Another way to promote parity in F1
Jean Todt, the president of Formula One’s governing body (FIA), has been going on recently about the need to cut costs in F1 in order to keep it sustainable and probably also ensure that advertisers get good value for money on their investments.
Presumably this reduction in costs will allow teams outside of the big three (Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren) to do more than just make up the numbers and through their increased competitiveness become an attractive destination for sponsors too.
At Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix we got a glimpse into another way that there could be some level of parity between F1’s mega teams and those that are considered as stepping stones for a driver on his way to becoming a star.
Sergio Perez’s stellar drive to second place was remarkable not only because he flew past the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso but also because of the rate at which he was reeling in Lewis Hamilton’s race winning McLaren.
For those who have been following the entertaining events of the 2012 F1 season will remember Perez’s similarly inspired drives in Malaysia and Canada, where he took second and third place respectively.
And the young Mexican has been doing all this behind the wheel of a Sauber that uses a customer Ferrari engine. While the Swiss team is certainly not a hapless backmarker, it has never been considered as a team where a promising young driver would want to stick around for good.
Amongst the drivers who have come and gone at the team have been Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. All of whom went on to make a name for themselves at teams that were considered as top dogs in F1 at one point or another.
Sadly for Sauber, Perez too looks set to eventually move on. Ferrari is the team he has been linked to due to his participation in the Italian giant’s young driver program. Certainly defeating the two works Ferrari drivers at the Italian Grand Prix wouldn’t have hurt his chances of doing so.
But what if Perez were to hang around at Sauber for some time? Wouldn’t it be better for competitiveness in F1 to see talented drivers spread out across the grid? The effect of Robert Kubica’s absence at Lotus last year clearly shows how integral a good driver is to the development of a team’s car. And in turn its competitiveness, which brings it to the attention of sponsors who like to see their company’s name on the F1 podium.
Maybe a salary cap system similar to the kind in the NBA would allow drivers to get comfortable at teams that give them their break in F1 instead of chasing the limelight at the heavy hitters.
One sure hopes Perez will buck the rumor mill that has him all but sitting in a Ferrari next year. After all, it’s unlikely he will ever move over for Fernando Alonso.
By Vinayak Pande