Monegasque driver Stefano Coletti considers paying for his F1 debut this week money well spent. The 22-year-old, whose backers have paid reportedly hundreds of thousands of euros for a Toro Rosso seat in Abu Dhabi, finished this year’s GP2 season in eleventh place. Paying was therefore the way to dip a toe in F1’s waters.
“It is good for the drivers to get experience because things like this you can’t do it all the time,” he is quoted by The National newspaper. “It’s a big opportunity for drivers and if any other drivers are thinking about doing it, I think they should, because the amount of experience you get in a day like this, you never get anywhere else.”
Coletti denied that his test was simply an exchange of money for seat time, arguing that he had important tasks to complete for Toro Rosso.
“This test wasn’t about money,” he insisted, “because usually when it is just about making money, you put fuel in, put some tyres on and go. We did a lot of testing.”
Another so-called ‘pay driver’ in Abu Dhabi this week is Spaniard Dani Clos, appearing with the HRT team.
He openly admitted he is “one of the drivers who needs to pay to get into Formula One”.
“Even if you win GP2, you will need to pay because nowadays the teams need that money,” said the 23-year-old. “It’s no longer enough to just be talented. If you are talented, perfect, if you win, perfect, but you also have to have someone pushing for you economically. The teams need this money to survive and bring new stuff to the car.”
Clos said there is always another fast driver coming through the ranks with more money, and that the queue at the door is growing longer due to some older drivers hanging onto their F1 seats.
“There are some drivers in F1 who need to start thinking about getting out because they have been there many years and there are young drivers who are waiting to come up,” he insisted.