News and views on motorsports

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Interview With The Vampire

Bernie Ecclestone was interviewed by The Independent recently in this article here. The interview covers a range of subjects from The Great Train Robbery, SLEC, the good old days in the 70s, the GPWC to the current crop of team owners.

Like him or not, its a fascinating interview. But one of the points that interested me the most was his statement: "You know, we never invited the manufacturers into Formula One. They saw it as a showcase, like an enormous car showroom for them to sell their products, and the way they're acting at the moment they're dirtying the glass, so people can't see in..."

Now I'd take issue with Bernie with "dirtying the glass" but he's right about one thing. The manufacturers were never invited into Formula 1. At the start there were really specialist engine manufacturers and a whole bunch of pure racing teams.

Today, we can see disturbing headlines like this in the media. Perhaps the last of the great specialists engine makers, Cosworth is in trouble by losing their major client. In days gone by, we had makers like Hart, Judd, Mugen and even Ilmor. All but one of them have now gone. Ilmor has been absorbed into the great Mercedes empire.

The complete corporatisation of Formula 1 is at hand. The problem is, it just doesn't feel like racing anymore. Its corporation vs corporation, with all the attendant Ron-speak and PR and marketing led robo drivers. As Bernie himself says: "Drivers who were more outspoken, like Eddie Irvine and Jacques Villeneuve, were good for you, the media, and good for us. But now, if drivers say something a bit borderline, the team owner screams at them because the sponsor screams at him, so nobody says anything. In the 1970s the guys didn't give a damn what they said and did."

In the long run will the manufacturers stay in Grand Prix racing? People like Ron Dennis and Frank Williams have been around for ages now. This racing is in their blood. The manufacturers are more selective. Staying on depends on how well they do. Toyota have threatened withdrawal if they didn't see results. Ford have gone because of the bean counters. Renault could be next if Carlos has his way.

If there is to be a successful GPWC, it should be the teams and not the manufacturers that come together, just as FOCA did in the past. For it is they who will be around long after their engine suppliers or corporate backers are gone.

Incidentally, doesn't the GPWC look a lot like the DTM in how its organised? Lots of manufacturer reps sitting on the board of that one. But so far the DTM has been a success.

Bernie though, isn't worried at all about the GPWC. Or at least he says he isn't. Somewhere between the Concorde Agreement and the GPWC manifesto is perhaps the best solution for the future of Grand Prix racing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Imola Follow Up

According to this article Fernando Alonso experienced engine problems during the San Marino Grand Prix. To preserve his troubled motor, the Renault team decided to limit his practise laps and thus they didn't manage to get the setup correct. That he could he still manage to win speaks volumes about his abilities. It was also a good call by Renault to call him in when they did. Any longer and it really could have jeapordise his chances.

Despite a massive turn of speed for Ferrari, I still don't think race wins will always fall their way. Remember also that McLaren will have a bunch of new aero updates for Spain which promises even more speed. This championship is can still quite open, though after 3 race victories it looks bloody good for Alonso. Don't forget about Renault. They are 4 out of 4 so far and are definitely looking good for constructor's glory. Although, something must be done about Signor Fisichella's machinery. I still think he's can do a lot better than this and he will.

Whilst Alex Wurz drove a very conservative race, I can't help but feel that had Montoya been in his place, he, like Raikkonen would be way out in front. Or at least battling it out against Schumi and Alonso. I'm sure many miss his f*** you attitude when it comes to battle. Especially when Schumi is involved.

Now I'm not entirely sure about the sporting regulations concerning pitlane activities but I think Ralf's penalty is a bit unfair. Unlike the situation in sportscars, Formula 1 does not have a steward who deems when a car should be released. As long as I can remember, cars are released as soon as its done. I've seen some terrible antics in the past but none of them have been penalised at all. A similar argument was made by Tsutomu Tomita when called to comment. Safety really is in the eye of the beholder and the regulations are very vague. How does one define safety in this case?

The best situation is to have a steward who calls when the car should be released. But one can argue that some stewards are more biased than others. I mean, German stewards are infamous for being bias towards a certain German world champion for example. In which case, he could possibly delay the release of Messrs Alonso or Raikkonen if it came down to it. Yeah, I know they're meant to be impartial, the stewards. But I've seen some very dodgy situations in the past that makes me doubt.

Talking about pit incidents, this reminds me of an amusing incident in the 1986 Le Mans 24 Hours. Hans Stuck in the No. 1 Rothmans Porsche was waiting to leave the pits after a pitstop. The steward in charge of the Porsche pits was a little cautious and delayed his release. The works Porsche team were involved in a tremendous battle with the Joest Porsche team at that time and the delay was costing the works car. Derek Bell, Stuck's partner decided, enough was enough, and proceeded to pick up his seat and throw it at the steward. The startled steward moved out of the way and off went Stuck.

Derek Bell apologized to the steward eventually. In an interview he said that he was afraid that Hans Stuck's foot would slip off the Porsche clutch and he'd run over the steward. Hence the flying seat.

Anyway, back to Formula 1 2005. Whilst Renault can cite engine problems and McLaren broke some drive shafts, BAR, Toyota and especially Williams have very little excuse. Yes, BAR improved tremendously but I don't think they've got the speed ultimately. But certainly they can smile after defeating their arch rivals Toyota. Toyota have definitely a lot of work to do to keep up their nice constructor standing.

Williams were more akin to Saubers than a works backed squad. Mario Thiessen and the bigwigs at BMW cannot be entirely pleased about all this. Williams mainly cite traffic problems during the race as their reason for the dismal show. But hey, that didn't stop Michael Schumacher did it? Unless they got strategy utterly wrong. Shameful I'd call it. Both of them finishing outside the points. I guess Mario Thiessen would better enjoy Rounds 3 and 4 of the World Touring Car Championship this weekend rather more than being in a Formula 1 race with results like these.

Jacques Villeneuve got a good result finally for Sauber. I wonder how this affects his relationship with Peter Sauber and the crew. For the better I suspect. But Jacques should really just chill out rather than making statements like this. Jacques can be quite combative at times, when really I think he doesn't need to. It just rustles up the press and the critics (and bad bloggers of course ;) ) and stresses himself out some more.

Qualifying is yet again a thorny issue. Many teams, fans, television stations and Bernie himself loathe it. This Pitpass article is quite vehement about the issue. But one guy who doesn't want it changed is Flavio Briatore. He claims it would give other teams an unfair advantage. You what? Oh well. Me personally, I kinda of like the fact that you get to see cars on empty tanks and in race loads. But largely I'm kinda neutral about it, especially compared to the format last year.

Monday, April 25, 2005

A Word On Silverstone And New Circuits

Some of the readers of this Blog like to point out that I have a few favourite bones of contention. Ferrari, the FIA and cronies are all favourite targets of mine. And then there's Hermann Tilke, whose circuits I loathe completely. OK, I have changed my mind slightly about Sepang. Out of all the dogs he designed, this one isn't quite so bad. Shanghai takes the cake for that one.

At least in Sepang we get some nice turns like Turns 5/6 and Turn 12/13 which is quite nice and most importantly, fast. But still he loves his slow corners, which I really hate, both as a spectator and when driving on the track. Tilke likes technical circuits where getting it absolutely right is essential. Its easier to lose time than to gain time on his circuits.

But most of all I hate the way he turned the fabulous Oesterreichring into that god awful castrated A1 Ring. And what in God's name did he do with Hockenheim? No more flat out blasts into the forest. At the Fuji circuit in Japan he turned a fantastic flat out sweep before the main straight into an absolutely shambolic mess of tight slow hairpins.

Whats more all this man's circuits have the same features. All have that same feel and from a spectators' viewpoint they all look the same.

Looking around the forums around the internet, you'd find many who would agree to my point of view. And then I found this article on I couldn't agree more with Robert Sinfield.

I shudder to think what Tilke is planning to do to Silverstone. I've driven there before and I'll say this, its a billion trillion gazillion times nicer than Sepang. OK so it doesn't have the fancy corporate facilities or the jumbo pit areas or the fancy grandstands. But its got corners. And fast ones too.

It should be fairly obvious that these old circuits have the best layouts and provide year on year the best racing. I can't wait for the circus this year to reach Suzuka, Spa and Silverstone. It should be a cracker. So Sinfield is right. Just leave the Silverstone layout alone and build that fancy grandstand.

San Marino GP Notes

Well I guess its safe to say that the Ferrari bashing holiday is over now, and here is where it all gets serious. Dead serious. Ferrari are indeed back into the fray as many of us expect. It was good having a laugh at their expense for a while but now the championship really begins.

If the Ferrari didn't look good in Qualifying 2, it was probably because it was brimming with fuel and running a heavy load. Ross Brawn simply knew how fast the car was and that running heavy wouldn't matter. Once the midfield pitted for fuel, Michael would be unleashed. And what a stunning drive it was. Whereas Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso could at best run in the 1m 23s bracket as they did in qualifying, Michael could run in the low 1m 22s. His fastest lap was a 1m 21s.

Yes, of course Michael is right when he says that had he qualified better, he would have won the race. However, this discounts the fact that a certain McLaren driver retired from the race. And not for the first time. According to Ted Kravitz who was in the McLaren garage on Kimi's retirement, Kimi drove into the pits, got out, took his rather expensive steering wheel and flung it right across the garage. If I were him, I'd have taken the steering wheel and thrown it at Ron Dennis. And then I'd have picked it up and thrown it at Norbert Haug.

