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Why are there no Italian drivers in F1?
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Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Feb 2012   |  11:01 pm GMT  |  174 comments

The news that Jarno Trulli has lost his drive to Vitaly Petrov means that there will be no Italian driver in the F1 field for the first time since 1969.

For the country which gave the world Ferrari, Maserati, the Mille Miglia, Ascari and so many other motorsport legends, it’s hard to believe that there will be no driver on the grid in 2012. France, where the sport was born and which gave the name “Grand Prix” to the F1 events, went through the same thing recently. Now they are represented again with Grosjean, Pic and Vergne, while it is Italy’s turn to do some soul searching.

This situation has been coming for some time. When you speak to Italian drivers they always say that Ferrari is so powerful, such a dominant force in the country, that a driver will always been in its shadow. It’s very hard for them to get sponsors especially at the higher end. Far from being a rallying point for Italian motorsport, creating a culture of excellence in Italian motorsport, Ferrari is motorsport in the eyes of many Italians and it draws attention away from up coming talent and other team operators. Toro Rosso is based in Faenza, but only because that’s where Minardi was based. And when that team couldn’t carry on the struggle to survive any longer Red Bull bought it and decided to keep it there, not because Italy is a centre of excellence, but because the facilities were in place and it would be more trouble to move.

To their credit, Ferrari have recognised this situation for some time and have made efforts to address it in recent years, inducting young Italian drivers into the Ferrari Driver Academy. So far it’s not produced any real talents, but that’s not stopped them from continuing to plug away.
“I am very sad that, after so many there will not be an Italian driver in the Formula 1 World Championship field,” said Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali on the Ferrari website. “It’s a difficult moment for our sport, partly for external reasons. For a few years now, Ferrari through its Driver Academy, has established a long term plan to create a new generation of young drivers, which works also in collaboration with the CSAI (Italian motorsport federation) and I am pleased to see that just now, we can announce that two talented youngsters, Raffaele Marciello and Brandon Maisano will be given a great opportunity to progress in the sport.” The pair are being supported to race in F3 this year.

But of course this “impoverishment” as Jarno Trulli calls it, of Italian talent, is not just about the long terms story of Italian motorsport and business failing to establish a conveyor belt of talent. It is exacerbated by the financial crisis which Italy has passed through recently, meaning that even if there were some Italian companies who wanted to sponsor drivers, they would either not be able to afford it or would find it hard to justify. Many Italian drivers in the past were backed by Marlboro, but now that tobacco sponsorship is no longer allowed, they’ve been left without a leg up the ladder.

Trulli was very pragmatic about his situation and described the fate of current Italian drivers as “A problem which hasn’t just appeared out of the blue and with some people just closing an eye and letting it come about. In Italy there isn’t a system which helps drivers to emerge at high levels and it’s normal for things like this to happen. The talent is there, but if no one supports them, they have no hope whatsoever. I would like to see more involvement, on everyone’s part, but at a time of crisis like this in our country, I can’t see how a young driver can break through and find help in order to be considered by a team.

He went on, “I personally have no regrets. I was expecting a separation from Caterham, as I knew that the difficult economic situation would have prompted them to seek a driver with substantial sponsorship backing. The smaller teams have certain needs and contracts state this clearly. I hope that with Petrov’s contribution everyone who works there can have a more secure future.”

It is also a statement about the way that the global financial crisis is finally impacting on F1. It’s taken a while to work through, because many sponsorships were contracted forward, but now looking at the field and at some of the drivers, its clear that bringing a budget is a priority. But that’s a story for another time.

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174 Comments
  1. Ian says:

    Then again Kubica moved from Poland to Italy to further his career didn’t he?

  2. Oliver N. says:

    To be honest, I can´t remember an Italian driver in F1 that ranked much higher than mediocre in donkeys. quality is a better measure of success than quantity.

    1. Sebee says:

      That’s not a fair statement. Trulli did well at Renault I thought.

      1. Liam says:

        He also did well at Toyota..particularly in 2010 was it?? (the year brawn won)

      2. Oliver N. says:

        He had half a good season if memory serves, but was almost always outperformed by his team mates. Which is the only half reliable benchmark you can use. You may disagree but I think mediocre is about right, and he was probably one of the better ones of the last 40 years.

      3. RichyS says:

        You mean he qualified well, then went backwards in the race.

        The ‘Trulli Train’ wasn’t coined just because of a neat bit of alliteration.

        Trulli has always been a one dimensional driver. That he and Fisi are the best that Italy have come up with in recent years is a sad indictment.

        Maybe Ricciardo (or however you spell it) can be convinced to take up Italian citizenship!

      4. Trung says:

        You’re spot on in your spelling.

        Despite his heritage, Daniel is a True-Blue Aussie, through and through, so no chance of him swearing allegiance to the red, white & green.

        Although would great marketing coup for the youngster from Perth if he can justify Red Bull’s faith in him this year. Let’s hope he improves his Italian!

      5. Paul says:

        Ricciardo has an Italian Passport!

      6. Denis says:

        Qualified well then went backwards in races. For a minute I thought you were talking about Mark Webber.

    2. DMyers says:

      I don’t really think Trulli could be described as mediocre, although I don’t think he ever truly (no pun intended) made full use of his talents. Fisichella, certainly early in his career, was one of the best on the grid – don’t forget he absolutely destroyed Button and Wurz when he was at Benetton and won a race in a terrible Jordan-Ford. Liuzzi won the F3000 championship, but then was less impressive in F1.

      1. RichyS says:

        Fisi rather won that race by default thanks to Alonso’s massive shunt at Interlagos. He just happened to be leading during the pits top window when all the front runners had been in.

      2. Denis says:

        You seem to forget that he was driving a Jordan Ford at the time.

      3. JimmiC says:

        I remember Trulli’s (debut?) race in Austria 97 in the Prost when he came very close to a podium or possibly even winning. That was his high point for me.

      4. James Allen says:

        That’s right, on the Bridgestone tyres. Damon Hill almost won in an Arrows in Hungary the same year on B’stones

      5. hero_was_senna says:

        Trulli moved to Prost from Minardi in time for the French GP that year, after Panis broke his legs in the Canadian GP.
        He qualified 6th on his debut and yes in Austria was leading until the engine blew up.
        Personally, his high point was Monaco 2004, a quite brilliant qualifying lap started the whole weekend off.
        Don’t forget, Trulli in the 1st half of 2004 usually out-qualified Alonso.
        He seemed to be able to transcend the car for one lap, but during the races, he could only perform at the cars level, never beyond, like the greats.

  3. Simon Donald says:

    This is a big change for F1, but I think part of the changing nature of F1. If you look at the 1990 season’s entry list you can see that Italians made up the majority of the field… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1990_Formula_One_season#Drivers_and_constructors and this is quite typical for F1 in the 80′s and early 90′s. However, the performance of Italian drivers in F1 has told a different story, they have only had two WC and none since 1953. In terms of race winners, the last 5 Italians to win races were Fisichella in 2006, Trulli in 2004, Patrese in 1993, Nanini in 1989 and then Michele Alboreto in 1985. There has been lots of Italian drivers, but the majority of them have been also rans. What we are seeing now is the de-”europeisation” or internationalization of F1, engineered by Bernie coming to full realization in my opinion.

