BBC Home

Explore the BBC

Articles/ all comments

These 41 comments are related to an article called:

How to become F1 champion

Page 1 of 3

posted Aug 22, 2007

Mansell is certainly right about the money aspect, and is right about talent not mattering as much as other sports, but it's become much, much worse over the past ten years or so when I tried my hand at karting.

In Mansell's day, if you could get some cash together and you were determined, you could see some light at the end of the tunnel. If you were Jim Clark, you got involved in the local racing scene. Now, Mansell's bullet points of advice don't apply even if you do them because too many people have a massive headstart on you that talent and determination can't get past.

£120,000 for a season in BMW seems quite cheap to me, because you would probably spend less than that in karting. It's all the other costs as well that go in. Once you get into car racing, it's not just about money. You have to bring sponsors and backers with you.

You've now also got rich parents who want little Tommy to be the next Lewis Hamilton, completely disregarding whether he has the talent to really make it.

For every Lewis Hamilton there are dozens of drivers, some of them quite talented, whose parents are bankrupt and they have to start their lives again.

Personally, I think it's a serious problem for motorsport. As viewers we expect to see the most talented drivers on our TV screens, and if Bernie Ecclestone expects governments to cough up public money then the governing body is going to have to put efforts in to make the playing field more level than ever. Ron Dennis' comments about half the F1 grid being useless were spot on really, and I'd go a bit further than that.

| complain about this comment

comment by ODF (U8756745)

posted Aug 22, 2007

Gordon, excellent summing up. Do you think that's why some people take such a dislike in Hamilton, and are quick to put down his success? I've even heard him described as a robot, as though Ron has just picked anyone and given a lucky kid a chance at motor racing. Such comments show a certain level of ignorance about the sport don't you think?

| complain about this comment

posted Aug 22, 2007

"He's in F1 because he won races and championships all the way up the ladder. If he hadn't, McLaren wouldn't have continued to support him - simple as that. There's no substitute for being a bloody quick driver!"

Not quite as simple as that. If you're a reasonable driver in karting now, with an absolute ton of equipment (and some of the equipment some of these boys have is insane) then you can easily beat other drivers no matter how talented they are. I've seen some true greats fall by the wayside in karting, and it really depresses me.

The thing about Lewis is that he won in the lower levels of karting with a modest kart, him and his dad and he proved his talent where talent could matter before he got lost in the upper levels of karting where equipment and money are king. He managed to get McLaren backing at just the right time.

| complain about this comment

posted Aug 22, 2007

You are right Cilurnum £120k a year is a bargain. My mates Dad was putting in substantially more than that into his racing and he still wasn't in the right circles to make F1 a future possibility.

It always makes me laugh on these boards when people say they feel sorry for such and such because he has only driven for a mid-field runner and not a top team etc. The fact is 95% of them are spoilt rich brats who have had the time of their life at Daddy's expense.

Don't get me wrong i'm not playing down what they do. They are fearless, (mostly) hard working and possess skills way beyond any casual driver could imagine. But the fact is if the barriers to entry were the same as say football or golf even Lewis Hamilton wouldn't get anywhere near F1.

| complain about this comment

comment by Galahad (U1645165)

posted Aug 22, 2007

OldDamonFan; certainly, casual F1 fans who have no knowledge or interest in the feeder series do seem to think that Hamilton is just one 'off the production line' as it were. Even success in GP2 hardly makes it into the pages of newspapers, so it's not surprising that many were barely aware of Hamilton until this season.

So I can't blame them for their ignorance, hopefully via the medium of this forum we can do a bit of education!

Cilurnum; you're quite right about karting, money can make a big difference to your results. I must admit I was thinking more about when he got on the single-seater ladder proper - FRenault, F3, GP2 etc. Sure, some teams are better than others in those series but they are now all single-make (F3 basically is a single-make Dallara-Mercedes series these days) and so a good driver in a poor team can overcome other better-funded less talented drivers.

