Is F1 too reliant on well-heeled drivers?

The perpetually under-fire Felipe Massa has lashed out at the “absurd situation” Formula 1 has found itself in by having to rely on pay-drivers at the expense of arguably more-talented drivers.

More so than has been the case in recent seasons, the 2011-12 off-season has seen dramatic changes in the line-ups of many mid- and lower-grid teams, with the likes of Renault/Lotus, Force India, Toro Rosso, Williams, Virgin Racing, and HRT shedding one or both of their drivers.

In many cases, this has often been to accommodate a driver who brings considerable sponsorship backing with him – but this is a situation that Massa believes is compromising the quality of drivers lining up on the grid.

“Today, there are only four teams that can afford to operate without drivers that bring money,” Massa told Brazil’s Totalrace website.

“It’s an absurd situation, I don’t think it’s good for F1 and especially the young drivers.

“Even if you get very good results in the formulas below (F1), you either have to be lucky or have money in order to get a seat. That’s not F1,” he added.

But a cursory examination of the sport’s history in the last 30 years will show the prevalence of many pay-drivers usually coincides with a downturn in the global economy, as we’re currently seeing with the ‘Eurozone Crisis’.

It’s a simple case of economics. The last major recession that ran into the early-to-mid 1990s saw pay drivers of questionable talent flood the Formula 1 field, and this is simply a case of history repeating itself.

Felipe would be better advised to concentrate on addressing his own poor form than worrying about which pay-driver will gazump him for a drive at a midfield team in 2013 when Ferrari (not unexpectedly) elects to dispense with his services.

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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.