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Why doesn't Italy have more world champion drivers?


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#1 abc02

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 18:34

I was just looking though some F1 stats on wikipedia, and came across this list of the number of F1 drivers of specific countries.

http://en.wikipedia....#By_nationality

What I find odd is that out of the 101 italian drivers to have raced in F1, only 2 of them have won the championship. And both of them raced way back in the 1950s. On the other hand, only eight finns have raced in F1 and 3 of them are champions. Why are Italian drivers less successful than others? Is it a lack of talent? Poor driver development? Is the shadow of Scuderia Ferrari too overbearing for them?

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#2 Stormsky68

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 19:12

Interesting question, Fr and US also have poor stats

Something to do with the strength of local feeder motorsport series in UK, Scandenavia etc providing top quality training maybe...?

#3 Fastcake

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 19:12

Only two of them were good enough. Talent isn't applied evenly after all.

#4 DanardiF1

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 19:18

I'd say that lots of drivers came through into F1 via the manufacturer teams offshoot efforts like sportcars etc. drivers like Baghetti, Giunti etc. might not have been the best in F1, but they had connections to the teams elsewhere that meant they got the odd seat when Ferrari etc. could run plenty cars..

There were a hell of a lot in the 80's and 90's too... that I can't explain....

#5 abc02

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 19:25

Interesting question, Fr and US also have poor stats

Something to do with the strength of local feeder motorsport series in UK, Scandenavia etc providing top quality training maybe...?

The US only has so many drivers counted because the Indy 500 was a world championship event in the 50s and 60s.

#6 Radoye

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 22:50

Actually i'd rather say it's the Finns who are the only true anomaly here - a relatively small country with not that many F1 drivers but with disproportionate success.

And if we add the rallying too, then it gets even better for the Finns. Maybe there's something in the water they drink... :p


#7 Myrvold

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 22:53

Another thing I find very interesting is that Brazil and Germany have 8 titles. But Germany's first came 3 years after Brazil's last!

#8 goldenboy

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 22:59

they have valentino rossi and have nothing to complain about!

#9 frp

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 00:13

Curiously, if you take the nationality of birth for the Champion drivers, Germany, Italy and Sweden gain a title each, at the expense of Austria, USA and Finland. Most confusing is Andretti; whilst he regards himself as American, he was born in Italy to Italian parents, and lived there until he was fifteen, but the place where he was born is now in Croatia!

#10 Nitropower

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 00:50

Originally it's mostly a British sport. Most of the teams are run by brits and in the past most drivers where Brits often.

That said, the fact three Finns are WDC, well Rosberg was originally Swedish and he didn't even win a race to clinch the title, Gilles Villeneuve had passed away.

The other two have been in top teams when both had dominant cars. That's it.

Maybe in Italy motorsport is more about manufacturing than driving. If there is enough tradition in a country there's no reason not to have quality drivers.

#11 frp

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 02:23

Originally it's mostly a British sport. Most of the teams are run by brits and in the past most drivers where Brits often.

That said, the fact three Finns are WDC, well Rosberg was originally Swedish and he didn't even win a race to clinch the title, Gilles Villeneuve had passed away.

The other two have been in top teams when both had dominant cars. That's it.

Maybe in Italy motorsport is more about manufacturing than driving. If there is enough tradition in a country there's no reason not to have quality drivers.

Well, sort of. Rosberg was always Finnish, it's just that his parents were temporarily living in Stockholm when he was born, and he did win the Swiss GP in his championship year.

For the first few years of the World Championship, the dominant cars were Italian, then briefly German, with French and British cars just making up the numbers. Many of the top drivers were Italian too, but they'd largely faded away by the late 50s.

#12 Zeroninety

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 05:41

Well, sort of. Rosberg was always Finnish, it's just that his parents were temporarily living in Stockholm when he was born, and he did win the Swiss GP in his championship year.

For the first few years of the World Championship, the dominant cars were Italian, then briefly German, with French and British cars just making up the numbers. Many of the top drivers were Italian too, but they'd largely faded away by the late 50s.


Well, unfortunately, many of them didn't so much "fade away" as "die horribly in an instant." :cry: Italy lost nearly a whole generation's worth of promising talent in the space of a couple years.

#13 Mary Popsins

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 06:16

Why are Italian drivers less successful than others?


The main two reasons are:
- Great drivers originate from Surrey or nearby.
- The influence of football: the Italians have a tendency to dive off their cars.

A less important fact is that most people are Chinese. As an example of their supremacy, one of them won a major tennis event yesterday.

:cool:

Edited by Mary Popsins, 05 June 2011 - 06:17.