McLaren have this rather nasty habit of letting their drivers down. It happened to Hakkinen. Its now happening with Kimi. Kimi pulled two seconds out of Alonso on the very first lap and was continuing on at breakneck speeds, mirroring his form in qualifying. If anyone could run with Ferrari this weekend it would have been Kimi. Alas, he was robbed again by some dumb ass constant velocity joint in the drive shafts. If I were Kimi just about now, I'd be making plans to move to Maranello once Herr Schumacher retires. It seems the Ferrari boss and the technical director wants me there anyway.

So what about Fernando Alonso? You must give credit to the man. He resisted the enormous pressure of Michael Schumacher for the best part of 15 laps. His karting pedigree really showed as he smartly positioned his car to defend his position. All the while, he delibrately went slower to avoid lapping backmarkers. The aerodynamic turbulence from them would have ruined him. Put it this way, Button fluffed his defence against Schumacher. Alonso did not. He controlled the situation brilliantly. To my mind, he has proven that he is indeed world champion material. According to Alonso in the press conference and in the press releases, he experienced a lack of grip towards the end. Michelin confirms this as well.

Alonso's teammate Giancarlo Fisichella suffered an ignominous end to his race. The car suffering some sort of failure that caused Fisichella to lose complete control of his car. This may explain why he suffered such dismal form in qualifying. Its a pity otherwise Schumacher would have had two Renaults to contend with.

As for Button, the last main protagonist in this race, I think he had some speed but ultimately it was insufficient. In addition, as I mentioned before, he made a complete hash of defending against Schumacher. This, on a circuit thats very narrow and subjects cars behind to enormous aero turbulence. Given that, Button should have done better. Still, given the pace of the Ferrari, perhaps it was just a matter of time before Michael overtook. After all, at that point there was still one more pitstop to go.

Asides the main action at the head of the field, a great battle ensued between Takuma Sato and Mark Webber during early part of the race. Both of them part of a great train of cars following the Toyota of Jarno Trulli. The Toyotas were clearly out of their league this weekend, although Trulli still managed to gather some points in 7th. Ralf Schumacher, originally finishing in 8th was penalised for some sort of unfair manoeuvre in the pits.

Both the Williams boys finished rather poorly this weekend classified 9th and 10th prior to Ralf's penalty. Webber almost got himself lapped by the leader. Ditto the Red Bull guys who were simply nowhere this weekend. Coulthard getting himself into a ding dong battle with Filipe Massa during the race. First the Brazilian loses his front wing endplate in a botched overtaking attempt. After changing his wing, he got back, chased Coulthard and proceeded to barge Coulthard out of the way at the Rivazza corner. Attaboy Filipe. Filipe's much criticized teammate however managed to put in a solid drive to 6th position. This is more like a former world champion.

In the final analysis, doomsayers will say its going to be Ferrari all the way from now on. But I somehow think the tyre situation had a lot to do with the results here this weeekend. Bridgestone's products seem to do nicely in cooler climates. And it was cold this weekend at Imola. The Michelin clad teams seemed to suffer a lack of grip. It would have been interesting to see how Kimi faired towards the end. Apparently, he was on a different compound rubber to the others.

In the end Fernando Alonso still managed to extend his lead further in the championship. Its his third win on the trot. Whether or not he'll pick up more race wins this year is another matter but I believe he will. There are a few places where the Renault will have an advantage. If he can pick up a couple more with a clutch of podium finishes he can still take the championship. If McLaren can give Kimi a car that lasts then I think Kimi, like Schumacher, is still in with a shout.

But Michael Schumacher is the man of the moment. I bet he's gutted from not winning and he's going to have to start soon. There are 15 races left in the season. If he came first every race with Alonso second he'll only be making up the deficit in 13 races time. Of course this isn't always going to happen but it'll probably work out on average. I'm still curious to see what happens to the Bridgestone tyres once summer comes.

But one thing's for sure, this is shaping out to be the best season in years.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Imola Qualifying 2: Kimi The Man

Forget the aggregate lap times, simply look at the second qualifying laps alone. Watch these laps for an indication of race pace.

The quickest lap today belonged to McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen. His second qualifying lap was the only one to dip below the 1m 23s bracket and crucially, is 0.558s faster than Fernando Alonso. On race loads, that is an absolutely cracking performance, a superb effort by the young Finn. Jenson Button is a further 0.089s behind Fernando today. His teammate Takuma Sato posted the next fastest lap of the day, a further 0.166s behind his English teammate. The BARs are certainly looking good for the race. Takuma leap frogging from 10th yesterday to 6th today on aggregate.

Where were the mighty Ferraris? Barrichello managed to set the 9th fastest time of the day. His will be starting 10th for the race. His teammate? Having trailed Jenson Button through the first and second sectors, he ran wide at the Rivazza corners into the sandbox. On aggregate then, Michael has lost 3 seconds and he'll be starting from 14th on the grid. Apparently, Michael's Ferrari looked very nervous on race load. So I suppose pushing it in this cool Imola weather was just gagging for it. Even if Michael had completed that lap, there was just no way he'd catch Jenson, Fernando or Kimi. Odds are he'd have been slower than Taku today but still ahead on aggregate. Michael was looking good for fourth on the grid today.

Now could this season get any better than this? At this moment, I'm certainly loving it. So much for the fightback. Maybe Ferrari will do better in the race. But its a very tall order.

Not so good for the other Renault. Giancarlo Fisichella managed to set only the 12th fastest time of the day. Aiyiyi. What is happening with Senor Fisichella? After Melbourne the man was brimming with confidence. He's on some sort of downward spiral. All this despite having a new B-spec engine for this weekend. I really fear for the Roman. Everyone knows he's very talented. But perhaps the mental strength isn't there and therefore the consistency. Flavio will not be putting up with performances such as these. For God's sakes Giancarlo, pull your socks up. You're making Villeneuve look good.

With Michael's off, Jarno Trulli will be starting fifth for today's Grand Prix. He also set the fifth fastest time of the day. Nevertheless, the midfield from Jarno onwards seems to be quite close. 7 runners in all setting laps times within 0.4 seconds of each other today, all in the 1m 24s bracket.

Despite doing a lap slower than Jarno Trulli today, Mark Webber qualified fourth on aggregate and will fill up the second row of the grid. Filipe Massa again outshining his teammate by about 0.9 seconds today. His lap of 1m 24.337s was eigth fastest of the day and he will also be starting on eigth. Will his illustrious (and presumably more expensive) teammate ever beat him this season?

David Coulthard will be starting ahead of his debutant teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi. But in actual fact today the young Italian posted a faster lap time than his much more experienced teammate. Unfortunately, their lack of development really shows today. At 1m 26.351s, Liuzzi's lap time is some 3.4 seconds down on Kimi Raikkonen's lap time today! On aggregate the Red Bulls are some 5 and bit seconds off the pace. Melbourne and KL must seem a very long time ago to them.

So can anyone stop the Flying Finn? 1m 22.994s today. At last, the McLaren's are showing the kind of performance we know they are capable of and we were expecting. If Kimi keeps it all together today, I have a sneaky feeling he'll cross the line first. Oh how his regular teammate must be absolutely gutted watching all this from Miami.

We await the race in just under 3 hours time.

Imola On Goings

One of the most significant news this weekend is the revelation that the Red Bull Racing team will use Ferrari engines for next year. The announcement was made in a press release circulated during Saturday qualifying. So with Ferrari supplying the Red Bull team next year, Sauber's engine supply for next year is definitely going to be on everyone's mind. Will it BMW or Cosworth? There are no announcements from Hinwil as I write this but I'd speculate that they would be switching to either one of these engines.

There have been rumours that should BMW takeover the Sauber team then Williams may just be interested in a supply of Cosworths. Apparently some discussions have already begun. And why not. The Northhampton boys have been working on the new V8 for sometime now and have a head start on all the other suppliers. Cosworth's future seems reasonably secure and they've always had expertise if not always the budget to match.

Significantly, the new suggests that Red Bull will be throwing their lot behind Ferrari in the GPWC-FIA wars. Maybe jumping the gun, but I think it's safe to say that Go9 has become G8. Jordan, the other privateer, is for now part of the G8 but their position isn't as clear cut. They still rely on Toyota for their powerplant after all.

As for Red Bull, unless Ferrari gives them the latest specification engines continously, I really can't understand why Mateschitz would elect to use Maranello power. For Ferrari, this means revenues of course but can you really see a Red Bull with a Ferrari engine win races? Would Ferrari allow them to? I'd have stick with Cosworth engines. They made great strides this year and have produced a healthy and competitive engine.

In other news, Flavio Briatore has confirmed that he will remain with Renault. Lets hope we see more supermodels in the pitlane then. I was very disappointed not to see a few in their pits during the Malaysian GP. More supermodels, Flavio. Us blokes can't be looking at your perma-tan all the bloody time. But Flavio's extension has the blessings of Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn who wishes to maintain stability in the team. Whatever his quirks, Flavio is a good leader and Renault have done well to retain him.

The GP2 series kicked off yesterday, but not to great and wide acclaim. report here, qualifying times here and results here. Highly critical review here.

Malaysia's very own Fairuz Fauzy qualified in 21st with a lap time four seconds slower than Adren Racing's Nicolas Lapierre. Eventually Fairuz finished in 17th and dead last classified, 4 laps behind eventual winner and Renault F1 test driver Heikki Kovalainen. Much hype has surrounded Fairuz among the racing community in Malaysia and how he would right the wrongs of Alex Yoong. But given such dismal results here, and given his lack of winning results in British Formula 3 with top team Promatecme and given that he did worse in Macau than Yoong, I simply don't see that happening.

