Renault’s Vitaly Petrov just the latest man paying for his drive
The Renault F1 Team's decision to sign Russian Vitaly Petrov for the 2010 Formula One season is the latest example of a driver paying for his drive in the sport.
Commonly seen in the 1990s amongst backmarker teams, the trend is returning in 2010 as teams look to find new income streams with the sponsorship market having dried up. Petrov, who will be the first Russian driver in Formula One history, brings with him up to US$15 million in funding from a consortium of Russian companies believed to be linked to his father.
Renault, which has sold a majority share of the team to entrepreneur Gerard Lopez over the winter, is hoping that Petrov will open up business opportunities in his homeland. "We actually had drivers that could have brought about twice the amount that Vitaly is bringing," Lopez said in Valencia, where the team launched its 2010 car. "So the choice was really made, number one, because of personal performance."
But he added: "When people talk about numbers, the fact is that someone like Vitaly can bring directly something like seven per cent of the budget. That's not going to make this team wane or survive or something like that."
Petrov is not the only driver effectively paying for his drive in 2010. BMW Sauber driver Pedro de la Rosa is understood to have brought US$1 million to his new team, courtesy of Universia, a foundation backed by Santander that finds university places for students. His team-mate Kamui Kobayashi is also rumoured to have been backed by Japanese firms, possibly including Toyota, where he was part of the young driver programme.
The new USF1 team, meanwhile, has secured the services of Jose Maria Lopez, a 26-year-old Argentinian driver. Lopez benefits from national government support and the announcement he was driving for the team was attended by Argentinian president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. The USF1 team is run by former Formula One team manager Peter Windsor, who has close ties with former racer Carlos Reutemann, now a political ally of Fernandez de Kirchner.blog comments powered by Disqus
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