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Working class heroes in F1


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#1 ElJefe

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 13:35

Motorsports (and notably F1) has always been expensive and it probably always will be that way. Despite that Formula 1 claims to be the pinnacle of motorsports with the 22 best drivers in the world, making your way up the motorsports ladder and getting into F1 requires more than pure skill and a bit of luck. It shouldn't come as a surprise to you that money plays often a crucial role that can make or break a career. As a result, even at the lower levels motorsports was usually a pastime for the wealthy and a lot of succesful drivers (for example Lauda, Senna or Piquet) were born in an upper class environment. I was wondering though whether there are also examples of drivers who come from a very humble background but made it to F1, in order see whether this stereotype is accurate or not.

 

Two drivers immediately came to my mind and they were Hamilton and both Schumacher brothers, three blokes who made at the top tier against all the odds. Are there any other examples?



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#2 TheUltimateWorrier

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 13:41

I don't know if Mansell came from a humble background, but his rise to Formula 1 was against the odds.



#3 Tonka

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 13:49

Graham Hill.  Started racing aged 24 after paying 5 shillings (25 pence) a lap to drive round Brands Hatch to see what car racing was about.

 

When Graham died, he left his family in deep debt and his son Damon also got to the top from nothing.  Oddly, Damon's son, Josh gave up racing this year and I assume he never struggled for money.


Edited by Tonka, 11 September 2013 - 13:49.


#4 OldSoldier2

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 13:54

Both Alonso and Vettel had humble backgrounds. Alsonso's dad a machinist and Vettel's a carpenter. And I almost forgot Kimi. Think I read he lived in a place with an outhouse and his father repaired roads for a living.

 

Comparatively, I think Hamilton had slightly better economic circumstances. 


Edited by Gilles4Ever, 11 September 2013 - 15:44.
Off topic: But then he had to face the racism monster that the others didn't.


#5 Wander

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 13:56

I believe that neither Kimi Räikkönen nor Heikki Kovalainen come from wealthy families.



#6 Vesuvius

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 14:02

Kimi definately comes from not so wealthy family, if I remember right Kimi's dad had to do two jobs to be able to support Kimi's driving career and bring food to the family....then Robertson came and helped a lot.

#7 rhukkas

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 14:03

Hamilton's dad wasn't particularly wealthy at all. he ended up working 2-3 three jobs to keep Lewis on the teack until Zip and McLaren started helping out. One thing I do know now is I don't see any 'working class' drivers achieving anything like the success they did now. The prices in karting are astronomical and the money is no longer sloshing about to help less wealthy drivers. 


Edited by rhukkas, 11 September 2013 - 14:04.


#8 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 14:07

The accents are a giveaway most of the time.

#9 The Kanisteri

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 14:10

Mika Häkkinen's father had two jobs to fund Mika's expensive karting hobby. Keke Rosberg sold carpets from his own little shop to fund his own early international driving career.



#10 OvDrone

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 14:24

Jim Clark.



#11 ensign14

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 14:33

Hm, I don't think Clark quite fits in with this, he went to Loretto after all.

 

Brian Henton was market-trading in Leicester when he was 15 to support his family (I think after his father died).

 

Not F1, but didn't Tony Kanaan come from a pretty rough background?  And in NASCAR Bobby Isaac had to be shown how to order from diners by a team-owner as he'd never been able to afford a burger. 



#12 eronrules

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 14:39

i think it's better to limit our discussion to recent F1 pilots, cause if we go back to 60s and 70s , well back then the whole philosophy of F1 drivers and sponsors was different. Drivers back then didn't have to start from age 3 or 4 to become f1 driver.

 

one of the reasons why current drivers need good monetary connection before 10 years of age is how many different categories they have to endeavor. equipment and participation costs are going up each year. soon we'll have the era when parents need to earn a minimum of 250.000 $ each year to even begin thinking about making their child a race car driver. 

 

back to topic, of the current ferrari lineup

1. kimi raikkonenMatti Räikkönen is a machineman who is a mechanic with skillful fingers. Paula is a secretary, a woman of action.

2. Fernando alonso - His mother worked in a department store and his father was employed as a mechanic in an explosives factory near Oviedo

 

here's a part of interview with kimi's mother Paula and father Matti

 

http://kimiraikkonen...bout-their-son/

 

 

 

 "When the boys (kimi's brother Rami is a professional Rally driver in finland) started to drive national races – Kimi was eight -

we had to get a van and a trailor so that we could get to the races,"
Paula continues.