#14 Pharazon

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 06:22

because italians don't avoid Croydon

#15 motorhead

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 06:35

Nico Rosberg has also a Finnish passport. He is considered a german becouse of his mother is german. He has lived most of his life in Monaco though..basically half of the F1 drivers are from Monaco and other half from Switzerland anyway...

italy and strangely Australia are producing great motogp riders, why is that then? i think it is somewhat a snowball effect, somebody winning a championship can cause a movement of young followers. these youngsters, parents, clubs can see that it is achievable and go for it.

#16 fisssssi

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 06:42

Australia has a pretty good record, surprisingly. We've had four championships between two drivers and came within a spark plug's spark gap of grabbing another one last year.

Poor Webber might have missed his chance but we've got Ricciardo waiting in the wings, so we might increase that number still.

#17 ehagar

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 06:56

If one goes back in time far enough, one would have thought that to be a successful Grand Épreuve driver, you needed to be either Italian or German.

#18 velgajski1

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 06:59

I was just looking though some F1 stats on wikipedia, and came across this list of the number of F1 drivers of specific countries.

http://en.wikipedia....#By_nationality

What I find odd is that out of the 101 italian drivers to have raced in F1, only 2 of them have won the championship. And both of them raced way back in the 1950s. On the other hand, only eight finns have raced in F1 and 3 of them are champions. Why are Italian drivers less successful than others? Is it a lack of talent? Poor driver development? Is the shadow of Scuderia Ferrari too overbearing for them?


Disclaimer: This is complete and utter speculation :)

I think its simply lack of talent caused by weaker feeder series than some other countries. Because of Ferrari maybe its easier for an Italian guy to step in F1 even if he is not as talented, therefore low raced_in_F1/title ratio.

For Finns situation might be opposite, they probably have strongest pool of 'natural' talent in the world (with all their snowy roads and stuff), but its not as easy for them to enter F1 - therefore great ratio.

#19 rommel

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 07:02

Does anyone know what happened to Luizzi? He was world karting champion, and dominated F3000, yet is a crappy below average F1 driver. Always puzzled me. Compare to that Mark Webber who was never more than solid in junior categories but proved to be a strong f1 driver.

Edited by rommel, 05 June 2011 - 07:03.


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#20 Chezrome

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 07:08


A very interesting topic, and one I've discussed earlier on the Nostalgia Forum, I think. Regarding this topic, I think immediately of Michele Alboreto. Younger readers won't remember or know this, but Michele was probably the most coveted driver for teams in the early eighties. He made his debut in 1981, halfway during the season. He won his first Grand Prix in his first full year (Las Vegas, 1982). Now, with Lewis Hamilton, that sounds rather ordinary, but at the time his results were astonishing.

Michele went to Ferrari. Was Prost's best challenger in 1985. He left Ferrari in 1988. Then slowly faded away. He died in a crash with an Audi-sportscar at the Lausitzring.

Now, if anyone was talented enough, it was Michele. It's not only that he did not win the championship, it's also that he won just five grand prix and had such a fading career in F1. My guess is: Michele should never have gone to Ferrari. He just missed the Lauda-Schumacher talent of organising a team around him. As an Italian, he did not have the right contacts to re-establish himself with another team. And then his reputation was tainted.

So the answer to the thread: I think Italian drivers do not have the political talent and contacts of German, Finnish and British drivers. And I also think, because of the political and social organisation of Italy itself, not always the best drivers get the best chances.





#21 Sammyosammy

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 07:14

Snowy winters? Political talent and contacts??? I highly doubt these are the factors bringing finns to F1. Couldn`t it just be the active racing in kart-series by thousands of our kids..
Italian champions? Tough one but maybe the way the Reds are managed nowadays gives one a hint?

#22 DarthWillie

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 07:59

a couple of years ago I read an interview with Briatore, he talked about Fisichella and said something like Fisi lost his drive to win once he got into a topteam. Briatore thought reaching a topteam was Fisi's goal. Once he reached that he lost his motivation. Then he called that an Italian attitude. Without condemning all Italians :rotfl: In Fii's case he seemed a lot better when in the smaller teams.

#23 Bloggsworth

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 08:04

Actually i'd rather say it's the Finns who are the only true anomaly here - a relatively small country with not that many F1 drivers but with disproportionate success.

And if we add the rallying too, then it gets even better for the Finns. Maybe there's something in the water they drink... :p


It's the roads, they learn to slide in their pedal cars and go on from there....

#24 Bloggsworth

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 08:08

The dichotomy is Italian success in motorcycle racing. One would have thought that the skills were not too far apart and that tempramental requirements were similar. There are more British champions than anyone else, but there has to be some compensation for our inability to win football matches.

#25 jimjimjeroo

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 08:08

they have valentino rossi and have nothing to complain about!


They have Jarno Trulli, plenty to complain about!

