News and views on motorsports

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Its All So Sad

Some weeks ago I heard an interesting story which apparently made it into the newspapers here in Malaysia. It seems that a special fund of a very substantial amount was created and approved by the government years ago to help in the development of motorsports in this country. The plan was to allocate these funds to deserving parties and organisations to help grass roots racing in this country. As mentioned this fund was substantial and amounted to something over 30 million if stories are to be believed.

Now exactly what was done with that money? Where are the grassroots development it was supposed to spawn? Where are those young talents waiting to be discovered and launched to superstardom?

In fact talents were discovered. Just not in motor racing. A whole new generation of lorry drivers have been trained and discovered. Story has it that the money was disbursed to a consortium launched by a bunch of greedy cronies who instead of using the monies for its stated and intended purpose, used it instead to start a driving school to train lorry drivers.

Of course the training of these drivers were paid for by the multinationals that employed them so essentially the many millions simply evaporated into these cronies' pockets. Brilliant! Absolutely stunning! Yet another crony scheme to screw the people.

And so in the meantime, Malaysia only has two drivers of some profile in international competition to cheer for. One being Formula 1 refugee Alex Yoong in A1GP and the other Fairuz Fauzy in GP2.

Much has been said about Alex and sometimes I really pity the dude. Still, he's being realistic and in the A1GP series I think he's got a place where he can compete fairly against the rest. By his standards he's doing alright and witness his podium in Sentul. I heartily congratulate the man. At least he's got that other refugee Jos Verstappen licked. And I heard from a reliable source that before embarking on the A1GP's first race in Brands Hatch, he was quite confident of doing so. Well done Alex. Wish you could have taken that Canadian but hell, its a helluva lot better than you've done anywhere else. After all the (deserved) bashing he's got over the years, he deserves some good press.

And Alex is miles quicker than that overrated Fairuz Fauzy, who has dreams of a Formula 1 drive with attendant F4F1 campaign. He should just give it up and race in tin tops or something. He's simply out of his depth at this level. Last year's GP2 should have told him that he doesn't have the speed. In this year's testing so far, he's been slaughtered by his Super Nova team mate Jose Maria Lopez. Testing times at Paul Ricard here and here. In all the Paul Ricard time sheets Fairuz has been in a hapless 20th position. WOW! In the words of Miss Hilton: That's hot.

Yes you can accuse me of not being very patriotic but heck, you know I'm absolutely right but you just can't handle the truth. The truth is, there are talent waiting to be discovered but whilst the cronism and corruption is prevalent, they'll never get their chance. Its so sad that monies were targetted for the development of these youngsters but now its all gone. Thanks cronies, hope your Ferraris end up in a ditch somewhere.

I'm forgetting one person in this story. Malaysia has one driving talent. So good in fact he won the 2001 Group N World Rally Championship and the Asia Pacific Rally championship several times. The name? Karamjit Singh. Now to win any world championship is no easy task, especially in rallying. But here's a guy who did so. Malaysian to boot. Now you'd imagine that government funding would be channeled to him for he has done the country proud. But of course this didn't happen. Sorry Mr Singh but you ain't got no strong cronies with you thats why.

For f***'s sake. He was a WORLD CHAMPION. But who got the attention instead? Alex Yoong. Fairuz Fauzy. Where did the funding go? Bloody cronies. I mean for god's sake. What the hell is wrong with this country? Travesty is too mild a word to be used for that gross injustice. The cronies deserve to be shot.

Time and again you'll here stories like these in Malaysia and not just in motor racing. The folks with talent never get any chances. Meantime, worthless cronies take the taxpayer dollars and screw the people. All thats left is the well connected talentless to fly the flag..... again and all too often.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The State Of Play

The winter world championship is drawing to a close now. I should think everyone's pretty excited that the F1 season is only two weeks away. Just one more day's testing remains I believe but I think from yesterday's times we can roughly estimate who's quick and who's not.

Different teams and drivers are on different testing programmes of course. Jenson Button ended up with the quickest time this year at Barcelona but he may have been simply going for glory at the end of the session. Nevertheless, it would seem that despite some sparkling times for McLarens in the last week, indicating some improvement, Honda and Renault remain the teams of the moment.

A pity that Ferrari is not here to join them and yet if we compare the performance of the latest 248 F1 with the latest Hondas at Sakhir, one could say that at best they'll be slugging it out with the BMWs, McLarens, Red Bulls and Williams. You can never discount Michael Schumacher though and for sure he'll be pushing the car well beyond its limits, even if his brother Ralf is saying he hasn't got a chance. Still, Ferrari are facing some reliability issues and the car's speed has not been that impressive. Perhaps once again, those Bridgestone boots aren't simply at the level of the French rubber.

