F1 Just too Expensive? Ask Simona de Silvestro.

I’m pretty bummed out hearing about Simona not being able to continue with her current F1 program at Sauber.  I want to believe that the team really are disappointed about her financial struggles to continue her push to a 2015 race seat (see article at ESPNF1.com) for the story.  But what the racing world, the F1 circus, and all of us need is a great story that ends well for an underdog of a driver, who is also potentially the first female driver since 1976 (!) to start a Grand Prix.

F1 is the pinnacle, we all know, and I know that de Silvestro knows it too.  You could see the glint in her eye as she talked to Racer magazine and other motorsport news outlets about her chances to train and test with Sauber F1, and now those chances are becoming narrower by the minute.  I had to wonder what it must be like to have the talent that so many drivers at the top of current formulae have and to be so desperately reliant on sponsors who have so much at stake, and so much control, over what happens to a driver’s dreams.

Talent can only take you so far, and for many drivers, truly great talent will make you a paid driver in F1 (or IndyCar, NASCAR, e.g.).  But I lament some of the drivers that I’ve actually seen racing in club racing that had their racing dreams dashed just as they were producing fruit – that have had a couple of shots at premier formula racing (a young man named Steve from Colorado that I got to work with briefly who drove Toyota Atlantics for Newman-Haas, for example).  It was hard for me to believe that he actually had the investors step up, help give him the shot he needed, and watching him drive successfully only to not get the rest of the backing he needed to continue.

How many people does this happen to each year in racing?  Too many, especially the very talented ones.  And I know that some would say that the gifted drivers will find somebody who will pay for them to stay in racing, but it’s like the stars, planets, suns, and moons all aligning in the galaxy perfectly, and so rarely given the slim odds, that this does happen.

My lower level of talent was the reason I drove 3 club races and sold my race car.  But I felt it developing and then couldn’t afford tires or a haul to the next track to continue.  Saddens me.  Which is what I thought of for Simona de Silvestro when I read today that her current funding has run out.  Not fair, it’s just not.

Guess my parents were right that life sometimes just isn’t, but it doesn’t make it any easier when I see talent going under-utilized.

Allow me to leave you with a couple shots from my Lone Star LeMans weekend at Circuit of the Americas a few weekends ago.  Amazing racing and great personalities from all the drivers there.  Enjoy.

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