Much has been made over the past month about the impact of Robert Kubica's decision to take part in a rally in Italy.
At the time, it was a case of the Renault driver taking the opportunity to indulge in his passion, but as we all now know, it was a decision that has ultimately led to his career as an F1 driver being left in severe doubt.
Of course, Kubica isn't the only driver from the F1 arena to indulge in other activities, with a growing number of top names switching disciplines when their time on the F1 grid draws to a close.
While many elect to take on the challenge of sportscars, with the likes of Alex Wurz, David Brabham and Giancarlo Fisichella all featuring on the entry list for this weekend's ALMS season-opener at Sebring, a growing number are now racing historic machinery, with Roberto Moreno the latest to go 'back in time' after competing in the inaugural Masters Historic Festival and Top Hat Raceday at Oulton Park in an Austin Mini Cooper S.
However, while big names are undoubtedly a draw for fans, what are the implications of a driver swapping a state of the art racing machine for something more primitive?
“Moving between vehicles and series is nothing new for drivers within the motorsport world,” comments Dominic Crossley, a partner with leading motorsport law firm Collyer Bristow. “However, with the current growth in popularity of historic racing, and the number of former F1 drivers getting behind the wheel of these old cars increasing, historic racing could change dramatically.
“Driving in the carbon fibre cocoon of an open-topped F1 car at speeds exceeding 180 miles per hour is obviously a very different experience to being behind the wheel of a pre-66 Mini Cooper S at Oulton Park. With more professional drivers involved in historic motorsport, there are huge positives in terms of profile and sponsorship coming into this much-loved species of motorsport. The passionate, but less-experienced, historic drivers will be thrilled to race against the stars they have admired on television and this must inevitably increase the attraction for other participants to get involved in the sport. All this is much to the good.
“Is there a down-side? If there is a vast disparity in the speed and skills of the participants, there may well be an increased risk of impacts. If this proves to be the case, insurance premiums will rise and may get to the point that amateur drivers are pushed out of the sport.
“However, in reality, while the entry of professional drivers into the historic world can only be good for the sport, let's hope that it remains, at its heart, a home for the amateur drivers that make it what it is.”
Thanks to our colleagues at Collyer Bristow. For more information, click on the following link: Motorsport Law