Independent Teams = the Return of rent-a-drivers?


Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
With the departure of 4 (I include Renault) manufacturer teams in the last 2 years will this mean an inevitable return of lower quality pay drivers to F1? Peter Sauber is said to be considering Vitaly Petrov as he will bring $10-15 million of sponsorship as well as "opening up the Russian market". Presumably many of the new teams would like a driver who brings some funding, especially with the budget cap not being pushed through by the FIA.

Back in the 80's & 90's many very poor drivers found their way into an F1 simply because they bought a large suitcase full of money with them. These guys were often very slow and were little more than a mobile chicane on the circuit for the fast guys to find a way around (or sometimes not). Do the FIA need to review the way super licences are issued to weed out the worst? I appreciate the smaller teams need funding but should this mean the potential safety issues of a slow, inexperienced driver should be ignored?
May I make a suggestion, FB? Can we have the conversation after the pay drivers have had their chance and been proved to be a bunch of Deletrazes. To suggest that the FIA should tighten up the system before giving people their time behind a wheel is slightly over-the-top.
I can see both sides of the argument.

Funding a team shouldn't necessarily mean you get a race seat but conversely, having the money doesn't automatically mean you're a poor driver.

I guess we'll have to wait and see how some of these pay drivers do.
Surely they can't be worse than Badoer, Grosjean and Alguersuari, can they?

On a related note, Gary Paffett who was consistently near the top of the time sheets during the recent driver testing has admitted that a lack of funding is keeping him out of F1.
It must be extremely frustrating for drivers with the potential to sit on the sidelines and watch others less skilled than them get a drive simply due to money.

Gary Paffett admits a lack of "a fair few million pounds" is set to keep him out of a 2010 Formula One race-seat.

Paffett, who spent this past week testing for McLaren, is eager to make the move up to F1 race driver, however, finances are keeping that dream at bay.

"We have been looking (at F1), but even with all the new teams coming in, it's not easy to get a race seat," the Brit told Autosport.

"It seems like most of the new teams require you to have a fair few million pounds in the bank, or that much sponsorship to give the team, so it's more difficult to get a race-seat even though there's more available.
Paffett admits finances keeping him out of racing
I take your point TBY but I can't think of a single driver who has bought their way into an F1 drive who has gone on to be of any worth. What I was thinking was that perhaps the FIA should look at the performance of all drivers (not just those who pay for their seats) and withdraw their super licence if they are slow and dangerous. I think the only driver to have his licence withdrawn was Yuji Ide, there have been many others who have been as bad but have been allowed to continue in F1 presumably because the teams needed the money and the FIA didn't want to stop an income stream. Not, perhaps, the best reason.
We shouldn't jump to conclusions, nor should the FIA wait until the horse has bolted! Lets face it those were dark days when the grid was made up of a plethora of paying mobile chicanes.

There is no doubt that with the new teams running under funded, under resourced and under researched cars F1 is going to be a dangerous place next season. At the very least the FIA need to keep as many afluent feeble minded drivers off the grid as possible.

:thinking: Since Sebastian Loeb couldn't get a Super Licence the benchmark would appear to be set very high. :bored:
I don't think it is fair to castigate the FIA for their refusal to withdraw superlicences over the last couple of years. I doubt that there have been a whole lot of drivers since 2004, say, as slow and dangerous as Yuji Ide. And the FIA had to give him a fair chance, which they did until it became obvious that he wasn't just having 2 or 3 off-days.

Badoer was withdrawn by Ferrari before the FIA could act, and I don't think Grosjean, Alguersuari etc. are quite in that category.

As for pay-drivers being good, if they were good they wouldn't be remembered as pay drivers, no?
I completely agree with FB's article. Pay drivers are an inevitable side-effect of cost-cutting and allowing poorly funded teams in. I'm sure Bernie has been harking back to the old days when rich 'playboy' drivers were in the sport, and he's been thinking 'why can't we have them back - it'll be much better than the dull bunch of sportsmen we have now'. F1 could well return to the pages of Hello magazine and newspaper columns full of stories of bad-boy (or girl) drivers getting into naughty situations.
And the main benefactors of team cost-cutting are CVC who can take a greater cut of the profits as the power-base shifts away from the teams back to the organisers.

I still personally believe the best & most appropriate source of funding for F1 are the car companies but that view doesn't seem to go down very well.
I think it's pretty much "wait and see" at the moment.

There have been plenty of contracted drivers who haven't been up to the job and a fair few drivers who started as pay to drive racers and gone on to bigger and better things. You can never really tell until they turn a wheel in action.

While some drivers in the past have been a danger to themselves and others on the track you never now how things are going to go until they get in the cars and go for it.

Several teams have already made there intentions to sign drivers for economic reasons quite clear since many of the start up outfits are going to need cash in the short term to stabalize their positions on the grid.

As long as they are not dangerous I don't see Rent-a-drives being a problem.
As for pay drivers all being rubbish, Lauda and Rindt paid for their first drives, and I believe that Jones did as well. They weren't so bad.
Took a look on Lauda's Wiki entry and Siffert_fan is indeed correct he bought his first two drives in F1, mortgaging his house to do so. He got his money back when Ferrari signed him (on Regazzoni's recommendation). It didn't make any similar comments about Rindt and Jones but then their entries weren't quite so detailed.

To use an old and hackneyed expression, Lauda is perhaps the exception that proves the rule.
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