F1 -- the best funded hobby drivers in the world?

Discussion in 'F1' started by Tillman, Mar 29, 2011.

  1. Tillman

    Tillman Splenda Daddy
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    Nov 26, 2001
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    Professional: one who follows an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain.

    We all know that many of the drivers are not paid by the teams, but rather bring large amounts of funding to the table. We often hear of drivers benched in favor of slower but better funded drivers.

    Given that many of them aren't paid, and in fact pay to race, are they professional race car drivers? Or is this really the highest level of hobby driving in the world?

    I truly believe that there are folks on this board who, if they had enough money, would be able to buy a superlicense and a ride in F1.
  2. classic308

    classic308 F1 Veteran

    Jan 9, 2004
    Westchester, NY
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  3. ApexOversteer

    ApexOversteer F1 Veteran

    Feb 15, 2007
    Smoky Mountains, TN
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    T.A. Bell
    Pay for Play drivers still get paid, just not by the team they drive for. They are still professionals.
  4. robert_c

    robert_c F1 Rookie

    May 12, 2005
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    Robert C
    Yeah, but so did Zsolt Baumgartner, who despite having an awesome name is one of a long list of pay drivers who really never had the talent, but the money to drive in F1.
  5. Craigy

    Craigy Formula 3

    Mar 19, 2006
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    Some bring money to the table, some bring sponsors who bring money to the table.

    They're all self-funding in some way.
  6. 05011994

    05011994 Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed Owner

    May 1, 2004
    Golden, Colorado
    Don't forget the Michael Schumacher's first drive in the Jordan at Spa in 1991 was funded by Mercedes Benz.
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  8. Remy Zero

    Remy Zero Two Time F1 World Champ

    Apr 26, 2005
    KL, Malaysia
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    MC Cool Breeze
    And EJ picked him because he was the cheapest alternative...
  9. spirot

    spirot F1 Veteran
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    Dec 12, 2005
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    Tom Spiro
    In modern F-1 rarely are people pulling money out of their own pocket. if you look at Perez and his Mexican connections he is using Mex $$ from sponsors who want to hob nob with the F-1 crowd.

    Most of the for pay drivers today have several large sponsorship managment teams behind them, and companys see that funding the driver is cheaper than sponsoring the car, and do it to get access to the Paddock. That is where deals are made. so its cheaper in the long run to sponsor a person, get access - for fun or biz, and if the driver does badly, you drop him and go with another guy... meanwhile if your biz deals work out great! if the driver is an Alonso or Petrov, even better it opens up more markets for you.

    In the days of Lauda and Lunger, the drivers them self went on the limb for sponsor loan or even personal money. Mansell sold everything he had to get in with Lotus... but the thresholds are so high today even very wealthy people cant afford the price of entry, you have to have sponsorship behind you.
  10. LightGuy

    LightGuy Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Oct 4, 2004
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    Some of the drivers in F2 have been there for years with no chance of advancing.
    Just party time and spending someone's fortune. Why not ? Just dont pretend to be a mover and shaker.

    At least the ones moving up to F1 theorhetically have a chance at the golden ring.
  11. Chicko

    Chicko Formula 3

    The difference is that every "pay" driver in F1 does so with the intention of becoming a successful "paid" driver, and its also their full time occupation and career.

    A few have slipped through over the years, but almost all today have the ability to be there just on merit alone, but paying or having sponsorship backing makes the possibility of getting a seat so much higher due to the how competitive it is to get in.

    If you think that F1 is easy, and all you need is money to get on the grid, then just look at the amount of highly successful drivers from other series who have tried F1, without paying, and been in good teams, that have failed !
  12. Nuvolari

    Nuvolari F1 Rookie
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    Sep 3, 2002
    Toronto / SoCal
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    Rob C.
    Another thing that people fail to realize is that to get to the point where anyone will put money behind you in the lower formulas to advance you towards F1 still requires investments of north of 1 million dollars. This money comes from family or just plain charity sponsorship with no real commercial value. The numbers to go racing even in the entry levels will scare most well to do working class people silly. This is compounded with the issue that you need to get started at a fairly early age. Most Formula Renault guys are in their teens and it takes the better part of $300K to run 1 season at a competitive level in Europe. Then it is off to F3 where a campaign including some of the big races will cost about $800K. Where is a teen to get that kind of money? Forget 'sponsorship' because at that level the commercial value is next to nil and certainly not anywhere near what it costs to run.

