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Brundle concerned over pay-driver prevalence in F1

Jan 13, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

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Of all the regulation changes either mooted or scheduled to take place ahead of 2014, one that hasn’t been addressed fully for Formula One is escalating costs. A cost cap for 2015 has been preliminary suggested, but no further details have been provided as to whether that will actually come to fruition.

As a part of the high costs, the number of “pay drivers” has risen to the point where they’ve infiltrated the leading teams. Martin Brundle, ex-driver and now a key F1 TV analyst, outlined the concern over the prevalence of pay drivers.

“The main problem is that they’ve got to stop it being so expensive to run the cars, so it stops the need for all this cash,” Brundle said at the Autosport Show this past weekend. “When a team like Lotus – the only one to really challenge Red Bull consistently last year – is short of money, then something is fundamentally wrong.

Lotus, of course, has been in the crosshairs with its decision to take Pastor Maldonado on for 2014, given his sum of Venezuelan backing that he has enjoyed for the balance of his career.

Brundle did admit that these still can be talented drivers, but it’s a labeling and reputation issue. Once you’re stuck with that “label” of a “pay driver,” it can be very hard to shake.

“There’s no doubt that the pay drivers are creeping their way up the grid. But they’re still great racing drivers,” he admitted.

Interestingly, Brundle’s own son is a good example of a driver who, if talent were the only deciding factor, could have actively pursued an F1 career. But Alex Brundle instead has gone down the sports car route and linked up with Nissan. He has driven P2 class prototypes for Greaves Motorsport and OAK Racing at Le Mans, and now has an opportunity to make his Rolex 24 at Daytona debut with the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing team in its ORECA 03 Nissan in a couple weeks.

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