The Reuters global sports blog
Indian Narain Karthikeyan’s return to Formula One, along with Renault’s retention of Russian Vitaly Petrov and the imminent arrival of Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado and Mexican Sergio Perez, has put the issue of the so-called ‘pay driver’ — a man whose place on the grid is rightly or wrongly considered as much down to the amount of sponsorship he brings as talent behind the wheel — firmly back in the spotlight.
There are those who bemoan the situation, lamenting the lack of opportunities for the talented but hard-up aspirant, but that is not a new phenomenon even if it was more muted in the era of manufacturer dominance.
In the early days of the championship, you had the well-heeled gentleman racer — flamboyant types like Thailand’s Prince Bira — who could afford to buy a Maserati or two and go racing.
“Do you think we are running on air? The money has to come from somewhere,” HRT team principal Colin Kolles, Karthikeyan’s boss, told Reuters last week when asked about the Indiank. “For more than 100 years if you want to race, you have to put money on the table.”
McLaren’s Formula One champions Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton have both sought solace in the scoring system after recent setbacks.
But in fact, if they did the maths they might feel a little bit sore. Applying the 2009 points to the 2010 results so far, the title battle would actually be even tighter.
Former champion Niki Lauda did not mince his words last year when he said that Formula One’s Singapore Grand Prix race-fixing scandal demanded the heaviest of punishments to restore credibility.
A Times headline called Brazilian Nelson Piquet’s deliberate crash at the 2008 race “the worst act of cheating in the history of sport.”
from The Great Debate UK:
- Professor Simon Chadwick, Director, Centre for the International Business of Sport, Coventry, UK. The opinions expressed are his own. -
This summer’s Tour de France was truly historic: the race finished without anyone having returned a positive dope test. Monumental! In a sport seemingly beset with drug problems, professional cycling appeared to have turned the corner, started over, seen the error of its ways, cleaned up its act etc.
The news has just come in from Paris, where Renault have been handed a suspended ban from Formula One, while their former boss Flavio Briatore has been banned from all F1 activities, including driver management, and ex-technical chief Pat Symonds is barred for five years.
So the immediate result of the inquiry into race-rigging at last year’s Singapore Grand Prix is that Renault can stay in the sport, provided they stay on their best behaviour for the next couple of years, even though the offence was described by the FIA as one of “unparalleled severity”.
A disappointing day for fans of Ferrari and Michael Schumacher, with news that the German has had to call off his proposed F1 comeback.
As the seven-times world champion said on his website:
“Yesterday evening, I had to inform Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo and Team Principal Stefano Domenicali that unfortunately I’m not able to step in for Felipe (Massa). I really tried everything to make that temporary comeback possible, however, much to my regret it didn’t work out. Unfortunately we did not manage to get a grip on the pain in the neck which occurred after the private F1-day in Mugello, even if medically or therapeutically we tried everything possible.
As Ferrari have just confirmed, Schumacher is poised to make a comeback after Massa fractured his skull in an accident at last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
The disagreement, which centred on Mosley’s plans to introduce a budget cap for the 2010 season, had threatened to end Formula One’s 60-year existence with eight teams including champions Ferrari prepared to walk away for good.
Formula One plunged into its biggest crisis in 60 years on Friday with eight of the 10 teams announcing plans to set up their own championship.
The teams association FOTA said BMW-Sauber, Brawn, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Renault, Toro Rosso and Toyota were united in a decision that would split the sport in two if carried through.
Of all the corners in Formula One this season, turn eight at the Istanbul Park Circuit subjects drivers to the highest G-forces (around 5G, or five times their body weight).
It is a long, sweeping multi-apex corner that yearns to be taken flat out (270kph+) but that will see only a handful — probably only the Brawns, Red Bulls and Ferraris — manage to do it this