. @drmouse I’m completely with you on a manufacturers feeder series. Possibly exactly the opposite of what a lot of people think the sport needs.

        How about two lines into/out of the pinnacle. On the left, GP3 GP2 spec series, feeding young drivers up the ranks in equal machinery. And on the right F3 F2 feeding teams up (and with retiring drivers perhaps taking developmental roles). Just an idea to expand on yours. And obviously I know the naming rights would never fall so cleanly.

    4. @mattybaz

      (Red Bull being the defunct Renualt factory team)

      Wait, what?

  7. Lol at that opening line on Motorsport.com about how a rookie has rarely sprung as much debate. I guess they forgot the FIA even reacting with new rules on age of drivers to a certain rookie only 2 years back.

    I think Stroll’s own answer to the question, and to many of hte comments above, is quite on point:

    “There’s two ways it works,” he said in Abu Dhabi. “So one way is you need to have a sponsor or a family member, someone who helps you from eight years old ’til whatever age you arrive to F1, if you arrive to F1. Without that I wouldn’t have been able to move from Canada to Europe and pursue my dream.

    “And then after that, no matter how much money you have and where you come from, if you don’t turn the steering wheel left and right and go as quick as possible around the track, you don’t win races. And money can’t buy wins.

    and also, he knows very well that it is not a great situation for the sport, he has commented on it before too, but brings it up in that same interview again.

    I’d say, just as with Verstappen, and with the likes of Vandoorne, Magnussen, Haryanto, Palmer, Ocon etc, let them get in and show what they have got. Either they are the real deal, and continue, or they fail to live up to it and we will see them gone from the grid in a season (or 2) from now.

    1. I don’t think anyone in the comments above is laying in to Stroll in the above comments? Isn’t is more to do with the general situation in motorsports (F1 in particular) and a team principal effectively saying she doesn’t understand why there is so much ado about it?

      1. @john-h Yes. But I also think that we all know that money can’t buy talent but it can buy the best equipment which then can allow a driver to be uninhibited in showing his stuff. Less money equals lesser equipment equals less opportunity to shine since a driver is coloured by his car. And that’s just natural and unavoidable. Some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouths and that’s just the way it is. Some people are just in the right place at the right time. I just think it is also natural for people to question a driver choice when the backing is from personal money vs. from those without a familial connection ponying up the dough. But ultimately if a team chooses to go that route we also know they had to have seen some fairly meaty value in even a personally funded driver. Stroll may have had the luxury of the best equipment so far, but he didn’t squander it either. And so far he hasn’t been, and won’t likely be skyrocketed to the beginning of a F1 career like Max has. Max seems to have an ‘it’ factor. Stroll will be hoping the Williams is not too much a relative downgrade from what he is used to such that he will only look average, after of course a fair number of races have gone by for him to a acclimatize and he and the team to gel.

    2. I like his response to the whole affair @bascb. It’s an answer you would never get from someone like Pastor Maldonado (who never questioned his own driving).

      And while we focus a lot on sons of drivers (Verstappen, Palmer, Rosberg, Sainz, Hill… Schumacher in the future…) and on sons of super rich fathers (Stroll), people often forget that talents like Massa or Vandoorne also come from rich families. It not like it’s anything new.

      Doesn’t mean we should just accept the current situation though.

  8. McLaren sessing its own in house catering makes sense. Sure, it’s great to be able to directly influence what your catering is doing, I am sure Ron was really into that. But for a company working on technology, the focus on food stuff and service does seem a bit out of the niche, so it makes sense to spin it off, let it grow on its own and free up some much needed capital for further investment into core business.

    1. My take on this piece of news is slightly different in the sense that this might be a glimpse of the situation of things at McLaren.
      No matter how this news is being spun, point is, at a particular point in time McLaren decided that their funds could enable them to go into establishing a company that takes care of their catering needs but today, to manage funds better, the said company has to go.
      It is not always a good sign when businesses are being disposed off.

      1. Sure Tata, I have little doubt that the extra cash will come in handy too at this point. But I don’t think that having their own catering service is something an F1 team desperately needs. I think it is almost as likely that the other owners, who took control of the “shop” just did not see the logic in having the company as part of the group.

        As is, they can still cooperate and pormote and support the approach to it and now they can even have the company advertize on the McLaren cars :-)

    2. @bascb Ron Dennis says you can’t beat chips cooked to perfection in the Autoclave.

      1. Exactly @jerseyf1. But now that they attempt to make their cars fast again and will be baking wings etc in those autoclaves, the newly outsourced supplier will have to rent the Autoclaves for it :-)

        1. @bascb chicken wings?

          1. Sure, the Bull wings are already taken

      2. @jerseyF1 Autoclave = superheated steam under pressure. Maybe the team was tired of Ron’s soggy chips?

  9. The declining number of viewers making it more difficult to attract sponsors is a direct result of F1 moving to pay TV. It is in the teams’ interests to have F1 on free-to-air TV as this will give their sponsors the greatest reach. It is in FOM’s interest to have F1 on pay TV as they get paid more, and that extra money does not get distributed to the teams. It is a fundamentally flawed situation which can only result in the teams losing out.

