Feature: When money rules over talent

Feature: When money rules over talent

29 November 2012 – Motorsport and money are words that go hand-in-hand. Whether it be the cost of creating a modern day Formula 1 car or the countless journeys to some of the world's most glamorous locations, there are few forms of competition that erase currency at such a rate. But what about the drivers chasing their childhood dreams?

With the global economic crisis ever-present, finding sponsors to help pave a route to the top echelon of single seater racing is becoming increasingly difficult. Hailing from the French town of Mulhouse, Tom Dillmann is the perfect example of a driver who possesses the talent to compete in high-level motor racing but does not have the financial backing to match.

The 23-year-old began his single seater career at an early age, rising through the ranks before being snapped up by Red Bull for its Junior Team. However, as is the sometimes overly-brutal nature of the programme, he lost his spot in 2008 and has since been embroiled in a battle to raise sufficient funds.

"It's been the situation for me for many years, since Formula 3," Dillmann, who missed five of this season's 12 GP2 rounds due to a lack of financial support, told GPUpdate.net. "After Red Bull I've never had someone to support me fully. I got offers all the time from the best teams as I had good results, but I couldn't sign as I didn't have the budget. I always had to sign for smaller teams with not so good results.

"That's how I've managed to continue my career and it's still the case in GP2. It was the same last year; I managed to do a race (Abu Dhabi Final) with iSport which is a top team, but it was only one race so it was possible to find the money. Then I had offers from DAMS, from iSport and all of the top teams but I couldn't find the budget."

It is a story that has become all too common on the ladder to Formula 1, with the best talents not always shining through. If you cannot provide the necessary cheque from a wealthy company or funding scheme, teams will often be forced to look elsewhere and under many circumstances opt for a less-talented driver. Unfortunately for Dillmann, who tasted victory in Bahrain earlier this season, he cannot accept any of the offers received from front-running GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 teams at present.

Dillmann's highlight of 2012, winning in Bahrain
"I work now for this, to find the money," he says of the situation. "It's very difficult at the moment to find sponsors. You have to find someone who wants to invest in you, with a contract that they can earn some money later on. Officially, a budget for GP2 is about 1.8 million euros and in World Series by Renault it's around 900,000 euros. I've also had offers for less money, much less - even from the top teams. But, at the moment, even if you have to find 1.2 million euros it is still really a lot of money."

The question now hovers: what can be done to help motorsport's most promising stars move forward? The Racing Steps Foundation, established by Graham Sharp and former F1 Champion John Surtees, is combating this issue. In its own words, the organisation aims 'to help a small number of talented but under-funded young drivers to achieve their full potential.' RSF-backed James Calado was a rival of Dillmann this year, having both finished on the podium at the 2011 GP2 Final. With the Briton fighting for pole positions and victories, Dillmann was left to ponder what might have been.

"When you see what Calado did this year, I think what I showed at the beginning with the top GP2 teams was the same, you know," he adds. "It's a shame I couldn't race with a team at the front this year, but I'm still grateful to Rapax for the chance they gave me. I was a rookie with an inexperienced team-mate, so I think I achieved quite good results considering that. It would be easier to be racing for a team at the front with a top team-mate. Then you just have to focus on driving, but it's not like this for me."

Dillmann is eager to contest a full season in 2013
In Dillmann's case, there is not currently a clear French equivalent of the RSF - something the country has been lacking since Volant Elf. The scheme, established by the well-known oil company in the early 1970s, was purely focused on helping drivers with proven talent make steps forward. During an autumn driver school at Paul Ricard and Magny Cours the corporation would pick two winners, both of whom were given the money required to complete a full year in Formula Renault. If successful, seats in Formula 3, Formula 2 and ultimately Formula 1 would follow.

Who were the maiden beneficiaries of this shootout? None other than the late Didier Pironi and Patrick Tambay, two men who claimed Grand Prix victories during their respective careers. Future Elf-supported stars included race winner Oliver Panis and four-time Champion Alain Prost, highlighting just how successful programmes such as this can be. If others were to follow in the RSF's modern-day footsteps, perhaps drawing upon the example previously set by Elf and offering an element of rivalry to the Red Bull system, similar outcomes would almost certainly be achieved in the future.

