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 30 June 2015

  2. Video: Williams FW13B at Goodwood 16:30

    Video: Williams FW13B at Goodwood

    Ride onboard with Williams development driver Alex Lynn as he demonstrates the FW13B at Goodwood.

    F1
  3. Williams confident of podium challenge 15:10

    Williams confident of podium challenge

    Williams' Rob Smedley says that the squad should be able to challenge for the podium at this weekend's British Grand Prix, with…

    F1
  4. Alonso could face further engine penalties 14:51

    Alonso could face further engine penalties

    McLaren's Fernando Alonso could face further engine penalties at this weekend's British Grand Prix, with Honda investigating the…

    F1
  5. Horner: Formula 1 at a 'critical stage' 13:45

    Horner: Formula 1 at a 'critical stage'

    Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner reckons Formula 1 is at a "critical stage" and that drivers need to be given more of a…

    F1
  6. Ricciardo not ruling out Red Bull departure 12:51

    Ricciardo not ruling out Red Bull departure

    Daniel Ricciardo says that he cannot completely rule out departing Red Bull at the end of 2015, as the team continues to examine…

    F1
  7. Hamilton vows to go 'all out' for home win 12:00

    Hamilton vows to go 'all out' for home win

    World Champion Lewis Hamilton says he will go 'all out' in his bid to record a third home victory at the British Grand Prix this…

    F1
  8. Baku construction work to begin this week 10:44

    Baku construction work to begin this week

    Construction work for next year's European Grand Prix around the streets of Azerbaijan's capital city, Baku, is set to begin…

    F1
  9. Barcelona set to host 2016 pre-season testing 10:36

    Barcelona set to host 2016 pre-season testing

    The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, home of the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix, is set to host next year's pre-season testing…

    F1
  10. Bradl has surgery on fractured scaphoid 09:44

    Bradl has surgery on fractured scaphoid

    Forward Racing rider Stefan Bradl has undergone surgery for a fractured scaphoid, following a crash at the Dutch TT last…

    MotoGP
  11. Feature: How has Formula E fared? 07:23

    Feature: How has Formula E fared?

    When the chequered flag fell at the London ePrix and Nelson Piquet Jr.'s seventh position ensured he beat Sébastien Buemi to…

    FE
  12. Silverstone memories: Trulli crashes out 05:06

    Silverstone memories: Trulli crashes out

    Jarno Trulli escaped from this massive accident during the 2004 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

    F1
  13. Monday 29 June 2015

  14. 16:02

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  15. Marciello gets Sauber practice outing 14:16

    Marciello gets Sauber practice outing

    Sauber reserve driver Raffaele Marciello will participate in the opening practice session for the British Grand Prix, his third…

    F1
  16. Video: Nico Rosberg's Goodwood diary 13:21

    Video: Nico Rosberg's Goodwood diary

    Nico Rosberg demonstrates what it's like to be a Formula 1 driver at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

    F1
  17. Force India excited by new car potential 12:26

    Force India excited by new car potential

    Force India team boss Vijay Mallya says the entire squad is "full of anticipation" as it prepares to launch its new car on home…

    F1
  18. Horner extends contract with Red Bull 11:16

    Horner extends contract with Red Bull

    Christian Horner has extended his contract with Red Bull, the team has confirmed to GPUpdate.net. Amid a challenging start to…

    F1
  19. Video: Button drives Senna's McLaren MP4/6 10:28

    Video: Button drives Senna's McLaren MP4/6

    Watch as Jenson Button drives Ayrton Senna's McLaren MP4/6 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

    F1
  20. Renault's F1 future depends on governance 10:22

    Renault's F1 future depends on governance

    Renault's Chief Executive, Carlos Ghosn, says the French manufacturer is still yet to decide on its future involvement in…

    F1
  21. Leclerc, Günther, Giovinazzi win at the Norisring 10:03

    Leclerc, Günther, Giovinazzi win at the Norisring

    Charles Leclerc, Maximilian Günther and Antonio Giovinazzi shared the wins during last weekend's FIA European Formula 3 round…

    F3
  22. Silverstone memories: Schumacher vs Häkkinen 05:02

    Silverstone memories: Schumacher vs Häkkinen

    Relive the battle between Michael Schumacher and Mika Häkkinen during a rain-hit 1998 British Grand Prix. After pouncing on a…

