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F1 not entering 'pay-driver' era - Danner

F1 not entering 'pay-driver' era - Danner
© Reuters
Formula 1 is not about to enter the era of the so-called 'pay-driver', according to Christian Danner.

Formula 1 is not about to enter the era of the so-called 'pay-driver', according to Christian Danner.

As a result of the corona crisis, which is also threatening established midfield teams like McLaren and Renault, it is feared that teams may need to lean even more heavily on drivers who can take substantial funding to their seats.

But former driver Danner doesn't think the impact of that will be significant.

"Money always helps in Formula 1," he told RTL. "But nothing will change about the classic pay-driver. I assume that the driver market will be as balanced as in previous years.

"The drivers who leave will be replaced by other talented drivers."

Danner said it is even unfair to use the pay-driver label on drivers like Lance Stroll, whose billionaire father owns Racing Point, and Nicholas Latifi, whose father Michael is linked with a buyout of the Williams team.

"Latifi was runner-up in Formula 2 last year and Stroll won Formula 3 in 2016. They are really good racing drivers," he insisted.

Also linked with potentially buying Williams is Russian oligarch Dmitry Mazepin, whose son Nikita races in Formula 2. And the Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou is connected with Daniel Ricciardo's Renault seat for 2021.

Danner said: "Mazepin really impressed Mercedes with his work in the simulator and in testing, and Zhou was the best rookie in Formula 2 in 2019.

"Ultimately, almost all Formula 1 drivers are pay-drivers in a certain way. Sebastian Vettel was promoted by Red Bull long before Formula 1, and Hamilton was financed by McLaren during his karting times.

"It might not be super-rich daddies in the background, but huge companies," Danner continued. "Mick Schumacher also brings a lot of sponsors to help him in Formula 2.

"Latifi brings money, that's for sure, but George Russell is from Mercedes so there is definitely a financial benefit for Williams, such as engine discounts."

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Nicholas Latifi pictured on November 28, 2019
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