News and views on motorsports

Saturday, February 05, 2005

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?

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