    1. Steven says:

      If theres no talented italian drivers, how is that Bernies fault?

      1. Rich C says:

        Everything is Bernie’s fault, doncha know?

    2. F1 says:

      which gp has patrese won in 1993?

      1. Simon Donald says:

        I beg your pardon. The last race he won was the 1992 Japanese GP. My mistake. Somehow my reponse to the first comment got posted at the bottom of the page. It read…

        It’s not Bernie’s fault about a lack of talented young Italian drivers, but what Bernie has done is change F1 from being a predominantly European chamionship to a truly international one. We now have races in Singapore, Malaysia, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, India, South Korea and China – none of which had been visited before 1999. Soon we will have two races in the US, a race in Russia and there is significant movement around going back to Mexico and South Africa. In the meantime, we have lost the San Marino GP at Imola in Italy and the races Austria and France. The Germans have lost their second race with Hockenheim and the Nurburgring now sharing and the second Spanish race will probably go soon too or may end up in a similar share too. Belgium and the British race both looked to be on shaky ground until recently too. European racing is being marginalised by Bernie because he (rightly) sees more potential outside of Europe for F1 to expand. It see it as no surprise that now we have a much more international grid with Russian, Indian, Malaysian, etc… drivers gracing the grid for the first time. This has and will continue to be at some expense to European nations most notably France and now Italy.

      2. K says:

        I personally don’t see globalisation for F1 a bad thing.

      3. atb says:

        he won the 1992 japanese gp if memory serves me correctly old bean

    3. JK says:

      Without emphasis on Europe there is no F1 in my opinion. Progressively take Europe out of the equation and you have just another A1GP-style aimless world series that will die within a few seasons.

      The birthplace of the motor car should always be the home of F1, and if anyone else wants to play then they should be added to, not at the expense, of the local European races. AT the very least have added circuits on a rotating roster like the do in Japan between Suzuka and Fuji. As for the drivers/teams… well let the best man win the seat and the best team win the GP…

  4. Dan Orsino says:

    Sad to see JT go. I liked his style, and he was one of the best qualifiers a few years back.

    I will get a wee bit nostalgic[just a wee bit] when I remember the “Trulli Train” of just a couple of years back, before DRS, when You could find yourself stuck behind Trulli till the pitstop released you!

    1. Pyaare says:

      “Trulli train” while used disparagingly by “certain sections” of TV media was actually a testimony of how the Italian driver was flattering the Toyota beyond its capability by qualifying it higher than it deserved on the grid.
      I am sure if Trulli had a different passport in his pocket, the same section would have applauded his “Phenomenal” achievement. That kind of drumming did help certain drivers to extend their careers for sure.

      1. Athlander says:

        It was strange that Trulli got so many negative comments for qualifying so well with the Toyota.

      2. Andrew says:

        Exactly. Ayrton Senna would normally go backwards in the races when he was at Lotus because he outqualified the car.

        Trulli was the best most consistent qualifier of his generation. In qualifying he beat all of his teammates, including Alonso. Granted he was very sensitive to car issues in the race but nobody is perfect.

      3. Pyaare says:

        As I said those negative comments originated in “certain section” of TV/F1 Media. I am sure if Trulli had a different passport, that same section would have drummed up his qualifying laps in Toyota as “stunning” “out of this world” “phenomenal”. Instead all that we got was “Trulli train”.

        Sometimes I wish, there is code of conduct for the media (wo)men in F1, these innocent off the cuff remarks are indeed slanderous and the drivers have really been patient for not taking these “pundits” to court.

        Its sad to see Fans simply lap these comments without stepping back and putting things in perspective and then flood internet forums with views of “paid media pundits” as their own, just to sully reputation of an individual.

      4. Ivar says:

        Well I’m not the one who’s intimidated by those certain section of TV/F1 media, but I do remember the finesse of “train”‘ing achieved by Trulli in the second half of 2009
        the trullitrain was a completely spontaneous complement on his acts on the track.
        There’s nothing to do with the Italian driver, it’s the person on track!

      5. Ivar says:

        Well to end with a positive note – he was the locomotive of the bunch behind him.

  5. LL says:

    I think the proper answer to your question in title would be; lack of talent.

    1. Aaron says:

      Also bike racing is extremely popular in Italy and a heck of a lot cheaper to get into than car racing.

      1. Carlo says:

        That’s a really good point on both counts; particularly with the popularity of Rossi, and Biaggi prior to that. Even Mick Doohan was extremely popular amongst the Italians! MotoGP is hugely popular in Italy and has been for a long time now. People discuss it widely

        Not only that, but the motorbike/scooter market in Italy is massive. Everyone has a scooter and as a young kid, its a cheap-ish way to modify a bike and have a bit of fun (a bit like rallying used to be in the UK with Escort’s etc).

        As a part Italian, I wish there were some more talented Italian drivers on the grid that were successful as well, but it doesn’t look like that will be for a long time!

        Does Italy have a strong karting base (I’m thinking comparables such at the UK or Brazil) to get kids into 4-wheel motorsport?

      2. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        Italy must have a good karting base. If not, i don’t know why drivers like FA or RK went there to maximize their karting career.

      3. James Allen says:

        It does, first class at karting. Lots of the best kids go there to race

      4. Athlander says:

        During a press conference at the South Korean Grand Prix, Vettel, Alonso & Hamilton were asked about becoming F1 drivers. Vettel hinted that karting was an important factor. Fernando Alonso said:

        “For us… when we started we all moved to Italy to race in go-karts because Italy was and still is the best place to race in go-karts and to improve your talent and your driving.”

        Lewis Hamilton added:

        “I agree with both the drivers, and particularly Fernando’s comment there. I was going to say the same. I think it’s definitely possible to have a Korean driver in the future and I think it just appears that the formula for proving a young driver’s talent is to go to Europe to race. The majority of the drivers that you see here in the paddock would have gone to Italy to race as that’s generally where the… they have great weather, they have great circuits, generally most of the greats went racing there. That’s the place where you will be seen, that’s the place where you will really have your skills and your talent challenged…”

        I’ve edited the quotes, but can be read in full at the end of the transcript on the Formula 1 site (it was the last question asked):

        http://www.formula1.com/news/headlines/2011/10/12642.html

    2. Denis says:

      Lack of talent?. What junior titles has Petrov, Bruno Senna, Pic, Karthikeyan, De La Rosa etc won?.

      While two Italian drivers who won titles last year Mirko Bortolotti (FIA Formula 2)and Kevin Ceccon (Auto Gp) don’t even have a confirmed drive for season 2012.

      And don’t tell me that Bortolotti didn’t have any decent competition because the same applies to Formual 1. Vettel doesn’t have any competition because he is younger and way better than Alonso, Hamilton, Button etc.

  6. Terry Pearson says:

    They have the cars – we have the drivers!

    1. Oliver N. says:

      We have the cars as well. They have one under performing one that resembles Barry Manilow.

      1. Terry Pearson says:

        ;-)

      2. Doobs says:

        Give Lewis a few races and we’ll see a bent nose Macca when he meets up with Massa.

  7. juancreyes says:

    1973 i belive

    1. Phil R says:

      Also Hockenheim 1996 where Fisi was replaced by his countryman Gianni Lavaggi for the race, but failed to qualify was the most recent Grand Prix without an Italian on the grid.

