Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2018

Hamilton concerned about effect of motorsport “money pit” on young drivers

2018 German Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says motor racing can be a “money pit” for young drivers trying to break into the sport and believes more should be done to help them.

Hamilton recently pointed out he sees few drivers from similar backgrounds to his coming through the ranks into Formula 1.

“When people ask me where the next me is coming from, I say: ‘No, these kids come from wealthy backgrounds, not from the struggle I came from,” he said earlier this month.

“It goes to the fundamentals of how the sport is governed. There are so many aspects that are not being tackled. There are only wealthy kids coming through. There are not kids from working class families.”

The Mercedes driver revealed yesterday he has signed to drive for the team for another two seasons in a deal reputedly worth tens of millions of dollars.

Asked by RaceFans whether he had considered establishing a foundation to help young drivers from working class backgrounds into F1, Hamilton said: “I haven’t.” However he indicated he is interested in working with the FIA to improve access to motorsport for young drivers.

“I would like to do something with the FIA,” he said. “I guess I’ve got to speak to Jean [Todt] or whoever is above or around him just to try to work something out because there’s definitely some improvements they can do about what they do with the younger generation.

“If that discussion then leads into finance and all that kind of stuff we’ll cover that at the time but at the moment I’m not going to just to put money over there without a plan.”

Hamilton said the complexity of motor racing’s lower categories and the cost of competition makes it difficult for some young drivers to rise through the ranks.

“It would be cool to help young kids but how you go about it is the question. There’s all these different championships below that are owner by different people.

“Karting’s not the way it was when I was there. We’ve got people here who are paying the teams millions and millions. You’ve got people who are spending millions to get here and don’t get here. For a lot of people it’s a money pit.

“It’s something it would be cool to be a part of.”

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15 comments on “Hamilton concerned about effect of motorsport “money pit” on young drivers”

  1. I think a good reason not to establish “a foundation to help young drivers from working class backgrounds into F1” is as Lewis Hamilton says, it is a money pit and he would be just adding his money to the pit.

    Realistically when Lewis says he is from working class, he really means very well paid working class (basically middle class). If you ware working class you need to work to live; not work to live, and pay for your child to race karts all over the country / world).

    Karting and car racing is a sport for the rich, and rrich benefactors and becasue it costs so much for such little reward. If you doubled the number if people racing karts you would not double the amount of seats (or money) in professional motorsport. It would be just more people throwing their money away.

    The fixed costs of holding races, running cars and employing teams are too high for it to be profitable to make the junior formulas a real meritocracy.

    Theres no point governments getting involved as there’s enough self funding rich drivers (from all large western economies) to avoid adding taxpayers money to the funding pit (which could be more usefully spent elsewhere).

  2. Or in other words I’m not going to do this if no one else is. I am sure Lewis is too busy to set up his own charity but it does sound a bit odd from somone who has just been awarded a £40 million contract over 2 years.

    Maybe he should be encouraging his fellow drivers to invest in this idea?

  3. JungleMartin
    20th July 2018, 14:28

    Motorsport is way too expensive, says man who has just signed contract to relieve his employer of reportedly up to 40 million per year.

    1. Agreed. Maybe he could slap down that 40m for a year and set up something. It’s not as though he’d notice it.

  4. I don’t know Maurice Hamilton’s background but I dare say he is more middle class than working class to do what did for Lewis.
    I make what I think is a good living but when I priced up go-karting for my son I think I got a nose bleed! Its not a hobby now, people think their kid is the next Senna (which they are not- no-one is) but its changed.

    I guess the question is if Lewis is obligated for a young driver program- he certainly isn’t but it would be nice, maybe when he stops racing?

  5. Every time the FIA gets involved in something to “save costs” or “get talent to the top”, the price seems to go up.

    F2 (2009-spec) was supposed to be a cost-saving version of GP2, and ended up costing as much as GP3 while not providing enough value for drivers to be able to skip GP3 afterwards (thus adding a few hundred thousand to the path).

    “Clarifying” the path to F1 was meant to help talent rise, but mostly it’s made it more expensive, meaning all but the best-supported of the talent just gets squeezed out faster because the cheaper alternatives to the “main path” were discouraged from running.

    This is before we consider all those failed attempts to reduce costs in F1.

    Motorsport is a lot cheaper if it’s done without the FIA. There might be good non-cost reasons for the FIA to continue to be there, but it still means that the best thing the FIA can do with any putative scheme of this type is to stay out of its light.

