News and views on motorsports

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Hits Just Keep On Coming

On today, I found this story with this great quote:

"Ferrari has always been special and is tied to F1 just as F1 is tied to Ferrari. It helped to create what F1 is today. It is like in the movies where the stars get paid more. Ferrari is a star and wants to be paid like a star. The others might be frustrated but they would demand the same if they were in our situation." -- Jean Todt

The real message they don't want you to hear:

"Our parent, FIAT, are so broke now they cannot afford to bankroll us at this present level. So, in order for us to spend limitlessly and test endlessly and keep all our shiny facilities and test tracks, we demand that Ferrari receive more money than the others from Mr Bernie. In addition, we are prima donnas and the people, they oh so love us so much. So the other teams must pay us for the privilege of competing against us. Even small insignificant little ones like poor Minardi. I'm sorry they can't even afford to develop this year's car and make it legal, but if they were us, they would crush us to oblivion the same way."

God, I'm just so goddamned sick of Ferrari and their bullshit right now. I so wish their new F2005 didn't look so good and ready for domination but there you go.

For 20 years prior to 2000, the other teams that were slaughtering their arse every weekend didn't make such a big fuss over their own winning ways. Now that Ferrari are back on form, they are getting increasingly arrogant, they think they ARE Formula 1. If ever any team deserved a good arse kicking....

Friday, February 25, 2005

Kimi The Bookkeper?

Found on PlanetF1:

"We've got a whole range of multi-national brands that are associated with our team and they don't invest in Formula One for this sort of imagery,"

-- McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh on Kimi Raikkonen's lap dancing indiscreations

"You don't want drivers to be like book-keepers. A driver needs to have a personality."

-- Flavio Briatore speaking on the same incident

See what I mean? Corporate BS rules supreme. No wonder the sport is such a bore these days. Fans love heros and hard talkers. But it seems that these days, a driver is practically owned by the team and sponsors.

You can blame it all on Ron Dennis who started this trend with McLaren back in the eighties. He introduced PR savvy, "Ron-speak" (much the same dialect as Accenture speak), and the slick, clean, "professional" image beloved by all teams these days. Yes, it does atract the corporate sponsors. But it turns racing teams into corporate drones.

Ironic, given that most corporations are run by merciless cutthroat pirates like this person, ex CEO of Williams' sponsor HP. And McLaren says Kimi's the one who's doing something wrong? I think only his model wife can say something about that. I wonder how he got out of that one. Hmmm.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Teams Rage Against The Machine

Hot on the heels of Shoichi Tanaka and Ron Dennis, Williams have followed suit and expressed his dismay at the current state of grand prix racing. Frank quotes: "The prevailing atmosphere in the sport at the moment stinks.... It's just getting worse and worse." Lots of hatred going around in the sport according to Frank.

Furthermore, Williams lambasts Max Mosley in this story on PlanetF1, branding him "autocratic and non-consultative." What really has got the manufacturers up in arms is the two weekend engine rule, new for 2005. This regulation was introduced late last year. As was the finalization of the rules for aerodynamics. This the manufacturers claim cost them millions in redesign. All of the engine suppliers had designed engines to last a single race weekend.

That rules change is not at issue. The point is the suddenness of rule changes, in a seemingly arbitrary fashion, with little or no consultation to those who spend hundreds of millions on the sport. All this as Patrick Head quite rightly points out, from a man who claims to want to push costs down.

Its all adding up to a potentially explosive situation. Don't think so? Let's recap on the various actions and allegations of various team bosses in the past few months.

1. Paul Stoddart believes that the rules are written by a technical team at Ferrari. He further alleges that teams have to pay Ferrari to acknowledge their so called "historical contribution" to the sport.

2. Honda boss Soichi Tanaka flat out says that the championship is fixed in Ferrari's favour.

3. McLaren are even considering leaving the sport come 2008, citing a lack of transparency, fairness, appropriate governance and stability. Furthermore, Ron Dennis in this story believes that Ferrari "should not be put into a position which provides them with the ability to control change or receive disproportionate amounts of income compared to the other teams."

4. Williams thinks the situation stinks and Max Mosley's style is "willy nilly."

5. McLaren in this story on slams the new tyre rules as costing them more in testing costs.

6. Renault too have expressed concern in this story. Renault's chairman asserting that costs must come down and rules must be 'stable.'

The key points of all these allegations and concerns are rule stability and fairness. Max Mosley's reply, like similar to that of Ferrari is that the other teams are "whinging."

I believe teams have in the past have had all sorts of complaints but these complaints have always been low key. Now, team bosses aren't exactly mincing their words and they all seem to be spoken in unison. That the Japanese, always known for their discretion, can come out and openly criticise is a sign of the seriousness of the current situation.

Bernie has fought hard to win Ferrari over. But the price to pay may just be his prized possession i.e. the championship itself. Ferrari have already committed to the new Concorde agreement and their position is fixed. And so is Bernie's promise for more share of the total revenue.

You might think that its now up to the other teams to take Bernie's offer. They aren't in a hurry and I don't think they will. This editorial on PlanetF1 just might be prophetic.

Personally speaking, and if you've followed this Blog for sometime you'd know, I think it really is a time for some major changes in the sport. David Richards and Eddie Jordan may think that only Bernie can save the sport and ensure its long term future. The manufacturers they claim cannot see past their short term interests and soon enough will leave when the sport does not serve their purpose. Point taken but at the moment, neither their short term interests nor long term ones are served under Bernie and the FIA. Competing in Formula 1 is tough enough without the cronism and silly technical governance.

Never mind the teams, the fans are also getting a damned raw deal by FOM and FIA. I completely disagree with Eddie Jordan and David Richards, if they suggest that Bernie and Max are good for the fans in the long run. If their plans come to fruition, Formula 1 will be a non sensical bore shown only on pay per view cable TV. One lap qualifying, two weekend engines, single tyres per race, who's bright ideas were these? There's more in the pipeline like single brake suppliers, zero wings etc. Let's not even mention the fact that new circuits are designed by an FIA/Bernie appointed idiot who's so in love with turning in tight circles.

Bernie's greed and Mosley's incompetence need replacement. And soon. What is needed is a new open framework and a new championship, run by some fresh blood.