But Kovalainen, despite some difficulties, continues to shine. The man won last year's Race Of Champions, beating Michael Schumacher in a straight fight. He also won the Nissan World Series in 2004 with Pons Racing, after being runner up in 2003. He finished second in the Macau Grand Prix in 2002, after coming in third in British Formula 3. His career hasn't been as spectacular as Liuzzi, Button or Raikkonen but by all accounts he's pretty solid. He's impressed the powers at Renault enough to have Frank Montagny replaced as man Friday.

On the track, McLaren had a really good Friday practise with Pedro de la Rosa leading the way in both sessions. On Saturday practise 1, Schumacher set the pace for Ferrari with Button leading for BAR in practise 2. In low fuel qualifying 1, Ron Dennis tried hard to suppress a grin but he seemed quite pleased with Kimi Raikkonen's pole position. Alonso is all but equal to the Finn in speed finishing just 0.003 seconds behind the McLaren driver.

Given that the McLaren's have not changed anything to the car since Bahrain, perhaps those softer Michelins have worked wonders for Woking. But why oh why did they put Wurz in the second car? With Pedro finishing fifth in Bahrain, McLaren would have had two cars starting late in the session. As it is, the Austrian had to go out early and didn't do that well finishing 0.7 seconds behind Raikkonen. McLaren should have just stuck with Pedro de la Rosa. He would have been quicker (as practise showed) and we would all have more fun for the race. They should just stick Wurz to simply pounding the car for testing and nothing else.

The qualifying result seemed rather odd with 7 different makes in the top 7. It seemed to separate the top performers of each team from their not so well performing team mates. Whilst Alonso was quick, Fisichella had a dismal time with oversteer. Whereas Michael's Ferrari looking well planted and hooked up, Barrichello faltered. The same with Mark Webber, Jarno Trulli and Jenson Button. Alas, Red Bull was not to join the top 10, telling a lack of development.

Qualifying 1 in fact reflects the winter testing form of the teams. The Viking horned McLaren in the right hands does have the fundamental and essential speed. It just has to be hooked up right. And, as Kimi Raikkonen reflects, its just better suited to Imola than Malaysia or Bahrain. But I believe those new Michelins have a lot to do with it as well.

Ominously however, Fernando Alonso's Renault seems to be able to do well on just about every piece of tarmac it rolls on to. As ever, discount not the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher. If those Bridgestones do last he can and will be a huge threat to Kimi and Fernando. However, reports are that whilst the Bridgestone does fantastically well over a single lap early on in its life, over a longer period, its performance detriorates with visibly. Nevertheless, this weekend McLaren and Renault show that in outright pace, they still have the edge over Ferrari. And that's fantastic stuff.

In the battle of the teammates, Karthikeyan continues to outshine Tiago Monteiro and impress us all. Villeneuve is once again eclipsed by Filipe Massa. Perhaps in all this Villenueve bashing going around these days, we miss the fact that perhaps Massa is simply driving well and outdoing himself.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Cosworth Engines

This article on shows us that Cosworth are well on their way towards developing the new 2.4 litre V8 engine for next year. The article notes that "the cost of development of the new 2.4-litre V8s has been huge." No shit, sir.

The new engine apparently revs up to 20,000RPM!! Even the MotoGP bikes don't get anywhere near that figure. This is possible with shorter cranks on the Cosworth V8, thus improving rigidity. So who said fewer cylinders would lead to lower engine speeds? Imagine what BMW will be pulling out of the hat. 21k? 22k RPMs perhaps?

Given that engines are a huge portion in a Formula 1 teams budget, wouldn't it make sense to limit these engine makers a bit? Perhaps installing mandatory FIA limiters for instance. The FIA talks about limiting engine power in the interests of cost and safety. But I can imagine the new V8s still cranking out the best part of 750 - 800 bhp this time next year.

I somehow think that only rev limits would solve the problem. If power is a function of engine revs then it follows that to limit power, we need to limit the revs the engineers can make the engines pull.

Power is not only gained from better design of the engine but using better materials and new manufacturing processes to manipulate those materials. These factors add tremendously to the costs. All in the quest for more revs and higher power.

If you limit engine revs, you limit the possible percentage gain in horsepower year on year. Thus, you can extend the competitive lifespan of the engines. Last year's powerplant will still do nicely. Great news for the "privateer" teams. And great news for possible new entrants. After all, the biggest hurdle in entering Formula 1 is finding the powerplant.

Fiat Shares Hammered

Interesting article on here. After taking quite a beating on the Italian Stock Exchange, the shares of Ferrari parent, Fiat, were suspended from trading.

Its quite well known that Fiat's financial situation is dire. GM have decided to cease their joint ventures with Fiat and have decided not to takeover the ailing Italian concern. This comes with a financial penalty payable to Fiat but fears are that GM might miss the final payment of those penalties.

In September this year, lending banks will convert their loans to Fiat to equity, giving them majority control of Fiat. This puts the Ferrari in their control as well. Now we all know what these financial types are interested in three things only. First, money. Second, money. Third, money. Look at Ford's decision to pull Jaguar out of Formula 1 and dispose Cosworth. That was purely financially motivated. In real terms, it didn't save the Ford empire a lot. But the perception to the bankers and investors are enormous. It was seen by this lot as an astute financial decision even if it really only affected maybe 0.001% of the profit and loss statement.

What follows next is pure speculation.

Now the Ferrari road car division is a profitable venture. Perhaps the only subsidiary that is making money. The Formula 1 team however, burns money. And lots of it. Fiat have been financing the sporting activities for a very long time now. Now, given their cash flow difficulties, it cannot continue that level of spending indefinitely. Despite lots of sponsorship from the likes of Vodafone and Marlboro, Fiat still subsidizes these activities substantially.

Given these factors, the future for the Ferrari team looks to be at risk. They cannot depend on Fiat money. Not with those leeches... sorry, bankers, looking over their shoulders. And so, one begins to understand their hard line attitude. Especially when it comes to the division of Formula 1 income. If they can demonstrate to these bankers that the Formula 1 team can pull in more income to subsidize their activities, then just maybe these bankers will leave them alone.

Cost cutting would be a good idea but I speculate they want to show the bean counters that with their special privileges and greater income, Ferrari are in an advantageous position to win. They can outspend the competition and win. And winning looks good for Fiat. Especially now that the Ferrari Formula 1 cars carry the Fiat logo on the nose.

Should we sympathize for Ferrari? Absolutely not. Sport is sport. And you play the game with whatever you have equitably. In this global economic uncertainty, all manufacturers must give due consideration to costs. But fair play must remain on the racing circuits. And the wealth of the sport must be shared fairly among all the players. On merits, not nostalgia or past achievements.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Thoughts For The Weekend - San Marino

The weather forecast for Imola this weekend is for cold weather. Daytime tempratures are exprected to range between 10 - 12 degrees celsius. The weekend will generally be a sharp contrast to the blistering heat of Bahrain and Malaysia. In addition, there is a possibility of light rain on Sunday as well.

Cold tempratures usually mean happier and more powerful engines. Its probably going to suit the Bridgestone tyres a lot more than the past two rounds. The Ferrari team have been going about a massive testing programme over the last two weeks with four cars running on their two test tracks, Mugello and Fiorano. And despite this being the week of a grand prix, Ferrari are continuing their testing programme in Monza as well. Bastards.

But the Michelin have been doing their bit as well. Teams like McLaren and Williams are complaining that the current Michelin tyre is a little on the hard side and can be worked harder. I heard Renault claims that Giancarlo Fisichella had used about 25% of his tyres in Melbourne. No doubt Renault are easy on tyres but still with that much margin to play with Michelin can be a bit more aggressive.

Imola will see the introduction of new aero packages from the likes of Renault, Williams and Toyota. Toyota in particular with new new diffuser, front wing and sidepods for this weekend.

Strong improvement is also likely to come from BAR Honda, fresh from a lap record breaking test session at Barcelona and Paul Ricard. The team and Jenson Button in particular seems a lot happier after those tests. A new aero package will also be introduced for the race.

Going nowhere is McLaren who will be using the Bahrain car for this weekend with no new improvements. Let's hope those new soft Michelins can do them some good.

Its always great to read about the technical challenges from the boffins. In this article on Renault's Fabrice Lom gives us an insight into the Renault V10's challenges for the weekend. Fisichella might be using a new B-spec V10 for this weekend but Renault will be using a new front wing for this race.

The Michelin clad boys are keeping each other within sight. Except for McLaren the others are introducing new upgrades and developments. The only advantage I can think of for McLaren is the fact that they're the only ones basically who've done wet weather running during the two tests at Paul Ricard and Barcelona. If it does rain at Imola, they're better prepared than the rest. But its a small advantage mind.

The real dark horse for Imola is well, the prancing horse. The majority of Ferrari's tests have been conducted at their private test tracks, so a direct comparison between them, their toughest rivals Renault and the rest cannot be made. Friday and Saturday practise should give us a true indication. I think its 50-50 they'll win this weekend what with all the hard development work they've been doing and continue to be doing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Funny Headline

Uhuh, ok whatever Ross Brawn wants to say. No bias, puh-lease. Remember this grilling you had Ross?

Excerpt of Italian GP 2003 Friday Press Conference

Q: Final question, there have obviously been a lot of stories about tyres over the last few weeks. What's your feeling about the situation?