      1. F1 says:

        indy 2005 was

      2. Darron says:

        Lavaggi replaced Fisi from Germany onwards in 1996, so last GP no Italian was entered was Japan 1996

  8. goferet says:

    I was expecting a separation from Caterham, as I knew that the difficult economic situation…
    ————————————————-

    The same lips that said not so long ago that my seat is secure, I haven’t heard any talk of being replaced.

    Well done Trulli!

    Anyway, as has been stated, this is a sad for Italian motorsport & in my view it has been caused not so much by lack of sponsors or Ferrari not having a young driver’s programme in the past but rather the unwillingness of these Italian powerhouses like Lamborghini, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, FIAT etc to take a plunge again into the muddy F1 waters because failure to win the World Championship would reflect badly on their reputation as road car manufacturers.

    This is the same reason that lead to French drivers becoming an endangered species in F1 because by the new Millennium, Renault was the only French brand on the grid both as a constructor & as an engine manufacturer.

    Now contrast that to the British teams & why you find that we always have a British representative on the grid because these British teams can always put in a good word for a driver & thus paving way for an F1 debut, if not that, they would hire the driver themselves outright.

    So yes, more Italian teams/ engine manufactures on the grid = More Italian drivers.

    P.s.

    Am 100% certain that the global financial climate had nothing to do with Trulli’s demise, it’s just the old bugger had become too slow & his times in the recently concluded test in Jerez were the last nail in the coffin.

    Remember Caterham covered 358 laps in Jerez at $1,500 per lap so no, money had absolutely nothing to do with it.

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      You seem to be missing the fact that Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, FIAT and Lancia (one you missed) are all part of the same company, what point would there be in competing with themselves particularly since the FIAT group has been limping along for most of the last decade or more.

      As for Lambourghini, they’ve never had much of a motorsport heritage and it’s only recently that paymasters Audi have got them going racing in GT’s (and VW-Audi (or is it just VW now?) are another company that have never had any interest in F1).

      1. CartRider says:

        Guess it’s not that he overlooked the fact that the listed companies are parts of the same entity, rather it sounds to me like a logical explanation of the lack of Italian drivers on the grid. While those companies were separate and competing in autosport, there were more Italian drivers. As long as we see this situation when there are not enough Italian brands in the sport, we won’t see more Italian names among drivers. Also bring to the mix the fact that many teams identify stronger with specific countries (Mercedes with Germany, HRT with Spain, McLaren with the UK, less obviously Force India with, well, India) and you get protectionism when these teams tend to hire representatives of their respective countries (two German drivers in Mercedes, two Spanish drivers in HRT, two British drivers in McLaren), which in turn means that we’re less likely to see Italians in these teams.

        It is sad but, as Trulli put it, it didn’t appear out of the blue.

      2. F1 says:

        2 italians in errari, mac, merc and hrt show how to do it

      3. Doobs says:

        I think Italian kids have identified more with Rossi these recent years so more have gone into bike racing. While Schumi was also winning everything in sight at the same time, he was seen as “God-like”, not a “Peoples’ Champion” like Vale, and therefore not the inspiration to youngsters in the way Rossi was. Italian kids could see themselves being Rossi, but being Schu-like was unachievable.

        Italy is good for karting but many tourists dropping in to compete, has become like the EPL, not so many Brits at the top level now. There’s just too much competition.

    2. renato nysan says:

      The last involment of Lamborghini in F1 were those blowing up 12 zylinders if I’m right.

    3. David Ryan says:

      Given that Tony Fernandes specifically referred to the need to have “a realistic eye on the global economic market” when justifying the last-minute driver swap, I feel your claim that “money had absolutely nothing to do with it” is – with respect – a fair way wide of the mark. The above is practically an admission by Fernandes that it was down to money. Were Trulli not suitable for the drive by way of his talent, they would have dropped him before testing began. As for Trulli’s comments, given that this announcement – while not necessarily a surprise in some quarters – came at a rather unusual time it is reasonable to assume that there may not actually have been talk of his seat being in jeopardy until recently. Without being part of the Caterham team management, we’re in no position to comment on the matter.

  9. bob says:

    There’s this guy that races bikes… nah, they could not bring him in

    1. Liam says:

      They totally should bring this mystery driver in though…just to see

      1. daphne says:

        It’s sad, but talented motorcyclists / drivers are wary of being linked / pushed into F1, and after a couple of “learning” seasons, suddenly dropped for lack of “sponsorship money” or not enough “grit”. It scares the bejesus out of them. It’s just not worth the hassle to most reasonable people.
        Saying that F1 did start out as a “playboys” sport and developed thence – having a big payroll somewhere on the equation has always been a necessity.

  10. Michele Terminello says:

    What about Mirko Bortolotti? He participated in the young drivers test last year with Williams. He won the Italian Formula 3 Championship in 2008 and won the FIA Formula Two Championship last year. There’s a few coming through the Auto GP Championship too.

    1. Exactly; the guy’s good, I saw him in Jerez YD test back in 2009. The real problem is probably lack driver academy schemes in Italy, or indeed, in many countries around the world. Mean, if you place a guy like Filippi in one of Caterhammers cars, he’ll do better than Petrov, no doubt about it.

      In WRC they have an academy for young drivers who are then awarded with a budget to compete in senior classes like SWRC and can build a career from then on.

      F1 is getting so sterile that companies won’t invest into YDs, the only real thing is Red Bull and Helmut Darko, mean Marko but they easily chop these young lads for no reason at all. Tobacco’s a no-no and big smoking wigs would sponsor young talent only a couple of decades ago. F1 is still a good show but, honestly, too politically correct and VIP-oriented. Go back to basics.

      Trulli had some decent races with Renault and Toyota, joining Glotus/Caterhammer was a mistake I think, he could’ve left F1 with a couple of podiums to his name after 2009.

  11. Peter says:

    It’s a sad state of affairs for a country with such a proud motorsport heritage. You always feel that for the sake of tradition, to have Italians, French and British drivers in the field is a necessity! However the drying up of talent from France and Italy in the past decade is stark to say the least. It’s good to see France represented once again in the field. How successful Grosjean, Pic and Vergne will be is debatable though. It makes you realise how grateful us Brits are when we have fantastic representation on the grid both in terms of drivers and teams.

    1. Louis.M says:

      Hop hop mate. I will particulatery watchout Vergne, possible rookie of the year without a doubt

  12. David says:

    I think Trulli’s was a very graceful exit. His words about wishing everyone at Caterham a more secure future reveals a very good side.

    1. jls says:

      maybe…or was it a back-handed dig about taking a ‘pay-driver’ on.

    2. Rich C says:

      Yes, indeed. A classy response by Jarno.

  13. veeru says:

    well..it is not about just lack of italians that worries me….

    As of today, the one and only reason why Petrov has a seat and Yarno doesn’t is Money.

    Talent/No talent aside, money made the difference today. and the sad part is that you cant blame the team for going with a pay driver…

    it will just make racing dull!!

