Sports Cars Why do professional drivers complain about being “stuck” in sports cars?

Discussion in 'Motorsport' started by sk8er913, Apr 3, 2020.

  1. sk8er913


    United States
    I have read stories from drivers that were in other series, like Indycar and Nascar, complain about racing in sports cars.

    Since all of my favorite series are sports cars I don’t really understand the issue here. Is it the pay? Is it the speed? Media? Why do some pros complain about driving GT/LMP cars?
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  2. Sick Cylinder

    Sick Cylinder

    Historically some Pro drivers have been uncomfortable with driving standards - particularly in endurance racing. Jim Clark for instance raced at Le Mans early in his career, but refused to do so once he was an established star driver.

    I think older Pro Drivers see Sports Cars as a retirement home - it is sometimes a downward rung on the ladder of a declining career. Also talent is likely to be scouted from the ultra competitive single seater world - if someone is in sports cars they have probably missed their chance to get to the pinnacle of the sport or they are currently working their way down.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
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  3. Jimlaad43

    Jimlaad43 Premium

    United Kingdom
    Sports cars is also multiclass and Pro-Am. Neither of these appeal to some drivers. Going into LMP2 just feels like you weren't good enough for LMP1, which for some pro drivers isn't what they'd want to hear.

    Also with the Am drivers, firstly they're more likely to be the problem when met on a racetrack, and secondly they can be issues as team mates. A Pro-Am team's speed is pretty much determined by the Am driver because the Pro's will be as fast and consistent as the other ones. Some Pros don't like they're result being determined by the fact they were stuck with the slow Am driver.

    Not that all see it that way. Some Pro drivers enjoy being put with Am drivers as you basically become their tutor. If you are good at it, the Am driver will want you to stay with them, basically guaranteeing a seat for years.
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  4. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Premium

    I’ve seen pro drivers uneasy with the idea of slow traffic in multi-class racing too. Ironically, I believe one driver who mentioned this was Jenson Button. Well before he competed in Super GT, a multi-class racing series.
    sk8er913 likes this.
  5. sk8er913


    United States
    I am quite the opposite. I find the multiclass aspect fascinating and it’s one of the reasons why I prefer sports cars.

    Others have pointed out poor quality of some AM drivers and that makes a lot of sense.
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  6. Dotini

    Dotini Premium

    United States
    IMO a basic issue with sports cars is having to share the car with a co-driver. Different seats, different preferences in setup, having to make compromises, suffer from the other driver's accident damage, internal feuding, splitting the engineer's focus, all those co-driver things cause the feeling of being "stuck".

    The situation was much better in the old Can-Am series, as the races were all sprints with no stops. The Can-Am cars were as fast or faster than contemporary F1, paid better, and only one driver got the glory.
  7. milehighmadd


    Given that the few races I've seen him do in iracing and consistently setting qualifying times 0.5s ahead of P2 in a stacked professional grid, I'd be curious to see what Max Verstappen would do in a GT series. Obviously, addressing excelling at a different discipline is different than enjoying it, but Max doesn't seem too interested in racing F1 cars during this down time unless I'm mistaken.
  8. TheElbows


    I'd imagine it's because of the above reasons, and a few others.

    1) We no longer see fire-breathing monsters in GT category racing outside of the occasional rather poor Trans Am style series. Professional and successful GT sports car series are mostly a somewhat "tame" racing car by comparison.

    2) Because of the above, in a mixed class series, the GT sports car is rarely the top of the pecking order, and thus while a driver can compete for a class win, you're never going to have the outright overall victory which is something every competitive driver would want. A GTE Pro/Am victory at LeMans is great...but it's not as great as an LMP1 overall victory. This is an issue you don't run into in a variety of other motorsports which are not mixed class.

    3) I don't think a single racing driver would be disappointed in driving a factory Porsche GTLM/GTE car...but how many drives like that exist? Less of those probably than the Indy Car field, etc.

    I think most competent drivers could and do thoroughly enjoy driving sports cars or GT cars, but everyone would like a few shots at a world championship, or the Indy 500, etc. It gives them bargaining chips in their career going forward.

    The pay is an issue, but that's been the case all across motorsport with very few exceptions. The days of egregious paychecks from big tobacco and alcohol companies are long gone. Teams are struggling to find any sponsors, let alone big budget sponsors. That's not saying you can't make a livable income racing, but the "big money" days of the late 80's and early 90's are gone. Listen to any of the podcasts and interviews with even Indy Car guys from the 80's/90's and they were making 5-10x what the average Indy Car driver makes nowdays. It's a changed market.

    Needless to say, unless we see some kind of GT1 style crazy resurgence, no one in sports cars is making a crazy salary.
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