Gaston Mazzacane, 2001 Pedro Diniz Jean-Denis Deletraz, 1995 Taki Inoue
Some of F1’s more notable pay drivers (L-R): Gastón Mazzacane, Pedro Diniz, Jean-Denis Délétraz & Taki Inoue [Images via AUTOSPORT, F1 Nostalgia, The Cahier Archive]

Jarno Trulli has taken it upon himself to become a mouthpiece on a major issue concerning Formula 1: the seemingly increasing focus on a driver’s financial backing as the remaining spaces on the 2011 grid fill up.

Unless there is a dramatic turnaround, the 2011 grid will be absent of the likes of Nico Hülkenberg, Nick Heidfeld, and Christian Klien: three arguably talented European drivers who could be forced to the sidelines while the likes of Williams, Sauber, Virgin Racing and others opt for drivers who come armed with a bevy of sponsorship backing.

As one of the elder statesmen on the grid, the Team Lotus driver is not happy with the current state of affairs, which bears resemblance to the F1 of the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, when a host of pay drivers funded their way into many F1 racing seats in the lower midfield.

In fact, Trulli believes this could have deeper consequences in the coming years as young drivers find it harder to crack into F1 on talent alone.

“It is so difficult for young drivers,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.

“Money is playing too big a role and the lower series like Formula 3 are too expensive. I couldn’t repeat my own career these days,” he added.

Trulli’s F1 debut came with Minardi in 1997 after winning the 1996 German Formula 3 title.

These are certainly similar sentiments echoed by other drivers trying to crack the market, but it would seem that money – for now at least – will do most of the talking…

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.