    F1
  23. Sunday 28 June 2015

  24. Piquet Jr. overwhelmed by Formula E crown 17:45

    Piquet Jr. overwhelmed by Formula E crown

    Nelson Piquet Jr. expressed his amazement at claiming the maiden Formula E championship as he recovered from 16th on the grid to…

    FE
  25. Bird wins, Piquet Jr. takes title in action-packed finale 16:59

    Bird wins, Piquet Jr. takes title in action-packed finale

    Nelson Piquet Jr. beat Sébastien Buemi to the inaugural Formula E championship by a single point as Sam Bird claimed victory in…

    FE
  26. Verstappen bemoans too much 'technical stuff' 11:46

    Verstappen bemoans too much 'technical stuff'

    Toro Rosso youngster Max Verstappen says that Formula 1 needs to get rid of the abundance of "technical stuff" and place control…

    F1
  27. Video: Briscoe escapes huge IndyCar crash 10:55

    Video: Briscoe escapes huge IndyCar crash

    Ryan Briscoe escaped unharmed following a terrifying flip during Saturday's IndyCar race at Fontana.

    Indy
  28. Márquez calls Assen podium 'moral victory' 08:06

    Márquez calls Assen podium 'moral victory'

    Marc Márquez was left encouraged by his return to form at the Dutch TT as he called his second place finish at Assen a 'moral…

    MotoGP
  29. Video of the Day: F1 2015 TV advert 05:11

    Video of the Day: F1 2015 TV advert

    Watch the official TV advert for Codemasters' upcoming F1 2015 title, to be launched on July 10.

    F1
  30. Rahal leads the pack in thrilling fashion at Fontana 01:24

    Rahal leads the pack in thrilling fashion at Fontana

    Graham Rahal broke a 125-race winless streak that stretched back seven years to win a thrilling and record-setting MAVTV 500 at…

    Indy
  31. Saturday 27 June 2015

  32. Buemi win sets up three-way title fight 16:57

    Buemi win sets up three-way title fight

    Sébastien Buemi cruised to victory around Battersea Park to set-up a three-way fight for the inaugural Formula E championship…

    FE
  33. 16:47

    Latest MotoGP photos: Saturday at Assen

    MotoGP
  34. Rossi happy to extend championship lead 15:54

    Rossi happy to extend championship lead

    Valentino Rossi says he was happy to extend his MotoGP title advantage as he halted Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo's string of…

    MotoGP
  35. Branson expects FE to overtake F1 by 2020 15:30

    Branson expects FE to overtake F1 by 2020

    Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson says he expects the nascent electric Formula E championship to pass Formula 1 in terms…

    FE
  36. Rossi beats Márquez in Dutch thriller 13:52

    Rossi beats Márquez in Dutch thriller

    Valentino Rossi extended his MotoGP championship lead to 10 points after prevailing in a thrilling battle with Honda rival Marc…

    MotoGP
  37. London ePrix gets Safety Car start 11:19

    London ePrix gets Safety Car start

    Saturday's first Formula E race in London will start behind the Safety Car, with overtaking prohibited into Turn 1, due to a…

    FE
  38. Video of the Day: Fastest two-wheel mile 05:18

    Video of the Day: Fastest two-wheel mile

    Friday's Goodwood action saw a new world record for the fastest mile on two wheels. Stunt driver Terry Grant piloted a Nissan…

    Misc
  39. Pagenaud tops the field in Fontana qualifying 02:03

    Pagenaud tops the field in Fontana qualifying

    Simon Pagenaud was just the third qualifier in the 22-car field for tomorrow's MAVTV 500, but he wasted no time in going…

    Indy
  40. Friday 26 June 2015

  41. 18:02

    Latest Formula E photos: Friday at Battersea

    FE
  42. London Mayor drives Formula E car 17:38

    London Mayor drives Formula E car

    Mayor of London Boris Johnson drove a Formula E car around the Battersea Park Street Circuit ahead of this weekend's season…

    FE
  43. Video: Alain Prost on e.dams' season 15:34

    Video: Alain Prost on e.dams' season

    Alain Prost discusses a successful first season for e.dams, which stands on the verge of the teams' title.

    FE
  44. 14:02

    Latest MotoGP photos: Friday at Assen

    MotoGP
  45. Rossi storms to pole for Dutch TT 13:56

    Rossi storms to pole for Dutch TT

    Championship leader Valentino Rossi brushed aside his recent qualifying issues by storming to pole position for the Dutch Grand…

    MotoGP
more news