Looking ahead to Dillmann's winter, it will no doubt be filled with countless negotiations in a bid to raise the finances required for a complete campaign in 2013. One just has to hope, for the sake of Formula 1's future credibility, drivers like himself will be able to successfully overcome the funding battle and rise to the top of the sport.


Mike Seymour
GPUpdate.net Editor

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Friday 27 March 2015

  2. Renault issues threat to quit Formula 1 12:05

    Renault issues threat to quit Formula 1

    Renault Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul says that the French company could pull out of Formula 1 - with Red Bull's Christian…

    F1
  3. Vettel not happy with Friday performance 11:54

    Vettel not happy with Friday performance

    Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel says he was not happy with his own performance during practice for this weekend's Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  4. Alonso upbeat about McLaren progress 11:10

    Alonso upbeat about McLaren progress

    Fernando Alonso says he is pleased with the progress McLaren has made as he returned to action during Friday practice for the…

    F1
  5. Stevens pleased to be within 107 percent 10:22

    Stevens pleased to be within 107 percent

    Manor Marussia driver Will Stevens says he was pleased to be within the 107 percent mark of the fastest time in both practice…

    F1
  6. 10:04

    Latest F1 photos: Friday at Sepang

    F1
  7. Red Bull drivers note improvements 09:50

    Red Bull drivers note improvements

    Red Bull pair Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo expressed their optimism over improvements made to the RB11 following Friday's…

    F1
  8. Bottas confident over back injury 09:43

    Bottas confident over back injury

    Williams driver Valtteri Bottas says he is sure that he won't be bothered by the back pain which forced him out of the…

    F1
  9. Hamilton surprised by Ferrari practice pace 09:02

    Hamilton surprised by Ferrari practice pace

    Lewis Hamilton says he was surprised by the pace Ferrari displayed on the opening day of practice for the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  10. 07:39

    Malaysian Grand Prix: Full Practice 2 results

    F1
  11. Hamilton moves ahead in second practice 07:34

    Hamilton moves ahead in second practice

    Lewis Hamilton recovered from his morning technical woes to set the standard during second practice for the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  12. Williams given suspended fine over tyres 07:01

    Williams given suspended fine over tyres

    Williams has been given a suspended fine of €10,000 after a tyre breach in Malaysian Grand Prix practice. All drivers are…

    F1
  13. 05:54

    Follow second practice for the Malaysian GP!

    F1
  14. Marciello pleased with F1 practice debut 05:52

    Marciello pleased with F1 practice debut

    Sauber reserve driver Raffaele Marciello was in high spirits after making his Formula 1 practice debut at the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  15. Hamilton's engine allocation unaffected 05:12

    Hamilton's engine allocation unaffected

    Mercedes has said that Lewis Hamilton's engine allocation will not be affected by the problem he suffered during first practice…

    F1
  16. Stoner to make racing return at Suzuka 8hr 04:50

    Stoner to make racing return at Suzuka 8hr

    Casey Stoner will come out of retirement to contest this year's Suzuka 8hr race with Honda. The two-time MotoGP World…

    MotoGP
  17. 03:45

    Malaysian Grand Prix: Full Practice 1 results

    F1
  18. Rosberg tops FP1 as Hamilton hits trouble 03:37

    Rosberg tops FP1 as Hamilton hits trouble

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg topped opening practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix, while team-mate and reigning World Champion…

    F1
  19. 01:51

    Follow first practice for the Malaysian GP!

    F1
  20. Sepang boss wants young Malaysian in F1 01:20

    Sepang boss wants young Malaysian in F1

    The boss of the Sepang circuit says that the future of the Malaysian Grand Prix would be boosted if a young driver from the…

    F1
  21. Video of the Day: Hamilton's Sepang preview 01:04

    Video of the Day: Hamilton's Sepang preview

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton previews this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.

    F1
  22. Thursday 26 March 2015

  23. Video: Dealing with the heat at Sepang 19:14

    Video: Dealing with the heat at Sepang

    Fred Fernando, of Ferrari medical partner Medex, talks about tackling the heat and humidity at Sepang.

