a family matter – the Palatinate

From Neve Matthews

How did you get into the seemingly impenetrable motorsport? Well, in the case of Lance Stroll and Nikita Mazepin, it certainly helps if your father is a billionaire.

The champagne, podium, fame and fortune closely tied to the world of Formula 1 are incredibly appealing, as the millions of UK households who have watched Netflix’s documentary series Drive to Survive can attest.

The hundreds of virtual racing games on the market make racing accessible to everyone. However, if you want to swap the game console in your hand for the handle of a carbon fiber wheel, despite determination and steely work ethic, there are numerous roadblocks.

The nepotistic system guarantees stability for those lucky enough to be able to afford it

This is a sport where money speaks and the drivers who come with the promise of high parental funding – known as daddy drivers or pay drivers – have a very coveted spot on the grid.

The father and son duos of Lawrence and Lance Stroll and Dmitry and Nikita Mazepin challenge the notion of fair sportsmanship as they work their way up.

While F1 is an incredibly expensive sport, Netflix’s documentary gave a glimpse into the family sacrifices it takes to feed a child through karting to racing. From heartwarming plays to the camera, Pierre Gasly, Alex Albon and Lewis Hamilton’s parents told of years of hard work, financial sacrifices and work in multiple jobs that led to their sons’ successes. By comparison, Stroll and Mazepin’s path seems real and ironically cheap.

The images showing the Aston Martin F1 team celebrating Lance’s podium at Monza are extremely telling. At first glance, Lawrence’s front and middle positioning might confuse him as a driver as his son is set back from his P3 shield. The message is clear; Although Lance is the driver, his father, the team leader, is the pioneer who supports Lance’s unfortunate nickname “Daddy Stroll”.

This money not only buys a seat, but also secures control over the driving partner. In this way, the nepotistic system guarantees stability from the inside out for those lucky enough to afford it, and removes the element of excitement and competition inside a team.

Although Stroll was surpassed by partner Sergio Perez, who was later replaced by Sebastian Vettel, he kept his place on the starting grid. It later emerged that it was “contractually impossible” to fire Stroll, with team boss Otmar Szafnauer confirming these rumors by confirming in an interview with The Race that “his father owns the team”.

Likewise, the appointment of Nikita Mazepin as Haas driver has been the subject of controversy. Allegations against him, including beating F2 driver Callum Illot, catching a woman on a video and defending racist and homophobic abuse, led to a moral dilemma for team boss Günther Steiner.

While the sport is definitely not known for its accessibility, the only way to really close the void of financial inequality in sport is to trade money for morality.

The comparison between Mazepin and partner Mick Schumacher, who despite his old surname is generally recognized to have earned his place as a fan favorite through a combination of talent and ability, serves to illuminate his graceful entry into a coveted seat more fully.

In terms of background and behavior, they couldn’t be more different: Schumacher came from the royal family and Mazepin from an oligarch who was marked by stories of scandal and corruption.

Despite a 50,000-strong petition calling for Mazepin to be removed from the 2021 driver roster, this ignored scream of fan injustice underscores the deliberate threat to moral integrity that comes with the tenacity and drive of his F1 peers to and calls for questioning the surrender of standards in return for funding to fuel the sport’s machine.

It can be frustrating for young drivers to get into the sport when certain people are selected over others who are arguably better for financial reasons.

18-year-old Bailey Voisin is considered the talent of the future, having won the GT4 European Series in Monza and signed with United Autosports for the 2021 season to drive a McLaren 570S in the European Championship.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say that people who shop don’t work that hard, but if there was a level playing field, certain people wouldn’t be in the sport,” he says.

However, he recognizes the need to be realistic: “Motorsport is extremely expensive and certain teams can hardly survive. Hence, funding is an important factor. Neither of us want a team to go down, which is why we sometimes have to make difficult decisions. ‘

With the F1 cost cap of $ 145 million in 2021, which marks the end of unregulated spending within a team’s calendar year and aims to improve the playing field of the sport, the cost of which has risen sharply in recent years the question of when the same treatment will be applied to those who occupy the seats.

While the sport is definitely not known for its accessibility, the only way to really close the void of financial inequality in sport is to trade money for morality.

Image: Artes Max via Creative Commons

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