I was reading the news today and a particular story caught my eye. The story was about Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi and his chances of a continuing ride at the team for 2013. In short, KAmui says he’s got to find sponsor money if he has any hopes of driving in 2013:
“After I came back after Suzuka and Korea I wanted to celebrate, but there was no time to celebrate. I had to work to get a sponsor,” Kobayashi said.
“It’s not something we wanted after Suzuka, but this is the situation. Normally for a top team it doesn’t matter as they have a big budget, but for the lesser teams they need some budget because it’s a different system. This is what I have to understand.”
Sure, I understand the logic here just as Williams F1 parted ways with Nico Hulkenberg in favor of Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado due to their pockets full of cash they brought with them. Sauber is not unlike any other team with a smaller budget but I’ll be honest, the teams said they are still going to enjoy a significant sponsorship deal with Carlos Slim even with Mexican Sergio Perez leaving for McLaren. One would presume that this would be substantial but it seems that the team still feel they need a paying driver.
Perhaps the increased entry fee required to participate in F1 that the FIA has asked for is a catalyst and maximizing your revenue source is always a good idea. As long as there are young drivers willing to pay for a ride, there will be teams willing to accept it. Gone are the old days of teams having to find all their sponsors and paying for their drivers. Now the teams build the car and infrastructure and effectively lease the car out to the highest bidder (yes, lease is a marginal term here but you get the point).
It brings up a question, however, that I thought I would ask out F1B readers…is Kamui a good enough driver to warrant a ride on merit with pay or is he the same level driver as a youngster just coming into the series? Would this be similar to Timo Glock or Heikki Kovalainen being asked to pay for their ride? Of course, I may be off here as the two could be bringing some sponsors with them to Marussia and Caterham F1 respectively…I’ve just never read anything to that effect.
So what do you think? Surprised Kamui is being asked for cash? Or is it warranted given his pace against Perez etc? We also could consider the fact that Estaban Gutiérrez is a reserve/development driver with a test coming up and he is Mexican and backed by Slim’s cash as well…just like Perez.