Jenks on...

Starting money, 1969

In general principle the idea of paying drivers and teams a certain sum of money to start in a race is fair enough. The financial arrangements used to be Individual, an organiser paying a team relative to the attraction value to the spectators. If he thought Graham Hill in a Lotus would attract a lot of paying spectators he would pay £1000, for example. If he thought Joe Soap in his home-made special would only attract a handful of spectators, then he would only pay £100, and this was fair enough because the organiser depends on the paying customer. Then a number of the top teams got together with the organisers and made an agreement that said in effect that all works teams were equal and provided an equal attraction to paying customers; all the teams except Enzo Ferrari, who knew quite well that his red cars at Monza or Monaco were worth a lot more than any green or blue car. The top grand prix teams are never equal, even if they all have Cosworth V8s, and drivers still count a lot. The team with the popular drivers, like Hill or Stewart, must attract more customers than the others, and if there is a local hero, like Ickx in Belgium, Beltoise in France or Rindt in Austria, they must alter the financial picture.

At Watkins Glen for the US Grand Prix payment is made according to how well you perform during the race. They have sufficient money to guarantee that the most mediocre performer is well paid and can cover his out-of-pocket expenses. For the others, the farther and faster they go the more money they get. Now nobody has argued with this system, so the idea has been discussed in Europe, but there is not so much money in the European kitty and it was suggested that ‘payment by results’ should be only for those who finished the race. Needless to say, with the appalling reliability of present day grand prix cars this was not at all popular.

Yours DSJ

Denis Jenkinson was our famous Continental Correspondent for more than 40 years.