F1 Winter Break
Weekend Debate: Why two new F1 drivers arrive with very different fanfares
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Feb 2018   |  8:56 am GMT  |  187 comments

Contrast the way that Williams F1 team boss Claire Williams defended her new driver Sergey Sirotkin against ‘pay driver’ jibes this week, with the serenity of Charles Leclerc’s first public appearance yesterday as an Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 driver.

Williams launched its new line-up and projected images of its new car on the walls of a smart event in London’s Shoreditch on Thursday. While much attention was on the aerodynamic makeover, which is going to be make or break for Williams in 2018, other sections of the media were all about the ‘pay driver’ label on the Russian debutant, who is reputed to bring $15m a season for two years to Williams.

Williams was tough: “It’s nothing new in F1 that drivers come with money, and thank goodness that they do,” she said.

“It would be incredibly naive.. saying ‘He’s just a pay driver.’ It’s great if a driver has financial interests from partners – it’s great for the team, it’s great for the driver.

“This is an expensive sport, not just F1 but at grassroots level as well. We’d miss out on so much talent coming into F1 if drivers didn’t have financial backing supporting them through the junior formulae, and bringing them into F1.”

I always prefer to let the driver doing his talking on the track and if Sirotkin is quick and consistent, gets results and looks every inch a Grand Prix driver, then he will be welcome in the sport.

The benchmark that is always trotted out when talking about ‘pay drivers’ is Fernando Alonso, who had backing from Santander and Spanish insurance and ceramics companies when he was at McLaren and Ferrari. His 2001 Minardi on debut was sponsored by Spanish telco, Telefonica.

But he got ahead in F1 as part of Renault’s development programme – having turned down a deal with Jean Todt to test for Ferrari and then become a race driver. Instead he went with Flavio Briatore and was world champion a few years later.

The acid test of a pay driver is very simple; would Driver X be at the team if he didn’t have the money behind him?

A more serene arrival
Meanwhile in Italy yesterday, Alfa Romeo laid on an event where Leclerc and his team mate Marcus Ericsson were ‘introduced’ to Alfa Romeo history with the media. It was elegant, serene and stylish. They talked about Farina and Fangio, drove the Stevio and Giulia models and talked about the season ahead.

Leclerc is a Ferrari development driver and the reigning F2 champion. He won the championship in his debut season and in a dominant manner. Prior to that he was FIA F3 champion.

Is Leclerc a pay driver? Of course not.

But his arrival at Sauber has brought with it some very tangible benefits for the team; from Alfa Romeo title sponsorship, to new Ferrari V6 engines and “strategic, commercial and technological cooperation.”

Sauber should first of all survive and then move up the grid significantly as a result of the support, which is motivated by Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne. He wanted to bring the Alfa brand back to F1 after thirty years.

It means stability and growth for the team.

One could argue that the support is the other way around and that Marchionne was going to do the Sauber deal anyway, for marketing and political reasons; and Leclerc just benefitted from being in the right place at the right time.

But the timing and the opportunity for Ferrari to school one of their most promising talents were ideal for this to all come together and Leclerc comes to the team with a lot of oomph behind him.

Another Ferrari protege, Antonio Giovinazzi, is also waiting in the wings should Ericsson fall from grace.

“Being part of the return of a great brand like this is a great honour,”said Leclerc. “Everyone is saying to me ‘You’re racing for Alfa Romeo in F1, almost forgetting about Sauber!

“What has struck me is the passion of the people who work there (at Alfa Romeo). they eyes light up when they are looking at the cars, I’ve not seen that kind of enthusiasm too many other times.

“Having Ferrari’s support behind us will certainly be a great help. Our car is beautiful and I can’t wait to launch it and drive it finally on the track.”

The word from colleagues in Italy is that Ferrari’s plan for 2019 is to promote Leclerc into Kimi Raikkonen’s seat at Ferrari- provided that he develops and performs in line with their (high) expectations.

The caveat to that is the possibility that results either way make Daniel Ricciardo a more suitable replacement and Leclerc is given more time to develop.

Knowing that there is a chance of a Ferrari seat in your second season is a huge pressure to put on a 20 year old. It could be like becoming a rock star overnight.

