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Barrichello: Pay drivers to blame for Williams' undoing

  • Published on 27 Apr 2020 14:34
  • comments 5
  • By: Harry Mattocks

Ex-F1 driver Rubens Barrichello believes Williams' decision to hire pay drivers has been a contributing factor to their current slump in performance.

Since the early 2010s, the Grove-based outfit has often chosen to pair a more experienced driver alongside a driver who comes with significant financial backing. Arguably the first example of that was the pairing of Barrichello alongside rookie Pastor Maldonado in 2011.

Maldonado came into the sport with the support of Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company, PDVSA. Since then, the team have hired Bruno Senna, Lance Stroll, Sergey Sirotkin, Robert Kubica and most recently Nicholas Latifi.

All of these drivers came to the team with significant financial backing, at a time where the team were publicly struggling to stay in Formula 1.

Barichello, who was replaced by Senna for 2012, had this to say about his former team on the Rusty Garage podcast: "Unfortunately, this past 10 years the story has been a little more on the money side."

"Instead of paying a driver, they received some cash and survived and thought it was a good idea.

"And if you see where Williams is now, you see they took the wrong decisions at those times with money and just kept on going."

It can be argued however that although these drivers came into the sport with some financial backing, they proved their worth by scoring some good results for the team.

Maldonado was the last driver to win a race with his famous victory against Fernando Alonso in Spain, but that was back in 2012.

More recently Lance Stroll scored a podium in Baku, but last season the team sank to their lowest point as they only managed to score one point across the season.

Replies (5)

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  • Erm - I disagree totally with this statement - it's all very well for highly paid experienced drivers to talk this this but if the business model wasn't totally fu***d then the likes of Williams would need to be so tempted to do this. Talking about the manifestations of a problem is okay, but it misses the elephant in the room and I hope we are someday down the road not to addressing this stupid situation. The pinnacle of motorsport is biased and fundamentally anti-competitive. Fix that and we start to bring a better show to the TV.

    • + 1
    • Apr 27 2020 - 15:26
  • The problem is not whether it's a pay-driver or not. The problem is whether the driver is good enough or not. Whether the seat is justified. Lauda, Schumacher, and Alonso were pay drivers at one point. Sergio Perez also came in as a pay driver. Nobody will say that any of those guys didn't deserve a seat in F1.

    However, guys like Sirotkin, Latifi, Bruno Senna, Stroll and Kubica... it was very clear that there were way better options available at the time and that these guys were chosen because of substantial sponsorship. Yes, I excluded Maldonado from this list because when he first made it to F1 he came from a spectacular year in GP2. Maldonado also, while erratic, had speed that rivaled that of top guys. He is also the last guy to win a race for Williams, so on that alone Maldonado gets a pass (that being said the Lotus transfer was inexcusable. Maldonado was terrible by then).

    Rubens is a lovely chap, but his comments bother me just a bit (I read the whole interview elsewhere) because he seems to suggest that (1) he lost his seat in F1 exclusively because of pay drivers and (2) that he could have done something amazing in the 2012 Williams. The reality is that (1) Rubens lost his seat because he had done nothing impressive since 2009 and 2009 wasn't a great year for him either. He didn't even get 2nd place in the championship. (2) I don't think Rubens could have won that Spain 2012 race. No way. Say what you will about Maldonado, but on that day he was as good as any driver in the history of F1. That Williams was good, but definitely not better than the Ferrari.

    • + 0
    • Apr 27 2020 - 18:43
  • Agree with the others, and I'd like to point out that pay drivers are the symptoms, and only one of them at that. The disease lay within the unfair pay distributions combined with the silly high costs.

    • + 1
    • Apr 27 2020 - 20:53
  • Willaims was 3rd best team in 2014, had a decent budget, title sponsor, decent above-midfield driver lineup. Why did they end up here? Poor management, a directionless one at that. Pat Symonds‘ departure triggered a domino effect that never let team recover. At no point Mrs.Claire looked like she knows what to do to bounce back, and ended up being the risk to the team.

    • + 0
    • Apr 28 2020 - 05:36
  • Dert38

    Posts: 347

    lmao

    • + 0
    • Apr 28 2020 - 10:53

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