"It took all the time, money and strength," she calmly says.

Matti worked two or three jobs, drove taxi and was a doorman.
Sometimes they had to decide whether to continue the boy’s driving
business or make an indoor toilet. They didn’t and the boys got to
continue.

"Once we came all the way from Belgium to Finland with only a Shell  :cool: 
credit card. Fortunately the family stuck together!" Matti tells. 

 

 

about alonso, a rough translation in Bing ...

 

http://www.biografia...ernando_alonso/

 

 

Their projection was brilliant, from city to city and from circuit to circuit, with an old Peugeot his father, driving while the other competitors arrived in Mercedes or BMW. His father was of mechanical and counselor. In 1989 was proclaimed champion of karting of Asturias and Galicia. The following year he should compete because in the Cadet category, rather than for the modest family became prohibitive: «I bought him a go-kart at first hand and it should take care of it until the age of eighteen. We had to begin to compete in Europe and I had no money to deal with so many expenses,"has confessed to his father. When they had already decided to withdraw to the desperation of the lad of eleven years, arose the «miracle». Appeared Genis marked, importer of karts that infatuated qualities of lad, to the extent that it premiered a kart in each race and scored got you sponsors for trips or putting himself money from your pocket.

Edited by eronrules, 11 September 2013 - 15:05.


#13 scheivlak

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 14:48

Jim Clark.

His father was a pretty wealthy farmer.



#14 ElJefe

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 14:55

Anecdotes and stories would be quite helpful instead of just naming some drivers guys, thanks ^^. Fangio came to my mind actually, born in the Argentinean countryside to poor farmers and his driving skills were discovered by chance during military service. He started competing in pan-American rallies and quickly became famous by winning these gruelling challenges. Juan Peron, for propaganda purposes, eventually bought him a Merc to race in Europe and the rest is, quite literally, history.

#15 Imperial

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 15:12

Does anyone know much about Jarno Trulli's upbringing?

 

I'm assuming he came from a, perhaps relatively, modest background.  It was well into Jarno's career that he purchased a vineyard for his father to work on in his retirement, I believe that was what a couple of years later morphed into the fully fledged Trulli wine business (and it's a nice wine by the way).  If his father was working in some capacity and didn't have the money to buy his own business, I assume they were a fairly regular family.

 

The thing is, we say things like 'modest' or 'normal' upbringing and someone has cited Kimi and Alonso as examples of such, but it still isn't in terms of being working class.  True working class do not even have the money to get by on a wing and a prayer and a credit card while putting their son through a race upbringing.  I've always found the bio's of drivers early years to be somewhat exaggerated when it comes to their poor upbringing.



#16 TimRTC

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 15:26

The only real chance of getting a penniless "working class" driver into the higher reaches of modern motorsport is via a scheme like the Nissan GT Academy. Unfortunately since this requires huge investment from the teams it is unlikely to ever become a major source of drivers (and if all the teams started doing it then the PR benifits would be lost).

 

The "working class" moniker does seem a little out of place in this context since even a lot of drivers who are receiving family funding for their progress towards F1, don't come from silver-spoon backgrounds. A driver like Adrian Quaife-Hobbs is funded by the Quaife engineering firm founded by his grandfather.



#17 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 15:31

Whether it's old or new money, it's still wealth.

#18 eronrules

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 15:34

 

The thing is, we say things like 'modest' or 'normal' upbringing and someone has cited Kimi and Alonso as examples of such, but it still isn't in terms of being working class.  True working class do not even have the money to get by on a wing and a prayer and a credit card while putting their son through a race upbringing.  I've always found the bio's of drivers early years to be somewhat exaggerated when it comes to their poor upbringing.

 

here's the thing mate, unlike sports like football or cricket, where the equipment cost is insignificant and most player that do come to the top are spotted way early into there career and brought up by wealthy Club/national youth programs, Motorsport isn't like that. sure there is Red Bull junior program or BRDC program, but those are few and far between.