    F1
  24. Márquez sets pace in opening Qatar session 17:55

    Márquez sets pace in opening Qatar session

    Reigning double World Champion Marc Márquez set the pace as the new MotoGP season began under the lights at Losail in…

    MotoGP
  25. Ex-tester Frijns joins Blancpain Series 14:37

    Ex-tester Frijns joins Blancpain Series

    Former Formula 1 test driver Robin Frijns has switched to endurance racing for 2015 after signing a deal to race for the WRT…

    Misc
  26. Amberg joins Lazarus for GP2 campaign 14:10

    Amberg joins Lazarus for GP2 campaign

    Zoël Amberg will make his GP2 Series debut next month after penning a deal to race for Lazarus. Amberg has spent the last…

    GP2
  27. Hamilton: Red Bull equalisation call 'funny' 13:55

    Hamilton: Red Bull equalisation call 'funny'

    Lewis Hamilton says Christian Horner's call for the FIA to rein in Mercedes is "funny", considering the success his Red Bull…

    F1
  28. IndyCar season preview: Five key questions 13:21

    IndyCar season preview: Five key questions

    When the green flag drops on the streets of St. Petersburg on Sunday, it will have been almost seven months since the last…

    Indy
  29. 12:31

    Latest F1 photos: Thursday at Sepang

    F1
  30. Manor Marussia fires up car at Sepang 12:28

    Manor Marussia fires up car at Sepang

    Manor Marussia has fired up its car for the first time ahead of this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix. The outfit made the…

    F1
  31. Sepang circuit boss wants late-season slot 11:43

    Sepang circuit boss wants late-season slot

    Malaysian Grand Prix boss Razlan Razali is hopeful that Sepang will extend its stay on the Formula 1 calendar, and has set his…

    F1
  32. Kobayashi joins Toyota's WEC effort 10:46

    Kobayashi joins Toyota's WEC effort

    Former Formula 1 driver Kamui Kobayashi has joined Toyota's World Endurance Championship squad as its official test and reserve…

    LM
  33. Rosberg: Unfair to say we're further ahead 10:41

    Rosberg: Unfair to say we're further ahead

    Nico Rosberg says it is unfair to suggest that Mercedes has increased its advantage over the rest of the Formula 1 field this…

    F1
  34. Williams signs Sutil as reserve driver 10:03

    Williams signs Sutil as reserve driver

    Williams has announced Adrian Sutil as its official reserve driver for the 2015 campaign. The German, who lost his Sauber…

    F1
  35. Bottas makes car changes to aid back 09:14

    Bottas makes car changes to aid back

    Valtteri Bottas says he has changed the seat and pedal positions in his Williams in a bid to prevent a repeat of the back issue…

    F1
  36. Alonso says steering 'locked' for testing crash 08:19

    Alonso says steering 'locked' for testing crash

    McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso has gone against the team's official explanation of his testing crash, revealing that he…

    F1
  37. Alonso, Bottas declared fit to race 05:22

    Alonso, Bottas declared fit to race

    McLaren-Honda's Fernando Alonso and Williams driver Valtteri Bottas have been declared fit to compete at this weekend's…

    F1
  38. Sepang memories: Räikkönen's first win 05:14

    Sepang memories: Räikkönen's first win

    Watch as McLaren's Kimi Räikkönen claims his first Formula 1 victory at the 2003 Malaysian Grand Prix.

    F1
  39. Wednesday 25 March 2015

  40. Stewart sure Alonso will have no problems 14:45

    Stewart sure Alonso will have no problems

    Three-time Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart believes that Fernando Alonso will have "no trouble at all" when the…

    F1
  41. Button: Malaysia heat to test McLaren 13:08

    Button: Malaysia heat to test McLaren

    Jenson Button believes that the high temperatures expected at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix will test McLaren after a…

    F1
  42. 12:47

    Latest F1 photos: Preparations at Sepang

    F1
  43. Allison expecting Ferrari to close gap 10:51

    Allison expecting Ferrari to close gap

    Ferrari Technical Director James Allison is confident that the team will be closer to Mercedes at the Malaysian Grand Prix than…

    F1
more news