  10. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    5th January 2017, 8:23

    I know Claire’s glass is always half full but how can you possibly not understand Williams’ fans being disappointed with an unproven (liability at times), 18 year old son of a billionaire buying a seat? While your other promising driver is sold to a competitor and as a result you’ve had to resort to begging an aging Felipe Massa out of retirement after a season who’s results say that now is the right time for retirement. I do have trust that Claire is doing what’s right for the business and to help the team continue to grow, develop and make profits but the situation epitomises everything wrong with Formula Wonga.

  11. No news in F1 world, I want F1 news!!!! I hate this time of year, grrrr..!1 What is Toto Wolff up to name Hamilton’s number two..

  12. Stroll has always won his championships. Like he says, you still need to turn left and right while driving no matter how rich you are. I’m excited to see what Stroll can achieve. Yes he’s rich and his main sponsor is dad, but he’s a proven championship winner time and time again. He’ll beat Massa over 2017 I think.

  13. I think/hope Stroll will pleasantly surprise some people. He will make mistakes but he will be coming in as a rookie, just as everyone else. However I expect him to be coming in at a much lower level than say Stoffel Vandoorne, who will be 25 at the Australian GP, and comes off the back of four seasons in much more powerful machinery than Stroll.

    If he’s able to fight Massa as well as Bottas did in 2014, then I hope the critics start to silence themselves. He’s made his way to F1 and deserves to do his talking on the track.

    1. He deserves his seat a lot more than Palmer, no question about that.

  14. Why negative conotations? If paydriver A can be within same ballpark and bring overall enough money to make the car 0.4s faster, then he is a better package than nonpay driver who is say 0.3s faster but brings 0 backing. Simple.

    Only teams who shouldnt consider pay drivers are teams with unlimited budgets….

    1. Also car is then faster for the second driver aswell….

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        5th January 2017, 11:03

        I can’t see Williams doing well with such a poor driver lineup regardless of additional development money from Stroll. Williams are making the best business decisions they can and ultimately you cannot knock them for that. As a Williams fan however I want to see them with the best drivers they can aquire, on this occasion they have had to compromise talent for money. I actually think Claire envisaged having Button and Bottas for 2017, they had to settle for Stroll once Button retired and then Massa once Mercedes came knocking for Bottas. So it’s a very much compromised situation for them.

        1. Hmm…I’m not so sure they think of Stroll as a compromise as much as a good add for themselves while keeping him away from others.

  15. “”I don’t understand why in this sport that is such a business there is such negative connotation around a driver that brings backing.”

    The fundamental problem is that most viewers watch F1 for the drivers, not the teams, they want to see talented drivers reach the supposed pinnacle of motorsport, yet rich kids are buying drives.

    There, Williams, is your obvious answer.

    1. Reading through the comments here I’d say that the fundamental problem is rather that F1 fans have become so narrow minded that they have forgotten that being a rich kid does not preclude you from being a talented driver. In fact, in manyrespects, it’s a pre-requisite.

      I do miss the good old days when people would actually bother looking at a driver’s racing record before writing them off as talentless.

        1. I think that’s a fair comment but I also think that with the lowdown on Stroll being that he had the best equipment due to the family money, others did more with less ie. others would have gotten dotw ahead of Stroll. Not looking to open up the debate on what his actual talent is, as I haven’t followed him, but I think we can always keep in mind that drivers are coloured by their cars. I agree though, let’s not critique him to death and instead see what he does in this new territory in a car that will not be the class of the field.

          1. Off course he did, yeah. And it will have certainly helped be as dominant in the series this year @robbie. But for 2017 he will have to be at least close to Massa and avoid lingering at the back of the grid, failing to get through Q1 time and again. Because even his father’s money cannot make the Williams a car capable of winning or regularly challenging for podiums. Or it will at least take time to get there

      1. A tad hypocritical to presume the issue is that no one knows anything about this kids route to the top.

      2. @mazdachris – I’m not anti-drivers with backing (familial, corporate, otherwise) and you make a fair point that a good driver can be of any economic background.

        But I think what people want to see are amazing drivers who didn’t buy their way up the ladder, but rather they earned it. If you look at some of the most highly decorated and highly supported drivers currently on the grid (in no order)—Hamilton, Alonso, Raikonnen, Vettel, (couldn’t find early life info on Ricciardo)—all came from fairly meager beginnings and rose on talent. And while other good/great drivers came from families with money, which goes to your point, perhaps you can see how those stories are not as inspiring to young fans or as interesting?

        It is great that a talented driver like Jos Verstappen’s son can rise through the ranks so quickly and bring interest onto the grid. But, and this is simply opinion, it doesn’t hold my interest the same way Hamilton or Vettel or Raikonnen did when they burst on the F1 scene. And as much sentiment as there is behind Mick Schumacher’s rise—and I’m a big fan of his father and I am hoping Mick does well—it’s not the same as Michael coming from nothing.