 

as i said, if we discard 60s and 70s as those times drivers didn't need to start very early  to be in highest categories, then you'll be hard pressed to find a drive that came from a very very poor family. Motorsport is expensive, even for the poor people. You need to buy a cart, and have money for entry, tire and fuel for at least the first 10 years. also you'll need to have  a transport to carry all the stuff. if you're family has a  'hands to mouth' existence, then you can forget about Motorsport. 

 

another thing to consider is where Motorsport is available and has a culture around it. take china (not recent, early 2000) or india for example. these are two of the biggest countries in the world, yet the no. of Motorsport activities are embarrassingly non existent. most often than not  the appeal of motor sport  works only in those countires that has  motoring industry, higher GDP and peoples passion on motoring. and coincidentally you'll need all those factors to make you propel to the top of the ladder.  

 

BTW, i'm happy to be proven wrong if anyone finds any proof of anyone coming from a very very poor family.


Edited by Gilles4Ever, 11 September 2013 - 15:53.
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#19 Gilles4Ever

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 15:44

Posts removed please keep to the topic "Working class heroes in F1",  drivers who come from a very humble background.

The thread is about weatlh, not gender or race.



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#20 MarileneRiddle

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 16:01

Sebastian Vettel pretty much came from a working class family. His dad was a carpenter (but out of a job now since people wouldn't pay for his furniture even since Sebastian became world champion), mother a housewife, elder sisters a physio and a horse trainer. What I find most touching is that Norbert was so willing to sacrifice even his own career for Sebastian's sake.

 

Full story here, with interesting anecdotes (from watering the small track in front of the house because the space was too small for Sebastian to take the corner otherwise, to Britta calling Sebastian 'the boss'. Quite an interesting read. :up:


Edited by MarileneRiddle, 11 September 2013 - 16:01.


#21 William Hunt

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 16:29

René Arnoux fits the discription, in contrast to his French colleagues in F1 (Prost, Pironi) he was of working class background and you could hear this in his accent. Quick driver, lady's man and a very nice block though. He came really close to winning the title for Ferrari in 1983, maybe he deserved most to win it that year. The fact that Ferrari had two first drivers that year (Arnoux & Tambay) didn't exactly help him since Tambay took some points away from him.



#22 William Hunt

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 16:31

I don't know if Mansell came from a humble background, but his rise to Formula 1 was against the odds.

 True but his background was not that humble: he was an engineer (in aerospace technology I believe). I believe he did Mansell ive in a caravan in his F. Ford or F3 days: he used every penny he had to finance his race carreer so in that aspect he fits the description. Will have to re-read his biography again to be sure about what I'm claiming but I am sure he finished engineering studies.



#23 motorhead

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 16:43

Kimi´s childhood without indoor toilet. Sounds like a story from rags to riches



#24 Alfisti

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 16:43

Webber is from Quenbeyan, 'nuff said. 



#25 Jackmancer

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 16:46

Mansell took a mortgage on his house so he could pay for a seat, I think in F3.



#26 Taxi

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 16:49

Piquet was kind of rich, and used to sign Piket so that his politician father  [who wanted him to be a Tennis player] didn't know he was hanging around with old beatles racing with the rest of the "working class". Annnnnnnnnd................................................................. then he ended up with Nigel Mansell. Lol. 


Edited by Taxi, 11 September 2013 - 16:49.


#27 William Hunt

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 16:50

Mansell took a mortgage on his house so he could pay for a seat, I think in F3.

 

I actually thought he had sold his house but you may be right, I need to read his biography again.



#28 F1ultimate

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 16:56

Hamilton's dad wasn't particularly wealthy at all. he ended up working 2-3 three jobs to keep Lewis on the teack until Zip and McLaren started helping out. One thing I do know now is I don't see any 'working class' drivers achieving anything like the success they did now. The prices in karting are astronomical and the money is no longer sloshing about to help less wealthy drivers. 

 

Mclaren supported his development but their Young Driver Program does not pay for racing, that is left for the parent to take care of. Lewis did not have Formula 3 or GP2 entry paid for by Mclaren.



#29 ApexOversteer

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 17:16

Kimi, Mansell & Vettel comes to mind.



#30 Currahee

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 17:30

His father was a pretty wealthy farmer.

 

His father may have been wealthy but he certainly didn't fund any of Clarks career.



#31 scheivlak

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 17:31

Webber is from Quenbeyan, 'nuff said. 

Not being an Australian, I'm having a guess but I'm still interested what that means.



