Anthony Davidson wants to see a change to the “scary” amount of money needed to climb up the motorsport ladder in the junior categories.
Davidson was discussing that his parents could not afford to move him out of karting and up another level because of the amount of funding needed – stating that when he approached teams in Formula Ford or Formula Renault before receiving backing, the team principals’ first question would always be about how much money he could bring to a team.
The former BAR and Super Aguri F1 driver spoke of how he saw the likes of Jenson Button and Dan Wheldon move up above him when they were a year younger, and opened up about how difficult it had been to get a chance in a higher category – although the wealth gap is even bigger now than it used to be, with even former Ferrari driver Jean Alesi becoming unable to fund his son Giuliano’s path to the top of motorsport.
Davidson feels a serious conversation needs to be had about how to make motorsport more accessible to people at grass-roots level, not just for the sheer financial burden being taken on to get a seat in a series anyway but that it is also cutting off potential Formula 1-level talent from ever reaching the grid.
“This is one of the biggest turning points, I guess,” Davidson told the My Big Break podcast when discussing his own funding from karting into single seaters. “A driver attempting to transition from karting to single-seater racing.
I invited these three great racers to Silverstone this year. It’s so important to pay that forward, support young talent, and work to ensure that the future of motorsport is more diverse than the present. Thank you, Joshua, Myles, and Cordell. I’m proud of you all. pic.twitter.com/Kcd8NZW4y5
— Lewis Hamilton on July 17, 2022 (@LewisHamilton)
“I raced karts exclusively for 12 years, making me a professional in the sport. I thought for a while that would be me, I thought that was the highest I would ever get in my career.
“And I couldn’t see any way to find funding to make the jump into, say, Formula Ford or Formula Renault, something like that. There is too much money, and the gap is getting wider by the day.
“So it’s putting even more strain on families that are pretty well off, that can never even imagine to take their offspring into karting and through into the world of motorsport after that.
“It’s pretty scary, actually. And I think there’s a serious point there, that something needs to change. Because there’s an ever bigger divide between the haves and the have nots, and you are limiting the amount of talent you can see get into Formula 1 one day – or anything else really for that matter, any other category of motorsport.
“So luckily, we were around in a time when it was expensive – because it’s always been a rich person’s sport – but it was definitely more affordable percentage wise. It was more affordable in relative terms back then.”