Is it right that drivers can effectively 'buy' a seat in a Formula One car?
In the 2011 campaign, there will reportedly be six drivers who have brought funds with them to their team.
Jerome d'Ambrosio (VIR); Segio Perez (SAU); Pastor Maldonado (WIL); Vitaly Petrov (REN); Narain Karthikeyan (HRT) and TBC (HRT) are each believed to have brought between £5-10 million in backing.
However, Vitaly Petrov was awarded a contact extension, and is now in his second year with the Lotus-Renault team.
The most obvious advantage of paid drivers is the money they bring to the team through backing and sponsorship.
However, another advantage is that it brings opportunities to drivers who may not have ever had a chance of a Formula One drive otherwise. Although scouts and talent-spotters operate extensively in Europe and UK, it can be much more difficult for a Russian or South American to break into the mainstream.
The sport itself can also benefit as it can gain exposure in Nations where previously Formula One was relatively unknown. This is having a noticeable effect already, as car makers Lotus, Marussia, Infiniti and Lada have recently become involved.
The disadvantage of pay drivers is that some highly talented drivers may be unable to obtain a race seat, or even (in the case of Nico Hulkenberg) lose a seat, as they are unable to obtain the necessary funding required.
There is still one race seat available for the 2011 season with Hispania, which is believed to be available for £5 million! If you would like to find out more about this opportunity, visit www.hispaniaf1team.com