    1. daphne says:

      Their thinking is probably that the additional funds will help accelerate / keep the car in, pace with other team’s development during the crucial first half of the year. It’s less and less about “talent” and more to do with aerodynamic development, unfortunately.
      JT’s and RB’s demise for the sport, during the same year, because of the same reason, is a travesty to the ‘sport’. It’s just “business” now.

  14. PaddockF1 says:

    I think some of it is down to the lack of financial backing as most (if not all) talent needs financial support to varying degrees to enter formula 1. It clearly isn’t justifiable or the infrastructure isn’t present anymore in Italy. I will miss the Trulli train that’s for sure – especially in Monaco.

  15. mac says:

    Quick! Someone get Luca Badoer on the phone. His country needs him!

      1. adi says:

        Giovanna Amati would do nicely
        …….

    1. Sut says:

      Brilliant !

  16. D. says:

    Excellent analysis, James. Well-done. What’s your early sense on the upcoming season ? Will everyone else again be trying to catch up w/ RBR ? And what do you think Kimi can do in a Lotus ?

    Cheers.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, I fear so. They look good, but it’s a long season…a very long season!

  17. vvipkho says:

    Jarno can to train young italy driver to became future F1 driver in future year..

  18. CANADA ROCKS says:

    All I can say is Che vergogna:[

  19. Timo says:

    Hi James — and as you can see from the list below, it looks like maybe four of the 24 drivers on the 2012 grid are pay drivers (seat ONLY for the money) — and these guys are not that bad really: Senna, Maldonado, Petrov and Karthikeyan. I do feel that the persons who whine most about pay drivers are [were] the ones most insecure about their seats (Rubens Barichello, Massa, etc).

    Red Bull – Vettel (Merit), Webber (Merit)
    Mclaren – Button (Merit), Hamilton (Merit)
    Ferrari – Alonso (Merit), Massa (Merit)
    Mercedes – Schumacher (Merit), Rosberg (Merit)
    Lotus – Raikkonen (Merit), Grosjean (Merit)
    Force India – Di Resta (Merit), Hulkenberg (merit)
    Caterham – Kovalainen (Merit), Petrov (Pay)
    Toro Rosso – Ricciardo (Merit), Vergne (Merit)
    Sauber – Kobayashi (Merit), Perez (Merit)
    Williams – Maldonado (Pay), Senna (Pay?)
    Marussia – Glock (Merit), Charles Pic (Merit)
    HRT – De la Rosa (Merit), Karthekeyan (Pay)

    1. Alan says:

      It’s interesting you say ‘merit’. Last time I checked a GP2 budget is £1.6m. Now, it would appear that you need to race in GP2 to get a chance in F1 (exc Toto Rosso) and GP2 is a grid full of ‘pay drivers’. Is that ‘merit’ worthy. Not so sure.

      So in reality it’s far more complex to say a driver has made to F1 purely on ‘merit’ when he’s spent up to 5-6 million getting to a place where he can win a drive on ‘merit’. Quite a few large talents fall along the way purely because of cash, not because of lack of merit.

      So it’s a very complex situation that has no clear answer. Motorsport is damn expensive and prices are being inflated as some drivers are bringing eye watering amounts of money to get seats.

      The simply isn’t the demand from spectators to watch the ‘best drivers’ in the world. Most don’t care how drivers get to F1. They’ll believe the hype, and that’s fine.

      It’s a small amount of fans who know the realities of F1 that bemoan the fact massive talents can be lost in the system.

      1. James Allen says:

        Interesting – so which top class talents (which are mature enough to be there) are not in GP2 then?

      2. Alan says:

        Difficult question to answer this one as I have a bias towards karting and now I am going to sound like a mad man :)

        Let’s take an example like Will Dendy, you’ve never heard of him. A complete unknown as it were.

        Young man, in his teens at the time, decides he wants to race at the 2009 British Karting Championship level. Has zero support from family/sponsors. Yes he manages to scrape together 10 or so grand to do 3-4 rounds working in some insane countries for money. From an outside perspective he finishes near the back and most consider him a mad man. But in the last round he manages to lap as quick as the leaders, which relatively speaking was a major achievement considering his experience and equipment. For me, he displayed a level of talent/determination that would take him quite far with the right backing.

        He had the right determination (ran the london marathon with race suit and boots ffs) and skill to get to the highest levels. I’ve been lucky enough to race and watch current F1 stars when they were ‘younguns’ and there were at least some similarities. I’ve been in the awnings of drivers who are now very high up and they never displayed any more ‘talent’ or ‘skill’ than this kid.

        Why do I mention this character? From the inside, once you observe all the competition, you can see how someone can over-achieve without getting any recognition. Karting is very open in the paddock so it’s much easier to observe than car racing.

        And after all that, there were no opportunities for him. The car scouts don’t ask team bosses who has the most talent, they ask who is good and who’s got money. Just ask Mark Rose. There are no scholarships… prize funds… you bring the cash you get the drive. it really is THAT simple. Go to the last round of the british karting season. No one there is looking to help or sponsor anyone.

        There are NO opportunities for drivers who haven’t got at least a very healthy bank account. I could list hundreds of drivers who I think had the talent, but you would never have heard of them and most would dismiss them as no hopers. I consider a complete unknown as one of the best drivers I’ve witnessed. No one will care, so what’s the point?

        But the question remains… does it really matter? F1 is F1? I am more than happy to embrace F1 when we acknowledge the reality of how the system works.

        Anyway, where were we? haha

      3. Gonzo says:

        Lets just say that everyone is a pay driver in F1. They bring in money one way or another. If I were a company, I would like to sponsor a Ferrari that has Alonso in it or an RBR with Vettel in it rather than ones without those drivers. So star power brings in money at the top teams and the drivers sponsorship brings in money at the smaller teams.

      4. Kevin Green says:

        Anthony davidson springs instantly to mind!

      5. F1 says:

        Danica Patrick?

      6. daphne says:

        Danica Patrick wants to stay State-side, with her family. (Can’t blame her)

      7. For sure says:

        Richard Bradley, I am trying to hire him to coach me with my karting.
        James, have you heard of him?

      8. James Allen says:

        No, I know Terry Fullerton does that, but he charges a lot

      9. Louis.M says:

        Bianchi has signed in 3.5 this year, which is more prepared for f1 with the DRS and the new car. The problem of GP2 is that with their system it can ruine a week end if you hold up in qualy and it can help banal drivers to win races

      10. Kevin Green says:

        Exactly my point a little while back, why blow so much money on Aero and not spend the money scouting for talent through all possible avenues! .
        I bet there’s talent out there without the top end opportunity that the correct eyes could spot that are better than 75% of the grid.

        as i have said previously wind the clock back a bit in some respects aero transmittions and some of the electrics get it back manual transmittions and tech that is more directly of use in the real world likes of that trick suspension recently banned.

        More fun all round for everyone better reachable talent less cost or better spent costs

      11. For sure says:

        @Alan, I think Karting and other junior Formulas are massively under appreciated competitions as I believe that they do provide good shows, good overtakings etc…I wander why they can’t be as popular as local MMA fights etc..
        And I think, the reason why drivers have to pay it all is because, there is no audience who would pay to watch them race which is really a shame.

        I thought this race was very very entertaining..
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WN0q__PwfHk
        Does anyone agree?

