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Sebastian Vettel (GER) Aston Martin F1 Team with fans. Copyright: Bearne / XPB Images
Sebastian Vettel believes something has to change in the financing of lower level motorsport for it to be more “affordable” and accessible for everyone instead of it turning into an “elite sport”.
The four-time World Champion announced his retirement from the sport during the summer break after a glittering 15-year career which saw him on the top step of the podium 53 times – the third highest in Formula 1 history.
With Vettel gone and Mick Schumacher’s future in the sport facing some uncertainty at the moment, there is a chance that there won’t be a German driver on the grid for the first time since 1981.
The German Grand Prix has also been absent from the calendar since 2019, and Vettel was questioned about what is happening to cause such a decline.
“You know, there’s no guarantee that you have German drivers or a driver of a specific nationality on the grid.
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“I think it goes in cycles and we had, at some point, nearly half the grid German drivers, like seven or eight or six, I don’t remember. And now, next year, it might be down to one.
“I remember that a lot of people from the French media were asking, there’s no French drivers, where are the French drivers? Now we have a couple of French drivers. And yeah, so I think naturally it goes in cycles.”
It is no surprise that motorsport is one of the most expensive sports to compete in and even an entry-level season in karting can set you back thousands of pounds.
With the world on the edge of a global recession following the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vettel believes something has to change to keep it affordable for everyone.
“Motorsport has gotten more and more expensive,” he said. “I think if I had to start, if I was seven again today, I’m not sure I would make it just because you need to have the financial backing at a very, very early age. It has turned into an elite sport.
“Hopefully we’re taking the right actions, especially through go-karts to make it more affordable. There has been too much money around and too much money being thrown at the manufacturers and different dealers and teams. So it’s hard to blame them, they need to make their living and survive as well.”
In late 2019, Formula 1 announced a cost cap for constructors with the aims of a more competitive championship, level playing field and to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of all ten teams. The cost cap was put into use for the 2021 season and team’s have had to cope with the limited use of finance.
To Vettel, the cost cap is a step in the right direction but the problem as a whole in motorsports is “not an easy one to fix”.
“Motorsport has become… I don’t know how to change that but too professional. And with professionalism there’s also the financial aspect. I mean, look at Formula 1.
“Now we have the budget cap to try and counter that but there was no limit before we entered that era, where we are in today, and teams were spending more money than they had and that’s for all the teams.”