That is what happened when Alonso got the Renault seat for 2003 and got his first pole and win soon after or Vettel when he moved up to Red Bull in his second season. Alternatively Leclerc could spend a few years closer to the back of the grid learning his craft, like many others.

“This year I just want to concentrate on gaining experience and growing as quickly as possible so I can get results. The F2 title gave me confidence, but the jump up to F1 is enormous,” said Leclerc.

All photos: LAT Images

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It’s evident that Wehrlein dominated Ericsson at Sauber. And since Le Clerc shows great promise, I would not be at all surprised, if he too will dominate Ericsson. I’m not surprised either that people think he got recruited for his quality, where in Ericsson and Stroll is must seem like they were merely recruited for the money, though let there be no mistake: These guys are no slouches. But we could see that old Massa dominated young Stroll in every respect – Stroll wasn’t even close. And we could see that Ericsson even struggled with the speed Giovanazzi, who had just jumped into the car without any practice (and took too much risks). You can’t help to ask yourself why Ericsson is still in Formula 1, while drivers like Sutil, Wehrlein or Massa got rejected while they were still fast or even improving. So why do we think that Sirotkin is there because he has money, not because of his talent? Well, probably because he could not get Sauber to sign him for his talent alone when his sponsors bailed out and because people loved to see a Kubica comeback.


Pay or paid, it is the team that must live with the consequences. So, it is in the best interests of the team to choose very carefully.

Funds or technical expertise that may be attached to a driver does not necessarily mean the driver lacks talent. Both can be possible.

Williams is most definitely under singular focus. Last season they had a mediocre driver whom they paid and a poor driver who paid them for the chance. They can’t afford two talent-less drivers, regardless of the amount funds they bring. Afterall, the funds they bring are an investment. If the team and drivers do not perform, the investors won’t profit.


thing about pay drivers…. is that people bitching about them (that we hear about) tends to be english speaking (shocking…. english speakers in english forum/media) and predominantly it’s aimed at foreign (aka non brits) drivers.

there was a japanese comic about junior drivers called capeta, one of the themes is that it’s not enough to be fast, a complete driver has to attract sponsors that will help them up the ladder.

just because someone has a lump of money doesn’t automatically give them a seat, they still have to be able to drive at a certain skill level. take maldonado, a crowd favorite pet hate, he is completely inconsistent but won a race, which says more than all the supposed better drivers who never won anything. he took his chances and got something. there might well be better drivers out there, but it’s not the “pay driver”‘s fault that they failed to get a seat. it’s the failure of the “better” drivers to make themselves valuable enough for teams to take a chance. teams need money to make cars run, if not competitve, so until such a time when there’s some sort of cap that makes sense and teams basically don’t have to worry about finances (without there being an issue of dodgy teams freeloading), ability of a driver to attract finance / sponsorship remains part of his skill set.


Hi efs,

Hear what your saying mate….maybe Simon Cowell can do an F1 Idol series? On second thoughts “choke” “barf” ah forget it….


I guess Leclerc is a pay driver in effect as he is bringing Ferrari backed support which will assist Sauber no end. I think the pay driver label has become blurred recently with young driver schemes etc. At the end of the day, they will only truly be considered a pay driver if they don’t live up to potential.

I feel Ferrari need to be more aggressive with their driver strategy and promote Leclerc if he proves himself. The only issue is how that would potentially destabilise Vettel, although I guess they figure with so much talent coming through it is a lower risk that Vettel could command a high salary at another team capable of winning a championship.


Completely agree!

Lewis had the backing of Mclaren from a young age so would he have got to Formula 1 without that?

Also the main issue isnt pay drivers themselves but the cost of the sport itself as Williams wouldnt need a pay driver if the costs werent so high just to compete and a driver wouldnt have to bring so much money to get a drive.


James. Site has got the gremlins in. Indents for replies not working, in box flooded with comments, unsubscribe link does not lead to an unsubscribe button. I think your site hoster may have taken on a pay programer 😎


Sorry, that should have stopped now. We had a notification to that effect

Tornillo Amarillo

From Williams: “We were two seconds from the top teams last year,” Lowe said. “That deficit has to be drastically reduced now.”