    2. Justin says:

      i think you could argue grosjean as a pay driver, total were pushing for him very hard, perez brigs lots of Telmex money, hell alonso brought tons of santander money with him, not that ferrari need pay drivers, but he’s not costing them money.

      While lots of drivers aren’t there specifically because of their sponsorship money, it certainly helps them make the leap into F1 and move up the grid once they are in.

    3. Carl says:

      weren’t Panasonic looking at paying $30m to get Kobayashi in a car after Toyota left?

    4. Perez is a PAY driver, also Senna.

    5. Doobs says:

      The ability to raise cash sponsorship is simply another skill required by the modern F1 driver. It’s always been about the money, people.

  20. Bart says:

    Why the nostalga about the nationality of drivers? Surely this is out of place in the global world we live in?

    Prost sacrificed his team and fortune to maintain a French focus, Mercedes are doing it all over again by persisting with an over the hill former champion and unfortunately another German that is failing to launch.

    James – when do you think Heikki will return to a top team?

  21. Simon Donald says:

    It’s not Bernie’s fault about a lack of talented young Italian drivers, but what Bernie has done is change F1 from being a predominantly European chamionship to a truly international one. We now have races in Singapore, Malaysia, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, India, South Korea and China – none of which had been visited before 1999. Soon we will have two races in the US, a race in Russia and there is significant movement around going back to Mexico and South Africa. In the meantime, we have lost the San Marino GP at Imola in Italy and the races Austria and France. The Germans have lost their second race with Hockenheim and the Nurburgring now sharing and the second Spanish race will probably go soon too or may end up in a similar share too. Belgium and the British race both looked to be on shaky ground until recently too. European racing is being marginalised by Bernie because he (rightly) sees more potential outside of Europe for F1 to expand. It see it as no surprise that now we have a much more international grid with Russian, Indian, Malaysian, etc… drivers gracing the grid for the first time. This has and will continue to be at some expense to European nations most notably France and now Italy.

    1. tarun says:

      F1 is not a European championship, its good that we have more internationals in racing today. If your good enough you will be there.

    2. Chris Chong says:

      I disagree. The fact that F1 is more international now doesn’t change the fact that there is no grassroots or heritage for motorsports in most of these new racing venues.

      I’m from Malaysia, and we have a grand total of two race tracks in the country (the Sepang F1 circuit, and the much smaller Pasir Gudang Track towards the south). There are a few smaller tracks around the country, but most of them are just large go-kart tracks, which are only suitable for motorbike racing or drifting events – not proper car racing. We had another circuit (The Shah Alam, Batu Tiga circuit) that was demolished to make way for a luxury housing estate.

      Apart from privately organised time-attack events and local club events, there has not been any serious attempts by anybody to evolve our motorsports scene into something that isn’t the domain of the rich or politically connected.

      As far as I know, there aren’t any state- or nation-wide racing series. If one does exist, it sure isn’t getting any exposure in the local media.

      I can’t really speak on behalf of the other new F1 venues, but I’m pretty darn sure we’ll not see a Malaysian F1 driver on the podium in the next 50 years.

  22. Methusalem says:

    Is it true he is getting a compensation of four million Euros?

    By the way, I read a German newspaper which wrote that L. Hamilton told H. Kovailanen last week at Jerez that he is disappointed with the MP-27, and the car is difficult to control in the fast corners?

    1. daphne says:

      Who told who what,in this German newspaper?

  23. Boz says:

    James,
    I found unfair your comment on Toro Rosso HQ staying in Faenza only because it was too much trouble to move it elsewhere.
    Ferrari, Lamborghini, Ducati and I think Maserati too are all based in the Emilia Romagna region where technical talents exist and are well trained.

    I suspect that the reason Uk is a bigger cathalist for F1 teams is that on top of providing technical talents, It is a much better / easier place to do business than Italy

  24. Phil R says:

    Hi James

    On the flip side of this, how is it that Germany has so many drivers on the grid. Of course there was the Schumacher effect of the 90′s and 2000′s raising awareness, but Ferrari have always made F1 aware in Italy.

    Also, why did Marlboro particularly support Italian drivers?

    1. Justin says:

      because they sponsored Ferrari

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        Regarding Italian drivers, I believe Marlboro Italy saw a great opportunity to promote the brand by sponsoring many Italian drivers through the 70′s and 80′s. They also sponsored the Alfa Romeo F1 squad around this time too as well as Mclaren from 1974.

        They began sponsoring Ferrari in 1984.
        Even then it was a small Marlboro sticker with the drivers name on it, placed behind the driver.
        They paid for the drivers salaries as Enzo Ferrari only accepted sponsorship from companies that provided specific products for the cars.
        In 1997, Marlboro took over title sponsorship of Ferrari and dropped Mclaren completely, hence why Ferrari’s scarlet changed to Marlboro red.
        Many drivers were sponsored by Marlboro through the 70′s ad 80′s because it was the only place tobacco companies could advertise their products.
        But also look up pictures of Prost in a Renault or Senna in a Toleman or Rosberg in the Williams, they wore Marlboro branding on their helmets, so it wasn’t only Italian drivers that had their backing.

  25. Alan says:

    There’s plenty of Italian drivers racing at this weekend’s Winter Cup at Lonato. Fore and Ardigo in particular, who happen to be fully-fledged ‘professional drivers’. I for one think it’s fantastic that Italy still can produce a lot of talent who can find a profession in kart racing.

    So it is rather an embarrassing situation for F1 that top kart teams can afford to hire the best talent, while they struggle with paying drivers.

    Looking at the fine detail, the reality is, that those young drivers who have a dream of F1 simply can’t afford it. While we sit and watch F1 with the illusion that it’s purely the best drivers in the world, behind that is the crushed dreams of thousands who simply didn’t have the cash.

    You really can’t blame guys like Fore and Ardigo for just staying in karts. I think Ardigo said a couple of years ago that why would he spend 250k racing cars when he could be paid to race karts, and consistently race some of the best old and young drivers in the world.

    The way I see it is that the market for drivers is changing. There are new avenues to make a profession, and F1 really isn’t one of them. It’s not like it’s going to get better any time soon. Why would anyway waste 250-500k a year on it?

      1. Alan says:

        No problem.

        I actually would like to add something regarding sponsorship.

        Not to discredit Maldanado, because he is a good driver, but just imagine being a 16 year old driver with a dream of F1. When you see he’s bringing 25m euros in sponsorship to Williams, as well as being a decent enough driver (the era of rubbish pay drivers is gone because of training improvements) you can see why drivers are put off.

        When drivers are being sponsored by state-owned companies that have an near limitless budgets, if you’re not from a country that has similar programs then you’re stuffed.

        So when asking the question – why no Italian drivers in F1? It’s simple.

        1. They can make actual paid careers in other forms of motorsport
        2. Competition for F1 seats is becoming a financial impossibility for drivers without state-support. We are asking for drivers/businesses to risk millions upon millions on a risk that most likely won’t pay off.

        Any way, F1′s loss is karting’s gain. :)

      2. James Allen says:

        Thanks, interesting contribution

      3. Grayzee (Australia) says:

        Nice input Alan. I find it interesting, and encouraging, that Webber and Ricciardo are both from Australia, a country only 200 odd years old, with a population of 22 million.
        They have very little fiscal backing, yet, especially in Riciardo’s case, are able to find their way into F1.
        I wonder does this prove that, perhaps in some cases, talent IS more important than money?