Sauber's BMW deal have reported that BMW have agreed to supply the Swiss team with power units from next year. PlanetF1 report here. However, in an ITV-F1 here, BMW claims that no deal has been reached as yet. Sauber are also reportedly unhappy with Frank Williams for spilling the beans. Frank Williams is quoted as saying: "They have decided to go with Sauber." Whatever the situation may be, I'm pretty sure that a deal must be close for Frank have made such claims. After all, Mario Thiessen must have revealed the name of their new customer to Frank for his consideration.

What is suprising about this whole affair is the speed from which the story turns from rumour to an admission by the parties involved that they are in negotiation. This confirms my belief that when Peter Sauber signed up Jacques Villeneuve last year, he must have had plans for an engine switch in place. He must have told Jacques about this to entice him over to the team.

Another surprise is how quickly the Sauber team have switched from close Ferrari ally to nailing the coffin on their relationship. At the start of 2004, things could not seem better between the two teams. The Sauber C23 after all is an updated F2003-GA. Sauber might deny that and some fans would deny it also, by look at a technical illustration comparing the two cars side by side, and you will notice not only similarity but they are indentical. From head on the C23 looked almost identical, the differences explained by the changes in the rulebook dictating detailed aerodynamic changes. Otherwise it is the same car.

Sauber may claim that they share many common components with Ferrari, but I don't think anyone is fooled, they share entire chassis and engines. Furthermore, both Giancarlo Fisichella and Filipe Massa were held by Ferrari as optional test drivers. Only a question of sponsorship stopped Fisichella from jumping into a scarlet car. Sauber in effect, has long been named the Ferrari B-team.

So what happened during the course of 2004? That's what I'd like to know. Perhaps, one can speculate that this being the Piranha club, minds are fickle from one moment to the next. Perhaps Peter Sauber is like the rest of the teams, grown weary with the ways of Ferrari and the FIA. Maybe, its just the racer in Peter. After all, he's been around for sometime. In that time, he's seen teams like Renault and BAR come up the ranks to challenge the dominant three, whilst his team languishes as ever in midfield. With all his shiny new facilities in place, perhaps he wants to move his team up a notch. I'm sure now at least, he switched to Michelins because he wanted a tyre company that wouldn't be all about one (scarlet) team's needs.

Perhaps it was a combination of all these things. Its just that whatever decision Peter Sauber made, it seemed very sudden given the status quo in the early part of 2004.

We await the official BMW announcement. At this moment, I'd say Frank Williams comments are spot on.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Sauber Aligns With GPWC and Seeks BMW

Did Jacques Villeneuve had some inside scoop to this when he signed up for the Hinwil concern? reports both Sauber and Red Bull are courting BMW for engine supply. In addtion to that Sauber has just signed a memorandum of understanding with the GPWC, which brings the total number of supporting teams to 7.

ITV-F1 in their report speculates that with Sauber aligning themselves with the GPWC, the days of their relationship with Ferrari are truly numbered. It is also well known that Sauber's choice of Michelin tyres this season has infuriated the Ferrari team, especially Ross Brawn. Sauber's defection to Michelin has severly reduced Bridgestone's testing resources. I believe it will tell during the course of the season. Having said that though, Ferrari aren't reducing their testing, so it remains to be seen. The manufacturers aligned with the GPWC have promised a supply of cheap engines to the privateers like Sauber. I believe then that Sauber's approach to BMW is simply a part of this.

Well done to Peter Sauber. After years of being in Ferrari's shadow, with many people including Eddie Jordan speculating that they had absolutely no chance to win anything, Peter Sauber can finally move on to take his team further. Some would question whether BMW would really supply his team with units identical to that of the Williams. I think they would, if perhaps a step below the latest evolution. Unlike the situation with Ferrari, where they got second hand units from the previous year. Why would BMW do that? Because no matter who is in front, whether its a Williams or Sauber, it would still be a BMW unit. Williams have not really delivered up to now and I think BMW would want to spread their risks.

PlanetF1 in this editorial, quite rightly notes that with Sauber gone, Ferrari would miss the revenues received from the sale of their power units. This in turn, negates the extra money they receive from Bernie. Ah, there is some small justice in the world after all. Not everything goes the way of cronies.

Despite all my rants against Peter Sauber over the years, I do admire the Hinwil based team for their earlier efforts in the sport. They began in 1993 after spending the whole of year 1992 testing interim chassis. In their maiden season, they ran Ilmor power units and their cars were branded with the "Concept by Mercedes Benz" moniker. Their performance in 1993 convinced Mercedes to launch a full blown effort into Formula 1, continuing on with the Ilmor power units, but rebadged as Mercedes. I suppose Peter did hope that his association with Mercedes would bear fruit in the long run, just as it had in their successful sports car program. Unfortunately, Ron Dennis came a calling and Mercedes decided to go with McLaren instead.

That must have been heartbreaking for Peter Sauber. Added to that, he had another prized asset, Kimi Raikkonen, pinched from him in 2001 by Ron Dennis. So he's taken knocks but he's soldiered on, our Peter. His decision to run Ferrari power units has always been dubious to my eyes but I suppose he had little choice.

Now Sauber has been building up his Hinwil base with new wind tunnels and some powerful computing facilites. All he needs now I suppose is to find the right engine partner. And what better partner than Munich based BMW. I truly hope he gets them. I wonder if he planned this move some time ago and let Jacques Villeneuve in on it. Good old Jacques just might get that other shot at the world title.

What remains to be seen though, is whether BMW power units will be branded as BMW or Petronas. As you may know, the Ferrari engines behind those Saubers are branded as Petronas power units. This has significant marketing impact. You won't believe the number of people, especially in Malaysia, who actually believe that the oil giant actually produces Formula 1 power units. If I were BMW though, and if I am to sell Sauber my latest engines, I'd want them to call it by its rightful name, that is BMW. Where would Sauber position the Petronas sponsorship then in that case?

Monday, February 21, 2005

Tanaka San Speaks!

“The championship is fixed in favour of Ferrari and therefore it is not sport. With the recent argument over testing, we have modified our position a few times so that Ferrari can come to an agreement with the other nine teams, but so far we have not been successful. We are very disappointed.”