Ross Brawn : I think we touched on earlier that we would all like black and white regulations and depending at which direction you come at a regulation from, you can take a certain interpretation. Obviously our interpretation was not that the tread was constrained by only being measured when new. With the construction of the regulation I can understand how someone may wish to interpret that way but the construction of the regulation was not when it would have said, furthermore, when new, the tread would be no more than 270. It doesn't say that. So we had an interpretation which was obviously different to the Michelin teams. We have a regulatory body..

Patrick Head : Why did you wait for 38 races before raising this point, if you had this view all the time? It seemed an odd time to raise it Ross.

RB: That tyre, as I understand it Patrick, you had at Monaco.

PH: It's exactly the same mould, comes out of exactly the same mould that appeared in 2001 at Imola.

RB: Renault used different tyres to you Patrick. There's a range of Michelins being used in Formula One. We weren't aware of the problem so any suggestion that we had timed it is inaccurate. Bridgestone is an extremely ethical company and they were aware of this problem for some time and didn't raise it to our attention. They were troubled with how to deal with it, and they came to us after the race in Hungary and said how can we deal with this problem, because in our view (Distracting laughing in the audience) Do you have to keep laughing? Thank you. In our view, they brought the photographs of the tyre in Hungary and said to us can you explain this to us and we asked Charlie for an explanation. He said to us he wanted to investigate it because he didn't understand it. He didn't understand what he could see on the tyres and went away, and the consequence was the letter that came out on the Wednesday after Hungary.

PH: I thought the consequence was a meeting at Maranello on the Tuesday, of the president of the FIA and the race director.

RB: As we know, paranoia runs rife in Formula One. Ron, quite rightly, said you need to look at yourself in the morning and ask yourself if you've got integrity. That meeting was set up weeks ago and was a meeting to discuss our business in Formula One. Some of that discussion has been discussed recently about the schedule that we should run in Formula One. It's not uncommon for us to have meetings with the FIA to discuss things. To suggest that meeting was only about the tyres in fact we were asked not to discuss the tyres with Max and Charlie when they came, because they said they were dealing with it. They felt it was inappropriate to discuss the tyres, so I think to suggest that meeting was only held I don't think Max would break his schedule to come over to Italy on a Tuesday after a race for a matter like that. So as I said, there's a huge amount of paranoia in Formula One. We had an interpretation and we asked the ruling body for a clarification and that was the clarification they gave and I think all the suggestions of Machiavellian plots is just the normal paranoia that runs in Formula One. I do hope the championship is I think it is a fantastic championship. I don't think this is going to make a huge difference. It was important to us that we felt we were competing on a level playing field. As I say, I don't think it will make a huge difference and I think we've got a great championship ahead of us. And may the best man win.

Questions from the floor

Q: Ross, a week ago you were quoted in Autosport as follows: "It was an attempt by Michelin to circumnavigate the regulations. It is now clear that a large number of the Michelin teams have been running illegal tyres for a considerable amount of time." For the avoidance of doubt, can you confirm that you did actually make that remark and, if so, do you still stand by it?

RB: I think our opinions about the situation have been expressed. I've given you an explanation here of what happened and we want to try and run the rest of the championship in the best manner and best spirit that we can and I don™?™t want to go back over those comments.

Q: Ross, according to your comments it looks like wider tyres can provide quite an advantage so can you explain why Ferrari and Bridgestone did not take this option of having a bit wider tyres?

RB: You optimise your car, obviously, around the package you have. You optimise it around the tyres and all the other factors. Bridgestone had what they felt was a limit on where they were prepared to go with the wide front tyre from their interpretation of the regulation. And the difference between where they were prepared to go to and what we have is very small, it is not a big difference. So their interpretation of the regulation left not much scope for anything much different to what we have now. So for us it was no advantage. We did try some tyres with slightly different shaped shoulders but as I say Bridgestone felt there was a limit they wanted to keep to and the difference was very small.

Ron Dennis : I think that is somewhat misleading. The simple fact is I am well qualified, having been on Bridgestone tyres for several years, to know that Bridgestone always optimise the performance of their tyres and there is a constant and consistent trend to their belief in front tyre geometry and how it is constructed and what is the optimum width. And, of course, a narrow tyre always gives you a better aerodynamic profile as well. So I think it is misleading of Ross to say it was a regulatory influence that determined the width of the tyre..

RB: I didn't actually say that..

Ron Dennis : was extremely misleading. It was not regulatory driven, it was performance driven. He knows that very well.

RB: I didn't say that. What I said is that when they tried a tyre that they felt was at the limit it was very little different to what we have now. They do have a tyre that is wider than we have now, but it is not as wide as the Michelin because they didn't interpret the regulations that way. So the difference between the tyre they were able to go to and the tyre we have now offered no benefit.

Q: Patrick, of all the people in this room you have the longest experience in a senior technical position in a Grand Prix team and from your memory have you ever known the FIA to clarify or interpret a regulation not in favour of Ferrari. And does that lead to a broader problem in the government of the sport?

RB: Can I interrupt, sorry, but what about all the changes that were made over the winter? Perhaps he (the journalist) can enlighten us on the changes that were made over the winter, how they were in favour of Ferrari..

Q: In terms of the image of Formula One, Ron was saying that we have had all the facts on which to judge things. That is not quite true because we haven't had the facts on what the actual widths were on the Michelin tyres at the end of races and what they were doing and how the Michelin tyre was working, that is one element of the picture that we haven't had to base our judgements on. But given what has been said over the last ten days, if Montoya wins the championship the platform for it was built on the 56 points he scored between Monaco and Hungary and if he wins the championship is it inevitable that we can only judge that it was a tainted championship?

RB: I think that, as Ron said, let's put water on the fire. I don't believe for a minute that Michelin were trying to bypass the regulations. They obviously had an interpretation of what they felt was acceptable for the tyre and they are not a company that are going to do something that they knowingly know to be in breach of the regulations and that is down to interpretation. So I do accept that Michelin would not have done that knowingly but we have lots of instances in the past where people have found to have a problem with their car, or whatever it is, not knowingly. It is still a problem even though there is no intent. I think there is an important difference there. I don't think that Michelin intentionally tried to bypass the regulations but if faced with a situation where there is a problem it is still a problem even whether there is intent or not. It is a very technical sport and occasionally you do find things that you didn't expect to happen. I mean, cars have problems and often not intentionally. We have had problems with our cars, Ron had a front wing that was a bit low a few years ago. He didn't do it intentionally, but it happens. So I think there is an important distinction there, something I would like to..

RD: Similar to your bargeboards actually.

RB: Yes. It is an interesting thing, the bargeboards, in that Ferrari as a company admitted that they asked the FIA for a clarification. I don't think to this day McLaren have ever admitted that McLaren were the ones who told the FIA about our bargeboards.

Q: Two questions to Ross. There are rumours around the pitlane that Ferrari might exercise Article 179b of the Sporting Code, the right of review, retrospective judgement of a result based on new information that has come to hand. Can you confirm for the good of the championship that that is not going to happen and secondly can you explain to us exactly what happened on Friday in Austria when Michael's car was found to be under the weight limit?
RB: There are these rumours. I don't think Ferrari has made its position clear and I think that decision is above me to make. I guess Ferrari will make its position clear in the future so that is not something I can clarify for you here. (On the second question) We weren't found underweight because if we had been underweight we would have been excluded from qualifying and we weren't excluded so by definition we were not underweight.

Q: What were you when Michael was first weighed?
RB: I can't recall, but the car was put to one side along with another car I believe and it was checked and then they were happy.

Q: Well, Charlie Whiting said that it was under the weight limit at that point and then re-checked about 20 minutes later.
RB: Well, obviously they had a reason for believing it was okay the second time.

Q: Ross, we understand you didn't really like the old spec Michelin front tyres, what is your interpretation of the new spec?
RB: I don't know. To me the tread is definable and I know we are going to disagree on this but to me you can define what the tread is. And if you make a statement to the FIA that this is your tread then you need to respect the fact that you have made a statement that that is your tread. For those of you who care to take the trouble, the Michelin website on tyres tells you what a tread is, it is the part of the tyre that is in contact with the ground. They stipulate what the tread is. So I think it is quite clear what you can and can't do. Of course, we choose to disagree on that, but I think understanding the clarification or looking at the press release the FIA put out it is quite clear what they are expecting in the future so I am sure Michelin and their teams are going to respect that enforcement of the regulation.

Q: Does the FIA have the equipment to check the width after the race?
RB: I think it is a rule. It is not a particularly complex piece of equipment. They have callipers, I know, that they can check it with, so I don't think it is a problem.

Q: Ross, under what circumstances would you protest the earlier results?
RB: It is not really for me to get into that discussion, I am afraid. It is for the board of Ferrari to decide whether they want to do that.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

FIA Meeting

The FIA and representatives from Ferrari, Jordan and Red Bull, met last week to discuss the 2008 Formula 1 regulations. In the FIA press release, the FIA sets a number of deadlines for the finalisation of the regulations.

27th May: First draft of the 2008 regulations
29th June: First draft to be discussed at the World Motorsports Council
1st July: Subject to WMC approval, first draft to be circulated to all stakeholders of the sport.
31st July: Deadline for written comments from stakeholders.
23rd September: Final draft of the 2008 regulations. This will include all comments and consultations from stakeholders who confirm their commitment to the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship.
26th October: Discussion of final draft at the World Motorsports Council.
28th October: Submission of approved final draft to the FIA General Assembly.