      4. Ricciardo got into the Red Bull driver scheme at just the right time for him. Red Bull caters to the racing side of expenses better than other team driver schemes, which is why it is so strict on its drivers in return.

        Webber had a rather convoluted path to F1, eventually getting picked up by Minardi (back in the pre-2003 days, when it was able to compromise funding a bit in order to accommodate talent). Even then, F1 nearly lost Mark to sportscar racing.

    1. mattoz says:

      You make a valid point, however I don’t think that the pay driver ‘problem’ is really any different now compared to any other time in the last 30 years. The only noticeable exception being in the early to mid/late 2000′s when the manufacture backed teams ruled the roost and could afford two top line drivers. I think its fair to say that manufacturer backed teams have an inverse relationship with pay drivers. Obviously currently, the number of big spending teams have dried up a bit and the rest have no choice but to side with those who bring money. But looking at the 2012 driver line ups, I don’t think that there is anyone who is completely out of their depth, as was often the case in the 80s and 90s.

      1. James Allen says:

        That’s a very good point. They are all guys who won races in GP2 and were competitive, even won the GP2 title

      2. Alan says:

        Competence Vs Talent.

        To race one season of GP2 you are looking at 1.6 million euros. You know as well as I do, when you watch GP2 you are watching the best of the drivers that can afford to race at that level. Not the best drivers of that age group or talent.

        So to get to a level of competence required of F1 you need a massive backer or be very wealthy. This is why modern pay drivers are so much better. We have better training programs and testing procedures. The cars are also less demanding to a driver. By that, I mean it’s harder to be completely rubbish than it was 20 or so years ago.

        So yes the drivers in GP2 are competitive, but does that mean they are the most talented or have the most potential? No of course not.

        So back to the original point, why no Italians? Not many Italian drivers have millions of euros sitting in the bank to get to a level where they can win a seat on ‘merit’. Even karting is insanely expensive nowadays. 150k a year for KF3 for example.

  26. Nick Hipkin says:

    James,

    A very interesting point you touch on is the banning of tobacco sponsorship, do you think we are starting to see the first signs of this filtering through to the top level now?

    The most talented drivers are finding it harder and harder to break through whereas 10-20 years ago the likes of Camel and Marlboro would back the best upcoming talent all the way.

    1. James Allen says:

      Clearly. Only comparable now is Red Bull, funding drivers through from junior categories. It’s a very risky and often doesn’t bear fruit, but when it unearths a Vettel, it all seems worth it.

      1. Nick Hipkin says:

        I would agree and think Red Bull should be commended for the money they have invested in helping young drivers even they dont ultimately make it

    2. The first signs of the effects of the tobacco ban came when France spent several years of the mid-2000s (2005-2011, with breaks in the middle for Montagny, Bourdais and Grosjean). It got affected early because it was one of the pioneers of tobacco and alcohol advertising bans.

  27. JC says:

    I believe Daniel Ricciardo is partially Italian. Does that count?

    1. Grayzee (Australia) says:

      only in name. He was born and bred in Australia, and we’re very proud of that.
      Sso….HANDS OFF!….. :-)

      1. JC says:

        haha, I am Australian as well (and coincidentally, partially Italian) and a big fan of Daniel watching him drive through the junior formula.

  28. David S says:

    Give Jarno the safety car driver role then technically the Italians will have one on the grid for every race.

    Amazes me that Ferrari have never used their 2nd car to assist this or ‘persuaded’ their engine customers to do so. They’ve probably manipulated every other aspect of F1 over the years!

    I guess Luca M would love to use his 3rd car idea for this with Rossi being an option

    1. David S says:

      Technically speaking doesn’t Paul DI Resta have Scottish and Italian dual nationality?

      1. Flying_Scotsman says:

        no.

  29. Carlo says:

    Clutching at straws here…Daniel Ricciardo?

    Forza Italia, mate!

  30. val from montreal says:

    Both my parents are from Italy … I got a cousin who’s in his mid 40′s in Sicily …

    His name is Salvatore Caronia …. This guy was the Schumacher of Kart drivers in Sicily and back in the day …. He had a bedroom once in his house completely stacked up floor to the ceiling , wall to wall , of Karting trophies and medals …. 90% of those trophies were 1st place finishes … My cousin was known for being the best karting driver ..

    I once asked him why his career did not go further , say maybe F1 ??

    His answer : money

    The talent was there, everybody saw it , but no Italian based companies wanted to take that chance on him and spend $$$ to promote him higher up … ala Willi Weber AKA Michael Schumacher …

    So one needs incredible TALENT and HUGE LUCK … Because talent is not enough , you gotta catch a break ….Who you know is more important than what you know … Sad but true

    1. Pyaare says:

      ala Willi Weber AKA Michael Schumacher …
      >> I am not sure that is correct fact. In case of Schumacher it was Mercedes that funded his aspirations. As far I remember Wily Weber never dipped hand in own pockets as a investment on talent, which could then be recouped after the driver makes it big. If Wily had trusted Nico and invested something from his pocket (or pursuaded Corporates)Hulkenberg wouldn’t have left Williams to start with.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        Actually it wasn’t. I read James book “Schumacher: Edge of Greatness” and I have just checked wikipedia to confirm my memory was correct, I have pasted and copied here,

        “In 1989, Schumacher signed with Willi Weber’s WTS Formula Three team. Funded by Weber, he competed in the German Formula 3 series, winning the title in 1990. He won also the Macau Grand Prix. At the end of 1990, along with his Formula 3 rivals Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Karl Wendlinger, he joined the Mercedes junior racing programme in the World Sports-Prototype Championship. This was unusual for a young driver: most of Schumacher’s contemporaries would compete in Formula 3000 on the way to Formula One. However, Weber advised Schumacher that being exposed to professional press conferences and driving powerful cars in long distance races would help his career”

        Mercedes guaranteed Jordan the money for Schumacher to compete at Spa 1991, but Weber funded his F3 campaigns in 1989 and 1990.

  31. john g says:

    seems strange that there’s such a competitive karting scene in italy with many people from europe and beyond driving there, but no italians coming through the ranks…

  32. Nico says:

    There are plenty of other nations with no academies or national funding that have produced talented drivers, many of whom had to move at a young age to another country to pursue the sport.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      I believe that is a very important point regarding any drivers because to show they are dedicated and serious enough, they are willing to leave their countries and family behind.

  33. TheSinX says:

    Honestly people, I think sports like F1, the drivers should be picked not based on nationalities but on their talent, their ability to handle people & media and their financial backing.

  34. Justin says:

    i think the part that cash plays in the F1 circus is going to become very clear to its fans in the next year or so.

    1. db4tim says:

      Except for the top four, it will all be paid for seats (PFS)

  35. Bru72 says:

    They’re too busy racing motorcycles.

    1. F1 says:

      In MotoGP they aren’t any good either. Not a single race won last year.

      1. Justin says:

        uh valentino rossi? and sadly no more marco simoncelli?

      2. iceman says:

        Yes, and Dovizioso’s a quality rider too. Iannone is a regular winner in Moto2. With Biaggi and Melandri in World Superbike there’s definitely no shortage of Italian talent in bike racing. Who knows, even Alex Polita might do well in British Superbikes!