-- Shoichi Tanaka, President Honda Racing Development Ltd

Full Stop. Nothing more to say.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Favourite Moments in F1

To start I admit this is not an original idea. I actually came across a blog entry on the Formula 1 blog of the same theme. Nevertheless, I had to have a go and write about my very own favourite moments. So, in no particular order:

1993 European Grand Prix - Donnington Park

A rain soaked Donnington was the scene of perhaps Ayrton Senna's greatest victory in his career. Up against Prost and Damon Hill in their vastly superior Williams and Michael Schumacher in the Benetton, Ayrton in the McLaren-Ford simply annihilated the opposition. People use the term Regenmeister (Rain Master) to denote the best driver in the rain. Well, in this race Ayrton proved he was THE regenmeister. On his first lap, he passed, first Micheal Schumacher, who at the start had slammed the door on Ayrton. Then going into Redgate, he passed Heinz Harald Frentzen in the Sauber-Ilmor. In the very next corner he dismissed Damon Hill and finally he overtook Prost for the lead. And stayed there for the entire race. At one point, he lapped the entire field. Never before and never since has any driver provided such a convincing display of superior car control, balance and sheer instinct in judging the conditions to perfection.

1986 Spanish Grand Prix - Jerez

The Williams Honda of 1986 was a superb machine and by anyone's estimation, capable of sewing up both the driver's and constructors championship. Nevertheless, Ayrton Senna qualified on pole more than anyone else and did so at Jerez. In the race, the Williams and McLarens proved superior and was soon ahead of Ayrton. Nevertheless, with the aid of some consistent driving and Nigel Mansell's mistimed tyre stop, he managed to get back into the lead of the race. Nigel Mansell pitted for tyres and came back out storming eating up to 5 seconds a lap off the leading duo of Senna and Prost in the McLaren. He dismissed Prost and was soon on the tail of Senna in the Lotus Renault, whose tyres were at the very end of its life. It was a display of Nigel Mansell's famous charges. Ultimately it was unsuccessful. Senna and Mansell crossed the line side by side but Ayrton was ahead by a nose cone. The gap between them was 0.014 seconds at the end. It remains to this day, the closest ever race.

1987 British Grand Prix - Silverstone

Nigel Mansell is famous for his hard charging and battling attitude. Once he has his car set up perfectly, he was one of those drivers like Michael Schumacher who could consistently put lap after perfect lap, breaking records along the way. Mansell in 1987 drove a Williams Honda, partnered by Nelson Piquet. After half distance, Mansell dropped into the pits for tyres whilst Piquet elected to do the entire race without stopping. Mansell, half a minute behind put in such a charge as to leave the fans breathless. Lap after lap, he kept going faster and faster, passing and lapping slower cars with such bravery and skill. Who could forget him lapping a Tyrell going into Chapel curve (in those days a flat out left hander) without the slightest pause? In the end, he catches up to Piquet and after selling him a dummy to the left, outbreaks him going into Stowe corner. In those days of course Stowe was a fifth gear, flat bend rather than the awful mess it is today. After which, Piquet simply didn't have a look in.

1996 Portugese Grand Prix - Estoril

To be honest I can't remember a lot about this race except for one particular moment. A certain Jacques Villeneuve for Williams, having his first ever season in Formula 1, putting a move on double world champion Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari on the outside of the final bend at Estoril. A move he said was inspired by his time in Indycars. And what a move it was surprising the hapless Michael. Granted of course, Villeneuve was in a vastly superior car, very much suited to Estoril's high speed nature but take nothing from him, Michael and everyone else wasn't expecting that at all.

1998 European Grand Prix - Nurburgring

An incredibly exciting race I remember. Mika Hakkinen qualified third behind the Ferraris of Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher. Hakkinen at this point had lost the lead in the championship and it looked like it was going to be Michael and Ferrari's year after a scintillating start to the season by McLaren. It was not to be so. Hakkinen trailed Schumacher closely throughout the race displaying incredible consistency and pace. It was really one of his better drives in his career. Schumacher dived in for his stop, whilst Hakkinen elected to keep on driving, during which he took a leaf out of Schumacher's book and put in a series of superb fast laps. After diving into the pits for a fresh set of tyres and fuel, he came out of the pits just in time to retain the lead from Michael Schumacher. I remember hollering for joy at that moment, pointing to Michael and screaming: "Not so easy eh, motherf**#er" Hakkinen went on to win the race.

1988 Monaco Grand Prix

Monaco rarely produces a good race. However qualifying is another matter. And in qualifying, Ayrton Senna is the master. At the time of writing, Michael Schumacher has yet to beat his 65 pole positions. Monaco 88 underlined Ayrton's ability to string out the perfect fast lap. During the good old days when drivers could go out anytime they wished and do as many laps as they wanted, Senna invented the technique of going out at the very last minute of qualifying, timing his exit to perfection and do a stunning banzai lap. So it proved in Monaco. Prost had done a magnificent time that was a second and half quicker than the next fastest, Gerhard Berger in the Ferrari. Prost was more than satisfied and thinking that he had done enough, got out of the car to call it a day. Then Senna went into action. He produced a lap that was a second faster than Prost's. He describes that lap as an almost out of body experience. In an interview, Senna said that it was almost like he was watching from the outside, his hands and feet doing all the work whilst he merely looked on. It was a lap of pure instinct done without any thought. That experience changed him forever after that. To me it was a mark of genius. This one lap convinced Alain Prost to admit after Senna's death that indeed Senna was better than him.

1986 Australian Grand Prix - Adelaide

Surely one of the classics. The final race of the season that decided the driver's world championship. Mansell, in the Williams-Honda needed to finish in third to take the championship. Prost and Piquet were still in striking distance to take the crown but had to win the race and hope that Mansell finished outside the podium. The perfect interloper was played by Keke Rosberg, Prost's teammate at McLaren. It was to be Rosberg's last race of his career and he was going to go out with a bang. He stormed into the lead and looked uncatchable. Mansell, Piquet and Prost trailing. The McLarens were fast in the race and Prost soon made his way up the field. A puncture forced him into the pits and it looked like his chances were gone. Nevertheless, Professor Prost kept going, fast and consistent. Piquet meanwhile could do nothing about Mansell. It looked like the championship was going the Briton's way. Suddenly, Rosberg's tyres blew up, putting Mansell in the lead. Goodyear tyres were fragile in this race, and Mansell was forced into a spectacular retirement on the main straight when his Goodyears blew up as well. Incredibly car control saw him make it to the exit road at the Adelaide hairpin. Williams called in Piquet for a precautionary tyre stop and Prost soon found himself in the lead again. Piquet on fresh rubber, stormed out of the pits and tried everything he knew to catch the Frenchman. It was to no avail. Prost won the race with Piquet mere seconds behind. It was enough to secure Prost's second world title in a row in a superbly unpredictable season no one expected him to win.