        I guess what I am saying is, there is nothing wrong with a rich driver making the grid. But if I were in that position, I would keep my head down until my results proved the naysayers wrong. So, while Claire Williams may technically be right that pay drivers are not new or necessarily bad, bringing attention to it probably wasn’t the best idea.

        1. @hobo With respect, I think you’ve missed the point I was making which is that all drivers, regardless of skill or talent, have to buy their way up. Either through bak of Mum and Dad, sponsors, or some other wealthy benefactors. A bad driver can’t buy their way into F1 – they stil need to qualify for a superlicense which has to be earned on merit. No matter how much money a driver brings to a team in a lower category, they’ll soon be out on their ear if they’re regularly binning the car. And they certainly wouldn’t be considered for a team with the potential, for instance, to win a GP2 championship. One oway or another, a driver must earn their position by demonstrating their ability to drive at the pace required.

          Of course it would be great to live in a world where drivers could be paid properly at all levels, and that motorsport was purely meritocratic. But it isn’t. Even the top drivers you mention who you say are from meagre backgorunds, have still had to have a huge amount of money spent on them for them to get the opportunities in the first place. Hamilton’s father famously remortgaged his house to fund Lewis’s driving career – without those tens (hundreds?) of thousands spent on Hamilton’s career, he would never have been able to get a kart capable of competing and showing off his talents.

          Even after being picked up by Ron Dennis, do you think Hamilton was being paid by his teams? No, his sponsors were paying his teams so that he could drive. This i how it works in motorsports – you first spend out lots of your own money until you can impress sponsors, who in turn will pay for your drive. That’s the hard reality of motrosports – you need both talent and someone willing to spend hundreds of thousands on progressing your career. If you have the means to pay for that yourself, then that’s even better because you don’t need to be sponsor-friendly to do it.

          As I say, drivers being paid to race by the teams is the exception. The overwhelming majority of professional racers are paid by their sponsors, who in turn give huge amounts of money to teams. Because, fundamentally, designing, building, and running racing cars, is majorly expensive and that money has to come from somewhere.

          1. @mazdachris – I appreciate your clarification as I did miss your initial point.

            In response to your clarification I should note that I am not of the mindset that drivers should all be paid by the team, or that having sponsorship is somehow devaluing of the driver’s talent. I do realize that regardless of how a driver comes up, money is involved from somewhere. But I still think that having a multimillionaire/billionaire parent or a family company sponsorship from day 1 is a much different thing than a driver earning support.

            It may simply be sentiment knowing that if a kid crashes, they may not get to finish the season because that second mortgage only goes so far compared to someone whose mom or dad can just buy a new chassis when the kid bins this one. Again, I don’t think that makes one a better driver, but at the very least it interests me more.

            I hate to muddy the water, but there was a lot of talk on here about Susie Wolff and Carmen Jorda getting seats on teams based on looks, attention, and gender much more so than talent. I think it is precisely that sort of argument that people are making here. Drivers getting seats based on available cash more so than talent. I.e., there are better drivers out there with less sponsorship getting overlooked. That is a business and funding decision that has to take place in a team that has finite resources (all teams), I think we can agree. And I think it has gotten to the point where a lot of the grid is questionable as to whether they belong there as drivers, or at least that seems to be what concerns many of the negative commenters here if I am reading between the lines properly. (fwiw, I count at least 9 questionable drivers, and probably closer to 11-12.)

      3. @mazdachris

        The thing is that while Stroll might be good, he’s not the best rookie they could sign. I’m still angry that Da Costa or Frijns never made it into F1.

    2. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      5th January 2017, 16:14

      I would be really happy to be proven wrong but from all the research I’ve done and from what I’ve seen Stroll really isn’t ready for F1 yet. Hence why Daddy paid for a mini F1 team to travel around and run the 2014 Williams car for him just to get some much needed practice. His accident record is alarming as well. Hopefully he will have some raw natural pace and it won’t have been flattered all his life from his Dad’s money making it an un level playing field. I wouldn’t argue with him being in a Sauber or a Manor but not a Williams.

      1. Hmm…hard to say how he’ll do but my main curiosity, and not just for him, is to see how all the drivers do in these new cars that I envision (rightly or wrongly on my part) are going to be able to be thrown around a lot more without fear of ruining the state of the tires. I can’t wait. I hope they’re taxed much more physically such that it becomes a game of mentally keeping their concentration levels together in the closing stages of races. We need to see drivers performing great feats again. They’ve been passengers limited from pushing, for too long now. Technically speaking, if the cars are as I hope, then Stroll and others may well struggle, and as a newbie to F1 that is the way it should be.

  16. Cotd Why wouldn’t SFI beat McLaren. Honestly I do expect that Honda is going to do a mega job with their new PU, but I don’t think McLaren can make a better all round chassis than SFI. It’s a matter of whether SFI has money.

  17. Sone people here keep forgetting the amount of crap drivers Formula 1 had in “the good old days”. Be grateful that there’s pretty much only one or two crap deivers on the grid right now.

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