The Renault team are certainly to be congratulated for producing yet another quick car. This despite being the last of the teams to introduce their V8s and having very little V8 experience in the first place. I thought they'd be struggling but I am glad to have been proven wrong. As to which team is quicker, Honda or Renault, they jury is out on this one but I've got to say that perhaps Renault do have the slightest of edge. Their long runs have been most impressive and this is perhaps a better indication of true race pace.

Its now 2006 and that makes it 7 years since McLaren's last championship victory. A long time to be sure and early indications are that they'll have to wait at least another year... at least. With the defection of senior design people the quality of next year's challenger is questionable. As for this year's car, once again Mercedes let the team down. They're in their second iteration the V8 engine having scrapped the problematic and limp version one. Dear Fernando, what have you got yourself into?

What of Toyota? The evidence thus far suggests yet another year spent in the midfield. The cars haven't been quick at all I'd say although they've only just got together their latest aero package. And that still doesn't impress me at all. Perhaps like Ferrari they're suffering from the use of Bridgestone rubber.

As is Williams I should think. This despite topping the timesheets in previous weeks testing. They're expecting an interim year at Williams I believe and perhaps there isn't any harm in gathering experience with the Japanese tyres this year. Seventh and eleventh respectively for Webber and Rosberg yesterday. The signs are not that good.

Hard to judge the pace of BMW. They seem quite happy to be off playing on their own or with Toro Rossos and Red Bulls. Middle of the grid is my best guess but these Swiss and Germans really are a bit of a mystery. I think they'd do well if they're competing against the likes of Red Bull and Toyota for the final world championship points.

At the back of the grid its Toro Rosso, Midland and Super Aguri. The engines in these cars are nothing to scoff at though. Midland have Toyota power whilst Honda clearly is throwing a lot of help in Aguri's way. On the chassis side though, there's no way the Aguris are going to be competitive. I mean, 2002 vintage Arrows? Puh-lease. As for Toro Rosso, we all know about the V10 / V8 argument. I still believe their engine is going to do just fine against the Midland Toyota V8s. With Dieter Mateschitz a guest at Max Mosley's Legion de Honour award ceremony, do you really think Max will slap further limits on the Cosworth V10 if they run away with it?

They may be in league with Max but I hope they trump the Midlands for I simply can't stand that Shnaider bloke. Nor can I abide that incompetent moron Tiago Monteiro. I know he's a favourite in a lot of people's books after being best rookie last year but given the way the bungled into more than one car last year I think he's an idiot who shouldn't be in this sport. NASCAR perhaps but not Formula 1.

Honda and Renault have both won world championships in the past. A great rivalry existed between these two concerns in the late eighties and early nineties. Renault got the upper hand after 1992 and Honda left that same year. I believe we are about to witness a resumption of hostilities between the two that rival those heady days. Make no mistake. These are serious people with a proud racing tradition and when they decide to go for it, the rest had better watch out.

Hopefully with a competitive season this year, Honda will prove to a lot of people that that con man and Mosley cohort, David Richards really is surplus to requirements.

Whilst one can say that Honda and Renault are the cars to beat nevertheless, I think this year will see some close racing between all the teams. Once in a while we might just get a pleasant surprise or two from the rest.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Birds Of A Feather

I have been and continue to be tied up with professional commitments in recent weeks and hence the lack of updates on this blog. However, this story is too amusing that I just had to have a say. Or should I say, have a laugh.

It seems that the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan is, like many attention seeking third world nations, looking to construct a race track as a way to boost its international profile and attract tourists.

To that end the Transport Minister has come down to good old Malaysia and specifically toured the Sepang circuit to get a view of things. Apparently he's been .... sufficiently impressed enough to want Malaysian expertise .... in organizing the circuit and races. I guess he means Malaysian Airports Berhad (MAB). MAB??? Experts???!!! Organizing races??!! Thats the best laugh I have had in months.

In the first place what sort of races do MAB organize? The Super Series where absolutely nobody comes to watch? Or the so called premier event called the Merdeka Mellenium Endurance where even fewer turn up? The same folks who run Sepang circuit and are under investigation for corruption?

Lest anyone would point at the Formula 1 event that is held year after year at Sepang, MAB have very little to do with running that show. The Formula One Administration takes over the entire event for its entire duration. Thats Bernie's gig, thank you very much.

Given that corruption and scandals also affect Kazakhstan I suppose its only natural they'd seek aid from those who wear the same colours. I guess the rich but driving-talent challenged businessmen in Kazakhstan also want to have a good romp in races catered solely for their self glorification. Wonder whats the equivalent of a Datuk (and attendant cronies) over there...