2000 Japanese Grand Prix - Suzuka

The race was nothing really special for me but qualifying was a blast. Hakkinen and Schumacher both neede to win here to take the driver's title. Qualifying was crucial. These were the days of 12 lap qualifying sessions. The battle for pole was a private affair between the two. The gap between them infinitesimal. One going out. The other striving to catch. Qualifying should never have changed to the dismal affair that it is today. Back in the day, everyone watched qualifying with intense and nervous anticipation. It was enough to make one giddy. Suzuka 2000 was perhaps one of the best qualifying sessions I'd ever seen. In the end though the battle was one by Schumacher. He went on to win the race and the world title and it marked the beginning of his steamroller run of world titles.

2000 Belgian Grand Prix - Spa Francorchamp

Another classic duel between Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher in ever changing conditions. Mika had made an error early on in the race and lost time to Schuey. Schuey perhaps made an error by diving into the pits for his last stop a little too early. Mika pitted later and his tyres fresher went about hunting Michael for the lead. Who could forget his pass on Michael though. Both were coming up to lap a tail ender? The backmarker (I can't remember who it was) moved to the right to let Michael through on the main straight running up to Le Combe. Mika decided to take the opportunity to pass both going down the inside of the backmarker. Michael, blindsided, didn't spot Mika coming through and hence couldn't defend his lead. Under braking for Le Combe, Mika had the inside line and Michael could only watch haplessly as the Flying Finn took the lead and the eventually the race.

Hey Hermann Tilke, you moron. Take note. Spa always produces a great race. Learn the lesson will you?

Best Season - 1986

Four drivers with a shot at the championship. Prost, Manseell, Piquet and Senna. Can you recall a better season than this? Unpredictable all the way to the classic season finale. The season also saw the emergence of Benetton as a significant Grand Prix force. Gerhard Berger was to take his and Benetton's first ever Grand Prix win at Mexico, powered by the inline 4 turbocharged BMW engine. He had threatened to do so on many occassions including at the Oestrreichring and Monza, with only the reliability of the Benetton stopping him.

Best Season Runner Up - 1985

This was Prost's season after missing the championship in the last 3 years at the final sprint. Michele Alboreto made a spirited challenge for Prost but in those days, Ferrari was a spent, corrupt shell of a team and couldn't he arsed to take on the might of McLaren. This was also the season when Ayrton Senna went from a talented youngster to a major force in Formula 1, winning his first Grand Prix in absolutely atrocious conditions in Estoril in the season's second race beating all the seasoned hands. Significantly in the season was the number of Grand Prix winners in this season. Prost - 5 wins, Alboreto - 2 wins, Senna - 2 wins, Rosberg - 2 wins, Mansell - 2 wins, Piquet - 1 win, Lauda - 1 win, Elio de Angelis - 1 win. 8 different winners from McLaren-TAG/Porsche, Williams-Honda, Lotus-Renault, Brabham-BMW and Ferrari. There hasn't been another one like this since.

In conclusion

These are just some of the races that I remember. I'll certainly be looking back to see if there are other moments that I've missed. All in all, there have been some great classics over the years but I haven't really seen any in recent times. Here's hoping season 2005 turns out to be good one.

The News In Brief

Alex Wurz, unable to fit the latest McLaren and passed on as one of the "Men Friday," is planning to leave the Woking based outfit at the end of the year. mentions a possible link between the new Dubai F1 team and the tall lanky Austrian for a possible race seat next year. If Dubai F1 is indeed making its debut next year, one would have expected them to get cracking already by now with test mules and the like but so far there's not been even a pin drop from them.

Whilst Alex may leave McLaren, McLaren themselves are threatening to leave the sport altogether come the end of 2007, according to this story in According to Martin Whitmarsh, should the situtation remain in the status quo, then the team that bears Bruce McLaren's name will not be participating in 2008. Furthermore, Whitmarsh does not believe that there will be two rival world championships, which means something has got to give and either its Bernie or GPWC. Whitmarsh further states that "I don't believe the voting members of the FIA have any comprehension of the dissatisfaction felt by all the manufacturers and the nine teams at the current situation in F1." As the Americans would say: I feel you, dog.

In this souless world of F1 corporate speak, where individualism and personalities take a back stage to sponsor image and corporate presentation, its great to see a team like Red Bull endorsing a show of spirit. Christian Horner, of Arden Racing and now the head of Red Bull F1, is quoted as saying: "We need more personalities. If David gives Michael the finger, I won't be complaining." Amen to that Mr Horner. Christian wants a team that appeals to Joe Public a.k.a. The Fans. Quite rightly, he states that Red Bull's objectives are different from the manufacturers.

I should also think that Red Bull knows its main customers are the fans themselves. Red Bull's products are consumed by the everday person. Whereas Mercedes customers are cronies and corporate stiffs who do their dirty work in the board room behind the scenes but loves to maintain a spick and span image to the world. I'm not suggesting that Mercedes itself is run by those sorts of people, but let's be honest, quite a lot of their customers are.

According to Williams test driver Antonio Pizzonia, the FW27 is "driveable" and reliable but simply not quick enough going in to the season opener at Melbourne. story here. It would explain their recent testing form where they have been severely lagging behind Renault and McLaren to the tune of between 1.5 to 2 seconds at times. I say, what will Patrick Head be thinking of now? This has always been happening for the last 3 seasons. Will we once again see Williams playing catch up? What will Mario Thiessen be saying to the press now? This should be interesting.

By contrast Pedro De La Rosa of McLaren thinks that the new MP4/20 is "easy to drive" underlining his performance at McLaren's final day at Barcelona last Thursday where he set fastest time, with Fisichella, Barrichello and Schumacher in close attendance to the Spaniard. I bet Pedro is simply aching to race again but I should think Messrs Raikkonen and Montoya are far quicker than him.

The Iceman and The Monster looks to be a rivalry that could potentially be equal to that of Prost and Senna. Both set scintillating test times, with I believe Montoya have a slight edge over Iceman. Cool as he may be, I doubt if Raikkonen would like that very much if it became a regular feature of the season. Montoya looks to me to be a lot more motivated this year than ever. Time will tell but I think Ron Dennis has again managed to pull a good one out of the bag. Both are supremely quick drivers and future world champions. Just as Prost and Senna pushed one another every quicker and ever faster when they were teammates, so I believe Montoya and Raikkonen will be pushing one another to ever greater heights. Coulthard may have been quite good, but I doubt if Raikkonen was ever really worried about him. This year, he should worry about Montoya.