Haas said to be 0.5s from Ferrari, really?

James do you think there could be a “drastic” improvement here for the mid teams this season?


Simple answer: When the green flag drops, the bullshit stops.


It’s all just hot air until Melbourne.


I always feel sorry for the talented ugly drivers. Imagine being a young, fast, but ugly racer. You can set a blistering lap time, but look atrocious in a watch or Castrol GTX advert.
Pretty drivers must find it easier to obtain sponsorship (not including rich parents).


Hey guys, long time fan of JAonF1.

I’m seeing a lot of you debating the decision to put Sirotkin in the Williams race seat so I wanted to share my opinions on it.

The way I see it, there are three different types of pay drivers:

(no 2 being a questionable definition of a pay driver)

1: The usual thing we all think of when the term “pay driver”, someone who is in a junior category that may have managed a few decent results but ultimately have the financial backing and approach the F1 teams with a hefty offer to take on their benefactor.

(Lauda, Maldonado, Chilton, etc.)

2: Someone who in the very early stages of junior categories regularly shows flashes of raw talent and adaptation under immense pressure, these kind of drivers are usually recruited in to F1 team young driver programmes as an investment for the F1 seasons to come, but to be a prospect for the midfield teams are encouraged to gain financial backing to guarantee a test drive and future F1 opportunities.

(Ricciardo, Verstappen, Vettel, etc.)

3: These are the guys that already have the backing they need in the F1 feeder categories and are consistently around the top of the points chart of their racing series.

These are the Drivers who perform very well in the feeder series and are fortunate to bring sponsors to sweeten the the deal for an F1 race seat negotiation.

(Alonso, Perez, as well as many more I am sure)

Any of these 3 types is given an opportunity to break away from the pay driver stigma, I think the most noteworthy is Lauda, his entry in F1 was more of a gamble based on his own self belief. You just don’t see that anymore.

Williams thoroughly tested out 3 drivers for their available seat.

Di Resta someone with more than enough experience and strong technical feedback on the grid to benefit the teams development.

Kubica, highly experienced and is known to be very good on the technical side of things, downside being his age and his ability to drive the car at the limit due to his rally injury.

Sirotkin, who has the financial backing as well as proving to be very quick in the tests.

Sirotkin has the opportunity now to break away from that label, just like Lauda, Alonso and Perez as well as others, but it seems as though all F1 drivers fall in to one of these categories now days.

For now we have to wait and see if he can consistently apply his speed throughout the season, but anyone who says he is there because of the money he brings is overlooking the extent to which Williams went to decide which driver they would choose.


I’d say there is are for the most part four types of drivers:

1) Driver who has had little to moderate results in the junior categories, sometimes even flashes of success, but less because of their talent, but because of huge financial backing aka “connections”, that brought them into good teams and bought them loads of private test drives (Diniz, Stroll, Maldonado, Yamamoto) – this is what is usually referred to as “paydriver”.

2) Driver who has some good to great success in the Junior series, mainly because of their talent who got some backing because of it. When they changed to F1, they were preferred to other promising drivers, because they could get some backing to make the difference or had a protegé in F1 like Ron Dennis or Briatore. (M.Schumacher, Hamilton, Alonso, Sutil, Heidfeld, Jan Magnussen, etc.).

3) Driver with mixed results in Junior Formula but no huge financial backing, often not making it to Formula One, despite visible talent. They eventually got the money together against all odds to get their seat (Lauda – son of a banker who would refuse to pay a professional career, Perry MCarthy who worked on oil rigs to earn the money to o racing, but hardly could afford proper material).

4) Driver with huge talent and good, wealthy connections who slice through the ranks like a hot knife through butter almost effortlessly (Ayrton Senna da Silva, Nelson Piquet, François Cevert)

There is only one kind among them that I would call “paydriver”.


I have a question for you James…Why is it that there is no way to comment on some comments now? Is that an effective block being imposed on some posters or just another glitch ?As an example comment 96 by C63 has effectively been cut out of further comment as there is no ‘reply’ status appearing?


