Formula 1 is, unsurprisingly, one of if not the most expensive sport to participate in around the world, with drivers having to spend thousands just to start competing in karting.
Ex-F1 driver Ralf Schumacher has revealed some of the staggering figures that drivers from as young as six-years-old are having to pay just for a basic karting seat, all the way to the millions that drivers are having to part ways with to get onto the elusive Formula 1 grid.
Only a few drivers on the current Formula 1 grid are there through sponsorship, not their family’s wealth.
Sir Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, George Russell and Yuki Tsunoda all relied on sponsors to climb through the motorsport ranks, with Hamilton’s own personal story being particularly well documented.
The seven-time World Champion has spoken previously in depth at how he never had brand new equipment and how he arrived at his first karting race with a very second-hand set of wheels.
His father, Anthony Hamilton, has shared his story as well, of working three jobs at a time to ensure that he could get the Mercedes driver to the races with the sufficient equipment.
Stories like the 37-year-olds are very quickly becoming a thing of the past, with only drivers supported by a wealthy backing appearing to make it into the championship.
Hamilton recently dubbed the new era of drivers in the championship as the “billionaire boys’ club”, and it’s very difficult to argue with that.
Lance Stroll and the outgoing Nicholas Latifi are the sons of billionaires, Sergio Pérez and Lando Norris are the sons of millionaires, and Mick Schumacher, Max Verstappen, Kevin Magnussen, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, all have parents who have raced at a high level of motorsport.
With inflation and the cost of living rapidly rising across the world, drivers without a wealthy backing simply won’t be able to fund a career in motorsport, even with sponsors.
It’s highly likely that some drivers with wealthy parents will also feel somewhat of a squeeze, with people from all ways of life feeling the economic pressure of everything that is currently going on in the world.
Mick Schumacher, of course, comes from a wealth of motorsport pedigree, with his father Michael Schumacher being a seven-time F1 World Champion and with his uncle Ralf having also competed at the pinnacle of motorsport.
Ralf gave an insight into the current financial situation facing families, with parents likely having to pay up to £13 million to get to Formula 1.
“You will need around €30,000 [to compete in Bambino karting which is for six to eight-year-olds],” began explaining Schumacher to Motorsport-total.com.
“You travel around, you sleep somewhere, you eat a little something, the material and so on.
“In international karting, with a professional team with all the races, you’re good and happy with a quarter of a million a year.
“A mere mortal can’t even afford the small classes. That’s almost impossible. It might be a little bit easier at first, as long as it’s in club sport. There are classes which you can pay for. But after that it becomes very difficult.”
Despite incredible success, Ralf and Michael both wouldn’t have raced without sponsors.
The pair grew up very close to a kart track so were able to get behind the wheel very easily; however, Mick’s uncle is aware that himself and Michael were “lucky”.
“We were lucky that we had supporters – and at the same time we were lucky that karting was a bit cheaper back then and the level not that high,” he said.
“We grew up on a go-kart track. You could just exploit this advantage.”