Stakeholders are identified as:

- Formula One Management;
- race organisers;
- race promoters;
- current Formula One drivers;
- potentially competing teams;
- potential engine suppliers;
- potential tyre suppliers;
- other significant suppliers;
- any credible potential stakeholder which requests a copy.

Hey how about fans? Don't us fans get any say at all? Guess not. And I suppose all of us combative Bloggers are definitely out of the question as well. ;)

Interesting comments from here, here and here. Also PlanetF1 has an editorial here. Pitpass story here.

Now, of course the "stakeholders" will be consulted but all drafts will in the end be discussed at the World Motorsport Council. Now, who do you think is a member of the WMC? Why, Mr Jean Todt of course. He is Max's choice for replacing him as FIA president. That's some bullshit right there.

Ditto the General Assmebly who are mainly behind Mosley anyhow. And of course, you know that Bernie and Max are tight as thieves. Then, you add the Ferrari boss in the equation.

What of the Group Of Nine (Go9)? I don't think Jordan and Red Bull's attendance is anything to worry about. They real heavyweights have stayed away. Of course, I can understand Jordan and Red Bull wanting to hear both sides of the story. They are after all fully independent teams.

However, they best have a care. Jordan uses Toyota engines. Red Bull is known to be in discussion with BMW and Honda. All of them still fully with Go9. Unless of course, Ferrari want to step in and supply them. Or if Cosworth, now under new management supplies them in the future.

The Go9 are sitting tight, insisting that nothing can be passed without their agreement. All rule changes they argue must go through the Formula 1 commission, despite the fact that the commission hasn't been active in a while. In the meantime, the Go9 say they will respond once they have gone through their own process and sort out all their points of view.

Pitpass has calling for reconciliation between the Go9 and the FIA/FOM/Ferrari axis of evil here.

Screw that. I say there can be no peace in our time as long as Ferrari get the special privileges and vetos. There should be no reconciliation as long as inequities, unfair, unjust and unsporting behaviours remain. Yes, we are all tired of the politics but how can peace reign when injustice rules the sport. If I were running a team, I just cannot see how I'd benefit in the long term from all this. Unfortunate but that's how the politicking starts.

What course of action should be taken? Removing the current FIA president is a good start I think. Replace that lawyer with someone who is not so tightly knitted with a team and the commercial rights holder. Some have even suggested an entirely new federation altogether. That sounds extreme but given the level of alleged corruption in the FIA perhaps wise in the long term. I think the major thing thats needed is to throw out the confounded Concorde Agreement and have a sport run transparently.

Its time for a fresh start and blow out all the cobwebs and decay that persists at the heart of the sport. The old must make way for the new. The regulatory process and the organization must evolve, into something better not just for stakeholders and fans worldwide. Yes, us poor blokes who ultimately splash the dosh to watch the sport.

Singapore Denies F1 Bid

According to this story on Pitpass, the Singapore Motorsports Association has denied that it is in discussions with any parties to hold a Formula 1 event.

Apparently Matthew Lee who was quoted by Electric New Paper last week, was stunned to learn of the comments. Oh well, either Mr Lee or Electric New Paper is pulling a fast one.

A pity actually. I think a race held at Singapore would be quite fun. Especially if its a street circuit in town. Beats going out to the boondocks as we do at Sepang.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Hey Big Spender

Cost cutting or no, test reduction or not, here's Honda now saying they're prepared to throw yet more greenbacks at Honda Racing Developments' F1 programme. New boss Tasuhiro Wada quoted by Autosport as saying: "It's possible that we may need to bring in more resources, our aim is to win the world championship and if we need more resources to do that then we will provide them. It's important to ensure that we have the right quality of resources though - it's not just about quantity."

Translation: Toyota have improved tremendously this year. They have been consistently quicker and are beating us at every turn. Whilst we have failed to finish in the points even when we finish a race. For our honour in the land of the rising sun and elsewhere, we simply cannot allow this to continue. Toyota must be stopped no matter what the cost.

Trust me when I say, the rivalry between these two Japanese automotive giants is immense. The same intensity if not more than the rivalry between BMW and Mercedes. Anyone still remember what happened when Toyota supplied engines to Chip Ganassi's Champ car team? Toyota via Ganassi took credit for Ganassi's past victories. All of which were done with Honda power. Understandably, Honda were livid.

The rivalry goes even further. I have it on good authority that on every Toyota Supra and MR-S competing in the Japan GT / Super GT, there is plaque on the engines that calls for the destruction of Mugen Honda. Or something to that effect. Toyota TRD and Mugen Honda mechanics hardly speak to one another, so intense is their rivalry. When asked about Mugen and Honda, a TRD engineer simply shook his head and spoke two words: "No Good."

Honda must be reeling in pain at the humiliation laid on by Toyota this year. You can bet they will be doing everything they can to rectify the situation. Which is good news for us fans of course if it leads to better racing.

But alas, what about reducing costs? Can it really be reduced. Pragmatically, there really isn't anyway to force teams to spend less. Can't test it on the track, then people like Toyota simply keep their wind tunnels open 24/7. Sauber invests in super computers. Ferrari, well, they can't be arsed to reduce costs or even follow testing agreements.

As Mike Gascoyne said at the Bahrain GP, people like Toyota are in F1 to showcase their technology. As such, its only expensive when they don't succeed. But when they do succeed, the money is well spent and the sport is not expensive. No matter how much money was thrown at it.

And so, if Honda can at least beat their deadly rivals by throwing more money into the pot, they'll be quite happy. Not that I'm suggesting they do not have the championship in mind. They have been world champions in the past. Its a tradition they will want to uphold. But first, Toyota must fall!

Touring Car Round Up

Watching the highlights of the FIA WTCC on Eurosport's website, I'd say I missed a cracking race. One wonders why Eurosport did not elect to show more of the on track action on their short videos. Much of it was devoted to interviews with the drivers. Nevertheless the BMW Team Deutschland racked up pole position and the first race with Dirk Muller. The Alfa Romeos of Tarquini and Augusto Farfus in close attendance in second and third. The first 10 finishers in race 1 were covered by only 9 seconds. Monza with its long fast straights saw plenty of slip streaming action. Dirk Muller in the post race interview spoke of having holes on all corners of his BMW 320i from all the argy bargy that happened.

The WTCC regulations are such that the first 8 finishers of race 1 will start race 2 in reverse order at the head of the field. This placed race 1 winner Dirk Muller in 8th. Rikard Rydell driving the SEAT Cupra started from pole position after coming in 8th in race 1. James Thompson, reigning BTCC champion who finished 7th in race 1 completed the front row of the grid in race 2.

Again, another cracking race with Alfa Romeos and BMWs all getting pushed and shoved and some even into the gravel. Pole man Rydell was pushed into the gravel by Augusto Farfus after holding his own against the Beemers and Alfas. In the end James Thompson won the race for Alfa Romeo but Dirk Muller made his way up to finish second for BMW. Antonio Garcia of BMW Team Italy-Spain finished in third. Again the highlights on Eurosport saw some massive battles among the leaders. The chequered flag saw the top 9 finishers finishing in close order, slip streaming down the main straight.

Other notable mentions include Chevrolet who had a torrid time. Former BTCC champion Alain Menu finishing in 22nd in race 1 beaten by teammate Robert Huff. Former Ferrari and Sauber driver Nicola Larini in another Chevrolet Lacetti finished even further back in 24th. In qualifying the Chevrolets were over 3 seconds down on pole man Dirk Muller. Alain Menu, twice BTCC champion will want to put that in order as soon as possible.

Full official results of Round 1 of the WTCC can be found here.

Well, here's hoping I manage to catch a repeat on satellite sometime, probably a few weeks from now.

This weekend sees the season opener of the DTM at Hockenheim. We look forward to the return of one Mika Hakkinen. Word is that his return came really at the behest of Norbert Haug, hoping to add some speed to the Mercedes team after being beaten Audi last year. Mika though has not been particularly quick during recent official testing at Monza and Spa. Mika himself admitting that it will take time to adjust to the demands of these big heavy saloons. The Opel team particularly in the hands of Heinz Harald Frentzen has been setting the pace at both these venues. All in all I expect the DTM to be a close, if testing is anything to go by. Whilst the Opel Vectras look to be on top of their game, things are close between Mercedes and Audi, who are now running their new A4. An unknown quantity for this year's DTM will be the MG team from Britain. They've missed the official tests to concentrate on completing their new cars.

I just wish I could catch touring action live. Hopefully, bloody Eurosport will fix their live streaming. In the meantime... I wonder if anyone's got WTCC videos on bit torrent.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Sir Jackie For President

This story has been circulating around for a few days now. Apparently, JYS has the backing of a number of parties for the presidency of the FIA. The source of the story was apparently this article on the Scotsman.

As to why the current FIA president needs removal, we all know the reason for that. Various people including Tsutomu Tomita, Shoichi Tanaka and Frank Williams have all expressed dismay at the lack of regulatory stability surrounding Formula 1. Frank Williams going so far as to refer to Mosley as "corrupted by power."

Apparently according to this article on PlanetF1, the Group Of Nine stands ready to back JYS for the presidency.

Sir Jackie is currently president of the British Racing Drivers Club. His office is under siege by members of the Club. It started last year when Ray Bellm, the former chairman of the BRDC negotiated a five year deal with Bernie Ecclestone to run the British Grand Prix. This irked JYS somewhat as that meant the deal ran beyond the termination of the current Concorde Agreement. Perhaps JYS knew something even back then and wanted a three year deal instead.

