Can F1 Find a Way to Lower Costs?
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastion Vettel are hoping to make the sport more accessible.
Back in May of this year, Lewis Hamilton proclaimed that F1 has turned into a “billionaires boys club” with the possibility of a working-class kid hoping to make it into the sport would be impossible.
“If I were to start over from a working-class family, it would be impossible for me to be here today because the other boys would have a lot more money,” He told Spanish publication AS, “We have to work to change that and make this an accessible sport, for the rich and for the people with more humble origins.”
The seven-time world champion has been vocal about his own childhood, where his father worked several jobs to find the funds to continue Hamilton’s junior career. In order to combat this, he set up a commission to find the answers as to why minorities are not as represented in the sport.
It is no secret that several of the current drivers on the grid come from wealthy backgrounds. Lance Stroll, Nicholas Latifi and Nikita Mazepin are sons of billionaires. Max Verstappen and Mick Schumacher are the sons of former F1 drivers. These advantages give them a foothold against those who need sponsorship to continue their careers.
Sebastian Vettel echoed the same sentiments, “I don’t think it will be a quick fix, but there are certain things that could be addressed to try and make the sport for accessible for all types of backgrounds and all children.” He also told the Spanish publication, “It is an expensive hobby, no matter which way you look at it. But certainly it’s gone wild in the last years, and got way too expensive.”
In an article by Flow Racers, they broke down the cost of beginning a junior career in karting. Starting at $8,000 for a basic racing kart, you are going to need an additional $1,000 for gear. To even think about participating in a championship, the cost would come up to around $11,000 to include entry fees, fuel, repairs, and travel. Though there are several ways to bring down the costs by buying secondhand, it would still seem pricy to those in the working-class.
Recently in F2, Brazilian driver Gianluca Petecof left Campos Racing due to financial reasons. He had begun a campaign to search for sponsors to help fund his stay in the championship. Pierre-Louis Chovet also ended his F3 Championship run with Jenzer Motorsport. In a series of tweets on June 10th, the 18-year-old revealed that his main investor withdrew their sponsorship.
Investors and sponsorships help pay for the continuation of the sport, as we saw with Uralkali becoming the title sponsor of Haas, and Lawrence Stroll investing in Force India which is now Aston Martin Cognizant.
Like all sports, money plays a big factor in who gets to play leaving those with gifted talent but limited funds in the shadows, waiting for someone to give them a chance.