    (Of course, the other problem is that Mercedes already has a young driver program, so if Lewis has any ideas for his scheme that aren’t compatible with it, the plan would have to be delayed until Lewis’ retirement).

  6. I don’t remember where I read it or heard it but an interesting point of view into the increasing costs of motorsports is that the costs are not actually rising but the middle class and the poor are getting less and less wealthy while the rich are becoming super rich. There are some things that support this view too.

    One is the explosion of the market of things for the super rich. Back in the 80s and 90s the supercar market for example was pretty much capped at the ferrari/porsche/lamborghini level. Now you have couple levels above that. Same thing with apartment prices which have gone through the roof. Back in the 70s and 80s anybody could buy a house and pay for it relatively quickly. Nowadays it takes two people 20-30 years. Prices near city centers are just totally out of reach for most people.

    Motorsports has always been expensive but it was possible to do it if you were willing to sacrifice time and effort. But that was true to everything else as well. A lot of things that was possible 20-40 years ago is now not really possible anymore. I’m not an economics expert by any means and I don’t fully believe this idea. It surely does not work on the highest levels of motorsports where things have surely gotten a lot more expensive. But at the grassroot levels all the way into f3 there is something happening that is not fully explained by just the cost of motorsport itself rising.

    1. You are arguing that the median household income is decreasing with time, and that is factually incorrect. Try Google; brilliant tool. Motorsports is becoming more expensive, and dramatically so; it has nothing to do with median household income and wealth, which is rising albeit slowly. Income and wealth distribution is not relevant.

      1. You are arguing that the median household income is decreasing with time, and that is factually incorrect.

        I believe he’s arguing that the cost of living in relation to household income has gone up, which is factually correct.

  7. José Lopes da Silva
    20th July 2018, 17:03

    Meanwhile, Stroll is heading to Force India.

  8. Motor sports in general and F1 most notably are not meant for the average person to participate in ( as drivers )no matter how talented or motivated those people are . .
    To be a great basketball player (for example ) if you have the talent ,body type etc. you need only have a pair of basketball shoes .
    To be a driver you need not only a vehicle you need a good one and you need to keep it in competitive condition ( new parts ,new tires etc.-especially new tires) .
    The cost of this vehicle starts as high and goes to astronomical as you progress to higher and higher level series . This is a simple fact as unfair as it is .
    What I find interesting is that one of the worlds richest drivers is NOT willing to put up any of his own $ ,even as ” seed money “to help those who need economic help . This is note worthy because (1) Lewis was not born to money as many F1 drivers so know first hand of the monetary help the other-than-rich drivers need AND (1) he often points to how much he worries about the young drivers and the negative impact that anything he considers as improper conduct by other drivers might have on those young drivers .
    For one who is SO worried about young drivers how can he pass up an opportunity to set an example and personally help them ,especially when he so often refers to them as the reason current F1 drivers should monitor their own conduct .
    Lewis,come on, instead of getting another custom paint job on your next private jet use that $ to help disadvantaged young drivers by direct contribution and by helping to set up concerns that they can draw upon .
    I guess that this saying doesn’t exit in England ( or is it Monaco ?) but, “put your money where your mouth is “..OR.. don’t again mention the need to set good examples for young drivers .

  9. One solution could be some Esport sanctioned FIA to filter out the bad rich kids thus reducing the money pit competition. For example, all FIA sanctioned continental level karting / F4 participants need to qualify top 1,000 in FIA racing Sim. Then all these factory teams / sponsors can only pick talent from a relatively fair pool.

  10. What “struggle” did he come from into F1?

    He is the most silver spoon fed driver in the history of the sport.
    He had his route to F1 in the best teams, he had more support than any of his peers, & by the time he took the grid for his first race (in a championship contending car), he had done more testing in preparation than anyone before him.

    Even now he’s wrapped in cotton wool by his team, and when he should have been disciplined for some truly outrageous tantrums, he escaped those too.

    I have never seen a more pampered and fortunate driver …

    1. Wow!
      Perhaps, he snatched your girlfriend too.

    2. You’re missing the point. Before he got enrolled by McLaren, he was just an average kid aspiring to be in F1. He had to show speed to convince said team to spend so much money on him. He needed sponsors to rise to F1. Without race results (read: work) you wouldn’t have heard of him.

      On the other end, you have old drivers’ sons who race on their dad’s money (before making their own ;) ). I mean the Piquets, Rosbergs and much more I forget.

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