Demise of pay drivers in Formula 1 – Is it a good thing ?

It looks like after many years there are no pay drivers on Formula 1 grid. Their last sanctuary disapeared when Vijay Mallya took over Spyker F1. The last proper pay driver – Christijan Albers – left the grid even earlier. Not (as he should) because of his mediocre performances, but because his sponsor stopped sending money.

Christijan Albers – Spyker

So now there isn’t a driver on the Formula 1 grid who has to pay to drive instead of getting paid for driving. At least for now gone are the days of fat purses buying F1 drives in teams like Prost, Minardi, Jordan (later Midland and Spyker)… At the same time however almost gone are also the days when other teams or drivers management could place their young and upcoming drivers to weaker back-of-the-grid teams for few seasons. This is what Honda could do with Super Aguri but never really did, this is what Toyota have done with Kazuki Nakajima and Williams, this is what Flavio Briatore have done with Minardi. Many different drivers started (and some also ended up) their F1 careers in with the backmarkers:

Fernando Alonso – Minardi

Alex Yoong – Minardi

Michael Schumacher – Jordan

Mark Webber – Minardi

Christijan Albers – Minardi

Narain Karthikeyan – Jordan

Tiago Monteiro – Midland

Tomas Enge – Prost

Zsolt Baumgartner – Minardi

Some managed few races only like Tomas Enge, some like Albers kept going for few seasons. And then there were also Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso …

So should we be happy the pay drivers are gone (for now) ?

15 Comments Post a Comment
  1. zblkhwkNo Gravatar says:

    There will always be openings in F1 for new drivers, as the old guard and underperformers leave. I find it interesting that of all the drivers listed above, only a couple found seats in the bigger teams.

    If you look at the new drivers in F1 today, and where they came from, few started with back-marker low budget pay-to-drive rides. More and more they are coming from junior series and are giving significant first rides in F1.

    Rossberg, Kubica, Kovalainen, Hamilton (almost forgot he was a second season F1 driver), Nakajima, and Piquet are all new, and I am not aware that any of them paid to drive and all are with significant teams. And all, except Piquet, has done very well.

    The only new driver with a different resume is Bourdais, who went to Champ first.

    On of the big problems with racing coverage (TV) here in the states is that we get absolutely no coverage outside of Indy, Nascar (we get tons of their junior series coverage), and F1. We do not see GP2, Formula Series, and even the home based series such as BMW Super Cup. As such, I know virtually nothing about the next generation.

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      the TV coverage is nothing special here as well … we have F1 – only quali and race on Star SPorts with way too many and too long breaks. No practice sessions … We get all the A1 and on ESPN some Indy racing some time. No GP2 at all, we did not even get the GP2 Asia series…

  2. ShaunNo Gravatar says:

    What is the situation regarding ability and experience of paid drivers? I always thought it was a little dangerous letting somebody drive an F1 car just because they could afford to pay for it. I assume they must have to get some sort of licence to be able to enter?

    Shaun’s last blog post..Spanish CEV 125GP Championship – Alec Wright

  3. KotenokNo Gravatar says:

    After all thei’re money for the teasm to develop the cars or pay out the bills, and their driiving skills sometimes are gooid and sometimes are ill-fated.

    I-m not interested to purchase a ride myself :-P That’s what I know. You might be a little bit crazy when you know yourself that you’re not good enough for F1 races and still keep paying for being there. That’s insane for two things, the driver’s success & popularity, and the driver’s health and wealth (humm, the health of their partners bank accounts).

    A young boy without expirience owning a superlicense is another thing, young ones with talent needed a help to arrive to the F1 as Kimi, Jenson or Nick, mainly all of the drivers got their superlicense with too much little expirience and being supported by a purchaser.

  4. […] Demise of pay drivers in Formula 1 – Is it a good thing ? – F1 Wolf Interesting take: “…almost gone are also the days when other teams or drivers management could place their young and upcoming drivers to weaker back-of-the-grid teams for few seasons.” (tags: PayDrivers) […]

  5. Getting rid of pay drivers has to be good. You don’t see people paying to get in top football clubs do you?

    Of the examples you’ve picked the only decent ones were those who weren’t long-term pay drivers in the traditional sense. Alonso was placed at Minardi by Briatore to get him someone experience, and Schumacher was rushed into Jordan because Gachot had gone and got himself arrested.

    Keith Collantine’s last blog post..CART drivers who raced in F1: From Andretti to Zanardi part 2

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      I am definitely glad that drivers like Baumgartner, Albers, Yoong, Monteiro are now unlikely to make it to F1 … But I wish that people like Flavio still had that option to put drivers like Piquet for example to cars like Minardi for a season …

  6. C.D.No Gravatar says:

    It’s a good thing, I guess, but I’ll always miss Pedro Diniz. I think the difference is only the matter of the method. Instead of selling yourself to an independent team, you sell yourself to an auto manufacturer.

    zblkhwk — If you get Speed, you get some GP2 coverage prior to the F1 races, but I do miss the old days when the filled their schedule with F3 and not wit another rerun of “Pinks”

    C.D.’s last blog post..Ecclestone calls on Mosley to step down

  7. zblkhwkNo Gravatar says:

    I have not seen any GP2 for a couple years. It seems that Speed is more into Pinks, Mopi Tuner, and other shows than racing anymore.

    Right after I wrote that, I saw the Mazda series on ESPN. I have not seen anything on any of the European series.

  8. […] to ex-Jordan/Honda, ex-BAR/Honda and ex-Super Aguri/Honda driver Takuma Sato. Sounds to me like pay driver deal on offer … I do not know why but this does not feel like a deal Mallya would do […]

  9. […] – Barrichello, Fisichella and Trulli – are keen to continue racing in Formula 1 beyond 2008. The disapearance (at least for now) of pay drivers reduces or even eliminates the chances of drivers being dismissed for financial […]

  10. […] Toro Rosso decides to return to the Minardi days of pay drivers they will also select the drivers based on their skills and experience. Berger and Tost said […]

  11. […] or was it about no hot rookies waiting in the line ? Or is it more down to the fact that there were no pay drivers on the grid this year ? addthis_url = […]

  12. […] of 2007 season meant also the end of pay drivers in Formula 1. The last of them disappeared with Spyker team and so we haven’t seen any of them on the 2008 […]

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