Mark Winterbottom has applauded young drivers’ decisions to represent themselves in contract negotiations, as the silly season becomes a hot topic in V8 Supercars.
The current champion has raced with Prodrive Racing Australia over 10 years and joked at Phillip Island he’d need to be wheeled out of the place at the end of his career.
While ‘Frosty’ said negotiations were likely to play on drivers’ minds outside of the car, he finds it an enjoyable part of the job.
Both Scott McLaughlin and Scott Pye discussed being self-managed after their Phillip Island results, and while Winterbottom acknowledged negotiations would play on those drivers’ minds, he believes it’s the way to go.
“When you hop out the car, there’s no doubt they think about it, but someone like Scott [McLaughlin] is going to get a drive – they’re in demand,” Winterbottom told v8supercars.com.
“That’s actually a fun part of the whole business … it gets competitive because you think you’re worth this, and they don’t want to pay that and I enjoy it.
“To walk out, shake your hand, you feel happy and the team feels happy, that’s the perfect negotiation – and a manager can’t [do that]. I don’t think they can.
“So it’s good to see drivers control their own thing, because when they negotiate, they’re representing themselves.”
Prodrive gave Winterbottom an opportunity back in 2006 and he has rewarded the team with a top five championship finish every year since, as well as netting PRA’s first Bathurst 1000 win and championship.
For him, the loyalty between team and driver is something that has helped forge his identity with the fans.
“The loyalty versus money – you’ve got to weigh it up,” he said.
“I’ve never been on the market to have a look at what’s out there, but if you’re happy in your place – I really love the guys here, I’ve worked with them a long time and the bosses are great. It’s a really good environment.”
Winterbottom agrees a deal has to be at the right price – team owners must be aware of the market value of a driver – but believes loyalty can offer more in the long-run.
For Frosty, being a long-time Ford driver has helped forge his identity with fans.
“You’ve got to look at [the deal], evaluate it and you look at other drivers,” he said.
“You want to get to the end of your career, in my opinion, look back and go ‘you know what, I gave everything to that team, they gave me everything’. Walk out the door, shake hands and be content with that.
“The fans have supported you, because they’re team loyal as much as they’re driver loyal. So they’ve gone on the journey with you – it’s that whole thing, you’ve got to look at those things.
“Footy is the perfect example with [Geelong turned Gold Coast great Gary] Ablett. If I was Ablett, I would’ve stayed at Geelong, because the legacy of what he created was huge. So if you swap teams – you’ve got to look at that.”
Ultimately for Winterbottom, V8 Supercars racing is more than just a job. He enjoys the team environment and says he won’t race on when he no longer feels he is competitive.
“You’re getting them [the team] results, they’re giving you results … it’s not just to fill your pocket.
“That’s why the day you’re not competitive, you just stop, because you could probably earn another three years off your reputation or whatever but if you’re not competitive, it’s too intense.
“That’s why I race for results ... you win and everything else comes with it.”
For more from Frosty, stay tuned for tonight’s episode of Inside Supercars on FOX SPORTS 506 at 7.30pm AEST.