Money greases the wheels for F1’s fringe men
Marcus Ericsson was the only Formula One driver to race the entire 2017 season without scoring a point. His team-mate, Pascal Wehrlein, managed five. And, yet, Alfa Romeo Sauber have dropped Wehrlein for next year.
The reason is that Ericsson owes his place in the team more to money than talent. The Swede is understood to be financially backed by Karl-johan Persson, chief executive of clothing giant H&M, while there have also been reports of his links to Longbow Finance, which bought Sauber in 2016. Increasingly, the grid’s lower reaches are less than meritocratic. Lance Stroll has a seat at Williams purely because his father, the billionaire fashion mogul Lawrence, has bankrolled his racing career.
Sadly, the enduring cult of the “pay driver” is doing little for owners Liberty Media’s insistence that F1 should be the pinnacle of motorsport.