News and views on motorsports

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!!!

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