The term ‘pay drivers’ is a becoming a more frequent occurrence in the Formula 1 paddock. For those who don’t fully understand the statement, it means that a driver has been signed to a team mainly because of the huge amount of sponsorship money they bring with them.
This goes against what I believe Formula 1 is mainly about, fans want to see wheel-to-wheel racing whereas the powers that be also might want to see that as well but they also want a big check that comes with it. Formula 1 is about pure racing talent, and when, hypothetically, you have more pay drivers in the field than pure talented drivers, like Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, Button, Ricciardo…etc. It becomes a less respected sport and show because they sold out. I cannot blame the teams for this situation that is arising in the current formula because the costs of running a Formula 1 team nowadays has increased dramatically since the end of the V8 era.
Even with the new cost saving rules proposed by the F1 strategy group a few days before the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix, which Vettel cruised to victory. They have suggested that the gearbox should be standardised throughout the whole field, which is a very good idea, I believe. Going from what RedBull’s team principal Christian Horner said in one of last year’s press conferences’ when current tyre supplier Pirelli came under pressure from when Bridgestone suggested reigniting the tyre war in F1, like 2000 – 2006. He believed that it was a good thing for Formula 1 that it only has one tyre supplier because it’s a baseline for all teams and it also doesn’t confuse fans in trying to understand who’s got which tyre brand and which type of tyre on at any which point.
The main issue with pay drivers are; are they worthy of driving the most technically advance single seaters in the world on the world’s stage, when they have just paid for the privilege for doing so. In my opinion; to have the chance to drive a Formula 1 car you have to show the talent we saw when Webber, Alonso, Schumacher, Senna, Alesi, Prost, Häkkinen, Brundle, Hill, Herbert, Hamilton, Button first put themselves into a single seater racing car or a GT car.
Without those iconic names and the young racing talent of Verstappen, Sainz, and Bottas. What is Formula 1 about, if it doesn’t have the pure racing talents on the grid?