F1 part-timers: good or bad?


First it was Michael Schumacher, then Luca Badoer, now it looks as though there could be another face about to line up on the F1 grid - Sebastien Loeb.

Ok, so Schumacher and Badoer had their F1 returns thrust upon them after the unfortunate injury to Ferrari's Felipe Massa but the appearance of the reigning World Rally Champion in an F1 car at the end of the season and possibly into next year has already drawn mixed responses from within the sport and beyond

Doubtless, Loeb's drive with the Toro Rosso team in Abu Dhabi will raise interest and possibly encourage some rally fans to watch F1, if they don't already. but, is his inclusion good for the sport? It's already hard enough for leading single-seater drivers to break into F1 from the myriad of lower formulae - GP2, Formula 2, etc - without having to also compete with current drivers from other disciplines who might 'fancy a go' at something else on a Sunday afternoon.

Sure, others have gone in the opposite direction - Kimi Raikkonen and Valentino Rossi have both thrown up some world rally gravel - but they weren't with full manufacturer outfits; Loeb will be racing for Red Bull's second team in Abu Dhabi and his representatives have already made approaches to another F1 team, US F1, for possible drives next year.

Surely F1 teams should be looking at bringing the next generation of drivers through to encourage more potential racers into the sport who may otherwise start to look upon F1 as something of a closed shop welcome only to those with good friends and influence.