Pay drivers in F1 and owners’ sons in F1 has been in the sport for a very long time. But what does the future hold to them do they really have the skill or they are just wasting space and blocking talent in the grid. In this section, we look into the future of Lance Stoll, Mazepin and Latifi and the new kid on the block Zhou.
There is a discretion between pay drivers in F1 and sponsored drivers in F1 but these two doesn’t go hand in hand.
Why there are Pay Drivers in F1
A pinnacle of Motorsport why does F1 need these drivers and why are they picked first even before more talented drivers. We want to believe desperately that the pinnacle of motorsport is raced by the cream of the crop. But given how expensive the sport is, how deep the wealth disparity in the world is and just 20 spots to compete for, looking back it seems inevitable that they aren’t populated entirely by pure talent and even then, not even mostly pure talent.
But with the budget cap creeping in and the salary cap creeping in and Liberty Media’s effort to make Formula One Teams into a money-making venture that they get profits out of is an interesting approach that can go against the pay drivers and look for more talent.
This though needs a lot of effort and planning and it is set to take at least 5 years to get his approach up and running, maybe 2026 when there is another big regulation change for the sport.
But there is another backlog to this approach, in 2023 though, changes to the rules are being made, and 30 Million USD is the soft cap of the driver’s salary. This means any more excess salary will come out of the team’s budget. This salary soft cap is applicable for the Team principal and 3 key members as well.
So to mitigate the budget cap, they might get drivers who pay themselves thus increasing the chances of the pay drivers in F1 and their sponsors. Time will be the judge on that instance.
Suggested Reading: Driver Salary Cap in F1
Lance Stroll and Aston Martin
Stroll did better than expected last year, thanks to the great Racing Point performance. This year, Aston Martin is not doing so well. While Vettel consistently outperforms Stroll, even he can’t get any consistent performance out of the car.
If Stroll had more experience/skill, maybe Aston Martin would be doing better this year? How long will Lawrence keep his son in place of a more experienced driver? Maybe Aston Martin has some development in the pipeline that I don’t know about which could see Stroll further up there. My guess is he will assume some management position within the team and become the youngest team principal after Horner.
Aston has many choices for the drivers, but the investment is heavily dependent on the road car division, Either Aston grows along with F1 to a point the Racing division makes a profit, like Ferrari who reported 70% of this Q3 revenue is from F1.
Between July and September Q3, The Formula One World Championship has held seven races in 2021, compared to 10 races in 2020. But since the championship was one-sided and the lack of fans in the stands declined the revenue. This along with the waver of promoter fee to cope with the empty stands were also another reason.
Overall in the quarter, Formula 1’s ten teams were paid $338 million. Ferrari reports F1 as the main source of income in Q3 this year. The Carmaker reports here.
Mazepin and Haas
The Russian driver, who is been in trouble throughout his season, for bad reasons have been regarded as the undeserving driver of the lot. But why does he have a hate club running around him though? Due to social media prevalence, the right money and the right attitude is a must for Pay drivers in F1.
The only reason Stroll and Latifi don’t receive much hate now is because of their attitude towards their wealth. Stroll and Latifi rarely have standout performances and it can’t be that way if you want to survive as pay drivers in F1. Mazepin would have also fallen in this category if not for his behaviour off track.
But Haas did no self-respecting F1 team would do, give a contract to someone based on money alone. Not nowadays at least F1 teams are primarily looking for success, not money. If taking on a driver that’s ~0.2s off the pace from their best candidate guarantees they can spend 20% more money on development for 3 years then that’s a no-brainer. It won’t always pay off, but at least you’ve given yourself a chance to get ahead of the competition.
Nicholas Latifi and Williams
He was able to secure his seat in Formula One thanks to his father. It isn’t a public secret that racing is a very expensive sport. To be able to race a full year in the Williams, Mr Latifi invested 36 million dollars in the financially plagued Williams team. And since drivers have to earn a paycheck also, Nicholas will get a $1 million paycheck at the end of the year, making him one of the three least earning drivers of the grid.
In May of 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 crisis, Williams got a loan of 56 million from Mr Latifi, with the historical cars, factories and grounds as security. So if Williams goes bankrupt, Mr Latifi will become the owner of the entire team. Mr Latifi also connected his own Sofina Foods brand as title sponsor to the equipment and, as the importer of the Lavazza coffee brand in Canada, also made sure that Lavazza and Williams signed a sponsor deal.
Suggested Reading: Yuki and Zhou – The Curious Case of Japanese and Chinese Rookie
Conclusion on Pay Drivers in F1
In conclusion: Is having pay drivers in F1 beneficial? It depends on who you ask. In my opinion as a spectator and fan, I think the most talented driver should be on the grid. But all kinds of sports have a business model. And since F1 is also a business, it is logical for them to get pay drivers just to keep afloat. I think it is just painful to see a once dominating team being dependent on pay drivers in F1 to stay in business and Liberty Media should do something about that.
On a personal level, I think if a guy achieved good results in F2, there should be a conglomerate that should sponsor these drivers who think will end up world champion once in his career a chance in F1 and if he the Pay drivers in F1 can also help the lower team get back on track, then that will be an ideal situation in my book.