News and views on motorsports

Friday, June 11, 2004

Sign of the times

Revealed on Autosport:

Mercedes-Benz chairman Jürgen Hubbert has launched a scathing attack on his own West McLaren Mercedes F1 programme. He told German newspaper Bild: "We went to extremes regarding the chassis and engine. That was a mistake. The current engine is a huge problem. It is not powerful enough and, as we went for more power, the reliability went down." He also suggested that Ilmor chief Mario Illien used pistons in the recent European GP which "were not proven enough".

After all the PR junk spewed out by McLaren, finally a guy who's talking tough. I'd hate to see what it's like in Woking now. The pressure must be enormous. If I were Mercedes, I'd be pretty disgusted with things myself. Their last world title is now 5 years ago. Five long, dreadful and hard years. At the end of the 2000 championship Norbert Haug was saying that he hoped that they could make it another 20 years before Ferrari won their next drivers title. Well, disappointingly this hasn't happened. Ferrari's dominance continues to set unprecedented records. There has never been a run of wins like this ever.

Here we have the Mercedes and McLaren guys making promises they just haven't been keeping. Its inevitable when a manufacturer gets tied up in this the highest levels of motorsports, that all its mistakes are made glaringly obvious. Its a high pressure cooker environment. Reputations are very much at stake. The Mercedes reputation is taking a nose dive for the worse.

I have mentioned before that McLaren's focus on its team is wavering. The move to the new Technical Centre, building silly Mercedes road cars, even building the excellent F1 road car and constructing lavishly overblown motorhomes are all signs of drawing their focus away from the most important activity of all, the Formula 1 team itself. Furthermore, this headline does not inspire confidence at all.

It's all getting really silly. Perhaps at the end of the day, Ron Dennis wants out of Formula 1 altogether?

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