    It is a cruel reality of the sport and has been that way since the beginning. Anyone who thinks that motor racing is a merit based activity where talent dictates advancement has no concept of how things work in the real racing world.
  13. GuyIncognito

    GuyIncognito Six Time F1 World Champ
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    Jun 30, 2007
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    quoted for truth!
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  15. Chicko

    Chicko Formula 3

    Your 100% right.... I think its a little unfair to really point the finger at "pay" drivers just in F1, when every driver has had to come up with a massive amount of money to get that far in the first place be that from personal or sponsorship sources .
  16. Nuvolari

    Nuvolari F1 Rookie
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    Sep 3, 2002
    Toronto / SoCal
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    Rob C.
    Any driver who makes it to F1 has overcome a minefield of obstacles and by any metric is a pretty handy driver. For those few F1 spots there are plenty of well funded and talented drivers fighting for them. Some more talented than others and some more funded. In addition to funding comes things such as personal connections (which sometimes can be influenced by skill but more often luck) and exceptional timing. For instance a driver emerging from a developing nation like India or China has a huge leg up on say a driver from England for no reason other than being born in a time and place when the country would be willing to back your progress.

    Having been around top level racing for the better part of my life you will find that for every person who makes it, there are literally hundreds more who will tell some story of how they were more talented and more committed than driver 'x', how they trounced them in a lower formula, and how they just did not get the breaks or had the money to make it. I made it further than most but not far enough to really earn a living at it so believe me when I tell you that I know both sides of the fence.

    Even the worst F1 driver has achieved something significant to start an F1 race.
  17. TifosiUSA

    TifosiUSA F1 Veteran

    Nov 18, 2007
    Kansas City, MO
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    Great post.
  18. VIZSLA

    VIZSLA Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Jan 11, 2008
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    This is news?
    Its always been pay to play and "Gentlemen Drivers" have been a part of the sport since the beginning. In fact in the early days what we now call "professional" drivers were looked down on as hired help.
  19. LightGuy

    LightGuy Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Oct 4, 2004
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    Which is why I try and never put down a F1 driver's ability. Their ethics (FA) yes but never their ability.
    I made an exception early on for Piquet junior but even he was/is talented.
    Just not enough.

    Robert C mentioned Zsolt Baumgartner earlier. Years back my young son asked me who was the worst driver in F1 and this was the name that popped into my head.
    Even now when he witnesses poor driving on the street he calls that person "Zsolt" ;)
  20. Fast_ian

    Fast_ian Two Time F1 World Champ

    Sep 25, 2006
    Campbell, CA
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    Ian Anderson
    :D Good one!
  21. TurboFreak650

    TurboFreak650 Formula 3

    Jul 10, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    I'm sure many of our armchair racers :eek: would like to think they could compete, if, of course they had enough money. But after being left 30 seconds behind the field in Free Practice 1, their ride would be over. Not even a chance to participate in Quali. :eek:
  22. VIZSLA

    VIZSLA Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Jan 11, 2008
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    I'd be lucky to make it out on track without stalling.
  23. modena1_2003

    modena1_2003 F1 Rookie

    Aug 17, 2005
    North Carolina
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    I was just going to post David's comment about this being common knowledge. Interesting thread on the basis that this hasn't been discussed on FChat yet, but the "gentleman driver" philosophy has been employed by countless drivers from the very beginnings of motor racing.

    Many of the bottom tier drivers have money and connections and as said above, whomever brings the best combination of finances and sponsor attention to the table is clearly eligible for a seat.

    The best man doesn't always win in Formula 1, as there are so many talented drivers that will never see a Grand Prix because they don't have the pull.
  24. Bas Jaski

    Bas Jaski Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Mar 24, 2008
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    One flaw: You can't buy a superlicense. You have to be approved to get one. It's performance based, and even if your performance is good enough you can still be refused (although this is very rare. Mosley and Ecclestone at first expressed their concerns giving Kimi a Superlicense because he had only done 21 races up until that point, but because he won the majority of them and after a couple of tests they granted him one in the end). A couple of drivers had theirs 'taken away' IIRC.

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