If you don’t pay, you don’t have a say

“You should not listen to what the drivers want,” said Volkswagen Motorsport team principal, Jost Capito, “they are not the ones who invest in the sport, they are the ones who take the money out of the sport. […] The final say should come down to the people who invest in the sport.”

Taken out of context, this statement sounds a bit odd, doesn’t it? But even in context, the shape of this belief goes well beyond what should be said in public, especially by a member of the competing team. By now Capito was careful to avoid linking investments with power to change the rules of the game, but not this is no longer the case. This statement of his, published on Autosport, destroyed any remaining illusion that FIA and promotor have any power whatsoever over teams, or a single team, which invest money to compete. According to Mr Capito, teams and manufacturers are investing in WRC, but are they really? I always thought their investments were actually part of the marketing scheme, but maybe I am wrong. Maybe if you bring gazillion euros and throw it into your team, you feel you actually invested into sport and therefore you now own it? It certainly sounds like Mr Capito is pushing some agendas well beyond what would be considered possible or needed from a team boss. In my opinion, if drivers are not supposed to have a say in shaping the future of WRC, same should apply to teams. Not sure if my logic stands, but last time I checked, big car manufacturers were entering big motorsport series hoping it would improve their image, boost their sales and, wait for it, create profits. I cannot get rid of this odd feeling that Mr Capito is not only working as a team principal (and doing a good job at it, apparently) but he is also VERY active in doing what should be the job and responsibility of WRC promoter.

Drivers maybe should not have a say in bending the rules, they’re, after all, employees and are paid to drive (and not to think?). But do we really need the kind of tone and language Mr Capito is using? Unless he is preparing to become new Bernie Ecclestone, I don’t think he should be one lecturing drivers, especially not all drivers in general. Because he is also an employee, he is not Volkswagen, he merely works for the company.

Putting “money talks” banner so blatantly up may not look nice, but maybe it’s how things work, not only now but since forever. Ideally, drivers should be able to at least voice their opinions. Ideally, fans should also be able to at least have a way of expressing their thoughts and ideas and expectations. Of course, money and interests will always shape things so that even more money can be generated, but do we really need a team boss tell us (and drivers) to shut the hell up, since we’re not the ones spending our cash?

Or are we?

Comments by O. Ciesla and J. Capito here.