On these days most of the seats for the 2013 season have been declared and we sadly see that finding a seat in Formula 1 is totally focused on the financial state of the team.
I see three groups among teams:
1. The ones that are well-financed and choose their drivers for their talents and sporting achievement.
2. The ones that financially their state is on the middle and choose their drivers first to survive and then for their talent.
3. The ones that have critical financial situation and choose their drivers to survive.
The first group consists of Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Lotus and Red Bull’s satellite team Toro Rosso. Thanks to not having financial problems, they choose drivers who can develop the car, can show all the potential of the car even if it is a bad car, have a future and can attract sponsors. The weakest member of this group is Lotus, but they too can pay for their both drivers’ salaries and can even be patient against Grosjean.
The second group consists of Sauber, Williams and Force India. Despite not being so brilliant financially, these teams can be thrown upon their own resources on developing the car, have a development budget (although it is much less than 1st group teams), have a wind-tunnel. They have a strong basis, while choosing the driver who can bring sponsors, they have the luxury to ask for talent too. These teams are points scoring teams and they need to be sensitive about collecting maximum points to make next year’s fund more. They need drivers who can make it to podium when any chance arises, or at least some first 5 finishes. The situation can be understood clearer when we remember the Williams’ race win and Sauber’s having 4 podiums this season. At this group, Maldonado helped Williams too much with multi-millions that he brought with himself, and Perez helped Sauber too much with Telmex. They both delighted their teams too with their sporting achievements.
The third group not surprisingly consists of Caterham, Marussia and HRT. These teams only can manage survival thanks to salaries and sponsors that drivers pay and bring. While HRT is in the most critical situation and totally dependant on the sponsors, Marussia and Caterham were in the race of development at least with an experienced driver till this year. While closing the experience gap; Caterham with Kovalainen, Marussia with Glock; they were trying to gain some economical power with their other drivers Petrov and Pic. Marussia will be able to continue next year in the same way because for the first time since the foundation of the team they managed to get the 10th place and received a fund of at least 13 million $ and relieved for Glock’s payment. But, Caterham looks like will split the ways with Kovalainen after problem of losing the 10th place that they had received for the last two years.
Finding sponsors to make a driver race is not a new issue in Formula 1, maybe exists since the first days of the sport. We learn this from the memories of the great drivers. For example, statistically the most successful name of the sport, Michael Schumacher, joined this sport paying and thanks to his driver substitution’s not being able to race and he made the most of his only chance and linked successfully the sport. But, today’s tough economical conditions caused the teams to focus more to the profit of sponsors than talent and experience and this is a negative situation for the future of the sport. It looks like the relatively experienced drivers like Kovalainen, Kobayashi, Bruno Senna and Petrov will leave their seats next year respectively to Van der Garde, Gutierrez, Bottas and Pic.
Don’t think that I feel sad for all of them, I’m only sad for Kovalainen. I think that after the start up careers in Renault and McLaren he learned much from tough years of Caterham and this process developed his drive and he deserves better places. I’m not sorry for Kobayashi because I think he didn’t even use the 50 % of the Sauber C31’s potential of this season. I find Petrov not bad in speed but he is inconsistent, Bruno Senna-my followers know that well- I don’t find him successful at all. My followers also know that I don’t call Bruno Senna only as Senna; I don’t think he deserves to be called only with that surname at the moment. In future? We cant know. On the other hand, I look forward to Valtteri Bottas and Gutierrez and I trust both of them, I think both of them will be in the title battle within maximum 4-5 years.
In brief, it is sad to see Formula 1, the talent sport, become materialized with economical worries , I hope either the teams get richer or the teams in this situation leaves their place to the richer ones. Otherwise, while there are 6 champions now on the grid, in the future will be 1-2 champions and the sport will continue to live with mediocre talented drivers. Who else do we have in our hands but Vettel and Hamilton when Alonso, Button and Kimi retire?