Giancarlo Fisichella has been in resurgent form lately with Renault, more than once edging out his much fancied teammate Fernando Alonso. Everyone knows that Alonso will probably be world champion one day but many underestimate Giancarlo. In case anyone didn't notice before, here is a driver who's whipped every teammate he's ever had including that lemon, Ralf Schumacher. I firmly believe he is vastly underrated and given good machinery, has it in him to be a world champion as well. He certainly hopes that Melbourne will be a good hunting ground for the Renault team according to this story on I wish him the best.

Ferrari it would seem are back on the pace again after languishing in the earlier Valencia and Barcelona tests. Their lap times are once again comparable to the McLarens and Renaults. However, Barrichello was moved enough to admit that Ferrari are indeed struggling for pace. Michael Schumacher seems a bit more confident but is not bursting at the seams with enthusiasm.

Toyota has been sporadically quick in the hands of Ricardo Zonta. The Brazilian, I believe was driving a different spec TF105 as compared to race drivers Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher. Both the race drivers, like Williams, are struggling for pace, ending up seconds behind Renault and McLaren. Thankfully, Toyota's aim for this season is at least one podium and that doesn't seem too unachievable. I think Mike Gascoyne will at least make this one stick. However, further developments on the TF105 are in the pipeline, with Mike Gascoyne stating that the car racing in Malaysia will be a totally different animal to the Melbourne challenger. The technical director of Toyota wants to make sure that the full resources of the Japanese team will be utilized and developments can be pushed at a fantastic pace.

Red Bull are suprising me for a team that is now a fully private effort, having lost its manufacturer backing. David Coulthard and Christian Klien, whilst not setting the ultimate laps times in testing, nevertheless are quick enough to be consistently mixing it amongst the Ferraris, McLarens and Renaults. Are these guys just showboating and running light? I hope not, although their completed number of laps suggest they are testing just as much as any of the other fellows in the pits. Now imagine, if those bean counters at Ford had been a little more foresighted about their racing, these guys would probably have been competing with the top 3 for the top of the lap charts.

I think F1 Racing magazine put it best when they argue that dumping Jaguar Racing was just a high profile way to bolster Ford's stock prices in the short term. Jaguar Racing represented less than 1% of Ford's marketing budget. It shouldn't have done anything to Ford's fundamental value in the market but Wall Street works in mysterious and sentimental ways at times, so there you go. Investment bankers and accountants can be real gits.

The teams move to Valencia for final tests before Melbourne and it should be interesting to see the final state of play before the season opener. Although, many, including yours truly, predict a yawningly boring qualifying. ITV-F1 plans to drop final Sunday qualifying from their broadcast according to this story on Frank Williams putting it simply, "This format is not good."

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Silverstone Stands Alone

Things are afoot in Grand Prix land. This story on highlights some of the flowing undercurrents of the GPWC-FOM war.

At hand is Ron Walker's efforts in concert with Bernie to convince all the current Formula 1 circuits to turn away from the GPWC. The only one that hasn't stood with the establishment is Silverstone. Whatever Silverstone's and BRDC's fault, this is understandable given the harrasment heaped upon them by Bernie.

If this story turns out to be fact, then unfortunately the GPWC, should they choose to press ahead with their 2008 plans, would not be running of some of the classics such as Spa Francorchamp. Although, given that Suzuka is Honda owned and Honda is a casual member of the GPWC, I should think it will still be on the cards should the GPWC come knocking on its doors.

The GPWC seems a fair bit away from being dead. The nine teams that comprise the breakaway group doesn't seem to show any signs of bowing to Bernie's demands. In fact a GPWC summit is reportedly going ahead. carries that story here. During the summit, a counter offer to Bernie's revenue share offer will be presented. I suspect they are looking for a far greater share than that, perhaps closer to 75% of the revenues from the sport.

Hypothetically, if the teams all decide to run the rival world championship, where does it leave the current Formula One Management (FOM) run event? Ferrari would be the only one left. More importantly, all the circuits who are currently on Bernie's side would not have an event to run.

Let's face it. Given the resources on hand from people like Daimler Chrysler, BMW, Honda and Toyota, I would not bet against the GPWC from being able to successfully organize and run a rival series. Toyota, for instance is a huge advertising spender in all countries around the world. The brings some clout. With the big companies increasingly advertising their racing involvement, a rival series would not be left in obscurity. In addition, the GPWC could call their rival series F1, according to this story on It quotes: "A Patent Office spokesman confirmed that 'Formula One' isn't fully controlled because it is more general than brands like 'Coca-Cola' or 'Marlboro.' Indeed, 'F1' and 'Formula One' are already used legitimately in triathlon and powerboat racing."

Max Mosley and Bernie may laugh off the GPWC threat. I believe the laugh is a nervous one. As for the circuits, I mentioned before that there are no shortage of venues, that to my mind are very much capable of running a rival event. Like may fans, I could do without some of the silly Tilke designed venues like Shanghai and Bahrain and go back to some classics like Estoril and Brands Hatch. I'm sure Paul Ricard in France would not mind holding a GPWC event.

I'd like to suggest that Fuji in Japan hold an event but have you seen the latest revisions to that classic track? Again, that moron Hermann Tilke has been at work. He has replaced the lovely long fast sweeping right hander before the main straight, with a series of slow short and frustrating hairpins. You can view the circuit diagram on his stupid website here.

Kudos to Silverstone, the birthplace of Formula One then, for resisting Bernie's efforts. May the GPWC succeed.

Max: The Ferrari Mouthpiece

This is probably old news to you but I just had to comment on it. Max Mosley in these headlines here, here and here, have told rival teams to "up their game" and stop whinging on Ferrari's successes.

I doubt if anyone really begrudges Ferrari's victories in recent years. I may not like them much but I believe all credit to them for building such fantastic racing cars like last year's F2004 and their 2002 challenger, F2002. These are incredible feats of engineering produced by an excellent collection of engineers superbly led by the burly Ross Brawn. When Ferrari won their first driver's title in 20 years in 2000, McLaren and Mercedes I remember even toasted their victory. Nobody can take their achievements away from them.

