With Michael Shumacher hinting he may consider managing an F1 team when he retires and Gerhard Berger now well into his part ownership of the new Scuderia Toro Rosso team, it raises the question; can a successful F1 driver be just as successful running a team?.If history is to go by the answer is a resounding no. Yes there have been small successes but none have achieved the highs that they achieved as drivers. The names we are talking about are of course idols like Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill and Alain Prost. We are not talking "average Joes" here, these drivers were the top names of their time, and even today hold massive respect amongst fans and drivers alike.
However when it came to expanding their skills and using their knowledge to produce a successful, sustainable team, it just didn't happen for any of them. Ironically if you look at the successful team managers it appears the opposite is also true. Did any of them ever race?.
At a time where there are no official private teams left and all are owned by corporations or car manufacturers who control the purse strings and have a serious say in what can and can't be done, it must also be true to say, it isn't going to be easier now than it used to be. There is clearly a different skill set in negotiating sponsor deals, managing corporate powers, working with the FIA and making sure you get $100m worth of speed from $80m. Politics have taken over the world of F1 and you can understand the thrill of racing has been overcome with rules and regulations.
In the last few seasons we have gone from an engine per race to an engine per 2 races, from been able to change tyres, to one set of tyres, to being able to change them again. V10 engines are now obsolete, less down force is allowed, less testing is supposedly to be mandatory and of course the pressure to remove tobacco advertising.This is just a small list of the continuous changes and arguments being forced on F1 teams, and as we have found out, not all the changes have been good for F1.However after all the moans, I salute Gerhard for giving it a try and you never know he may be the first, after all, it has been known for film stars to create successful teams in the USA. I am not going to bet my life savings on it though, and even if Michael gives it a try in years to come, my money will still be on the corporations.
.Mark is webmaster for Driving Experience and Breakdown Cover and Business Consultant Teesside.