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. Tuesday 25 November 2014

  2. Leal remains with Carlin for 2015 18:36

    Leal remains with Carlin for 2015

    Carlin has confirmed that Colombian racer Julián Leal will remain with the team for the 2015 GP2 Season. Leal, 24, has...

    GP2
  3. 17:28

    F1 photos: Abu Dhabi testing - Day 1

    F1
  4. Honda says rivals faced same early issues 17:27

    Honda says rivals faced same early issues

    Honda says the teething problems it is facing at this week's Abu Dhabi test are no different to those endured by rival...

    F1
  5. GP2 champion Palmer eyes Force India role 16:11

    GP2 champion Palmer eyes Force India role

    GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer says he would like to occupy a role in Formula 1 with Force India, after testing for the team in...

    F1
  6. 14:23

    Post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test: Day 1 results

    F1
  7. Bottas tops first day of Abu Dhabi test 14:22

    Bottas tops first day of Abu Dhabi test

    Williams driver Valtteri Bottas set the standard on the opening day of the post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test at the Yas Marina...

    F1
  8. McLaren-Honda targets immediate success 12:52

    McLaren-Honda targets immediate success

    McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier says the team will be targeting success from the very first race of its new engine...

    F1
  9. Lynn to make F1 test debut with Lotus 12:08

    Lynn to make F1 test debut with Lotus

    GP3 champion Alex Lynn is set to make his Formula 1 test debut with Lotus on the second day of this week's post-season...

    F1
  10. Winners and Losers at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 12:06

    Winners and Losers at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

    The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix rounded out the 2014 Formula 1 Season and Lewis Hamilton's 11th victory of the campaign secured him...

    F1
  11. Video: New era for McLaren-Honda 09:24

    Video: New era for McLaren-Honda

    The McLaren-Honda partnership returns to life in 2015, with the two giants of motorsport hoping to emulate the success they...

    F1
  12. Hamilton to keep 44 as car number 08:47

    Hamilton to keep 44 as car number

    Lewis Hamilton has revealed that he will retain #44 as his car number next season, despite earning the right to compete with...

    F1
  13. Hamilton on Sports Personality shortlist 07:53

    Hamilton on Sports Personality shortlist

    Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has been named on the 10-person shortlist for this year's BBC Sports Personality of...

    F1
  14. Video: Button on 15 years in Formula 1 07:48

    Video: Button on 15 years in Formula 1

    Amid ongoing uncertainty over his future, Jenson Button looks back at 15 years in Formula 1.

    F1
  15. Lewis Hamilton's path to the 2014 title 06:57

    Lewis Hamilton's path to the 2014 title

    Lewis Hamilton clinched his second world title with victory in Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, becoming the 16th driver in...

    F1
  16. Video of the Day: Putrajaya ePrix highlights 05:04

    Video of the Day: Putrajaya ePrix highlights

    Enjoy highlights of the second Formula E race in Malaysia, won by Virgin Racing's Sam Bird.

    Formula E
  17. Monday 24 November 2014

  18. Post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test: The line-up 21:09

    Post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test: The line-up

    Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit plays host to final test of the year this week. Ahead of the two-day gathering, GPUpdate.net...

    F1
  19. Glimpse of the future at Abu Dhabi test 21:01

    Glimpse of the future at Abu Dhabi test

    Less than 48 hours after the conclusion of the 2014 season, Formula 1 teams will be back in action to push ahead with...

    F1
  20. Lauda: Rosberg will fight back next year 17:28

    Lauda: Rosberg will fight back next year

    Niki Lauda reckons Nico Rosberg will "fight back" next season after being beaten to the 2014 title by Mercedes team-mate...

    F1
  21. Dennis: Right person won championship 16:05

    Dennis: Right person won championship

    McLaren boss Ron Dennis believes the "right person" won the 2014 championship after his former driver Lewis Hamilton...

    F1
  22. Grosjean glad 2014 season is over 15:22

    Grosjean glad 2014 season is over

    Romain Grosjean says he is glad to see the back of the 2014 season after another challenging weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand...

