Lawrence Stroll, who bought a F1 team back in 2018, concedes only “a very wealthy individual or a very large corporation” can afford to be in F1.
Stroll purchased the former Force India team midway through the 2018 season, and six months later promptly gave his son, Lance, a job as one of the team’s two regular drivers.
Lance’s career in the junior series had been backed by his father, who is said to have spent $80 million on his son’s path to Formula 1.
The Canadian is not only the only driver on the grid with a pay driver tag, Nikita Mazepin’s father Dmitry is the title sponsor of the Haas team, while this year Guanyu Zhou joins the grid with his hefty Chinese sponsorship paying for his Alfa Romeo race seat.
It has seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton calling Formula 1 a “billionaire boys’ club”.
Deriding the finances required to break into the sport, Hamilton said last season: “If I go back to where I started, growing up in a normal working-class family, there’s no way I could be here. No way.
“All the guys that you’re fighting against just have that much more money.
“For the future, we’ve got to work to change that, to make it more accessible to people from rich and more normal backgrounds.”
Stroll agrees, motor racing is not a cheap sport especially when one takes into account all that is needed for a successful F1 team.
And as the results have all too often shown, the biggest spenders often have the biggest success.
“Racing is definitely expensive, from go-karting on up, there’s no doubt about it,” the Aston Martin team owner told the Daily Mail.
“It’s a lot less expensive to play golf or play tennis but F1 it’s an expensive sport, there’s machinery. There’s a lot of people who run the machines.
“You have to be a very wealthy individual or a very large corporation to be able to afford to be in Formula 1.
“I don’t know what Lewis’ comment was referring to but this is a sport that is very capital intensive.
“If you look at, for example, building a new building or a new wind tunnel, that’s well over £150million.
“But Formula 1 is definitely an expensive sport to be in, there’s no question about that.”
As a team Aston Martin are currently in the investment phase, the team building new facilities including a new F1 factory and wind tunnel campus at their Silverstone base.
Stroll reckons it will take “four, five or six years” for Aston Martin to reach the point where they are competing at the sharp end of the grid for the big prizes.
“We’re currently in a good place,” he continued. “We share Mercedes’ wind tunnel, but it is not as good as having your own.
“Facilities wise, we’ve definitely outgrown our current site. We’re putting up a lot of temporary facilities in order to accommodate all these new employees.
“But as far as plans going forward, like pretty much every other business I own, is to win. In this case, winning and Formula 1 obviously means World Championships. Ultimately, that’s what we are striving for. That’s what I am striving for.
“We all know very well that success in Formula 1 or any other business for that matter doesn’t come overnight. That takes years to put the right people, the right tools, the right processes in place.
“But we’re building and investing in our team with the ambition of moving up the grid year by year. And our ultimate ambition is to win World Championships.’
Stroll concedes Formula 1 is for the ‘very wealthy’
Lawrence Stroll concedes that Formula One is for the wealthy.