So, in January JYS threatened to resign his office should Ray Bellm remain. And so, the BRDC board removed Ray Bellm instead. Now the former Group C sportscar racer (remember the Spice Pontiac Fiero?) has apparently returned with a "whispering" campaign against JYS. A poll carried out by members of the BRDC showed a majority supporting the removal of JYS from office. Their bone of contention? The protracted negotiations between the BRDC and Bernie Ecclestone on the British Grand Prix. Apparently the brinkmanship on both sides were not to the members' satisfaction.

However, the BRDC board members have voted in support of JYS and has called on the members to do the same.

That Jackie has the minerals to go up against the likes of Bernie Ecclestone wins my support already. In addition, here is a former world champion and successful team owner who has been involved in all levels of motorsport. Not just Formula 1, but Formula Vauxhall, Formula 3 and Formula 3000 with his son Paul Stewart. I still remember meeting Sir Jackie at the grandstand on Paddock Hill bend in Brands Hatch 9 years ago. He stood up there watching with great intensity as his Formula 3 cars circulated in the Indy short track.

So here is someone who can help not only the highest pinnacle of motorsport but the feeder series below. I read somewhere once that when the motorsports council meets, the hours are spent talking about Formula 1. Only about 10 minutes is given to all other motorsports put together. Yes, that includes your world rally, sportscars, touring cars and junior formulae. Somehow I have a feeling Jackie would pay more attention to these matters because he's been there with a team competing in these other categories.

I think the vast majority of people respect in the sport respect JYS not only for his knowledge and experience but also for his integrity. And I should think he would make a fine FIA president. Its time lawyers made way for people who know the business.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Cool R8

Probably the coolest Audi R8 I've ever seen. Beats the hell out of the one I have in Gran Turismo 4.

ORECA Audi R8 at Paul Ricard

More Racing In Asia

Asia currently hosts four rounds of the Formula 1 world championship. These venues are Sepang, Bahrain, Shanghai and Suzuka. There are others waiting in the wings.

There has been talk about holding an Indian Grand Prix for some time now. Although recently the idea was quite wisely turned down citing a lack of infrastructure for support. However, this story on tells the story of Chennai's bid for a race.

According to more stories here and here, even Singapore is looking to host a round. More can be found here and here on The Electric New Paper (Singapore). The report on Electric suggests a race to be held in 2007. Not very long from now.

According to reports, the Singapore Motor Sports Association is currently working with the GT Association to host a street race for the Super GT (formerly known as Japan GT). But our Southern neighbours here in Malaysia are never one to be outdone, so they're looking to host a Singapore Grand Prix as well.

As for holding a street race, I should think Singapore's wide streets and boulevards would be better equipped than say Monaco or London to hold an event. Plus with the city state being a hub for international air traffic, access from Europe and America would be dead simple. I know F1 fans in Malaysia wouldn't mind the prospect of another Grand Prix so close to home.

Anyway, what puzzles me is's statement and I quote: "The future of the Malaysian Grand Prix is not officially in doubt for some years to come but the Sepang circuit in Kuala Lumpur is not having the effect intended (at least not obviously)."

What exactly do they mean by "not having the effect intended?" What effect would that be? I can think of a few things but I'm curious to know their point. But perhaps this article can shed some light.

With the calendar being 19 races this year, surely the FIA cannot be serious in wanting to extend that any further. So the question is, who will get axed? Silverstone perhaps? Always been Bernie's favourite for the chop.

And with the GPWC making headlines and the future of F1 in doubt, will there indeed be any F1 races (in its current form) left to run after 2007?

In other news, Champcars is making its way to Beijing, China. In addition a street race in Hokkaido is also possible.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Jeers To Eurosport

I am terribly disappointed. Checking the results for the FIA World Touring Car Championship today, I saw a link on the Eurosport FIA WTCC website that indicated the availability of "Live" streaming video. This promises to cover the first two rounds at Monza today.

You can imagine my excitement. I had missed the first race but I figured I would be able to see the second race live from Monza. Fantastic!

Alas, due to technical troubles on Eurosport websites, us touring car fans are left with just reading the results of the race. What a huge let down. Checking the error message on the Windows Media player it seems that the server could not be contacted.

Eventually, Eurosport removed the live link. Boo!

Really, I don't know how one would create a world championship without the ability for viewers to watch the races. Its all and well if you live in Europe and get Eurosport on satellite. The rest of the world isn't that lucky. Sadly, if this is the case then the WTCC is destined to be a European affair cutting out the excitement to the rest of the world.

I'm a die hard fan and would enjoy it simply by watching a live web stream. But even this is denied us. Sorry, but this simply wouldn't happen if Bernie was running this show or them good ol' boys at NASCAR.

I think Eurosport and the WTCC organizers are missing out on a potentially huge market in the rest of the world. They won't create a following if they don't have viewers. A pity, since touring car racing usually has more action in a single race than Formula 1 has in an entire year.

I hope they do something about this. And I hope manufacturers like BMW and Alfa Romeo get them to do something about it too. After all, the big boys are out to get the largest possible viewership and the blokes running the show are not doing a great job at it.

And the official WTCC website completely, utterly and pathetically SUCKS!

The Villeneuve Issue

Sadly I think we really are about to see the end of former world champion Jacques Villeneuve and his involvement in Formula 1. Ever since he returned from his sabbatical and joined Renault for the tail end of last season, our Jacques can only be seen as a shadow of his former self. The man just doesn't have anymore speed.

Could it be that his pace went long before that. During his final season with BAR perhaps, when he was trounced by Jense? Well, he might argue that David Richards was out to get him on that. But surely his performances in Renault and now Sauber are inexcusable. That spin in Malaysia for instance was unforced and completely amatuerish.

I'm sure his fans will argue long and hard on this. But what is beyond dispute is that he is again in trouble with his team. After being dropped by Sauber in recent Barcelona testing he felt compelled to release this statement. The move has been described as unprecedented. Though he seemed to try to play down the rift here.

But Peter Sauber's comments here and his "no comment" here contradicts Villenueve and indicates the level of strained relations between the two parties. The article on seems the most damaging. Jacques' exclusion from the Spanish Grand Prix is a real possibility.

What follows from here is strictly unconfirmed. A friend of mine met Filipe Massa during the Malaysian Grand Prix week. According to Filipe, Jacques' attitude had changed a lot after Melbourne this year. No more four letter words and more willing to cooperate.

But I guess if the speed isn't there then it just isn't there anymore and that is what Sauber is very much aggrieved about. No amount of niceties will save our Jacques. Just pure professionalism, speed and consistency.

Group Of Nine Follow Up

More news on here and here that follows the GPWC meeting last Thursday.

Interesting notes include certain clauses of the Concorde Agreement that have been made public. Some of these clauses apparently "make it impossible for any rules to be made for 2008 without them [the other teams] being involved in the decision-making process" and the teams might just push this to International Chamber of Commerce arbitration. If it does then no rules can be made by the deadline of 31 December 2005 since arbitration usually takes a year.

The second article comments on Ferrari's isolation in Formula 1. But that is really Ferrari's own doing. But whilst the GPWC makes provisions for some teams to receive extra cash for "historical" contributions to grand prix racing, in my opinion there shouldn't be any such extras for any team.

The GPWC does welcome Ferrari into the rival Grand Prix Racing series. However, they would hold no special privileges and vetos. I seriously doubt the current FIAT/Ferrari management would agree to such a thing and simply be a team player. I doubt whether they come back to fold with their tail tucked between their legs like that and ask to simply be good members. After all, they think they are the "stars."

Potentially then, we would be facing the loss of the oldest grand prix team in existence. But we've lost other glamorous names like Alfa Romeo, Brabham and Lotus and the sport still continues. For 20 odd years in the 80s and 90s Ferrari were decimated. But the sport still survived and thrived.

Perhaps if Ferrari want extra considerations for their past, then its time to let them go and let them live in the past.

Group Of Nine Say Nay

I would have to put this up earlier, but Blogger has been giving problems lately.

As reported on numerous websites, the Group Of Nine teams and the five manufacturers met yesterday in Surrey to discuss the future of Formula 1. One of the outcomes was a decision not to attend the April 15 meeting with the FIA and Ferrari to discuss post 2008 regulations. Instead the G9 will press on ahead with their own rival series to be called "Grand Prix Racing."

I haven't been able to gather any more details but I suppose this series will still be run by GPWC Holdings BV. This is a company formed by the teams and staffed by personnel from the G9.
Group Of Nine Say Nay

Well, depending on who you believe, this indicates two distinct possibilities.

Possibility One. The teams are dead serious and wish no further involvement in Formula 1 post 2008. However, Toyota recently have taken some sort of neutral stance on the matter preferring that the others take their plans to the FIA. Then there are others like McLaren who indicate that an exit from racing is a distinct possibility. But sites like looks at this as a sign that teams are willing to spend more time and money on the new endeavour.

Possibility Two. F1 Racing magazine's March issue, speculates that all this is merely a big ruse by none other than Bernie Ecclestone in order to wrestle SLEC back from Speed Investments. SLEC is the company that holds the commercial rights to Formula 1. Speed Investments on the other hand is the entity formed by the banks who collectively own majority control of SLEC.

By getting the teams to display outward displays of discontent, Ecclestone would succeed in bringing down the value of the commercial rights controlled by Speed Investments. F1 Racing speculates that the banks would be naive enough then to sell their control back to Bernie for bottom dollar. By that, I mean rock bottom.