#32 expert

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 17:34

Mansell took a mortgage on his house so he could pay for a seat, I think in F3.

 

How bourgeoisie



#33 scheivlak

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 17:44

His father may have been wealthy but he certainly didn't fund any of Clarks career.

But that's a different topic.



#34 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 17:45

Mclaren supported his development but their Young Driver Program does not pay for racing, that is left for the parent to take care of. Lewis did not have Formula 3 or GP2 entry paid for by Mclaren.

Mclaren supported his development but their Young Driver Program does not pay for racing, that is left for the parent to take care of. Lewis did not have Formula 3 or GP2 entry paid for by Mclaren.


I think they did, at one point they nearly left McLaren because they wanted to do GP2 in 2005 instead of another year of Euroseries. If they were paying for it(and how could they?) they would have raced in whatever series they wanted.

#35 kismet

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 18:04

I think the term 'working class' is understood a bit differently in Finland than in, say, Britain.



#36 rhukkas

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 18:08

Mclaren supported his development but their Young Driver Program does not pay for racing, that is left for the parent to take care of. Lewis did not have Formula 3 or GP2 entry paid for by Mclaren.

 

McLaren and Mercedes funded Hamilton's racing. There was no way on earth his dad had the money to pay for F3 and GP2. 



#37 Wander

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 18:11

I think the term 'working class' is understood a bit differently in Finland than in, say, Britain.

 

The term is hardly known at all in Finland. Class society is not really a thing that comes up over here. I was raised by a single parent nurse so I was less wealthy than most of my friends, but would that mean that I have a "working class background?" I don't think so, but I haven't really ever thought about it.


Edited by Wander, 11 September 2013 - 18:12.


#38 Alfisti

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 18:16

Not being an Australian, I'm having a guess but I'm still interested what that means.

http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Queanbeyan



#39 unitedevents

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 18:39

I think Vergne's family isn't very rich. Van der Garde was long time factory driver in karts and his sponsorship comes from his wife's family. I don't know about Bottas or Maldonado as they're just well connected.

Lately most of the drivers really do come from rich families, which shows how expensive is karting nowadays. Usually the good drivers don't have money.



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#40 keiichi

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 18:51

Even though Piquet comes from a wealthy family, he had absolutely no support from them. His father was completely against his racing aspirations. He got it done working as a mechanic and in the beginning sometimes racing with cars the people left at the workshop without the owner's knowledge.

 

He has kind of a crazy story, It's all in here:

 

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=-K_cMNqlIAw

 

Only problem is that it's in Portuguese.



#41 Dunc

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 18:52

Part of the problem in discussing this issue is defining class.  It is not just about money but the environment you grow up in and the attitudes you are exposed to.  Plus, is it something that lasts for life or does it change?

 

Take Lewis Hamilton for example.  Brought up on a council estate, family wasn't rich - on the surface quite working class.  But his dad was very aspirational for him, some would argue this is not a working class trait but one for the lower middle classes.  Plus the jobs he did, as far as I'm aware, were semi-skilled - again, this can be seen as lower middle class.  Now Lewis is a multi-millionaire, is he still working class or lower middle class, or has he now moved up the social ladder?



#42 Realyn

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 18:52

There was a F1 driver who took his cart tyres out of the trash can, because he/his family wasn't able to afford new ones. He then won on said tyres which weren't "good" enough for other people.

 

His name? Michael Schumacher. //thread!



#43 Sin

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 19:00

Motorsports (and notably F1) has always been expensive and it probably always will be that way. Despite that Formula 1 claims to be the pinnacle of motorsports with the 22 best drivers in the world, making your way up the motorsports ladder and getting into F1 requires more than pure skill and a bit of luck. It shouldn't come as a surprise to you that money plays often a crucial role that can make or break a career. As a result, even at the lower levels motorsports was usually a pastime for the wealthy and a lot of succesful drivers (for example Lauda, Senna or Piquet) were born in an upper class environment. I was wondering though whether there are also examples of drivers who come from a very humble background but made it to F1, in order see whether this stereotype is accurate or not.

 

Two drivers immediately came to my mind and they were Hamilton and both Schumacher brothers, three blokes who made at the top tier against all the odds. Are there any other examples?