As an example comment 96 by C63 has effectively been cut out of further comment

That’s part of the deal with me being paid to comment – I can switch off replies when required 😎


Not intentional.

We have had an issue with hosting company and 3rd party email supplier and now there are some other things happening.

We’re on it. Should be resolved soon


What happened to the comments section and eMail notifications?


James I keep receiving comments to my inbox but I’ve not subscribed,nor do I wish to. Any suggestions


It’s very odd and we are working on it with thehisting company

Apologies it should stop soon


Were they recommended by KFC?


The hosting company
better get its act together!

Has this got anything to do with he social media and AutoSport?


No, it’s entire separate.


I think one of the main reasons Sirotkin gets a bad rap is because people are still dreaming that Kubica could have returned to F1 competitively.

However, as per Maurice Hamilton’s article last December, he infers that based on what was said/not said it appears that Kubica was never quick enough by today’s standards. Or if he was quick enough, he was probably not that much quicker than Sirotkin (if that being the case, then it was logical to pick Sirotkin after all; since he was just as quick and brought with him the additional incentive of money). (http://theinsideline.com/story/f1-2017-news-maurice-hamilton-is-kubica-s-f1-dream-over)

Additionally, for reasons unknown Kubica pulled out of racing in the WEC with the ByKolles LMP1 team. That was in April 2017, several months ahead of his return to F1 testing with Renault in August the same year. One would think that if he wanted to truly prepare for driving an F1 car again, there would have been no better way to complement the physical demands than to compete extensively at another top-tier professional racing series (WEC LMP1). But no reasons were given, so people were/are left guessing: was he not fit enough or did something else come into it?


I am keen to give Sergey Sirotkin a chance. And likewise, I am interested to see how Robert Kubica’s story of returning to race in F1 unfolds. But quite frankly, I would have preferred for Pascal Wehrlein to have gotten the race seat alongside Lance Stroll.


i suspect rosberg convinced kubica, he could get him an f1 drive so he dropped all his other plans.


While it is possible that the two parties were already working together in some (informal) capacity, The Pole pulled out of WEC in April 2017.

Nico Rosberg (officially) came onboard Kubica’s management team sometime in September 2017, after the Hungary test in August.



Kubrica could yet drive for Williams or at least some practice sessions and if he’s faster there then pay drivers don’t make sense.

Off topic: Did anyone see the Daytona 500? Austin Dillon won but “bubba” Wallace finished second by a very close margin. I think Lewis Hamilton watched.

To me is doesn’t matter. If a driver is good nothing else matters. If they are black or white, girl or pay driver it doesn’t matter if they can get farther up then points matter most. In theory a girl in fact can take more g forces than a man but no matter everyone should be able to play. Maybe that does take someone rich to get them going but if they can’t deliver, they don’t need to be there IMO.

Last thing. Hamilton needs to try Daytona. I bet he would DNF there OTOH that is one race where anything can happen. The winner lead only one lap. The last one. At least half the field wrecked out. Everyone was very aggressive start to finish. I like all kinds of racing. I wish I could get motoGP.

Now the NBA all-star game. Probably will be boring but now we have young guys that are really good and probably are not worried about injury.

Maybe F1 will get as popular as other sports some day but only in F1 have I heard of people paying to get in the club. At that point shouldn’t they be good enough to get payed? OTOH if they end up being really good let them do it. There are really two kinds. One which countries support. The other may have a rich dad like Stroll. His dad should now tell Williams pay my boy now. He did get a podium I think and is good in the wet. The country thing seems just wrong to me. I do want to see the best from the world. In some countries a person may never get a chance no matter how good they are.


Rosberg convinced Kubica he could get him a seat based on what exactly? Any chance you have a link to support this loose theory of your’s?


Sirotkin was faster in the Abu Dhabi test, especially on single lap pace


James, your comments used to be highlighted with grey background color. It broke with your recent updates to the website. Might as well know it already.


Faster is better so lets see.


I don’t know what conclusions can be drawn from that, especially given that Kubica hasn’t sat in a single seater for 7 years while Sirotkin has been in white heat of competition the whole time.