But seriously speaking, are these bankers really that naive? Take Bayerische Landesbank for instance. They have a long association with BMW. Surely BMW would not be party to Ecclestone's games. Not against one of the biggest backers in their past.

And are the banks really that naive as F1 Racing suggests? Well, in my experience they can be but who really knows. It wouldn't be that hard for them to hire someone to do some serious research.

My take on things is that the teams really are serious about these things. After all, key personnel from all the teams and manufacturers sit on the management of GPWC holdings. It seems more than simply showboating. Time and money are being spent developing their framework and an implementation for 2008.

But we shall see.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Money, Power And Winning Races

Motor racing is an expensive sport. Formula 1 has been described as the most expensive sport in the world. Perhaps only sailing in the form of the America's Cup comes close to the level of lavish spending.

And of course there's the often used adage. Talent counts for the square root of bugger all if you don't have the finances to match. But likewise all the money in the world won't ensure you do well. Look at Toyota's dismal results prior to this season. Nevertheless, with the right mixture of skill, talent and money you will reach the pinnacle of the sport.

Some go even further than simply talent and money. Politics comes to the fray. I suppose because of all that money, it inevitably does. The situation in America's Cup is no different.

Fiat's Luca di Montezemolo has publicly admitted that Ferrari does and needs to be close to the racing authorities. On the face of it, there is nothing really wrong with that. Everyone should have a say in the sport's regulations and even in the interpretation of those regulations. But even Ferrari have trouble from time to time. The early part of 2005 has proven that. For 20 years they went without winning anything. Whatever Machiavellian deeds Ferrari have performed you cannot argue against their intelligence, talent, skill, management and the speed of their drivers. As I said many times, their successes are deserved.

But what if you don't have talent but want to win anyway? Here's what you do. Become rich, famous and influential. Be so powerful that others do not dare raise even a finger at you. Having completed that first step, you get your friends to organize a championship. Or if one is already at hand you get them to run the championship. You spend loads on your friends who run this championship. Oh and it also helps that your friend is also in charge of the scrutineering of the cars and also writes the rules.

Then, spend as much money as you can buying the best cars available. Not so much that it sends you to ruins of course but just enough so that your car is light speed quicker than your competitors.

Still, your talented competitors, using their vast experience and skill to offset the deficit, will from time to time cause you some complications. But this should pose no problems for you, since you can conduct yourself in an "ungentlemanly" fashion but get your friend who runs the championship to heap blame and sanctions on the audacious competitor who has dared to attempt to pass you on the track.

With your money and privileged position and since you've spent heaps on your championship running friend, you can get any competitor whom you see as a threat excluded from the championship on the most trivial of grounds.

Also, whilst your competitors must comply to all regulations to a "T" you on the other hand are free to flout them as you see fit. Hey, you've just spent a ton supporting the championship. You are the mainstay competitor in it, so you of course bloody well should have the right to do that. Without you, the championship would lose its "glamour" and of course revenues. Oh never mind that the crowds don't seem interested in you or your "glamour."

In the end, you will get copious amounts of self gratification. That such successes are hollow should not cause you any crises of conscience. Because you have none. With your gleaming championship trophy in the cabinet, you sleep soundly at night. That those with 18-wheeler loads of talent do not get to shine because of your antics is of little consequence to you. You've won and that gentlemen is how we do that.

No dear reader. In the last few paragraphs I speak not of Ferrari although there are similarities and parallels. I made clear at the start that at least Ferrari do have talent. If you hail from Europe, America or Canada (and it seems most of you out there do) you would probably be scratching your heads by now. I do apologise but my other readers will find the situation I describe strangely familiar. ;)

The Business Of Selling Racing Cars

Have a look at this article on Pitpass. It discusses the re-entry of Lola as a Formula 3 chassis supplier. Champcar fans will know of Lola for a very long time now as they are one of the chassis supplier to the series.

In the hands of Danilo Dirani, the new Lola Mugens have been making headlines in the British Formula 3 championship. They took a dominant win in the first two rounds of the championship at Donington Park. The event was a double header and Dirani won both races from pole position.

The Pitpass article asks questions on the competitiveness of rival Dallara. And goes on to look at a history of the two marques in Formula 3, Indycars and of course Formula 1.

But what interests me is of course that chassis makers like Lola, Dallara, Reynard and March (established by Max Mosley and Robin Herd) all took the plunge into modern Formula 1. All of them have failed to make the cut. The best effort I think was the March effort run by the Leyton House team in the late 80s and 90s. Who could forget that in 1988, when Formula 1 was transitioning from turbo to the current normally aspirated formula? The Leyton House March with a Judd V8 could hold its own against the turbocharged Ferraris.

Of course Leyton House March could be expected to do well. They had an ace technical director by the name of Adrian Newey. All the rest can be said to have bombed out. Reynard especially in spectacular style, sending the otherwise distinguished chassis maker into bankruptcy. Lola of course attempted Formula 1 with the Carl Haas in 1986 with Cosworth power. Thankfully they abandoned the project and concentrated on Indycars.

The article does make a sound observation that chassis makers are successful in junior formulae, Indycars and Champcars when they take their Formula 1 experience and applies it to their designs. But taking part in Formula 1 itself is a hazardous affair. It sucks out companies' resources and makes their bread and butter offerings to junior formulae less competitive. Its bitten everyone of them in the bottom. Including Dallara itself once upon a time.

The problems arises because teams in Formula 1 must manufacture their own chassis. In junior formulae, Champcars and IRL teams are allowed to purchase cars. Companies like Dallara make their monies out of selling their products to other teams. Not just cars but a whole load of parts out of it. Plus a little technical consulting on the side I'm sure. But in Formula 1, they can only supply to a single one.

So questions must be asked about Dallara's involvement with Jordan next year. Are we in fact seeing the first signs of trouble here?

Gil de Ferran In As Sporting Director

It looks like those rumours were true after all. Gil de Ferran has been appointed as the new Sporting Director of the BAR team. Nick Fry has still be retained and will act as the Chief Executive Officer of the Brackley squad.

But its curious how Autosport managed to get the jump on anyone else. Pitpass revealed that Autosport had published the story earlier but immediately withdrew it from their website. This suggests that the story was premature and Autosport knew about this first. Of course, no surprises with that. In the list of publications covering Formula 1, Autosport and sister magazine F1 Racing get first call for nearly everything.

How do you define the role of the sporting director? I tried to look for a precise definition somewhere but just couldn't nail it down. I admit I wasn't looking for very long. Nevertheless, as sporting director, Gil de Ferran will fill the role as the team boss at the races. Much like Jean Todt assumes that role at Ferrari. He will involve himself with all non technical aspects of the team and according to Nick Fry, he is "to get the best out of the racing team, the race engineers and the race and test drivers by enhancing their teamwork and motivation, using his experience to help get the most from the car on-event and developing race-winning strategies."

As for Nick Fry apparently his role confines him to the factory. In his own words, he will focusing on "harnessing the power of our enhanced relationship with Honda and providing overall company leadership." OK then.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Nick Fry To Face The Sack?

In the wake of my previous entry on this Blog comes this story on Pitpass. Apparently Autosport ran a headline to this effect but was immediately pulled out of their website.

It might just be wild speculation but given the dismal results of the Honda engined BAR team, could this report be true?

Gil de Ferran has been named as a likely successor to Nick Fry after numerous victories with Honda engined cars in the Champcars. Gil de Ferran is quite an accomplished driver winning the British Formula 3 and Indycar World Series titles in 2000 and 2001.

I can't remember exactly but wasn't this bloke a old close friend of Ayrton Senna?

Whatever the case may be, he doesn't have any team management experience at all. So indeed, why would Honda consider him right now? Especially when the hour is getting late and their needs are best served by an experienced manager. Gil de Ferran, like Bobby Rahal at Jaguar, doesn't have any Formula 1 experience to speak of. And frankly, the world of the Champcar team is vastly different to the Formula 1 environment.

Perhaps Honda wants to be rid of any Prodrive influences in the BAR team, in which they now own a substantial stake. But to take on someone like de Ferran would be even worse than their decision to terminate David Richard's services.

Considering that it took years and lots of stability for Jean Todt to turn Ferrari's fortunes around, any rocking of the boat right now could spell further disaster for BAR.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Need For Calm

Poor Bridgestone, again they fall all over themselves to take the blame for Ferrari's lack of pace in a race. Not helped this time by Barrichello have has taken to lambast the hapless tyre maker in this article on

Two weeks ago, Jenson Button launched a scathing attack on engine supplier Honda. See also this article. Honda apologised for their mistakes. But Jenson I think is decidedly unimpressed. Last Sunday, he must have been fuming again after clutch problems forced his retirement.

Nevertheless, both Jenson and Rubens should look to their team mates for a lesson on how to handle pressure. Takuma Sato has called for the team to look on the bright sides (whatever those may be at the moment). Michael Schumacher, looking less than cheerful in Bahrain after qualifying and his retirement, is ever a calming influence. As his quite rightly points out, they win as a team and they lose as a team.

Michael's leadership of the Ferrari team is very evident. Jean Todt and Luca may seem to the public as the figureheads of the Scuderia but if you read F1Racing magazine, there are others who say that Michael is the true CEO. He follows that time honoured adage; praise in public but criticize in private. He makes all the right positive and diplomatic noises in public but you can bet he give it to em good back at the factory.

Michael I believe is someone who concentrates more on getting the job doen and extracting the maximum from his team rather rather than going red on them. He joined Ferrari in 1996 with a car that was a complete dog to look at and even more so to drive. All through the years though, he kept his cool and just kept at it. And his team repaid him in spades for his patience, inelligence input, speed and encouragement.