 

Vettel was from what I know not from a rich family either... from what I have seen in news reports it was a normal german lower-middleclass family, but compared to elsewhere in the world that probably is rich...

oh and since Marilene filled in the details.... I got carpenters in my family too... it's really hard to find jobs in that area here in germany... many factories moved to countries where production is cheaper...

 

so all german F1 drivers (those that come to my mind) with the exception of Sutil and Rosberg seem to have come from lower - middle class families... which here means about equal possibilities

 

I know Frentzens father was a mortician and Heinz-Harald was making an apprenticeship in that area before his F1 career started..

 

Nico Hülkenbergs father is hauler (correct me if that word is wrong just used vocabulary book), and Nico started an apprenticeship there

 

I'm not exactly sure what Sutils father did... I know he played music in a munich orchester or was that his mother... at least they were musicians and he seems to come from a slightly more conservative background..

 

Rosberg... well we all know about Nico Rosbergs father...

 

don't know anything bout Nick Heidfeld or Timo Glock

 

what about the drivers from poorer countries?


Edited by Sin, 11 September 2013 - 19:16.


#44 eronrules

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 19:03

Not being an Australian, I'm having a guess but I'm still interested what that means.

 

 

go to wikipedia for more http://en.wikipedia....iki/Mark_Webber

 

 

 

Webber was born in Queanbeyan, New South Wales,[5] son of Alan, a local motorcycle dealer. ......


#45 DS27

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 19:11

Brian Henton. I remember rooting for him as a boy.

 

Not the most talented bloke to sit in an F1 car, but the fact he ever got there at all is worth celebrating. Video footage of him prepping his F1 / F2 cars in his council house garage are nostalga heaven.



#46 Jejking

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 19:19

There was a F1 driver who took his cart tyres out of the trash can, because he/his family wasn't able to afford new ones. He then won on said tyres which weren't "good" enough for other people.

 

His name? Michael Schumacher. //thread!

This, Schumacher was lucky to meet the right people at the right time. Dad and Mom Schumacher were definitely poor.



#47 Higli

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 19:22

How can you forget Michael and Ralf Schumacher on this list?

 

They both grew up in very poor circumstances and only his father running the Kart track at Kerpen got them into motorracing. But the family was still pretty poor when they ran the business.



#48 Sin

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 19:23

This, Schumacher was lucky to meet the right people at the right time. Dad and Mom Schumacher were definitely poor.

 

that seems like  a legend tho.... if you know the german social system you would know that unless you live on the street you are not really poor.... I don't think he was that terrible much poorer than for example Frentzen, Vettel or even Hülkenberg...

 

particulary Vettel, carpenter is a really low end job...

 

I dunno it sounds so much like legend.... I lived in germany all my life and had many friends who weren't that rich... but it really didn't stop them taking part on anything...

 

however if you give me a source.... I gladly let you correct me

 

yeah and if their father was running a Kart track he couldn't have been that terrible poor either.. also in germany you get from state a certain amount of money per month  for every kid you have

 

of course they were lower-middleclass but the way you describe things you make it sound like they had nothing or had to starve... and that just doesn't fit in with the german social system... so I really doubt it... and it sounds so much like a legend, to make Schumi sound even bigger...


Edited by Sin, 11 September 2013 - 19:27.


#49 rolf123

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 19:31

Most drivers today come from the suburban middle class, which is not really what I consider to be the working class. Hence why their career were supported from a young age, such kids were spoiled even in comparison to their neighbors, with ever spare penny spent on them. They are very fortunate indeed.

 

This is very different to the old, traditional working class, though there is some overlap. But take the case of the working man in the inner city. I'm yet to see an F1 driver or even a tennis player come from these ranks.

 

Damon Hill worked as a motorcycle courier in London as I understand it. And given that his family never got the insurance money, I'd consider him to be working class.

 

The term "working class" is a bit outdated anyway. There used to be the working class and the upper class. The class structure is much more complex than that nowadays. But all things said and done, you have to be a spoilt middle class brat for the last 30 years to make it into F1.



#50 Higli

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 19:32

however if you give me a source.... I gladly let you correct me

 

Google will give you a list of sources.

 

I guess you grew up in Germany in a pretty wealthy/middleclass family? So did I and I know that there are definitely many "poor" families in this country. Of course they don't starve, but that cannot hold as a borderline.


Edited by Higli, 11 September 2013 - 19:34.