What the teams begrudge is the blatant biasness of the FIA and the FOM towards Ferrari. Its not the car nor its performance they lament. Its the FIAs attitude of listening to Ferrari's every whim and fancy. Witness every technical protest in recent years brought on by Ferrari. It is always, without exception, upheld. Some technical components like McLaren's rear brake steer were designed with the FIAs input at every stage of the design process. It was by all accounts legal. And yet when Ferrari holds a protest, the FIA promptly made the device illegal.

Some have said that Ferrari protested the use of berrylium in Mercedes engines. They cite "environment and safety" reasons. Of course the FIA upheld that protest. Mercedes engines have never been the same since, always suffering from a lack of ultimate horsepower that only now it seems have been clawed back. As Frank Williams once said, and I paraphrase, does Ferrari think that their own engines are green and environment friendly? Its ludicrous. Refuelling is more of a fire hazard than berrylium in the engine. And guess who originally wanted a reintroduction of refuelling? Ferrari of course.

BAR recently had their innovative new gearbox approved by the FIA as being legal. I read that news with amusement. Its only legal until Ferrari decide to protest. Then we'll see how legal it is.

Technical rules aside, it is also the blatant biasness of the FOM under Bernie that infuriates teams. The secretive Concorde agreement doesn't give much to the teams in terms of revenue sharing. Alright, I accept that Bernie has offered a revised revenue share of 50% and in truth that sounds reasonably to me. However, the majority of that 50% goes to Ferrari, on grounds too flaky to believe. It is for Ferrari's "historical contribution to the sport." Luca di Motezemolo loves to advertise the fact that Ferrari have contested the championship unbroken since 1950. Put two and two together, Bernie and Ferrari really believe that because of that, they deserve a lion's share of the spoils.

And yet, teams like McLaren and Williams are not exactly newcomers. Williams, the younger of the two have been involved in the sport for 30 years. Come 2008, McLaren's involvement would have been 40 years. Mercedes themselves have been a proud competitor in Formula One, beating all comers, including Ferrari, quite regularly since the 50s. Their involvement with Grand Prix racing predates World War 2. The legend of the Silver Arrows was established during the Hitlerian era. BMW, though without such long histories in the sport, nevertheless 22 years ago won the driver's title with Nelson Piquet. Renault, too, were competing in the late seventies, in the eighties and nineties. They have a long, proud, and Ferrari arse kicking history. So does Honda. Ferrari cannot claim that they alone make the sport. The others have contributed in a major way to making the championship. So why should they deserve less?

So really, under the current overall scheme of things, the other teams, the gorup of nine, have a lot of whinge about. I said it once before, when the other teams raise their concerns, the FIA, the press and Bernie calls it whingeing. But when Ferrari makes the concerns, it is treated as "serious."

More infuriating to me is Max's stunning comment and I quote : "You go to BMW and the facilities are just awesome - Ferrari is like a cottage industry." Furthermore, Max says: "I am sure the total budget, certainly of McLaren and Williams and I suspect BAR and Renault, is greater than Ferrari's to get two cars on the grid."

That is completely, utter rubbish. To suggest this is ludicrous. Ferrari have, in addition to the hallowed Fiorano, also own the Mugello circuit in Italy. They have not one but two wind tunnels. At one point it was three before being decommissioned. Mike Gascoyne of Toyota was recently quoted as saying that at Toyota he has the resources to do what he could never have done at Renault. Does Renault the sound like a team with a Ferrari beating budget? The only other team to have two wind tunnels is Williams. But they haven't got their twin test tracks. Neither has McLaren or anyone else you'd care to name.

In addition to having Fiorano and Mugello, Ferrari also cart their stuff to Valencia and Barcelona for tyre testing. Does that really sound like a cottage industry to you? If it does, you are wearing scarlet tinted sunglasses with prancing horse watermarks, sir.

Frank Williams made a comment once that at Williams, fuel pumps are serviced and reused in the following race. Ferrari throw all their fuel pumps away after the race and use new ones for the following race. The blokes at Ferrari have virtually unlimited budgets. Or used to. All the fiscal spending at Ferrari are beginning to tell. FIAT are now so broke, they can't afford to throw money at Ferrari. Hence, Jean Todt really needed to negotiate for dosh from Bernie. I concede that what he says is true. Had that negotiation failed, Ferrari could no longer afford to compete in Formula 1. But really, that is Ferrari's problem. Why should they get the lions share of the spoils, just to maintain their current levels of spending. They have absolutely no right to demand such things. The other teams are quite naturally aggrieved by all this.

But not our Max though. To him, Ferrari are these tiny little people in cottages out in the village competing against behemoths. His sentiments echo that of Jean Todt, who claim that "we are a small team" fighting against the giants. How can anyone not see the unity between them?

Max is right about one thing though. The other teams have done a lousy job and have been perenially underachieving over the last few years. Fans like me are becoming quite fed up by it. So those fast testing times at Barcelona and Valencia by McLaren and Renault had better translate to race victories.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Max Says Carmakers In Cuckoo Land

Max Mosley dimisses the Framework for Post 2007 GP Racing as a mere fairytale. So reads this story here on Max says : "It reads like a fairytale -- wealth for all and beautiful weather every day." Furthermore, he calls the recent boycott of the teams meeting in London as "silly" and "childish."

Quite rightly though he points out that there are no concrete action plans and agreements in place to put that vision to reality. But Max, old boy, what is so wrong with wealth and beautiful weather for all? Should GP Racing simply remain the premise of you and your collaborators, Bernie and Luca alone? The framework I believe should represent the ideals of competing in GP Racing. An objective or mission statement. A constitution if you will, that serves the basis for future discussions and regulations.

I put further that the lack of such a framework or constitution is the reason we have all these silly rules put in place right now. One tyre per weekend, two weekend engines, one lap qualifying to name a few. And what about such proposals from Max as age limits for Formula 1 drivers? Amusingly, such limits do not apply to the team's number one driver. Obviously to keep Michael Schumacher, Formula 1's oldest driver in the game. It is you who are "silly" and "childish" Max. As one reader of PlanetF1 was moved to say, age limits should be set on Max himself! I thought former FISA Jean Marie Balestre was biased. However, I cannot recall this level of silliness that Max displays today.

