News and views on motorsports

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Audi Dream

Fantastic conceptual work by Kim Stapleton can be found here on Speed Arena. Through the magic of graphics software, he has managed to turn a Renault R26 into a vision of what an Audi F1 car would look like. I must say it looks awesome and far better than a Mild Seven liveried Renault.

But seriously though, wouldn't the former Auto Union joining the fray against former arch rivals Mercedes be a mouth watering prospect? And you just know that Audi would be in it to win at all costs. Teaching Italian upstarts a thing or two would definitely be high on the agenda.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ross Brawn And Honda

Back in 1994, Ferrari after 3 long win-less years, received technical assistance from Honda, who had by then long left Formula 1. Assistance that allowed them a victory and began the steady road back to championship level competitiveness. This was admitted by di Montezemolo himself before sometime after that retracting the statement. Ungrateful dog. But everyone knew Honda had a hand in helping them out in those dark days. And now it seems that by not allowing Ross Brawn to take the helm at Gestione Sportiva, Ferrari have returned the favour.

I have a great affection for both McLaren and Honda. I recall with great fondness the good old days when Ayrton Senna in a Honda powered McLaren was near unbeatable. Oh sure, there were the odd Williams or Ferrari victory here and there but over the course of the season, you could count on this combination to take championship honours. Back in the day, Honda's foray into Formula 1 was more of a technical R & D exercise to train its brightest engineers. The folks at Honda R&D literally ran the show on the engine side.

By contrast today, the needs of corporate marketing and promotion dominate the investment into grand prix racing. And as a result, Honda have suffered for it. Arguably their best years in this current era was during the reign of David Richards. A proper racing man you might argue (though not without his own devious set of practices). Since he left Nick Fry in charge everything's gone downhill save for a brief bright spell last year the culminated in Jenson Button's win in Hungary.

And now in only the second piece of good news I've heard in several months apart from Kimi's championship win, is the story that Ross Brawn will be Brackley bound for next season. Sure, it will take time for him to rebuild this year's disastrous team. But if he is given a free hand, I would dearly love to see him bring back glory to the Anglo-Japanese team. It might not be Senna, Prost and McLaren all over again but anything's better than the current state they are in and a proud name like Honda should be doing a lot better.

But Ross should fear the ever present hand of corporate interference. Not too long ago, fellow Englishman Mike Gascoyne a dose full of corporate bollocks but then again, Ross Brawn's track record (in addition to his considerable technical skills) should carry a lot more clout with the suits and beanies.

Make no mistake, the challenge to Ross Brawn is considerable. But here is man who knows all about the proper mix of ingredients for a championship winning team. Jenson Button has recently declared that he would leave if things did not improve. Well, Jense help is at hand. Hopefully, not too long from now, he'll have a chance to give Hamil-shit the spanking he deserves. And for sure, Ross Brawn will need everything his drivers have got to win.

Would it be too much to ask that along the way, Honda takes Maranello to the cleaners as they did in the eighties?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Intellectual Property

What a season its been and whilst the curtains should have come down at the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix, we shall have to wait one more week before the FIA confirm Kimi's world championship. Even so, many matters that have arisen during the course of the 2007 season remain unresolved.

You know what I'm talking about. This whole spying issue. That which has left a very sour taste in every fans mouth, no matter which side you take. Its funny to hear people calling McLaren a bunch of cheats because as far as even the FIA can conclude, their car was legal, in the sense that no evidence could be found that Ferrari's intellectual property had been utilised in the 2007 McLaren. What got McLaren the USD 100 million penalty was the fact that certain employees received unauthorised information. The term "spying" is an incorrect one. The fact is, no McLaren employee went into Ferrari to obtain any information. It was a disgruntled Ferrari employee that distributed the dossiers.

What goes around comes around. In 2003, Ferrari (and Bridgestone) alleged that the Michelin tyres were illegal. They were not of course for they complied with the letter of the law. However, the FIA took Ferrari's advice and decided to change the way the tyre width was measured. This of course happened during the course of the season. And of course, Ferrari gets what they want and so Michelin had to produce another tyre that complied to the new measuring methods.

And so in 2007, McLaren, armed with Ferrari's technical information helpfully alerted the FIA that their fancy flexi-bottoms were not in compliance with the regulations. The FIA realised that their measurement methods were inadequate to detect flexible floors and therefore again, mid-season decided to devise new methods of measurement. At the very least the FIA were being fair in this case. The Michelin shod teams were not penalised for their supposedly illegal tyres in 2003 and therefore why should Ferrari be penalised for circumventing the flexible floor ruling?