      3. Webbo says:

        Rossi? How many races he has won on a Ducati? Simoncelli? how many wins for him?

      4. hero_was_senna says:

        @webbo, it seems to be true of what they say of F1 managers and fans.

        “You are only as good as your last race”

        Poor Rossi, 9 championships, race wins to rival Agostini who rode a bike with a MASSIVE advantage for years and yet he’s obviously rubbish now…LOL!!

  36. Who cares, there are no New Zealand drivers on the grad and that doesnt seem to concern anyone so why does it matter that there are no Italians on the Grid?

    1. Louis.M says:

      Wait for Stanaway.. We lose italie but France comes back, who is the heart of motorsport.

      1. James Allen says:

        Stanaway is very exciting.

      2. Louis.M says:

        He reminds me of Hamilton in F3 euroseries with his ability to be so fast at the beginning of the race with cool tyres on. By the way, what’s his programm for 2012, 3.5 or euroseries ?

    2. Alan says:

      … because Italy is one of the cultural homes of motorsport. From 12-16 most young drivers race karts in Italy and motorsport is a big deal in Italy. That’s why it’s newsworthy.

    3. jimbo says:

      The NZ driver, Brendon Hartley got pretty close, being a reserve for the RBR/STR cars. But RBR junior drivers are a dime a dozen – and are treated like such. His recent results in GP2 are have not left a mark.

      He had to vacate the seat for another kid from across the Tasman sea (Ricciardo) – that must hurt :)

      1. Louis.M says:

        Brendon was fast but couldn’t fight for a title all year long. Ricciardo proved to be much better in 2010, in the world series. Anyway Vergne and Ricciardo deserve to be where they are, I’ll put my money on Vergne for the honorific title of rookie of the year.

  37. John tsoutis says:

    I think everyone on this forum complaining of drivers with talent lacking money is missing a vital point. A driver these days is about the WHOLE package. Talent, potential, results and marketability. They (in their junior careers) needed to be able to go chase after sponsors and after more senior teams support and would work their arses off to do this. Look at Senna who would fax is Formula Ford results to all the F1 teams after every race. He was clearly raising awareness and marketing himself. People who complain about lacking money are becoming victims of the system, not working hard within the system. I think this is a clear differentiating factor. I have spoken to drivers that competed with Mark Webber in Formula Ford in Australia, and they stated talent wise, he was not much better than them. What made the differenc effort him was the fact he was initially backed by his father’s motorcycle sales business but they were smart enough to seek further support through sponsors. This set him up very well financially for the season and made talent spotters take notice because he had the whole package. His competitiors complained he had the money, but to me he seemed better organised and had a business sense. Success in any sport is never about just pure talent these days as I have seen the politics in Taekwondo for elite athletes. A player may be more talented, but if the governing body want to support a fellow competitor because they are younger and have a better potential than the more talented player, they will go for them.

    You have to fight for every opportunity you get to progress in Motorsport, I think every driver has to have talent and well as strong self promotion skills, yes money contributes to your promotability but you cannot be promotable without talent. It’s a package deal.

    1. Pyaare says:

      Very very well articulated. F1 is just another racing discipline, which has its own demands, including capability of driver to attract sponsors either through a F1 team or through his own initiative.

      Just having talent and hoping that a F1 team will pick you up isn’t enough. If a driver really wants to drive in F1 so much badly, they need to be actively chasing the financial backers. Just complaining when other driver (maybe having lesser results than you) is able to attract sponsors, its wrong to belittle him/her as “its all about money”.

      Name of Karthikeyan/ Maldanado comes to mind. Both of them are targets of F1 fans anger who very simplistically brush both the drivers as money mules, but conveniently forget that both the drivers have raw speed, both of them are winners every single seater formulae they have raced. Both have done well in feeder formulae. So to cry bucket load of tears for a Hulkenberg/Chandok who are talented but don’t want to go extra length to attract sponsors in their country (or elsewhere) is not fair to Narain/Pastor, who love F1 so much that they are ready to go the extra mile, when it comes to working with the sponsors.

      In Chandok’s case, fans adore him because he is more “media savvy” but has anybody stopped and wondered if indeed that is the case, why are the mainstream Indian companies still favoring Narain over Karun?

    2. These days, pretty much every driver above a certain level uses most of Senna’s tricks to attract attention from F1 (the rest are either not likely to make it anywhere or already have their eye on other series and adjust approach accordingly). Most of them don’t have their own photographers but then that’s an expense most of them can’t afford.

      The difference is that there are wide variances on the drivers’ accessibility to funds, even more so than in the 1980s and 1990s because the exponential rise in costs has forced many small and medium-sized companies to stop bothering. Many of the companies still in the game are already allied with a particular driver (this explains the Karthikeyan/Chandhok situation; there are at least 3 different “factions” of funding in India and if you’re allied with one, the others won’t help out). Chandhok was born into the “wrong” faction, so he was only ever going to be able to get funding from there, and the “international” sponsors simply have too many pre-aligned interests.

      The few who aren’t already aligned struggle to pay the millions needed to get into GP2 (€4-5 m for the 2 seasons usually needed to get into F1). It’s a much smaller step to go from GP2 to F1 than F3 to GP2 or Formula One-Make to F3, hence why so many drop out at the latter transitions.

      This is why Pastor had to resort to massive amounts of state funding to get his F1 seat. This is why there is nowadays usually one driver per nation coming through instead of the usual several. It’s why the three French rookies all had completely different funding routes (Pic allied with Renault/Elf, Grosjean with Gravity, Vergne with Red Bull). This is why places like Italy, where talented drivers can make careers in challenging but profitable areas of motorsport much easier than they can become F1 “pay-drivers”, are changing the focus of their sponsorship.

  38. Richard D says:

    You would think that with all the interest in F1 in Italy and the wealth of supercar manufacturers (Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborgini) that they could develop some talented drivers. That’s not to say that Fisicella, Trulli, Patrese etc did not have talent but none of them had the talent to challenge for the championship. Too many years since Ascari!

    As to the dumping of Trulli in favour of Petrov, it is faily clear that Trulli’s talent was on the wane, but why Petrov? Has to be the Russian money. Pity they didn’t push him towards Murrusia to make it a more Russian team. I don’t rate him as a driver and, as an ex Caterham driver, am particularly dissapointed to see him in the Caterhan F1 debut year.

  39. I recall Trulli leading one of his first GPs for the Prost Team in Austria 1996. He looked exciting, but his years at middle rank teams seemed to blunt him. When he had his chance at Renault in 2004 he fell out with Briatore.

    Like Fisichella and Alboreto, I wonder if he was too happy just to be in F1 rather than really compete.

    1. Pyaare says:

      When he had his chance at Renault in 2004 he fell out with Briatore.
      >> just coz waters are calmer on the surface, doesn’t mean all was well beneath the surface.

      Isn’t it surprising that after becoming race winner ahead of Flavio’s favorite Alonso at Monaco’04, suddenly Flavio started having problem with Trulli and Trulli started to fade from that point.