As previously Adam Carroll proved, and now Marko Asmer is proving in British F3 this season.

| complain about this comment

posted Aug 22, 2007

"I must admit I was thinking more about when he got on the single-seater ladder proper - FRenault, F3, GP2 etc."

Ooooo, err. Single seat racing as another ball game. Yes, many teams can afford to look at talent a little bit more perhaps as you get up the ladder, and only a little bit, but the normal rules of what money and especially sponsorship you can bring to a team apply. Ron Dennis' comments about the GP2 field being useless this season are true. I can't see anyone who stands out anywhere, and if Nelson Piquet Junior gets a drive at Renault then that would put the tin hat on it. I can't count the number of opportunities and bites at the cherry he's had, and he simply isn't good enough.

The problem is, by the time drivers have got to single seat racing, the difficulties of going racing have filtered all the good talent out.

| complain about this comment

comment by Galahad (U1645165)

posted Aug 22, 2007

Perhaps we're talking at cross-purposes. Certainly I agree 100% that the money is the pre-requisite, if you can't afford the drive in FRenault, F3 or wherever then you won't get a chance, period.

Among those drivers who do have the funding, though, those series do operate more along the lines of equality than karting IMO. There isn't a whole lot more you can do with extra money in F3, apart from a little extra testing maybe, but even for that they have to bring the whole team along with you.

So yes, unfunded drivers will never make it. But there is still some filtering of the funded drivers according to ability, albeit limited.

Hence just because Hamilton was funded on his way up, he still had to demonstrate his ability to maintain the funding and move up.

| complain about this comment

posted Aug 22, 2007

"But the fact is if the barriers to entry were the same as say football or golf even Lewis Hamilton wouldn't get anywhere near F1."

I don't mind Lewis so much, because he proved his talent with very limited resources at the lower levels of karting. He basically had him, his dad, a kart and a little box of spares. Compared to what some of the other kids had and were spending, he did well. However, he did what was necessary to get himself what he needed to get further, and I can't blame him for that.

Lewis is possibly the most genuinely talented karter to get to F1 for years, and you could see it in all those grandprix starts that everyone was raving about earlier in the season. You see it all the time from the best karters.

| complain about this comment

posted Aug 22, 2007

"Among those drivers who do have the funding, though, those series do operate more along the lines of equality than karting IMO."

I can't say I agree. If you are just about good enough, and can bring sponsorship and equipment to a team, then you're in there. It's that simple. Look at how Nelson Piquet Junior has kept himself going.

"Hence just because Hamilton was funded on his way up, he still had to demonstrate his ability to maintain the funding and move up."

Well, the problem is, that ability was already there, because he was a genuinely talented karter who otherwise wouldn't have made it.

Sadly, the talent was just an added bonus. Somebody like Senna demonstrated his talent throughout his racing formulas, and got everyone to sit up in F1 and take notice before he got there, but no one at any decent F1 team could take a chance on him initially.

Just take a look at the GP2 grid this season. *No one*, and I mean no one, stands out.

| complain about this comment

posted Aug 22, 2007

As an addendum, if you want to see the situation in getting an opportunity in racing, just look at how much Mansell has felt the need to kiss BMW's ass because of the opportunity they've given his sons - which he is paying for the privilege of.

| complain about this comment

comment by Galahad (U1645165)

posted Aug 22, 2007

I tend to agree that GP2 is very underwhelming this year. I am a bit of a fan of Timo Glock, but I'm sure he's only doing as well as he is because of his experience vs. the rest of the field.

I suppose the point I'm trying to make is, if you're not good enough you won't make it all the way any more. Once upon a time there were a lot of F1 drives available to pay drivers, now there are only one or two.

Drivers who don't succeed in F3 are very unlikely to make it into GP2, and those who don't succeed in GP2 don't make it into F1, irrespective of money. I'm sure there are a few examples to contradict this (Sakon Yamamoto obviously), but I feel it is generally the case.