On top of that they weren’t allowed to set the car up to their liking so it could just be that Sirotkins driving style suited the set up more than Kubica’s. Or it could be that without preconceived ideas about F1 driving Siritkin was able to adapt better.

One thing is certain; Kubica’s passion for racing is enormous, and he has very high pain threshold coupled with immense determination. And he has demonstrated in the past that he is able to start with a car he’s uncomfortable in, and chip away and eventually do almost miraculous things with it.

On top of that his return would have made a very nice story for F1 to distract us from the abominable thong, the overweight hippo cars and the PU and fuel rationing.


In his championship year, Jenson Button was effectively a ‘pay driver.’ Vastly reduced retainer and made his money on win bonuses. He was essentially unemployed after Honda walked away but he drove the Brawn in a test, knew what the rest of you so called experts didn’t, and the rest is history.


I’m not a JB fan. However, your definition of pay driver is completely opposite to mine for sure.


That is an interesting definition of ‘pay driver’ when Brawn paid Button $1.5million before bonuses came into play. Massive pay cut yes, but Brawn needed two drivers and he had two excellent drivers with few other options thanks to Honda’s very late decision to pull out. Neither of them were so undesirable as to have to contribute financially to the team.


I think Raikkonen summed it up best a few years ago when he said he would never consider a pay drive because he felt pay drivers were admitting they were worth less than nothing.


Having to pay to do a job seems like that. I can work for nothing but not less than nothing.

But it’s not like that in F1. Paydrivers usually earn money as well. They get paid for driving, not by the team, but by their own sponsors. They would not have these sponsors, if they could not get a seat with the sponsor’s backing. Think of pay drivers as a sponsor’s representative.

Eventually these are a mixed case: A driver backed by their own family’s business is usually paid by their own company (usually they get parts of that money back as tax refund) – just as with every other company, they’d do that for the media coverage.

There is however the occasional Lauda-Case, where someone invests their own money to get a seat in F1, but that’s just like any other investment – usually that seat in F1 opens some doors for private sponsors to get that money back and some more, which is a big bet.


That’s the point, they did contribute financially to the team by way of vastly reduced salaries. They were both asked to take a reduced retainer – it’s like losing on Bullseye: ‘LOOK WHAT YOU COULD HAVE WON’


I think the same as KR. Having to pay to do a job seems like that. I can work for nothing but not less than nothing.


re lee,Did jenson pay money to brawn to race?, no he didn’t, you really don’t understand what a payed driver is do you


I believe I do know a pay driver when I see one. Committing to a season with Brawn cost Button millions. He won the WDC and it came good but until that point, he was out of pocket.

I’m sorry we don’t agree but such is life.


Its one thing when talented racers bring sponsorship into a team, its a totally different thing when a team requires drivers to pay for a seat – Claire knows this – she just thinks we all are dumb and stupid to fathom the difference.

its equally more naive of her to suggest that they (WF1) do anything to support racing talent on the junior level – nurturing development of drivers. If they did then they would most likely have a star on their hands rather than rely on useless and talentless drviers like Stroll.

Its equally troubling that she can’t admit to the difference between a driver and a racer in her BS.

perhaps I am too hard on her, however F1 is a serious business and she’s well on her way to piss away the family farm.


she’s well on her way to piss away the family farm.

Do you really believe that she is making these decisions in isolation? You don’t think it might involve one or two others – you know, like the board of directors for instance ?



Claire is only the deputy Team Principal, if one person made the decision (which I don’t believe they do) it would be the Team Principal – so it’s not even her call. Why do you keep blaming her for something which is clearly not her responsibility?


look, if the team loses its typically the coach that gets fired, not the board.

it naive to think that Claire rules as a business tyrant – who knows maybe she does – but she is the front woman, the one that is supposed to sell it to us. We are losing the respect and confidence of a great team.


@ C63….I’m in agreeance there. The matter would’ve been debated intensely for a considerable period of time and i’m sure that the decision wasn’t made on the fly. It appears that Sirotkin was the faster of the two, he has additional sponsorship and he is far younger than Kubica who has been out of full time competition at this level for a very long time. Given those few facts alone i do know what i would’ve done. Exactly the same as Williams.