Max and Bernie are confident though that post 2007, all of these guys will be back on the grid. They do have history on their side though. When Bernie led the FOCA rebellion against FISA in the 80s, FOCA started a breakaway series called the World Professional Drivers Championship. Albeit it only held a single race and it was a failure at that. Nevertheless, it forced FISA to continue their discussions with FOCA that resulted in the Formula 1 you see today, overseen by the Concorde Agreement. So will the manufacturers cave in to Max and Bernie this time?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Formula 1 2005 Prospects

Less than 5 weeks remain before Melbourne and the start of another season. Thank god for that. The lack of racing action on Sunday is really killing me. For the fans, this could be quite a good year and I'm betting it ought to be better than the last. So many teams have so much to deliver.

Let's start with BMW. This is I think their sixth season in Formula 1 with Williams. Their last successful bid for the championship was 1983 with Brabham and Nelson Piquet. The board at BMW must be getting extremely nervous. True, they have managed to outperform Mercedes most of the time but that just isn't good enough to justify the enormous amounts of dosh spent on the F1 programme. By now, they should have had at least one championship in hand. Williams know that this year they have to deliver the goods. Frank Williams, Patrick Head and Sam Michael have publicly admitted that there can be no mistakes this year. You can see it in the design of the new car. Good looking but conventional in contrast to last year's walrus. If they don't take the championship this year, I think Johanna Quandt's men are going to start thinking about pulling out. So obviously Mario Thiessen and Frank Williams are going to go balls out.

Renault declared at the launch of the R25 that they are targetting to win the world championship this year. They have a brand new engine and some neat tricks in their new challenger and it generally looks alright. I'm not sure if a world championship winning performance is in its repetoire but never underestimate these French blokes. They can pull a surprise when you least expect it. Cast your minds back to 1991 when Williams Renault put in a mighty bid for the championship surprising everyone. They nearly took it too but for Ayrton's blistering start to the season. Still, Renault really MUST deliver something. At least that same mighty bid for the championship. New Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn is not a big fan of Formula 1. His preference is for championships where Renault's road cars are directly involved like rallying or touring cars. Le Cost Cutter I'm sure has warned Patrick Faure that the rabbit had better come out of that hat real soon else its the cleaners for everyone. Need I say more? Renault too are going to go balls out.

This brings us to McLaren. Its been 6 years since Mika Hakkinen's last driver's title. 7 years since the constructors championship was last won. They've been beaten time and again by BMW Williams. The situation cannot continue for too long I would imagine. Mercedes used to have a reputation for being an unbeatable juggernaut in the 30s and 50s. Now, FIAT is running them to the ground time and again. Their form in testing recently has been quite good. The new MP4/20 in the hands of Kimi Raikkonen and Alex Wurz have been blisteringly fast at the Valencia test. Kimi setting the fastest lap in the whole test session despite running mammoth number of laps. One can say that their testing form was great last year but look what happened. Thats true but generally I believe they are looking far better. The drivers seem to be happier this year than last. The ever optimistic Mercedes bosses seem even more pleased this year than ever. Even Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella admits McLaren and Ferrari are probably the ones in front this year. God I hope he's right. I'd have a reason to smile this season. I just hope all this business with Dubai F1 will not get in the way.

BAR are looking solid again this year with their new 007. Although the Honda's reliability is looking suspect, generally they are going quite well and seems to be on the pace with the Ferraris. After a great last season, they would do well to repeat the feat again this year. The way McLaren and Williams are going, I doubt it though. Last year I believe was more of a case of McLaren and Williams fumbling about than BAR topping them. This fact can be illustrated that it was consistency that brought the spoils to BAR last year. McLaren, Williams and even Renault I believe had more pure pace. All these teams won races. BAR did not. It'll be great to see how they do without David Richards but I'm sure the Honda management will produce good things. Geoff Willis is an excellent technical director and BAR I think have a lot of innovations on that car. I'd like to see them do well again.

You can never discount Ferrari. They may have been outpaced comprehensively by McLaren at Valencia last week but after 5 drivers title on the trot would you bet against them? Or more to the point, would you bet against Michael Schumacher? They are starting the season with the brilliant F2004, suitably altered to comply with the latest regulations. Juan Pablo Montoya thinks this is a mistake. He might be right. Although Frank Williams is openly worried that Ferrari are up to something and Rory Byrne just might have dreamt up something really innovative and spectacular for the F2005. Michael Schumacher in this article on PlanetF1, thinks its going to be hard work. But then he always says that doesn't he, before he hammers the opposition to dust. Rubens Barrichello isn't one to be worried. He's dismissed the Valencia test as a blip. Ferrari he says don't test there regularly and they haven't been spot on with the tyre choices in Spain. No worries according to him, come Melbourne, its business as usual. Much as I would prefer to see a McLaren cross the finish line in the lead I know this warning cannot be ignored.

Toyota are a difficult one to quantify. Jarno Turlli actually set a really quick time outpacing his surly team mate Ralf Schumacher. Jarno's best time was actually quicker than Michael Schumacher's best, prompting Ralf Schumacher to comment that the new car is better than expected. But then Toyota always does well in the winter world championships only to flounder during the summer. Its as if when they get to the actual race itself they are left lost without a clue. However, with more and more F1 experienced personnel replacing rallying and sportscar men under the leadership of Mike Gascoyne, they might do better this year. And they really need to. Toyota doesn't really need the F1 programme. They are after all the most profitable car manufacturer already. Public humiliation (especially humiliation heaped on by arch enemy Honda) in one of the most widely watched sporting events in the world is something they can do without.

The rest? Has beens. Jordan are in their final year as Jordan Grand Prix before being reborn as Midland F1 next year. Interestingly they have hired Narain Karthikeyan as a driver. Narain is quite highly rated. During the 2001 Monaco Grand Prix he outpaced teammate Takuma Sato in the Carlin Motorsport Dallara Mugen. And everyone agrees he'd slaughter Alex Yoong anytime, anywhere. He's also now got himself into a better team than Alex did. It must have been frustrating for him to watch Alex Yoong in Formula 1 embarrasing himself whilst he waited in the sidelines. Now he has his chance. I'd say its odds even he'll get the better of his team mate Monteiro in the other Jordan. Whether he'll go further in Formula 1 is entirely up to him but it is really going to be tough for him despite his talent. I hope Eddie Jordan will go down fighting. He won't be at the races this year apparently but with that Toyota engine behind the car, they'd be able to do some real damage if they had a chassis that was of the quality of the 1999 Jordan.