Of course, there are many superior drivers left along the wayside, priced out of it.

| complain about this comment

posted Aug 22, 2007

This little exchange surely deserves Manager's Pick, Andrew?

| complain about this comment

comment by BigG80 (U4264392)

posted Aug 22, 2007

Hear hear autounion. A superb debate and very intelligently reasoned out too.

To throw my tuppence ($0.02 for our US members!) into the ring, I would say that it is sad that genuinely fast karters don't make it up the single seat ladder but I do feel that for the most part the drivers who do make it are still very good drivers. Even Yamamoto and Ide who admittedly weren't and aren't deserving of an F1 seat are good drivers but only to a level of national champion or maybe one of the lower international formulae.

Out of interest how would the board suggest improving the situation to highlight the fast boys a bit more at a lower level so they are noticed?

| complain about this comment

posted Aug 22, 2007

Hmmm, sometimes they have the under-18 or is it 17? and the even younger versions, sorry I'm talking Football, and tournaments at that, but it's often a lot more interesting than their professional counterparts even if you have no interest in any side winning. And of course, you automatically wonder if so and so will end up making it to professional status when they stand out.
In other words, decent tv coverage, with some kind of contextualisation to the career of a would be F1 driver, would help raise interest, but that's pretty obvious I guess. There's enough channels knocking about. The tv companies should get it cheap and bang it out with some knowledgeable commentary, preferably form an ex-karting F1 driver. Schumi's just bought a kart team, I don't know if that will move German tv to start showing it.
My point is this stuff is more interesting than the tv companies perhaps expect.

| complain about this comment

comment by OldBoy (U1666976)

posted Aug 22, 2007

I find it very hard when someone writes-off a whole group of sportsmen, at a high level in any sport, as rubbish. It certainly is not true and those guys have worked just as hard as anyone else to attain that level.

Unfortunately TV will say, based on bitter experience, that there is insufficient general audience interest in junior level sport to make it viable. For many sports in the UK it is not possible to get coverage of national events if there is no established international superstar taking part.

The real answer is to look for more corporate sponsorship of a whole series - rather than relying on individuals raising it all. The FIA could lead by encouraging the diversion of a relatively small proportion of F1 income into say karting or junior single seater racing and also in promoting it so that sponsors get some real return in terms of generally raised visibility and image.

| complain about this comment

posted Aug 22, 2007

The article also hints that the 120K is only enough if everything goes well. We met Adam Carroll back when he was racing in F3 and he was obliged to pay for any crash damage out of his pocket as well!

Great post & debate.

| complain about this comment

comment by Galahad (U1645165)

posted Aug 22, 2007

In terms of where junior drivers should go, the obvious place to start is by looking at where the current F1 drivers came from.

Alonso – Int. F3000, Open Fortuna by Nissan (Spain)
Hamilton – GP2, Euro F3, British F3, Formula Renault UK
Raikkonen – Formula Renault UK
Massa – Euro F3000, Formula Renault Italy
Heidfeld – Int. F3000, Euro F3000, German F3, German Formula Ford
Kubica – World Series by Renault, Euro F3, Formula Renault Italy
Fisichella – International Touring Car Championship, Italian F3
Kovalainen – GP2, World Series by Nissan, British F3, Formula Renault UK
Wurz – FIA GTs, International Touring Car Championship, German F3, Austrian F3, German Formula Ford, Austrian Formula Ford
Rosberg – GP2, Euro F3, German Formula BMW
Trulli – German F3
R Schumacher – Formula Nippon, German F3
Webber – Int. F3000, FIA GTs, British F3, British Formula Ford
Coulthard – Int. F3000, British F3, British Formula Ford
Sato – British F3, Formula Opel Euroseries
Davidson – British F3, British Formula Ford
Button – British F3, British Formula Ford
Barrichello – Int. F3000, British F3, British Formula Lotus
Vettel – World Series by Renault, Euro F3, German Formula BMW
Liuzzi – Int. F3000, German F3, German Formula Renault
Sutil – Japanese F3, A1GP, Euro F3, German Formula BMW
Yamamoto – GP2, Formula Nippon, German F3
(Bourdais) – ChampCar, Int. F3000, French F3, French Formula Renault

Not much of a pattern there, is there?!

