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. Monday 27 April 2015

  2. 14:31

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  3. Formula E set for brake, suspension upgrades 14:27

    Formula E set for brake, suspension upgrades

    Formula E chassis manufacturer Spark Racing Technology is planning to introduce brake and suspension upgrades for the second…

    FE
  4. Williams reports substantial loss for 2014 09:58

    Williams reports substantial loss for 2014

    Williams Grand Prix Holdings has reported a sizeable loss of £34.3m for 2014, although the company is adamant that its…

    F1
  5. Video of the Day: Sauber's ReSTART - Part 3 05:07

    Video of the Day: Sauber's ReSTART - Part 3

    Marcus Ericsson goes on a tour of the Sauber factory in Hinwil, in the third part of the team's documentary.

    F1
  6. Sunday 26 April 2015

  7. Newgarden gets maiden win at thrilling Alabama GP 22:55

    Newgarden gets maiden win at thrilling Alabama GP

    Josef Newgarden has won the first race of his Verizon IndyCar Series career in thrilling fashion at Barber Motorsports Park.…

    Indy
  8. Todt and delegates safe after Nepal earthquake 15:31

    Todt and delegates safe after Nepal earthquake

    The FIA has confirmed that its delegates – including President Jean Todt – are safe and accounted for after an earthquake…

    F1
  9. Schumacher Jr. wins on debut F4 weekend 15:00

    Schumacher Jr. wins on debut F4 weekend

    Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Michael, has taken the first single-seater victory of his career in…

    Misc
  10. Button sets personal best at London Marathon 14:42

    Button sets personal best at London Marathon

    McLaren driver Jenson Button set his new personal best time at the London Marathon on Sunday. Button, running for Cancer…

    F1
  11. 13:48

    Latest FR3.5 photos: Sunday at Aragón

    FR 3.5
  12. Vaxivière beats de Vries at wet Aragón 13:45

    Vaxivière beats de Vries at wet Aragón

    Lotus driver Matthieu Vaxivière claimed a last-gasp victory over Nyck de Vries during a wet second race of the weekend at…

    FR 3.5
  13. Feature: What's gone wrong for Red Bull? 09:27

    Feature: What's gone wrong for Red Bull?

    Red Bull has endured its worst start to a season since emerging as a credible force in 2009. There is one pressing area where…

    F1
  14. Video of the Day: Button in tricycle race 05:22

    Video of the Day: Button in tricycle race

    McLaren-Honda driver Jenson Button takes on BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James in a tricycle race.

    F1
  15. Saturday 25 April 2015

  16. Castroneves outruns the rain to win Alabama pole 23:08

    Castroneves outruns the rain to win Alabama pole

    Hélio Castroneves put in a quick lap early in the third qualifying session to beat the oncoming rain (and his team-mates) to…

    Indy
  17. Márquez has surgery for finger injury 20:36

    Márquez has surgery for finger injury

    MotoGP World Champion Marc Márquez has undergone successful surgery to treat a fracture of his little finger on his left…

    MotoGP
  18. Daly gets Schmidt seat for Indianapolis 14:29

    Daly gets Schmidt seat for Indianapolis

    Conor Daly will make a return to the Indianapolis 500 this year after signing a deal to race for Schmidt Peterson…

    Indy
  19. 14:20

    Latest FR3.5 photos: Saturday at Aragón

    FR 3.5
  20. Rowland wins FR3.5 opener at Aragón 14:18

    Rowland wins FR3.5 opener at Aragón

    Oliver Rowland claimed victory in the opening Formula Renault 3.5 race of the year at MotorLand Aragón despite not leading a…

    FR 3.5
  21. Hamilton named wealthiest UK sportsman 09:05

    Hamilton named wealthiest UK sportsman

    World Champion Lewis Hamilton has been named as the wealthiest sportsman in Britain in the Sunday Times Sport Rich List. The…

    F1
  22. Video of the Day: Alonso on F1 journey 05:16

    Video of the Day: Alonso on F1 journey

    McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso discusses his Formula 1 journey with the BBC.