#26 ForzaGTR

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 08:19

Why doesn't Germany have more champions? 2 is nothing compared to our amazing 10 British champs!

Edited by Olly F1, 05 June 2011 - 08:20.


#27 Group B

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 08:46

Only two of them were good enough. Talent isn't applied evenly after all.

I think it's more to do with the way talent as identified and nurtured; I don't believe the Italian gene base has far less talent than it's British counterpart. Then, of course, as others have said, there's the fact that many teams are based in England, which is bound to have a bearing.

Italy's not alone; look at Germany, three amazing drivers in the 1920s/30s, then only two or three more for 60 years, then within a few years MS & SV, plus the likes of HHF, RS, AS, TG, NR, NH, etc. There's more at play than just the randomness of talent being born; it's clearly also down to a raft of of other factors that change over time in any given country.

#28 differential

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 08:55

Why doesn't Germany have more champions? 2 is nothing compared to our amazing 10 British champs!

Quality over quantity :)

#29 Rob29

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 08:57

Why doesn't Germany have more champions? 2 is nothing compared to our amazing 10 British champs!

Germany certainly had a shortage of drivers in the early years of the world championship.Mercedes failed to provide any home born winners.Argentina fourth greatest nation statisticlly after Uk,Brazil & Germany.Statistics it seems can prove anything? USA F1 drivers came from SCCA sports car racing.That the Indy 500 counted in 50s is meaningless as no one ever scored a point at Indy and elsewhere?

#30 Callahan

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:03

Curiously, if you take the nationality of birth for the Champion drivers, Germany, Italy and Sweden gain a title each, at the expense of Austria, USA and Finland. Most confusing is Andretti; whilst he regards himself as American, he was born in Italy to Italian parents, and lived there until he was fifteen, but the place where he was born is now in Croatia!

Wow, that's interesting

#31 olliek88

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:07

Its a good question, hard to say but i suspect it would have something to do with the very grass roots of italian motorsport, specifically how easy it is to get into karting, I'm purely speculating but i know in the UK karting is readily available and pretty professionally ran, perhaps in the lower levels of italian karting its less so? i don't know though, any Italians on here who can enlighten us?

#32 SCUDmissile

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:10

i dont know why nowadays, but

if F1 WDC started around 1930, we would have had a different story.

Tazio Nuvolari :smoking:



#33 Phucaigh

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:13

Not enough given the best car?

I think they had the drivers for more but maybe the equipment was the biggest factor.

#34 rhukkas

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:21

Its a good question, hard to say but i suspect it would have something to do with the very grass roots of italian motorsport, specifically how easy it is to get into karting, I'm purely speculating but i know in the UK karting is readily available and pretty professionally ran, perhaps in the lower levels of italian karting its less so? i don't know though, any Italians on here who can enlighten us?


Italy is the spiritual home of karting. All the major manufacturers are based there, as well as most of the world's best kart tracks. Britain is quite a way behind Italy in terms of karting. But quite a few top Italian karters are paid professionals so why would they want to leave to go in car racing where you 99% of the time don't get paid, and have next to zero chance of making it unless you have massive backing. Top level karting is as high competition as any top-level motorsport so for a guy like Marco Ardigo (who's probably the best Italian driver in the world) why would he race anywehre else?

However why the Italians don't produce F1 drivers is as much of a mystery to them as it is to everyone else.

Edited by rhukkas, 05 June 2011 - 09:22.


#35 olliek88

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:27

Italy is the spiritual home of karting. All the major manufacturers are based there, as well as most of the world's best kart tracks. Britain is quite a way behind Italy in terms of karting. But quite a few top Italian karters are paid professionals so why would they want to leave to go in car racing where you 99% of the time don't get paid, and have next to zero chance of making it unless you have massive backing.

However why the Italians don't produce F1 drivers is as much of a mystery to them as it is to everyone else.


Thanks, really is quite mystifying as to why a nation with great motorsport heritage, the worlds most famous racing team and good grass roots support can't produce better F1 drivers.

Luizzi looked pretty special early in his career in the lower formula and karting but, for whatever reason, couldn't produce it at the top level.

#36 differential

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:29

Its a good question, hard to say but i suspect it would have something to do with the very grass roots of italian motorsport, specifically how easy it is to get into karting, I'm purely speculating but i know in the UK karting is readily available and pretty professionally ran, perhaps in the lower levels of italian karting its less so? i don't know though, any Italians on here who can enlighten us?


Lol there is a karting place down the road from me. So the it is very accessible.

#37 SCUDmissile

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:35

Robert Kubica did his karting in italy, didnt he?

