Former Grand Prix racer and current reserve driver for Hispania Racing F1 Team – he actually returned to the F1 cockpit for the last 3 races of 2010 – Christian Klien was the first to state this out loud, saying that exotic locations for F1 lead to exotic drivers, who don't have the background and racing pedigree of an Italian, British or German racer.
“It is pretty hard when you are from central Europe.” said the 27-year old in a recent interview with Vorarlberg Online. “F1 has internationalised very quickly and previously as a Briton, an Italian, a Frenchman, you had a good chance.”
“Today there are more cockpits from before, but the driver market is being fed from many more countries; Russia, India, the southeast Asian region, and now probably Korea and China. And if you're the eighth German, then it is very difficult. Look at France and Italy – 20 years ago there were ten of each. And today?”
Additionally, he underlined the pay-driver era Formula One is going through in present days – of course, there have been pay drivers in the series from time to time, but the current situation exceeds all previous such experiences – with Nico Hulkenberg and Kimi Raikkonen being two loud examples to demonstrate it.
“Nico Hulkenberg's case shows that there are no guarantees. He had a great debut year with a pole position in Brazil, and he's out. Even a big name like Kimi Raikkonen in the world rally championship is relying on sponsors to get his cockpit. And in F1 the teams are under enormous cost pressure.”