That's really what the guys at BAR and Ferrari need to do now. Whilst Ferrari have Michael, Jean and Luca to see through the storm they find themselves in, BAR's leadership now that David Richards is gone must be seen as a little suspect. Three races and no points to show for it. They need strong leadership now but I'm not sure if Nick Fry is up to it. Nothing like a charismatic whip like Richards to motivate the boys in Brackley.

Jenson Button is perhaps not as complete as Michael Schumacher outside the racing car but at the least he can show some calm and encouragement to his team. Sometimes the things that are not said have the greatest effect. Michael Schumacher knows this. Jenson should learn it.

Of course, Jenson Button's outburst is sensational news in the media and I think viewers love lapping it up. But not what his team needs right now.

But don't get me wrong. Ferrari are in trouble and I'm loving every minute of it. It won't last for sure but I'm a happy chappy right now.

ITV Coverage

In this story on PlanetF1, they take yet another swipe at ITV's Formula 1 broadcast for last Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix. PlanetF1 has twice criticised the UK television station for not covering Takuma Sato's allegedly brilliant pass into Turn 1, overtaking Jenson Button and de la Rosa. The incident happened early on in the race. They further lambast the lack of coverage on the Villeneuve vs Coulthard incident.

Granted us viewers missed that on the telly. I'm not entirely certain about this, but I thought the television shots we receive are really at the discretion of the local broadcaster. From time to time in races, you can hear Martin Brundle for instance praying for the broadcast director/producer to switch to another piece of action happening on the track. If this is true in Bahrain, then PlanetF1's pot shots at the ITV team seem to be misplaced.

Of all the broadcasts I've seen on TV and this includes the BBC, ITV, ESPN Star Sports and Eurosports, I think the ITV coverage is the best by a country mile. Of course, the ITV team largely transferred from the BBC when ITV took over the broadcast rights. They do make mistakes especially when Murray Walker was around but live broadcasting rarely is perfect.

But their added value as compared to Eurosport and ESPN Star Sports is that they have these roving reporters on the scene to interview the drivers and team personnel whereas the satellite broadcasters simply view the race from the commentary box. Also, getting folks like Mike Gascoyne to join them from the pitwall is priceless. You get to sit in with a real pro.

Eurosport commentary is a bit dry. The worse has to be ESPN Star Sports. Chris Goodwin is ok to listen to but that Steve Slater is a complete moron at times. Not helped that he's such a Ferrari fan and especially a Schumi fan. OK fine you're allowed favourites but the way the slobbers over the Italians and the German is disgusting. Martin Brundle may be Coulthard's manager but at least his commentary seems less biased most times. Well, its nice having Goodwin around to keep Slater in his place. In any case both Eurosport and ESPN Star Sports commentators sound like they're just living in the commentary box with very little knowledge of whats going on elsewhere. And Slater's level of knowledge is very wanting.

So give the ITV guys a break, won't you? Perfect they are not but the best available I think they certainly are. Well, from my limited experience anyway. Here in Malaysia, its either them or ESPN Star Sports. I pick ITV every single time.

Monday, April 04, 2005

World Touring Car Round Up

The season kicks off this weekend at Monza. Works backed manufacturer teams include BMW, Alfa Romeo, SEAT, Chevrolet and Ford. Honda and Peugot will supply essentially semi-works outfits with cars and equipment to contest the ten rounds of the championship. In total 30 cars have confirmed their entry in the WTC with other teams preparing to compete in selected rounds. I have heard that Honda Malaysia will be converting their MME Honda Civic to full Super 2000 specifications and contest an unspecified number of rounds in the WTC.

A full entry list for the WTC is here. In addition to that list Tom Coronel formerly of Carly Motorsports BMW team has jumped ship and will compete with the SEAT Sport Holland team running the SEAT Toleda Cupra. Those of you who've watched Macau in recent years will know of Coronel's exploits very well.

Some other interesting teams look to be the JAS Motorsport Honda Accords and the SEAT teams running among others Rikard Rydell.

The championship has also attracted the attentions of Chevrolet (nee Daewoo) and Brilliance, the new China car manufacturer currently storming Europe with cheap cars and SUVs. Chevrolet admit they have a lot of work to do. The Chevrolet Lacetti however are in the very capable hands of former British Touring Car Champion Alain Menu and Formula 1 refugee Nicola Larini.

The Super 2000 rules are interesting with regulations dependant upon the number of cylinders in the engine and choice of gearbox. You can choose standard 5 speed "H" pattern manual gearboxes or 6 speed sequential boxes with weight penalties. There is even a diesel category. These allow the competitor to run 2 litre 4 cylinder turbodiesels against the normally aspirated petrol cars. You can read the technical regulations here and here.
A summarised version can be found here.

The testing form book currently favours the Autodelta Alfa Romeo Racing Team. In the first official test in Monza, Augusto Farfus leading the pack in his Alfa 156 (yuck!) but not by much. The top 10 covered by just a second between them. Jorg Muller (former Macau GP winner in both Guia and F3 categories) and Dirk Muller of BMW Team Deutschland (Schnitzer) 320is running the Brazilian very close. Behind them, comes Antonio Garcia of BMW Team Italy-Spain run by former touring car legend Roberto Ravaglia, the Honda Accord Euro R of Roberto Colciago and British Touring Car Champion James Thompson in another Alfa 156. All in quick succession. Then comes a name that should be familiar to Formula 1 and Champcar fans, Alex Zanardi in a specially modified BMW 320i run by BMW Team Italy-Spain.

In the second official test Augusto Farfus again leads the lapcharts followed by team mate Gabriele Tarquini (who finished third in last year's ETCC). The Schnitzer run BMW 320is respectively third and fourth for Jorg Muller and Dirk Muller.

The Alfa team look incredibly strong for this first round in Monza. Its long straights obviously favouring the minimal power losses afforded by transverse gearbox front wheel drive configuration. But I surely expect the BMWs to feature in Macau, Istanbul, Valencia, Puebla (Mexico) and Oschersleben (Germany). These are circuits with a number of tight technical turns and should favour the agility of the rear wheel drive BMWs.

Alfa Romeo is looking to avenge last year's defeat in the ETCC and the form book suggests that first blood will be drawn by them come this Sunday. All in all the WTC will feature some of the most exciting touring car action we've seen (or haven't seen) in a while, with lots of former touring car champions competing. Certainly catch it on TV if you can.

Covering Motorsports Outside Formula 1

True racing fans with a healthy appreciation of the sport naturally appreciate any form of motorsports be it F3000, F3, touring cars, rallying or sports cars. However, being stuck in Malaysia, I find it quite difficult to follow closely events outside Formula 1. Thank god for the internet else we'd largely be in the dark here in Asia.

I noticed many racing related Blogs cover NASCAR. I confess, I have very little liking for that, the second largest motorsport category in the world. But nevertheless, you can tell its easier to follow the sport in the US due to massive TV coverage and media information.

Outside Formula 1, my favourite categories are Touring Cars and the Super GT (aka the Japan GT). I know what you're thinking, I watch Super GT merely for the babes. I would be lying to you if I said I didn't watch the babes. But then, so does every bloody one else if you ask me. Nevertheless, the racing is exciting and always unpredictable.

Touring cars though is a highly serious sport. Though in current times, it has lost its sparkle if compared to those heady and glorious days of the 90s when the action simply had Formula 1 beat. The racing was simply out of this world. Formula 1 drivers who entered touring cars found great difficulty because it was door to door, wing mirror smashing bumping all the way. Something unheard of in Formula racing.

This year, the FIA has seen fit to organise a world championship for touring cars. And not forgetting of course, there is still that grand daddy of all touring car events, the British Touring Car Championship. The event really that started the 90s supertouring rules rolling.

Whilst I follow the action on the various websites with anticipation, nevertheless its hard to feel passionate if you don't actually get to watch the bloody thing. Oh sure, Motorsports Asia on Astro satellite TV will show highlights. Like in a few months time, its not the same as actually seeing it in real time. I doubt if the situation will improve since sports channels in Asia seem obsessed with football all the time. Which is not bad. But then they also like to show lots of these stupid golf tournaments, which is not only boring but appeals to bloody cronies.

I could take a week's delay in showing the highlights. Much like what the BBC used to do in the UK for the BTCC. But over here, I don't even know what event they are going to show on Motorsports Asia next. There's never any details for racing fans like us.

Outside the WTC and BTCC, there is of course the DTM. This series and the V8 Star series are to the rest of the world, what NASCAR is to North America. Big engined, brutal saloon cars. Lots of noise, horsepower and action. Again, the Astro channel over here does cover it in Motorsport Asia but I just never bloody well know when they do it. And hence, I always miss the bloody coverage.

Thankfully though, the Macau Grand Prix is always broadcasted live at the end of the year. And this year, Macau will be part of the World Touring Cars. And of course its sort of the F3 race of future champions. Fingers crossed, I hope I finally make it to Macau this year.

I really wish I was back in England. Sky Sports and Eurosports expanded coverage of motor racing now covers the DTM (live!) and Touring cars. And I really miss watching BTCC before the Grand Prix coverage. I'm pretty sure there are enough racing fans in Asia (if you add China and India) to make some sort of Speedvision channel a viable option. Are you guys at ESPN Star listening?

At the very least will you buggers please give some detailed information on exactly what event you are going to cover next on Motorsports Asia.