    F1
  23. Friday 24 April 2015

  24. Force India: Let teams choose tyre compounds 16:37

    Force India: Let teams choose tyre compounds

    Force India's Chief Operating Officer, Otmar Szafnauer, has suggested that teams should be allowed to select their two preferred…

    F1
  25. Video: Tour of Monaco with Sam Bird 15:37

    Video: Tour of Monaco with Sam Bird

    Sam Bird takes you through a lap of Monaco ahead of the upcoming ePrix in the principality on May 9.

    FE
  26. Van der Garde's manager downplays Manor talk 14:05

    Van der Garde's manager downplays Manor talk

    Giedo van der Garde's management team has played down talk of a return to Formula 1 with Manor Marussia, insisting that although…

    F1
  27. Marko: Ricciardo of same calibre as Vettel 11:35

    Marko: Ricciardo of same calibre as Vettel

    Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has backed Daniel Ricciardo to lead the team's recovery, claiming that he is of the same calibre…

    F1
  28. Regalia, Comtec split after three days 10:22

    Regalia, Comtec split after three days

    Comtec Racing has been left without any drivers for the opening round of the Formula Renault 3.5 season, after its recent deal…

    FR 3.5
  29. Video of the Day: Sauber's ReSTART - Part 2 05:12

    Video of the Day: Sauber's ReSTART - Part 2

    Marcus Ericsson gets to know Sauber in the second part of the team's special inside documentary.

    F1
  30. Thursday 23 April 2015

  31. Verstappen eager for swift points return 18:03

    Verstappen eager for swift points return

    Max Verstappen is keen to return to the points when Formula 1 arrives in Europe next month. The Toro Rosso rookie scored his…

    F1
  32. Lotus invites fans to Brands filming day 17:30

    Lotus invites fans to Brands filming day

    Lotus has invited fans to watch from the trackside at its Brands Hatch filming event on Monday. Race drivers Romain Grosjean…

    F1
  33. Horner: No short-term fixes for Red Bull 14:11

    Horner: No short-term fixes for Red Bull

    Christian Horner has conceded that there will be no short-term fixes for Red Bull this season, as the squad continues to…

    F1
  34. Vettel becomes ADAC Formula 4 patron 12:18

    Vettel becomes ADAC Formula 4 patron

    Four-time Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel has been announced as a patron of the ADAC automobile club's new Formula 4…

    F1
  35. 10:41

    Photos: Red Bull's show run in Vienna

    F1
  36. Video: Ricciardo demos F1 car in Austria 10:36

    Video: Ricciardo demos F1 car in Austria

    Watch as Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo showcases the team's RB8 on the streets of Vienna, Austria.

    F1
  37. González set for IndyCar debut with Coyne 09:50

    González set for IndyCar debut with Coyne

    Ex-Formula 1 test driver Rodolfo González will make his IndyCar debut with Dale Coyne Racing at this weekend's Barber…

    Indy
  38. Video of the Day: Sauber's 'Ask the Driver' 05:06

    Video of the Day: Sauber's 'Ask the Driver'

    Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr answer questions posed by fans of the team.

    F1
  39. Wednesday 22 April 2015

  40. De Vries eyes McLaren seat for 2017 20:59

    De Vries eyes McLaren seat for 2017

    McLaren young driver Nyck de Vries has set his sights on securing a race seat with the Honda-powered Formula 1 outfit for the…

    F1
  41. Video: Formula E – the season so far 14:32

    Video: Formula E – the season so far

    Relive the first half of the inaugural Formula E season, which produced six different winners in six races.

    FE
  42. Pirelli confirms tyres for next four races 12:39

    Pirelli confirms tyres for next four races

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has named its compound nominations for the upcoming Spanish, Monaco, Canadian and Austrian…

    F1
  43. Pedrosa 'responding well' after surgery 11:33

    Pedrosa 'responding well' after surgery

    Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa says he is "responding well" after undergoing surgery for his persistent arm pump issues earlier…

    MotoGP
  44. 10:04

    Gallery: Best photos from the Bahrain GP

    F1
  45. Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Bahrain 09:14

    Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Bahrain

    Especially for lovers of motorsport photography, GPUpdate.net's race-by-race series, Story Behind the Shot, continues throughout…

    F1
  46. Video of the Day: Nico Rosberg's Bahrain blog 05:04

    Video of the Day: Nico Rosberg's Bahrain blog

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg answers questions posed by fans in his usual post-race video blog.

    F1
more news