#38 Bernoulli

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:37

I was just looking though some F1 stats on wikipedia, and came across this list of the number of F1 drivers of specific countries.

http://en.wikipedia....#By_nationality

What I find odd is that out of the 101 italian drivers to have raced in F1, only 2 of them have won the championship. And both of them raced way back in the 1950s. On the other hand, only eight finns have raced in F1 and 3 of them are champions. Why are Italian drivers less successful than others? Is it a lack of talent? Poor driver development? Is the shadow of Scuderia Ferrari too overbearing for them?

Italians are more interested in engineering and mechanical works rather than racing. Myriads of enthusiastic drivers work for Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati. But yes, it's a myth why there are no real champion drivers from Italy at the moment despite having the biggest sporting car industry in the world.

#39 olliek88

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 10:14

Lol there is a karting place down the road from me. So the it is very accessible.


I was just speculating, i didn't know wether or not italy had plenty of karting venues or not, but seems they do then.

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#40 Henrik B

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 10:48

Curiously, if you take the nationality of birth for the Champion drivers, Germany, Italy and Sweden gain a title each, at the expense of Austria, USA and Finland.


There is this long standing misconception that Keke was somehow originally Swedish. He was born a Finn, by Finnish parents, in Stockholm. Swedish law does NOT grant citizenship because of place of birth. Sweden gains no title since Keke never had Swedish nationality.

#41 ForzaGTR

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 11:04

Quality over quantity :)


That argument doesn't work here mate. And Jim Clark >>> Schumi

Edited by Olly F1, 05 June 2011 - 11:05.


#42 Luca Pacchiarini

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 11:04

Ferrari, which attracts all the media attention and leaves very little sponsors for the lower series and for italian talents in other championships.

#43 man

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 12:09

Even though I am a huge fan of Michele Alboreto, he was never quite in the same category as the very best even during his peak years. Arnoux was already fading when Michele joined Ferrari in 1984 and Johansson was more than a match for the Michele in 1986. Berger pretty much ended Alboreto's hopes of continuing for a top team for 1989. Still, he will always be remembered for being a quick driver and on his day great to watch (Monaco 1985) while always remaining a real gentleman.

I think Elio de Angelis was the best Italy has had to offer since the 1970's. He really could have been genuine WDC material if he had managed to be in the right team at the right time. Very fast, especially when you consider he got the better of Mansell from 1981-1984 and he was probably the driver that could push Senna in qualifying more than any other team mate the Brazilian has had.

On their days, Giacomelli, Patrese, De Cesaris, Nannini, Capelli, Trulli could all be very fast - enough to match the greats of their eras but for some reason (too emotional?) could never maintain their performance over a season.

#44 Henrik B

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 12:19

Even though I am a huge fan of Michele Alboreto, he was never quite in the same category as the very best even during his peak years. Arnoux was already fading when Michele joined Ferrari in 1984 and Johansson was more than a match for the Michele in 1986.


Speaking of which, read an interview with Johansson a few days ago where he regretted that he never broke the team orders he was given at Ferrari. He would've really liked having at least one GP win to his name.


#45 glorius&victorius

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 12:25

Ferrari, which attracts all the media attention and leaves very little sponsors for the lower series and for italian talents in other championships.



that would be interesting to further analyse...

but perhaps it lies in the crop of italian drivers... if they were as good as rossi is in motorcycling, ferrari would have given them a seat.

alboreto, capelli were the last ferrari drivers (with larini a one off...)

of the italian drivers of the 90s... fisichella and trulli were the biggest talents... both were excellent in karting, lower formulae series... made a reasonably well entry into F1...

but Ferrari never gave them a chance.

Both trulli and fisi drove for renault f1 when it was at its top.. (or close to)..

but since the 50s why there were no more WDCs... maybe the driver side development towards F1 has not been too great.
but then some current F1 drivers were bred in Italy: Massa, Kubica, etc...




#46 Oho

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 12:31

Nico Rosberg has also a Finnish passport. He is considered a german becouse of his mother is german.


Not really he is considered German because he races under German license. He switched from Finnish to German license when he moved to GP2 or F1, in junior formulae he raced with Finnish license.


#47 Bernoulli

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 12:32

Football rules in Italy.

But so does in Britain, Finland and Brazil

#48 kismet

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 12:35

In Finland? Hah!

#49 Tsarwash

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 12:43

Curiously, if you take the nationality of birth for the Champion drivers, Germany, Italy and Sweden gain a title each, at the expense of Austria, USA and Finland. Most confusing is Andretti; whilst he regards himself as American, he was born in Italy to Italian parents, and lived there until he was fifteen, but the place where he was born is now in Croatia!

This misquote attributed to the Duke of Wellington sums it up for me. 'Being born in a stable doesn't make you a horse.'


#50 the9th

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 12:48

Why are there so many talented Italian drivers in touring car series then? :smoking:
F1 is not a sport, it's business my friends...