      Anyways to do well in F1, you need a good car under you. You can outqualify the car and then fade in race and you can be jeered upon as “Trulli train”

  40. adi says:

    They might have even called his driving ‘Di Resta esque’

  41. mm says:

    Trulli used to be very good in qualifying and exceptional in slowing down and keeping the best drivers behind him. For a number of years I hated him for that. But with such traits, imagine what he could have achieved for Italy had he been driving a winning Ferrari.

    Personality differences perhaps?

    But at least he won’t be on the grid in front of the driver I support for 2012!

  42. Andrew Kirk says:

    While some drivers may not pay for their drive and get it on ‘merit’ does the team no harm with the sponsors having them on board. For example Button as well as driving the best he has ever been is also very good and smooth with the PR as seen when he is on BBC or at events. He is an engaging person unlike say Kimi who never seemed at ease when having to do Mclaren’s PR or sponsor’s gigs.

    Likewise when Alonso joined Mclaren suddenly they got Spainish sponsors why? Simple because Mclaren know he is loved over there and they could get some cash for companies in that country. Damon Hill’s fee at Jordan was picked up by Benson & Hedges who then rolled him out everyway possible.

    So while guys like Alonso, Button and Hamilton are hired for driving skill a team will target companies relating to that driver as a way of getting sponsors.

  43. Gatsby says:

    I think Patrese and Trulli were both kart world champions.

  44. Louis.M says:

    Ferrari is more important that any king of driver, that may be the problem

  45. Bru72 says:

    I recall a certain hybrid Italian winning the world championship in Andretti. Perhaps Di Resta and Ricciardo can fly half an Italian flag.

    1. Dave Aston says:

      Andretti was born in Italy, Ricciardo was born in Australia.

  46. jimbo says:

    Lots of talk about Trulli, but how about Antonio Liuzzi? He seems to have a reputation amongst the drivers with Alonso and Kubica rating him highly. Having beaten Schumi in a karting event, he had loads of potential as suggested in the following article:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/motorsport/formula_one/3933357.stm

    Having not followed his career, I don’t know why it fizzled out. Is it because of too many shunts in a Force India? If given a quick car, could he get results?

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      He beat Schumi in the 2001 World Karting Championships.
      Schumacher hadn’t raced competitively in Karts for 15 years by then.
      Someone that Alonso, Button and Kubica rated as the Greatest Karter was Giorgio Pantano, yet he never fulfilled his promise.

      Personally I don’t consider the Karting World Championship as that important.
      A karting background is extremely important for any racer, but Senna didn’t win the World Championship in 1979 or 1980, yet he dominated in FF1600, FF2000 and F3 before getting to F1.

  47. Inez says:

    Just sorry to see Trulli go, especially as we won’t get a chance to say goodbye ‘properly’ so to speak – at a last race day.

  48. Jon W says:

    Trulli seems to be lamenting the lack of a scholarship scheme in Italy. He’s a former Kart World Champion and raced in F1 for 15 odd years. He’s got a lot out of the sport and no doubt earnt a stack of cash along the way. Seems that a “Jarno Trulli Race Academy” is the natural solution to all this! He has a lot of inside knowledge, know’s what it takes to succeed and has time on his hands…

  49. Stone the crows says:

    I guess the bottom line is indeed the bottom line. Formula One is a business, and the question of nationalities aside, it probably isn’t too hard to decide between an experienced older driver with no money and a good young driver with money. Yes, of course money is important, but I think to use that to obliquely disparage Petrov is not fair either. Furthermore, like other atheletes, drivers know their carreers will be shorter than other professions. It’s up to Trulli and the rest to plan for their futures, for the inevitablity that when they reach their late 30′s its highly likely that their services will no longer be required in Formula One.

  50. JohnBt says:

    Time to give in to the young drivers.

    The Times They Are a-Changin’ as Dylan once said.

  51. Milos Nikolic says:

    With the whole discussion of karting/lower formula talents not being able to go higher due to the financial constraints, it’d be good to see established drivers ‘paying it forward’ a bit more, a la Mark Webber helping out Will Power back in the mid 2000′s (and Mark himself was similarly given a good $$ boost from David Campese in his early days).

  52. K says:

    Thank God for this.
    Trulli never been a good driver, in fact his Brazil ’09 actions really disgusts me.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJ_XGdYqS_A

  53. Matt W says:

    I think the problem is Ferrari create such a vaccuum that there just isn’t the opportunity for drivers that other nations get. If you look at Britain and Germany, they either have a lot of teams of the grid, or supply a lot of teams with engines which then affords young drivers tests and in some respects sponsorship.

    There are massive benefits to Italy for having a strong team like Ferrari, but you can’t ignore the negative side of that too.

  54. Michael Brown says:

    Correction: the term “Grand Prix” is French, and it was in France that the term originated, its first regular usage being for the French Grand Prix of 1906, at Le Mans. The Italian equivalent is “Grande Premio”.

  55. iceman says:

    This is a shame for the Italians, but hey, at least they aren’t Japan. There’s a country that has massive involvement in motorsport and plenty of financial backing for drivers (perhaps less so now than in the past), yet has never produced a top level driver.

  56. hero_was_senna says:

    Ferrari is motor-sport in Italy. Period. It’s legacy is such that it is motor-sport around the world.
    If they decided to compete at Le Mans, or any other series, interest in that event would increase.
    This isn’t conjecture, it’s fact. When the Ferrari 333SP was launched to race in American endurance events, the media and public interest increased. The only other team I have ever seen anywhere near this was Jaguar returning to Le Mans in the 80′s.

    Despite Italy having the best karting infrastructure in the world, and I’ve raced at some of these tracks, motorsport begins and ends with Ferrari.
    Only Rossi has transcended this phenomenon because no. 1 he’s on motorbikes, no. 2, he’s charismatic and no. 3 he is massively successful.

    I think something that may be fundamental to the Italian mindset regarding F1, may be something as simple as, serious karters as mentioned above with Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso, had to travel to Italy to compete, leaving their homes behind and establishing themselves abroad, whereas the Italian racers are effectively at home and become “lazy” as a result.
    Even Senna, back in 1979 ad 1980, used Italian equipment for his World Karting Championship bids.

    Funny really, I have been a Ferrari fan all my life, and support Ducati in bike racing.
    Yet I have never supported an Italian driver in F1, or wanted an Italian driver to drive for Ferrari.
    In MotoGP, I love Rossi’s racer skills, like I loved Fogarty, and recently I wanted Rossi on a Japanese bike beating an Aussie on an Italian bike.

    No Italians in F1? Who cares, I don’t.
    They have all been relatively uninspiring during my life time.

    1. Ferrari does compete at Le Mans via privateer teams with reasonable success, and arguably that may have contributed to the lack of Italians in F1. Why spend millions to become a F1/GP2 pay-driver when it’s possible to make a career elsewhere with the team that the majority of Italian drivers are most likely to want to eventually race with anyway?

  57. Denis says:

    Why don’t Ferrari (FIAT) fund a GP2 drive for Mirko Bortolotti who has only just turned 22 years of age.

    He has always been quick in his previous F1 test’s with Ferrari, Toro Rosso and Williams. He won the Italian Formula 3 Championship in 2008 and totally dominated the FIA Formula 2 Championship in 2011.

    I have absolutely no doubt that Bortolotti would have done a far better job in the Ferrari last year than Massa.

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