But whereas the Michelin shod teams back then did not retaliate against Ferrari or Bridgestone (they simply have too much class for it), Maranello's retribution this year was terrible. Again, I state that there is no evidence that McLaren utilised any very intellectual property in their 2007 racing car. The FIA cannot prove this, so why the hell is Luca di Montezemolo talking a whole load of rubbish about there being a lot of Ferrari in the McLaren? In any case and as you know, a great undertaking or witch-hunt as Sir Jackie Stewart called it, was launched against McLaren. And yes, Ferrari got its way. Of course not in full for the drivers remain unpenalised. But I suppose, only because one guy ratted on the team to the FIA and Bernie wanted the other guy to win the championship instead of Kimi because that other fella was orders of magnitude more promote-able.

But I suppose to please his Maranello lovers, Max Mosley now wants to hunt for more than evidence of stolen intellectual property, he wants to hunt for Ferrari "ideas." See, this is what happens when you put a fucking lawyer in charge of racing activities. Quite how he proposes to define "ideas" is beyond me but I would imagine that definition would be far more convoluted but yet vague as the 2007 technical and sporting regulations.

In fact this whole notion of intellectual property stinks. The first time I read something about intellectual property in racing had something to do with the British Touring Car Championship. I cannot now remember the details (and am too lazy to research this right now) but I remember something about the MG racing car could not be taken over by one team because the intellectual property belonged to another. Crikey!

Now, even entire racing series are subject to intellectual property legalities. Say for instance, I want to start my own racing series. I want it to be a one make single seater series, with two races per weekend and two qualifying sessions. The second race start is to have a reverse grid. Sounds familiar? Of course it does because thats how the WTCC, BTCC and even GP2 is run. But if I wanted to do a series like this, I would have to compensate the originator of this format i.e. dish out money to the guys who first invented the format. Of course, the cost of my new series is going to go up. But it all just sounds so silly.

As I said, this is what happens when you have a lawyer in charge of the FIA. And of course, this is what happens when racing becomes first and foremost a business rather than a sport. There's just too much crap that comes in the picture.

Today I read that Bernie has called a crisis meeting among all the other teams save Ferrari, McLaren and Renault who are already embroiled in cases. He wants to root out cases of intellectual property theft. Yes, I'm quite certain that there would be plenty of those that go on everywhere.

But guess who is safe from this intellectual property theft witch hunt? Ferrari of course, whose overlords have done a damned fine job of portraying itself as the sweet innocent injured party. I'm quite certain Nigel Stepney is correct. There are plenty of bones in and around Maranello. But no one shall be investigating them.

And this whole notion of taking it one step further, to look for "ideas" is complete bollocks. Asides from the precariousness of defining the term and eventually enforcing it fairly, it would lead to ridicule. Take for example the Tyrell invention of the raised nose in 1990. It was copied by every other team thereafter in various guises and is standard on all Formula 1 cars today. You could say then that every other team copied the "idea" of the raised nose and if you leave it to that idiot Max Mosley they should all be penalised for this. Furthermore, the entire sport would not have progressed technically along with it. Well, fuck Max Mosley and his legal mumbo jumbo.

Now, its Renault's turn to face "spying" charges and isn't karma sweet? For it was that overaged gigolo who kept harping on about penalising McLaren to the ground. Well, prepare to take your own medicine playboy! And the FIA must, since precedent has been set, they must apply the same penalties to Renault as they did on to McLaren. If they did not, then I think the only recourse is for McLaren to take this matter to court. And I mean a court of justice not the kangaroo variety set up by Max Mosley and cohorts.

And since we are all witch hunting the other teams, in the interest of fairness why not send a team to Maranello as well? Well, we all want to be fair don't we? Has Maranello got anything to hide? Lets see it then. Oh, and lets not just look for intellectual property infringements. Lets see if Maranello has stolen any "ideas."

I rejoiced when Kimi Raikkonen won in Brazil and became world champion. To me, he was the best driver this season. He overcame the challenge of a new team, car and tyres and stuck it good to his moronic teammate and Hamil-shit. 6 races won this season, he truly deserved it. (I just wish it wasn't with such an unsporting team). But it seems that his achievements have been completely overshadowed by these silly legal issues. Formula 1 as it is today, should be flushed down the toilet. If you aren't sick of it, you should be.