There is a new term in Formula One: The Young Teams, What a picture that conjures of feisty kids out to show the world: 'We're gonna put on a show right here!'
'Young teams' means poor teams, though poverty is relative, It costs more than a million pounds to prepare one Marussia or a Caterham for a single race in the certain knowledge that it will be on one of the back two rows of the grid and not only is it not going to win a point, but it is not going to receive any TV coverage either.
When football is screened, both sides receive equal coverage, it cannot be any other way. The names on their shirts have equal air time. Furthermore, the average wage in the top clubs in several countries is likely to be higher than the average in Formula One, and club owners mostly make a profit.
We know that a few star drivers earn big money, but some on the grid have to bring sponsorship to a team and are paid from the money they bring. In other words, they pay themselves.
Recently, it was announced that Sauber had settled its electricity bill, a fairly fundamental thing for a factory to do. That should have sounded alarm bells, but it did not because we have become used to such crises.
If a friend of yours could not pay their energy bill, or their mortgage, you would feel concern, maybe try to help out. Formula One has made us hard and cynical. CVC Capital Partnership makes squillions from a sport into which they have not invested a penny.
The simple, if unpalatable, fact is that Formula One employs too many people and pays them too much. A team is a business and every business needs to make a profit. Pastor Maldonado has just been signed by Lotus and it is no secret that Lotus wanted Nico Hulkenberg. Maldonado is no chump, he has won a Grand Prix, but all other things being equal, would you select Maldonado over Hulkenberg?
All other things are not equal, Maldonado had a reputed forty million dollars in Venezuelan oil money to bring to the table.
It is hard to blame Lotus, they are caught in a trap. When Bernie owned Brabham, he frequently paid a star driver, and accepted a pay driver. He made no secret of his reasoning which was that the money the pay driver brought was of more value to the team than the driver's ability as a Number Two.
I bet that you cannot quote the achievements of Richard Robarts, but he was once a Brabham works driver (in 1973) who drove in the same races as Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda.
Bernie has transformed the sport and made multi-millionaires along the way. I know a guy who was a designer for Frank Williams in the early 1970s and he arrived at work one day to discover that his drawing board had been repossessed by bailiffs.
Bernie's instance that everything has to be bigger and brighter means that when a team races, it has to lay on the corporate hospitality glitz. Circuits can recoup money by hiring out their suites, which are now mandatory. Look at the redevelopment of Silverstone, millions were spent on new hospitality suites most of which are used just three days a year.
On average, hiring suites costs 187,000 pounds per team per race. The Young Teams cannot be seen to be lagging in this department, they have to put on a confident air. It is no longer a case of the sandwiches arriving. I have been with a Formula One team at a Grand Prix (in 1982) when this happened, and the sandwiches were for the sponsors as well as the mechanics.
We have mandatory pitstops, to make the action more appealing to the viewer. This not only involves every team in flying otherwise superfluous mechanics to every race, but training them, back at base. Ever seen a Marussia pitstop on TV? I bet they are as good as anyone, but we are unlikely to know.
The FIA constantly ignores a rule of motor racing: expenditure shall rise to meet the available money, When restrictions were placed on track and wind tunnel testing, BMW installed Albert 2 which, at the time, was the most powerful (and expensive) supercomputer in industrial use in Europe.
McLaren's simulator is so sophisticated (and expensive) that the team has decided to replace Sergio Perez with Kevin Magnusson on the strength of their relative performances in the simulator.
I know from my mail box that I am not the only long-time enthusiast who has been losing interest. It has nothing to do with Vettel's superiority, it has everything to do with the FIA's meddling. Take tyres, the difference in compounds and strategies might interest me, were I a teenager or a geek.