Good article, James.

As Clare Williams said, pay drivers are not new. In the rest of the world of job seeking, if you miss out on the sought after job, you go back to University or Trade School, then try again. Sirotkin worked for Sauber in2014, but missed out in 2015 due to another driver with financial backing.

So Sirotkin sourced financial backing, & tried again. Now he has the job he was after. I see no problem with this.

Stroll is young, but now in his second year. I find it strange that people have issues with this, but nobody seemed to complain when Max Verstappen was trolling around oustide the points in a Torro Rosso. Max has got better, as will Lance.

Several seasons ago, Williams were the fastest in a straight line, but had problems with rear tyre degredation causing indifferent results for both Massa & Bottas.

Williams present this season with Mercedes power, what appears to be a competitive aero package, & 2 drivers that have won championships in their careers.

I voted for Team Willy to finish 7th, but I now think they will finish higher.


To me it depends on the engines. If Ferrari made a better one than Mercedes Then HAAS and Sauber should do better. If not Force India and Williams will. Then there is Renault. I think all but Honda have the speed but reliability and speed is what matters.

It will be interesting to see what happens now that the fuel regulations have changed quite a bit.

Off topic

The NBA all-star game was actually pretty good as they actually played some defense. As basketball is pretty popular in about 200 countries and many end up in the NBA from all over the world I thought it might be of interest.

Racing is back. The Daytona 500 was good. F1 will be back very soon. I can’t wait.


You just can not compare Stroll and Max, I’m not even close to being Max’s fan but diff between them two is huge.


Verstappen scored points in more than half of the races he drove for STR, in fact he scored more points in his rookie year in the STR than Stroll did in a Williams, which would be why he was so much more highly rated from the start.


Stroll probably ain’t bad. He seemed to get much better after a terrible start. His speed in the wet impressed me. That’s normally the sign of a good driver.

I can only think of a handful that can be consistently fast in the wet. I’ve only seen Stroll do that once but it did show promise.


pay drivers are not a new concept in f1 and it’s not a new talking point either so what’s the problem?


I reckon Niki Lauda started out with March in the early 70s as a pay driver


Schumacher bought his first drive with Jordan! Mansell bought his first F1 seat too.

Sometimes pay drivers are not too bad really


That was the 70s before F1 was the sport it is now. Who would have backed him? I bet it wasn’t Russia.

Now it seems like people from certain countries can’t get a ride any other way when the teams know those countries will pay them. This IMO is worse than being born rich.

Yeah back in the day many paid to really risk their lives. There is some risk mainly of just getting hurt. For the miles traveled it may be safer now than driving the family car.


Money schmoney ..it’s F1.
Are they quick? ..that’s all that matters.
It should be fun watching Ericsson and Stroll this year.


The difference is that Sauber is up and coming, so they can have a driver who has earned his ride. Williams, sadly, is desperate and rudderless since Patrick left and Frank stepped down. They have TWO pay drivers now, and that can only lead to falling down the F1 rankings. IMO they should’ve kept Massa and ditched Stroll, who is worthless. Kubica is obviously not F1 caliber anymore, and that shouldn’t even be considered. I love Williams, but their days are numbered.


Massa was still pretty good. After all he barely missed out on a WDC in 2008. Really Hamilton barely missed out in his rookie year. Yep two type A personalities won’t get along at all. Who knows how good many drivers are. Alonso ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Its 90% car and 10% driver. If you have a terrible car you could be great and no one would know.


Sauber is up and coming

Sauber have been in F1 for 25 years….


Perhaps the expression up and coming means something different to you Sars – I tend to apply it to new ventures and I don’t feel that label can reasonably be used where Sauber are concerned. Maybe they will come good now they have Ferrari backing, but BMW backing didn’t do the trick though so I wouldn’t hold your breath. The biggest problem that Sauber have (according to articles I have read) is that they are based in Switzerland and most of the F1 brains/talent are UK based – in a fairly small area at that. They can switch teams and not have to move house or move their children’s schools which I’m sure you can appreciate is a big plus point. Luring key personnel away to live in Switzerland has always proved to be difficult, which accounts for their perennial back marker status. Maybe the added gloss of Ferrari backing will prove to be the missing ingredient – who knows. Not long to wait now, and we will see.


