Encouraging to see Hector Monro, Minister of Sport, attending the Pace Petroleum presentation of £30,000 to Nigel Mansell in London recently. Mr. Monro, a familiar name to members of the Bentley Drivers’ Club, made enthusiastic noises about British participation in motorsport, regretting the comparative lack of drivers from this country in Formula One today. Pressed to give some assurance of government help to the successful industry that has grown up around competition cars in the UK, Mr. Moran adhered strictly to Thatcher/Howe policy guidelines of the industry helping itself, not asking for government money.
The £30,000 that Mansell has accepted now, payment covering a three-year contract, is a laudable gesture. Motor Sport readers will remember, however, that the Formula Three category (in which Mansell is running a works March this year) demands over £60,000 p.a. to succeed at the top level: Mansell’s father confirmed a figure of over £70,000 was nearer the mark in 1980. After that talk begins at the £150,000 level for Formula Two and a season of Aurora F1 in this country may account for £200,000. Telephone numbers that account partly for the lack of progress by the many talented drivers Britain spawns from the ranks of Formula Ford each year.
A determined driver like Mansell knows his way around the works teams and will make money go a lot further than such figures would suggest, but there’s still no getting away from the fact that money, and lots of it, is the pre-occupation for many aspiring drivers today.
I was pleased to hear from Mansell that he has landed the job of testing Lotus GP cars, whenever the factory cannot fly in their regular drivers. Unfortunately those who have performed such duties for Lotus before have not always found it beneficial to their careers. — J.W.