Certain series get more popularity at certain times, often quite inexplicably. In the mid-1990s Formula Nippon drivers were all the rage for some reason. At the moment, the F3 Euroseries (a merger of the previous German F3 and French F3 series) can boast 12 graduates on the grid, while the British equivalent has 8.

Thus far the GP2 series – formerly F3000 – has only produced one F1 world champion in Alonso, but plenty of good prospective stars. World Series by Renault, roughly equivalent to GP2 seems also to be attracting attention.

One place that doesn’t seem to be good to go for at the moment is the U.S. Plenty of drivers have had successful careers over there but the jump back to F1 is very tricky. And F1 team owners are wary of another Michael Andretti/Alex Zanardi situation. Even Cristiano da Matta failed to fulfil his potential, while the same is sometimes suggested of Juan Pablo Montoya.

But, if a driver is considered good enough, he always has a chance. There aren’t any particular routes to guarantee success.

| complain about this comment

comment by oudinot (U1982907)

posted Aug 22, 2007

Mika Hakkinen.
Didn't come from a priveleged background at all, but was well liked.That's important.(Hamilton take note-don't make enemies, you're not world champ yet).
Contrary to popular belief, if you've got bags of talent AND can get on with your team, you might make it.

| complain about this comment

posted Aug 22, 2007

Great analysis GordonMurray.

For my part, I reckon that its 75% talent 20% money and 5% marketability and it could be argued that the last two are linked. I reckon that this changes the closer you are to F1 (the talent quota increases to the detriment of money).

It must be said that Lewis is perhaps the most internationally marketable driver in F1 and has the talent, therefore he is where he is.

If you think back to the 'rentadriver' days in F1 when teams were changing drivers regularly as their money ran out, the standard of driver in F1 has improved enormously and most teams will not just take anyone with a superlicence and the necessary wedge (although it seems that Spyker might be doing just that!!)

I would just like to add my thanks to the originator of this post as this has been by far the most interesting debate for a long time on this forum and eloquently considered by all who have posted.(until my post, of course!!!)

| complain about this comment

posted Aug 22, 2007

GordonMurray:

Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Kubica, Fisichella, Kovalainen, Rosberg, Trulli, Davidson, Button, Vettel, Liuzzi and Sutil were all successful kart racers in Formula A and Formula Super A, which is very much overlooked by most people who follow racing and therefore overlooked by those handing out sponsorship. (I believe Heidfeld also raced in it but he was before my time and I can't find the results)

Despite this the drivers get to race on sticky tyres with a high power-to-weight ratio in a formula that Ayrton Senna described as the closest thing in feel to an F1 car. They also get an education in dealing with factory teams and multiple manufacturers in a high-pressured environment that just doesn't happen in car racing until F1.

Unfortunately, it costs tens of thousands to race at that level and very few companies are prepared to invest money in what they mistakenly see as silly little vehicles that they played with at their corporate jolly. This leads to drivers going into Formula BMW at 15, which is detrimental to their skill levels, costs even more money, and I believe is one of the causes of the poor quality of the present GP2 field.

Autounion, you are 100% right apart from one thing: Get it cheap? No, they want us to pay for our coverage. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is another barrier to getting karting, FFord etc on TV. Eurosport2 shows some European and World karting, but there's none of the context that I agree is essential to build a following.

| complain about this comment

Page 1 of 3

HINTS & TIPS

Deleting comments

You are in charge of your own space - if you see an offensive comment, you can delete it

Reasonable debate is allowed - please don't delete a comment just because you don't agree with it

If you are not sure, or feel a comment warrants further attention, you can refer it to a moderator instead