Yeah Sauber has been going up and down for 25 years but now that Honda is in STR they shouldn’t finish last.

It doesn’t really help Haas to do their thing here in the US when the experience is in the UK. Sauber does there thing from Switzerland but now that they have help from Alpha which might put them ahead of Haas. Its to Ferraris advantage to have both teams move up.


Anyone that’s followed F1 for five minutes is aware im sure that Sauber have been in the sport for many years C63 but thanks for pointing out the obvious all the same.

Dice is right though when he says that they are on the up, or certainly have the potential for that to be case, with Longbow Finance buying out both Peter Sauber and Monisha Kalterborn mid 2016. The years of financial struggle they endured under Sauber himself would appear to be over and combined with the recently announced partnership with Alfa Romeo the team should could well and truly show vast signs of improvement especially considering that are contracted to have the latest spec Ferrari engines from this season.


i don’t think massa was any good for williams. all he ever says ‘is a good way’ or ‘is not a good way’. the guy could hardly express himself let alone lead a team to design or develop a racing car. i can’t believe some reports claimed he mentored stroll. what could he had said to mentor stroll? ‘it’s a good way or not a good way’? ferrari only kept him so long as a compensation for that nasty accident he suffered. otherwise he would’ve been long gone.

he hardly finished ahead of his rookie teammate yet claims mentor status.


We all have seen one or two of the young know-it-alls who come into a company and disregard everything the old dogs say, because they think they know better, haven’t we? It’s a sort of “Dunning Kruger Effect” and the more they get to know and understand, the more humble they will get. To be honest, I’ve been there myself. Some of them don’t learn and will not change, some of them will eventually learn, but forget the advice they got and attribute every succeess to themselves.

Formula 1, a world full of big egos, Stroll, a driver who despite an obvious lack of excellence gets millions shoved up his back to buy more test drives than anyone else, to get seats in good teams, to get the best material they can get and eventually gets the flash of success as a result, but despite all the effort is still is beaten by the old man. Would you think he would say that Massa gave him “good advice” or would you rather expect he’d claim that Massa did not help him at all, agreeing on the “paydriver who needs professional advice” notion that everyone around him seems to have? Well… I know for sure that if Massa had tried to mentor him, I’m pretty sure that he would still have said what he has said, no matter what.



I think what Stroll said is rather more telling than what Massa said.

Stroll complained about Massa being a bad mentor. No doubt he was right, but why make this public? Does not present a picture of a confident racer. I cannot imagine Max or Ocon whining about bad support in such a situation. That’s because they are winners. The earliest occasion they’d mention it would be in their memoirs, at age 65.

Stroll is not a winner, no whiner is.


He didn’t mentor Stroll at all according to Stroll. If Massa really claimed that and did nothing to help the team develop the car then he should be gone.

Then again at one time he was good. 2008 comes to mind.


do you honestly think stroll is worthless? ask clair williams with a smile and she might just release some figures.

what most fans fail to grasp is the fact that all teams go racing to make money and f1 is very expensive. their primary aim is to make money and if they do that while entertaining fans then do be it.


Unfortunately, Stroll is worthmore.


[The Alfa Romeo event] was elegant, serene and stylish

Certainly applies to the two cars in the picture and to Ericsson who looks great and apparently missed his real vocation – being a fashion model.

Less so however for Leclerc in his shabby trousers and cheap rain coat, in a careless pose where he almost seems to hold a cigarette.


Leclerc is going to be good I think.



Maybe its because the one is more interested in his looks and profile, while the other is just interested in what he does on track….race cars….well😉


“Less so however for Leclerc in his shabby trousers and cheap rain coat, in a careless pose where he almost seems to hold a cigarette.”

LOL. If he is fast he could be in slippers and a nightshirt for all I care.


Hi @Brent,

I concur! Just made a Have I Got News For You-like observation from the picture. I actually rate Leclerc quite highly – other than Ericsson, however great he looks.


