News and views on motorsports

Friday, July 09, 2004


Found this quote by Michael Schumacher on :

The English circuit is one that is rich in F1 history. "I like Silverstone. It is always enjoyable racing there. It will be tight and the track calls for a balanced set up; something not always easy to get right there. I should also add that the real plus of Silverstone is that so many fans come to pay homage to Formula 1. It is a place where sport is really appreciated and for us drivers that's very important."

This was in addition to a quote earlier in the week by teammate Rubens Barrichello : "It's one of the world's finest tracks," said the Brazilian.

That being the testimony of two drivers, one of whom was British F3 champion and the other a 6 time world champion. That has got to be a fine endorsement of this excellent circuit. Schumacher's quote is particularly apt. It really is a place where sport is appreciated. I've actually driven on the Northants circuit. It truly is excellent and much more enjoyable than that dog Sepang. The Copse corner leading on to the Becketts complex is a truly hair raising and is both technical and fast. Sepand by contrast is technical but full of stupid hairpins and slow corners.

Silverstone is a place for enthusiasts. In fact, it is owned by the British Racing Drivers Club. I have no doubt that politicking goes on in there much like in any other association but at least it is run by people who are racers and who really know the sport. Mr. Ecclestone of course does not like this because his influence and power are much less here than elsewhere. With any new Grand Prix circuit, Sepang included, he has major influence and can dictate his terms as he pleases. Sepang being run by cronys whose knowledge of racing amounts to the square root of bugger all, simply fall all over themselves to please this man. To the where they have a hard time recouping the amounts they need to pay the Formula 1 Administration. But what do they care? The taxpayer pays for the losses anyways. Hands up, how many of you go to Sepang for a racing event other than Formula 1? Hands up those of you who even know that there are other events apart from Formula 1 held in Sepang? Silverstone by contrast used every week, even in winter!

Not to mention, Bernie can bring his beloved Tobacco sponsorship with him. Mr. Ecclestone is a businessman. And Formula 1, like him has gone deep down the corporate road. It seems at odds with the true sporting and racing mentality that attracts true racing fans from around the world.

Whilst the corporate dollars are still there, I think Mr. Ecclestone couldn't care less about what true fans want to see. A return to the days when racing was still racing and was still sport. Racers were true sportsmen with personalities. Nowadays, they are more like corporate drones. The racing has become a global corporate affair. Mr. Ecclestone hence would prefer they race on circuits run by businessmen and cronys.

Yet Silverstone like Spa, San Marino, Monza and Suzuka remain at the very heart of Formula 1 as the last few great circuit from an age where the racing was truly enjoyable and retained the air of a racing event. Circuits were proper circuits catered for driving challenge and pleasure rather than for pampering corporate fat cats and cronys.

As for Silverstone, I hope it continues the host the British Grand Prix. However as usual, Mr. Ecclestone continues his campaign against it. Whilst the prospect of a London Grand Prix is a mouth watering prospect for a one time London resident, nevertheless I think the British Grand Prix should really be held on a true racing circuit of the old school. A London street circuit would be a bit too Mickey Mouse.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


This is the weekend of the British Grand Prix. As part of a promotion, Formula 1 cars will be driven by drivers past and present on the streets of London. This makes me wish I were still living in London still for such as sight and sound would be spectacular. I would bet I could hear the noise of the cars rolling around the West End from my former office in Berner's Street.

Anyway, Nigel Mansell has been invited to drive the Jordan. He's made some intresting comments recently of which you can read here. Among the points that he's brought up is the one engine ruling.

I quote Mansell: "Michael (Schumacher) last had a breakdown three years ago, so which team is likely to be least affected by the one engine rule? Ferrari, of course. And if they do have to change an engine and forfeit places on the grid, they are the one team capable of making up those places." Bullseye. It seemed to me that the FIA, whether intentional or otherwise, just keeps making regulations that favour the so called "Scuderia." One must admit that Ferrari's reliability is simply amazing that it's scary. In 20 years, I've never ever seen engines as reliable as the Ferrari. It's just unreal. Formula 1 engines are powerful units that are tuned to the point of near destruction. Some times the point gets crossed and hence engines expire. But Ferrari's units seem to get right up to the edge but never ever crosses the line.

And so, the FIA changes the rules and introduces the one engine ruling. Whilst at least one Mercedes or Honda unit keep exploding week after week, Ferraris just keep on going. This just penalizes the other teams of course. Well, one could make the argument that the jungle is neutral and so are the regulations. Hence engine manufacturers should just rise up to the challenge and build units like Ferrari. But so far no one is succeeding. I mean you have BMW, Mercedes, Honda, Toyota, Renault and Ford, all of them factory teams and all possessing the highest levels of technology and none of them can build units that match the reliability of Ferrari? For Ferrari, really read Fiat. It really boggles the mind. If I had any proof at all I'd cry foul play.

Another point Mansell raised was that: "I dont buy the argument about saving money. Its nothing compared with the cost of development and testing." I couldn't agree more. Another bullseye. The main cost in any motoring venture these days are the research and development costs. Testing of course is another factor in Formula 1. Surely the marginal cost of producing an extra engine is relatively small compared to these. So why restrict the engines to just one per weekend? This also puts a hole in the manufacturers arguments against supplying more than one team. Crap.

The last bullseye though has to go to Jenson Button. Nigel Mansell used to say back in the day that driving at the British Grand Prix in front of his home crowd (home yobs more like it) gave him an extra second advantage per lap. Back in the day I used to believe that it was just smoke from his ass. Buttons riposte : "He would say 'I go a second a lap quicker around Silverstone' but that's baloney. If you're a second a lap quicker you should do that everywhere." BULLSEYE!!!