Mercedes F1 team boss Toto Wolff says Formula 1 had “much more drivers who came in only because they paid five or six years ago”.
Formula 1 had an influx of drivers who are sons of billionaires in recent years. Lance Stroll currently drives for Racing Point, that is owned by his father Lawrence, Nicholas Latifi drives for Williams, that his father’s company heavily sponsors, and Nikita Mazepin, son of Russian billionaire Dmitry Mazepin, is heavily rumoured to be joining Haas in 2021.
Toto Wolff says it is wrong to discredit these drivers just because their fathers are billionaires.
“Name me one [driver] this season that is not there on merit,” Wolff said.
“Let’s look at Lance. And I’m not biased here, because I agree it should be a meritocracy. He won the Italian F4 championship, won the international F3 championship, has been on the podium twice, and has qualified for the first row in Monza in the rain.
“I don’t think we can say just because his father is a billionaire that he’s not here on merit. I think he’s actually suffering from the stigma that is just not right. He can’t do anything for his father being very successful in his own right.
“It’s even more impressive that a kid with that environment chooses the most competitive or one of the most competitive sports in the world. Honestly, there is no discussion.”
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Wolff then went on to comment on Nicholas Latifi and Nikita Mazepin.
“Nicholas won races in F2, and we haven’t seen what he’s capable of, it’s his first season,” Wolff continued.
“But he’s not somebody when you look at the years 10 years ago, I don’t even remember the guys that have arrived in F1 without having even won a single race in a competitive junior series.
“About next year, let’s not discredit Nikita before having seen him. I think Nikita has been a regular front-runner now in the F2 season. I think he won some races, or at least he was competing for some of the race wins.
“I think we’re in the best possible state. We had much more drivers who came in only because they paid five or six years ago.
“But maybe I have a wrong recollection. I don’t want to name anybody, but you know who I mean.”