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The Cost Of Racing: Super License Price Hike

The Cost Of Racing: Super License Price Hike

When I learned to drive, many, many years ago, I was appalled at the costs involved. It seemed as though the DVLA were out to swindle every new motorist of their hard earned cash. It seemed like they were charging a lot of money for, in essence, a piece of paper. But in hindsight I probably shouldn’t have been so much of a curmudgeon, as today I have learned just how much a Formula One super license costs. And it’s a lot. Combined with the fact that it only lasts a year and must be re-purchased before the season starts again, the money that leaves each teams pocket is phenomenal. And it just got a whole lot worse.

Previous to 2008, a super license would set a driver (or likely his team) back by €1,690, plus a further €447 per point earned in the previous season. Had this scheme remain unchanged for 2008, championship winner Kimi Raikkonen would be faced with a bill for €50,860. However, without much reason other than to dissuade less-qualified drivers from applying, Kimi Raikkonen et al will now have to pay €10,000 for the license plus an additional €2,000 per point earned in the year previous. Kimi’s new 2008 bill stands at €230,000, with Ferrari having to fork out a massive €428,000 for both their drivers.

I shall not moan about the ridiculous costs of taking a UK driving license test anymore!

Oliver White

19 comments

  • I had no idea the price of a superlicense depended on the number of points you scored. F1’s big-wigs are supposedly trying to find ways to encourage overtaking. Surely the prospect of losing €2,000 or even €4,000 is a fairly large disincentive to overtake? Sure, it’s a drop in the ocean to these drivers, but it is certainly perverse.

  • @Keith: Maybe there are too many youngens applying. After all, we don’t want too many of these Raikkonens running around winning championships six years after the FIA made a fuss over his super license!

    @Duncan: Plus it kind of makes a bit of a mockery of the cost-cutting policy the FIA have adopted. They’ve just increased this particular item by about 500% for the top teams. (And I say teams deliberately because I believe they do pick up the tab on this.)

  • one reader on my blog suggested an “age limit” for drivers to open more space for the new exciting drivers. Perhaps this is FIAs way of achieving it 🙂 …

    I always thought that the superlicense is out there to keep loosers out, I had no idea it is sort of a penalty for performing well … teams get paid for scoring points (sort of), drivers pay for points scored , what sense does that make …

  • Putting up the basic cost of a super license is sensible – I can imagine quite a few mediocre racers applying for one just to say they have one, without being good enough to use it in any meaningful way. Making it cost-dependent is strange (though since this appears to have been the case for some time, it’s probably an old sort of strange). It flies in the face of cost-cutting, though at only €2000 per point, it probably doesn’t dissuade too many people from overtaking.

  • It is a stupid system. Rosberg and Kubica will have to pay more than Coulthard. Where is the sense in that. Lewis Hamilton will have to pay about 50% of last year’s salary.

  • That’s incredible.

    ‘I never knew that’ is quite sufficient enough a phrase.

    The implementation of regimented budget caps will have to be continually revised to suit the implications of rising Super License prices… whether or not they are included within the confines of such rulings is another question to be asked.

  • Surely the FIA have got this system round the wrong way?

    To try to dissuade rubbish drivers from entering , the licence fee should be high – say £200,000 but then you get a reduction of £5,000 per point scored.

    Therefore the top drivers (highest scoring) would actually pay less, and the ones languishing at the bottom (normally the worst drivers) would have to pay full whack.

    The current system just doesn’t make sense to me!

  • And I thought that the FIA were into cost-cutting measures. Of course, how stupid I was!! That was for the teams. They themselves will make s***loads of money!! Useless, good-for-nothing scumbags. BTW, this is urgent, does anyone know who the youngest Super Licence holder is?

  • Hey Akshay,

    Unfortunately I cannot find a list of Super License holders (past or present), but the youngest driver to compete in Formula One was Mike Thackwell at the 1980 Canadian Grand Prix. He was only 19 years, 5 months and 29 days. But I’m not sure the Super License was in existence back then. Currently Sebastian Vettel is the youngest driver, and thus must have a license. He debuted in Friday’s practice at the 2006 Turkish race. Interestingly, he became the quickest driver to get a fine in Formula One. After just nine seconds into this career he was caught speeding in the pitlane and fined $1000.

    I do know you have to be 16 in order to get a Grade C racing license (range goes from D to A then Super License I think).

  • After Grade C, there are no additional age limits for licensing. However, the fact that racing licences must be upgraded sequentially (i.e. you have to go from C to B to A to Super and cannot skip any steps), necessarily increases the minimum age of a Super Licence holder.

    The C-to-B and B-to-A requirements specify 5 races each. Assuming you have to do all of them on separate weekends (increasingly likely the further you go up the system, simply because there are fewer events at each tier), that’s 10 weeks. Add another 2 weeks each time you send in licence paperwork for upgrading (remember it all has to go to Paris, then someone must check you satisfy the requirements and send your new licence back to you) and your 16-year-old wannabe F1 driver is now 16 years and 4 1/2 months (more or less).

    The Super Licence can theoretically be granted with a mere two days of testing and 2 weeks of time to allow the Formula 1 Commission to to verify if the young hot-shot deserves a licence or not (if they’ve progressed up the ranks this quickly, the answer would likely be in the affirmative!) To get the Super Licence without needing special permission or being on probation for 12 months, 5 GP2 races would be sufficient, provided you were on the podium for all of them. That method would take about 3 months.

    So the theoretical minimum age of an F1 driver would be 16 years 4 months, or 16 years 7 1/2 months if the driver wanted to be absolutely certain of getting the Super Licence the first time of asking.

  • Thank you Alianora. While I knew about the 5 races to be finished on the podium each time, I didn’t know about the others. All of a sudden, I feel like I have a woefully limited knowledge of F1… :'(

  • That does make a UK license look cheap – I’m going to start telling my students what a bargain £45 is!

    On a more serious note you’d think they’d give a discount on each point earned – surely they want to reward the best drivers…

  • Formula 1 desperately needs a new direction in leadership and management. The “Pinnacle” of motorsport has become so restrictive in many key areas (car and engine development for one), and to political. In my opinion, F1 needs to get rid off of all those old timers like Max Mosley and Bernie Eccleston, which have “sequestered” the sport from its growth potential, mainly, tv viewership, which statistics show has gone down worldwide. Max Mosley with his third class politics, and Bernie Eccleston just not caring about the fans, but which venue or country pays him the most money. These are just to very old guys with old mentalities. F1 needs young, contemporary and talented leaders and managers, if it wants to stay in business.

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