    F1
  23. Video: Rosberg reflects on Abu Dhabi anguish 14:35

    Video: Rosberg reflects on Abu Dhabi anguish

    Nico Rosberg looks back at a heartbreaking Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where he missed out on the 2014 title.

    F1
  24. Hülkenberg: Abu Dhabi a good sign for 2015 13:57

    Hülkenberg: Abu Dhabi a good sign for 2015

    Nico Hülkenberg believes his performance in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a "good sign" for next year. The Force India...

    F1
  25. Arrivabene replaces Mattiacci as Ferrari boss 12:18

    Arrivabene replaces Mattiacci as Ferrari boss

    Maurizio Arrivabene has been named as the new Team Principal of Ferrari's Formula 1 outfit, replacing Marco Mattiacci, who...

    F1
  26. Formula 1 world salutes Hamilton 12:10

    Formula 1 world salutes Hamilton

    Lewis Hamilton became a double Formula 1 World Champion after his victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. GPUpdate.net has...

    F1
  27. Caterham to field Stevens at Abu Dhabi test 11:01

    Caterham to field Stevens at Abu Dhabi test

    Caterham has confirmed that it will take part in this week's post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test at the Yas Marina Circuit with...

    F1
  28. Hamilton: This means more than first title 10:23

    Hamilton: This means more than first title

    Lewis Hamilton says the feeling he got after securing his second Formula 1 title in Abu Dhabi means more to him than it did...

    F1
  29. Marciello to make F1 test debut with Ferrari 09:35

    Marciello to make F1 test debut with Ferrari

    Raffaele Marciello will make his Formula 1 test debut with Ferrari during this week's post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test at the...

    F1
  30. Wolff says Mercedes let Rosberg down 08:35

    Wolff says Mercedes let Rosberg down

    Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff feels the team let Nico Rosberg down in Abu Dhabi after technical issues blighted his...

    F1
  31. Video of the Day: Coulthard drives FW36 05:08

    Video of the Day: Coulthard drives FW36

    Ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard gets a shock when he trials the 2014 Williams contender at Silverstone.

    F1
  32. Sunday 23 November 2014

  33. 17:54

    Latest F1 photos: Sunday in Abu Dhabi

    F1
  34. Alonso to confirm future plans 'very soon' 17:52

    Alonso to confirm future plans 'very soon'

    Fernando Alonso says he will be able to announce his future plans "very soon", after completing his final race with...

    F1
  35. Stevens pleased to finish debut race 17:26

    Stevens pleased to finish debut race

    Caterham's Will Stevens says he was pleased to achieve his target of finishing his debut Formula 1 race at the Abu Dhabi...

    F1
  36. Vettel: It's been an incredible journey 16:56

    Vettel: It's been an incredible journey

    Sebastian Vettel was left to rue a disappointing end to "an incredible journey" with Red Bull at the Abu Dhabi Grand...

    F1
  37. I haven't finished yet, says Button 16:29

    I haven't finished yet, says Button

    Jenson Button says he did all he could during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to prove that he deserves to remain at McLaren in...

    F1
  38. Massa says 2014 'just the beginning' 15:58

    Massa says 2014 'just the beginning'

    Felipe Massa says the 2014 season is "just the beginning" of a more competitive period for the Williams team. Massa...

    F1
  39. Rosberg: Hamilton deserved to win title 15:37

    Rosberg: Hamilton deserved to win title

    Nico Rosberg says Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton deserved to beat him to the 2014 world title. Hamilton usurped...

    F1
  40. Hamilton hails 'best start' of F1 career 15:21

    Hamilton hails 'best start' of F1 career

    Lewis Hamilton described the start he made at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as "probably the best" of his Formula 1...

    F1
  41. 15:09

    In full: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race result

    F1
  42. Hamilton secures title with Abu Dhabi win 14:49

    Hamilton secures title with Abu Dhabi win

    Lewis Hamilton secured the 2014 Formula 1 title with victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, leading home Williams duo Felipe...

    F1
  43. 12:38

    Follow the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix live!

    F1
more news