I think nobody expects Sauber to win anything. Ferrari simply won't let them. Still I wish the battling Jacques Villeneuve good hunting. He really deserves better than what he's got. I wonder if he'll let Michael Schumacher through if they end up battling for position. I suppose not but Sauber are the junior team after all. Ferrari can have them take their pants off anytime.

Last of course if poor old Minardi. Devastated by the pullout of Ford from Formula 1, they are of course going to struggle yet again. Paul Stoddart has been heard as saying that should someone want his team he wouldn't hesitate to let it go. With sponsorship hard to come by in this current economic situation, staying in Formula 1 is a heroic effort in itself. I think Minardi won't have anyone to race against this year now that Jordan's got those Toyota engines. I think the FIA should pay them to make up the numbers although there are some pundits who think that they should just go out and let people like Ferrari and Williams supply third cars to make the show much more interesting.

So there you have it. I think everyone is praying that this year will not be a repeat of the last. On the face of it, it looks like its going to be a interesting championship at least, if not a spectacular one. The battle lines aren't fully drawn until Ferrari put the F2005 on the grid, so McLaren et al would be smart to take full advantage of that. My tip for the championship? I'd have to say Michael Schumacher again. Although you'd get better odds and a reasonably good chance of winning if you place your money on Kimi. I'm just hoping for a good show.

Different Points Of View

In this part of the world magazines arriving from Europe usually arrive a month or two later. So it is with F1 Racing magazine that I read most months. The January 2005 issue of the acclaimed journal has a feature on the demise of Jaguar Racing. Of course, like a lot of people in the F1 world apparently, the magazine heaps praise on the founder of Pi Research and Jaguar Racing MD Tony Purnell and David Pitchforth. By the time the January issue went to press, news of their dismissal from Red Bull had not yet been made public.

F1 Racing has a good relationship with Tony Purnell. I remember a past issue urged readers to write to the FIA in support of the Purnell / F1 Racing qualifying proposal. That proposal was never a success and quite frankly, I didn't agree with it neither, but it highlighted the good relations between the two parties. F1 Racing magazine points out that it was Tony Purnell and David Pitchforth that stabilized Jaguar Racing after tumultous periods under the reigns of Niki Lauda and Bobby Rahal.

This isn't saying a great deal. Lauda had been advisor to Ferrari for ages but success never came whilst he was involved. Bobby Rahal is a person with some questionable judgement. The Rahal team competed in Indycars and was the works Honda team when Honda first became involved. During the course of their single season together, Rahal droppped his Honda engined cars in the Indy 500 and consequently dropped Honda altogether at the end of the year. The very next year, Honda completely dominated the scene. Rahal cited the need to pacify his sponsors in preference to a long term relationship with Honda. The very same Honda that had not long before that time, dominated Formula 1. A naive yank I'd call him. Even with my limited knowledge I just knew that Honda would repeat the trick in Indycars.

Now it has emerged though that Tony Purnell wasn't really the noble knight in shining armour that F1 Racing likes to potray him. Tom Rubython of Business F1 Magazine had some harsh words with regards Tony. Rubython's described Tony Purtnell's appointment to the head of Jaguar Racing as "catastrpohic." Purnell is branded as a "a political schemer with an ability almost akin to a conman to persuade people black is white and vice versa." Purnell according to some sources deliberately sabotaged the aerodynamics of the Jaguar R3 in order to usher the departure of Niki Lauda. In addition, it is alleged that Lauda's private documents were altered and fiddled with. Once dismissed he managed to get himself installed as Jaguar's MD.

Tom Rubython is Planet F1's Man Of the Year. He doesn't get an accreditation from the FIA because he steps on too many toes. His magazine is catered to sponsors and the money side of F1. But he tells it like it is apparently, whereas some magazines like F1 Racing likes to cozy up to the "establishment" and team bosses. Its obvious F1 Racing magazine cozies up to Tony Purnell. But given that Red Bull principal Dietrich Mateschitz has axed both Purnell and Pitchforth, perhaps the allegations made by Rubython does have some merit. Mateschitz cites the need to change the organizational structure of Red Bull to achieve a quantum leap of performance. Hence he says in this article in, that's the reason for the duos departure.

I suppose the differing points of view can partly be explained by the relationships journos have with third parties. Witness one Nigel Roebuck of the highly respected Autosport magazine. His Fifth Column editorial in said magazine used to really infuriate me back in the days of Senna, Prost and Mansell. Nigel Roebuck and Alain Prost are clearly good mates. It shows in his articles. Reading him, you'd think that Alain could do absolutely no wrong at all.

The Australian Grand Prix season finale of 1993 was a good example. Senna won the race from Prost and Hill. It was Prost's final race of his career. Senna and Prost as you know hadn't been on speaking terms since 1989. At the podium for the Aussie Grand Prix however, Senna pulled Prost up to the top step and raised Prost's arm in a show of friendship and admiration. Not to Mr Roebuck's eyes. He branded the gesture as a complete fake, happening only because Prost was leaving. Later on of course, it emerged that Senna and Prost really were on speaking terms again and their friendship rekindled. Prost in fact was a pallbearer for the late Senna during his funeral. Not really that fake huh, Mr Roebuck. I guess Mr Roebuck must have been gutted to hear Prost himself admitting that Senna was better than him (at least during qualifying).

Whilst Mr Roebuck was cozy with Prost, everyone else knows just how political Alain can be. Like Schumacher, Alain's politics are very subtle. But you just know that he swung McLaren and Ron Dennis round his side when Niki Lauda and Keke Rosberg were his team mates. The always charging Keke simply couldn't get a look in at McLaren. After he left, he termed McLaren as Alain Prost's personal team. Prost couldn't do the same to Senna since he had Honda's support. Eventually outmanuvered by the Brazilian, Prost left for Ferrari extremely pissed off. Yet, I don't think Mr Roebuck because of his friendship with Prost ever saw it like that.

And so it is with F1 Racing and Tony Purnell. Views coloured by good relationships or maybe they are just different, like looking at one side of a coin. Whatever it is, one must always take these information with a pinch of salt. Yes, not even this Blog is free from bias I'm afraid. I, too, have my preferences but I too, have different views on things. But hey, that's the great thing about a Blog. You can express your opinions. That's the whole point of Blogs. Some people I think simply don't get that point. Well, unlike Tom Rubython I think I'm still eligible for a pitpass. If I don't then I know that the establishment is taking this Blog seriously. I doubt it but I don't care. Hey Bernie how's about that pitpass?