News and views on motorsports

Friday, April 30, 2004

Ferrari quits?

Nooooo!!!! Good god. Who would there be to hate? OK so I believe that Ferrari is more like a political party than a sporting team. But quit??! In this story by Autosport Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo revealed that quitting "could be an idea."

This is so unfair. The battle between Ferrari vs. the rest is like the battle between Morgoth the enemy and the Valar and the Elves in Tolkien's Silmarillion. Should they decide to quit after 2007 we would be robbed of an on going epic battle. Sure I hate Ferrari's guts but they do provide the drama in Formula 1. I'm going to miss seething everytime they win and absolute rejoice whenever they lose.

Well, to be sure they keyword here is "could." They could quit but it is by no means sure. 2007 is still about 3 years away. So thing might settle before then. At issue really is the battle between the teams and SLEC for greater share of revenues from Formula 1. The manufacturers have their point of course. They invest so much money in the sport they do deserve more returns out of it. One Bernie Ecclestone could argue that in fact the exposure they gain worldwide to an audience of more than a billion viewers should be all the return they need. But times are tight and budgets are inflating sky high and I'm sure the manufacturers want more relief. And they are the ones providing the show. Without them, Bernie has no circus.

Luca believes that the manufacturers are not serious in establishing the alternative Grand Prix World Championship. They will either choose to stay or they will leave grand prix racing altogether. A GPWC is not something they will choose to establish. By his reponse I think Ferrari wants a GPWC and if they don't get it then quitting Formula 1 is a real option. I think they have more reason to want this. For one Ferrari are the most recognisable brand name in the world. More so than Coke for instance. I guess they could argue they add the glamour to Formula 1. And they would be right. Fiat and Marlboro pour in some US$400 million a year to the Ferrari's Formula 1 operation yearly. This figure is increasing. Fiat cannot afford to do this forever without getting some cash returns from TV rights.

A few months ago the GPWC was effectively dead until talks between the teams and Bernie fell through again. Now it's back on again. Heck, I'm really on the side of the manufacturers. Bernie (and Willi Webber) ought to just burn in hell for their boundless greed. Bernie has made Formula 1 more like a corporate hell hole than sport. All the corporate sponsor ass licking really makes me sick sometimes. The drivers have become these mindless corporate drones, all fake smiles, all the professional corporate posturing. He is slowly choking the spirit of the sport.

When I first watched Formula 1 some twenty years ago I felt that it was a racing event. Sport, racing, the BATTLE (as the Japanese would say). Now its a corporate day out. The proportion of corporate drones who have no knowledge of racing at all in the pits these days have increased tremendously. I'd rather watch Touring Cars or the Japan GT Championship. They have a pure racing feel to it. They're watched by real racing fans and participated by people who are pure racers, and they raced on REAL racing circuits. Not these ugly Hermann Tilke hairpin fest. Sepang, Bahrain, Shanghai. God damn they suck.

Funny thing is Bernie was once a team owner. A racer. But then after establishing the Formula One Constructors Association (FOCA) and then Formula One Administration (FOA) and also FISA vice president he's gone downhill. The teams themselves are pretty tired of his greed. Even Ferrari of all people. Even the political cronies are sick of it. That ought to tell you something.

I really hope Formula 1 survives in the long run. And I hope Ferrari will still be there for me to hate. I hope Formula 1 returns to its root as being the ultimate motorsport event. Keyword: MOTORSPORT not CORPORATE.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Villeneuve to return?

Autosport is carrying a news article regarding the possible to Jacques Villeneuve to Williams. Apparently their sources tell us that Jacques in on the shortlist. Furthermore, this would depend on Ralf Schumacher leaving the team.

First off, I would say that despite the many accusations of Jacques being an overrated spoilt brat, I think he has proven in the past that he is a real racer. Cast your mind back to the 1996 Portugese Grand Prix when he passed Schumacher going round the outside of the final turn as Estoril. No doubt a move inspired by oval racing in his championship winning performance in the Indycar World Series in 1995. That was certainly a sight to behold and I bet surprised Schuey no end. Remember also his performance in the 1995 Indianapolis 500 race when he won after being a lap down on the leader.

As for natural speed, this man certainly has plenty of it. Sometimes though he spends his time battling himself rather than letting his natural talent flow through. One would expect that now that his no longer the whipper snapper in the field, he would have matured enough to have more control.

I think his time at BAR must have been a very frustrating one. However, I think his trust in his manager Craig Pollock was misguided. Pollock really has no business in Formula 1 and it is no surprise that much of BAR's history was marred by internal strife and in fighting. Pollock finally exited and good riddance. I mean, a guy who can claim during BAR's first season, that they were going to win races immediately clearly has no idea about Formula 1.

With David Richards in BAR the situation has changed tremendously. Richards, the boss of Prodrive is a no nonsense kind of guy and like Flavio Briatore is the kind of person who is able through force of personality and cunning, to mould and direct a team effectively. The problem was Jacques. No doubt about his speed. But then, no doubt about Jenson Button's speed neither. And yet here was one driver who demanded an exorbitant wage. Money that could have been diverted into the development and testing of the car. Yes Jacques can make the argument that he's been there a long time and took a lot of shit during that time, but he took a lot out of the team as well. David has a mission. And pleasing Jacques is not one of them when Button can do a good job as well.

I guess it's a value for money thing. And Jacques despite the enormous talent did not represent the kind of value for money a fledgling team like BAR needs. Also, I bet Honda put some pressure on David Richards to let Takuma Sato have a full time drive. By the way, I like Sato. He's got talent but I think he needs to have more zen in his driving. At the moment its just too Kamikaze and its wrecking his car and his own driving. Let the force flow through you Taku! Don't fight it.

But that's a different story. Frank and Patrick can afford Jacques I suppose. And it would be great to see Jacques in Formula 1. Certainly he would represent a better value to Williams than Ralf does. I mean come on. Him and his greedy bitch agent Willi Webber are asking wages more like big brother Schueys. And Ralf is nowhere near his brother's standard. If he was Giancarlo Fisichella would not have completely whipped his ass during their time together at Jordan.

Formula 1 in general needs another world champion competing in the championship. The only one that's free and available is Jacques Villeneuve. JPM v. MS v. KR v. JB v JV. Now that's a championship.

Jacques however, needs to grow up if he gets another shot in a top team.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Somethings racing other things not

Hello and welcome to my Blog. Easy publishing on the world wide web. Glorious isn't it? This actually my first post. Below and in the archives are some articles I had created last year, commenting on the state of Formula 1 in 2003. I have actually been waiting to publish them but never really got around to it.

I actually found by accident. What I really wanted was a beta gmail account. But they seem to have removed that link. But never mind. At least I got some place to put all these articles in.

So here it is and from now on there will be more frequent commentry on racing and some other things not connected to it. Most of the racing commentry you see will relate to Formula 1 but it won't always be the case I assure you. I have been a racing fan for the last 20 years and I certainly think there is life away from Formula 1.