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Alesi bemoans F1's 'pay to race' mentality

NEWS STORY
01/02/2021

As his son gives up on his F1 dream and heads east, Jean Alesi criticises the sport for its increasing shift towards pay drivers.

A week ago today, Giuliano Alesi, son of mercurial racer Jean, took to the Fiorano track to make his debut in an F1 car.

The SF71H sported the number 28, the number used by his father when he made his debut for the Maranello outfit thirty years earlier.

Just 24 hours later it was announced that Giuliano was no longer part of the Ferrari Driver Academy and would be heading east to contest the Super Formula Lights series in Japan and the Asian GT300 series.

Following two hugely disappointing seasons in F2, during which time his best result was a 5th in the sprint race at Yas Marina in 2019, it was unlikely that the 21-year-old, was ever going to make it to F1, nonetheless his father has spoken out over the lack of opportunities for youngsters and the increasing move towards pay drivers.

"If you look at what's going on in our part of the world, in Europe, nothing is a meritocracy," he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"All you need to do is pay, pay and pay," said the French-Sicilian who sold his own F50 to help subsidise his son's career. "I think it's crazy, it's the only sport in the world where you need to pay to play.

"I think it's a lot fairer in Japan," he added, referring to his son's decision to head east. "He'll be racing almost every weekend, something that is no longer possible in Europe, unless one pays a lot of money.

Young Giuliano has dual-nationality, French on his father's side and also Japanese courtesy of his mother, Kumiko Goto.

"Today, you need to be a billionaire to buy a Formula 1 team for your son, or you won't make it to F1," said Alesi Snr. "Many seats are blocked by drivers managed by Vasseur and Wolff.

"Fortunately there is Ferrari, which supplies engines to some F1 teams so they can also supply drivers," he added. "Mick Schumacher got his seat in Formula 1 also with his Formula 2 title, but without the support of Maranello it would not have been possible."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by kenji, 03/02/2021 0:24

"There is some incontrovertible truth in what Alesi says, money talks. That said, so does superior talent! The best outcome seems to be a combination of both...with some minor exceptions. Then again Jean needs to recognise that the performances just weren't there. That's no disgrace and I'm sure that his son will go on to have a good career. It all comes down in the end to an acceptance of reality. Stop the losses and rebuild with what you've got. Good luck with that."

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2. Posted by Alisissa, 02/02/2021 13:54 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 02/02/2021 13:56)

"This comment was removed by an administrator as it was judged to have broken the site's posting rules and etiquette."

Rating: Positive (1)

3. Posted by Lakota, 01/02/2021 21:29

"Sorry Jean . Your sons not that good. Most probably got to where he is by the name !!!"

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4. Posted by Kkiirmki, 01/02/2021 21:23 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 02/02/2021 13:56)

"Even a "pay driver" would struggle to make it into F1 on the back of a 5th best finish (in a sprint race no less) in two seasons of F2."

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5. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 01/02/2021 18:02

"The cream usually rises to the top.
Think this past season about Hulkenberg (remember him?) and the demands to get him into a seat for 2021 based on his performances as a fill in driver.
I'm pretty sure he, Hulkenberg, would be in a seat if he had sponsorship to bring.
I'm going by Drive to Survive, but Ocon is a bit of an anomaly in that he's not got the same backing yet his abilities are holding him in a team, for now.
Perez has the talent and skills and big backing and is at the other end of the situation to Ocon.

I do sympathise with Aleisi Snr to some degree however he of all people would know the path and challenges of getting into F1 let alone getting good results.

Motorsport is different to many other sports in that not only does the competitor have to be good on track, they have to have enough nouce to secure the backing to compete, which means asking people / companies for money, and that isn't easy.

I guess it's why the drivers are quite impressive in how they present themselves at interviews etc. compared to those that play games such as rugby."

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6. Posted by Batman, 01/02/2021 17:22

"@edge
Not mentioning Mathias Lauda, Jolyon Palmer ..."

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7. Posted by flyinglap, 01/02/2021 16:38 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 02/02/2021 13:56)

"Sour grapes... This is pathetic, really. "Poor" Giuliano did not make it to Formula 1 even after daddy had to sell his... Ferrari F50 (!) to pay for his racing. Essentially, Jean Alesi is complaining that other drivers' daddies have even more money than himself, one of the highest paid drivers of his time (with incidentally only one win to show for his entire F1 career). Now that Giuliano has run out of daddy's high-level contacts to milk in Europe he goes to Japan to milk mommy's high-level contacts as well. But, it is all on pure merit, mind you. Jean Alesi is delusional, apparently, or he believes that race fans are really gullible. The reality is that all aspiring race drivers are pay drivers by definition, and those that are above average to exceptional may one day graduate to bona fide professional drivers. That Giuliano Alesi failed to make it so far (he may still make it in the future) is more indicative of his talent or lack thereof, rather than of a supposedly non-meritocratic socio-economic and racing system in Europe. Anyway, best of luck in Japan."

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8. Posted by The edge, 01/02/2021 12:41

"Motor racing started out with rich people crating teams and racing each other, I fail to see why 21st century racing should be any different. I’m sure with a name like Alesi backing could have been found if the talent was there"

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