Or smoking. Do you mean Leclerc is so fast he’s smoking everyone.


i think that term was aimed at the entire event rather than how well dressed or posed the drivers were.


‘Pay driver’ is a hammer of a term. Heavy, blunt and effective. A F1 driver must feel bad hearing that term applied to him. The best way to respond is on the track, as Stroll did from time to time last year. I never think of Alonso or Perez as pay drivers but in some ways they are, or have been at times in their careers.

How do I earn a second star James? Hopefully I won’t have to write essays like Seebee’s.


Here you’re not earning the stars, you “build” them! 😛


Yeah Perez is paid by Mexico but he is fast. I think he got McLaren’s last podium or no that was k mag. Anyhow Perez is fast but now He may have a faster teammate.


I’ve been on 2 stars for years


how about paypal?


is that how you Aveli became a 5-star general? ;o)


No need for essays PetrolTed, just write 50 one sentence enlightened comments like Aveli every thread and you’ll have five stars in no time.


“No need for essays PetrolTed, just write 50 one sentence comments like Aveli every thread and you’ll have five stars in no time.”

Fixed that typo for you.


This is slightly off topic, but all three of the Williams drivers look quite tall. That could compromise the car’s packaging and they will probably be heavier than a short driver like Massa. Will the team’s performance suffer from that as much as from their drivers’ lack of experience? On the plus side, the cockpit design can be “one size fits all”.


pascal wehlein is a lot shorter than ocon yet we know which driver force india opted for.

it’s all a myth.


This has changed in 2018. There is now a minimum weight for driver and seat. That change was long overdue! A lighter driver will not enable you to place more ballast anymore.


Hey Newst & aveli. Yes height makes a difference, it’s not all a myth.

Mark Webber was asked to squeeze down into a Red Bull & couldn’t, but RB soon found there was an aero advantage having Mark’s head poking up a bit.

. . . . . & lifting Vettel so he could see not to crash into other cars didn’t hurt either.


I dunno if you weigh in over 160lbs. then you can’t use as much ballast. Hamilton won one race by not taking water with him and was wore out at the end of it.

.Yeah drivers are being turned into jockeys these days.


@ Newst…Quick, call Paddy before he starts to actually build the car for 2018!!!!


If Sirotkin wins anything, it’ll be because of Russian collusion.


ocon is taller than all three of them yet shines! the f1 height is just a myth.


Ocon is skinny and may weigh little. You don’t see someone weighing 200lbs. in F1. There are a few in NASCAR but Jeff Gordon was a little guy. He could have been good at F1 too but he didn’t even do a test.


Some people can race and be fast in any type of racing. Hamilton is larger than Jeff Gordon. The cars just need to go on a diet.


What would be the limit for a team like Williams?

Like, how much money will they take to compensate for a bad driver?

Could I buy a drive at Williams? Now, I don’t presume to be as good as Lance or Sir-guy, so I would assume I would need to bring more money.

What if I had 100mil in family money? 500mil? 1 billion? Would they take the money, despite me being the worst thing to drive an F1 car since Pastor?

What’s the upper limit for these clowns?


I don’t know the limit, but it’s pretty evident that being just an average driver is enough, if you’ve got the backing that Stroll has. You buy more test drives than anyone else, you buy yourselves the best material and the best seats in the junior Formulas, you pay some extra to get the more successful team of engineers if you can and if you’re not a complete slouch, you will eventually be successful enough to get a super license.

No, you won’t get there if you’re a complete Muppet, but I don’t think you need to be excellent either.


Firstly you would need a superlicence – not sure how much that goes for in the blackmarket these days….


You’ll still need a license to be able to drive in F1 😉


stroll brought money to williams and won them more money by scoring enough points to help secure their 5th place finish. what more should they want?


No one arrives yo F1 without money. In my opinion you are a”pay driver” when you STAY in F1 because of your money. For example, I think Ericsson is clearly a pay driver. With Sirotkin I think we must wait.


“. . new Ferrari V6 engine,” an oxymoron?

Boldly into the future, . .”new Fiat 3-cyl. slaves?

The spat between Ferrari and the F1 engine regulators this year ended in a whimper?

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