Saturday, 4 April 2015

Vorsprung Durch Madness!

It was very depressing news to hear that the German GP had been cancelled. Having started watching the sport in 1991, Germany was synonymous with the old Hockenheim, that breathtaking blast through the woods, briefly out of the light into the stadium section. This period coincided with the inexorable rise of Michael Schumacher, which created teeming throngs of crowds in the stadium. It was thrilling watching the new star, in a Ford V8 powered Benetton, hold off Riccardo  Patrese, in a Renault V10, active suspension and all the trimmings Williams! The cars visibly teetering on a knife edge at a high speed - that was Hockenheim. It would have been dull if all the tracks had been like it, but it was something different, and added to the variety of the sport.

Sadly Hockenheim was homogenised (You've Been Tilked?), but in a country that was building its motorsport heritage, and had a decent smattering of fans (and a stellar collection of drivers) it still for my money should have been one of the first races on the line up. And the 'new' Nurburgring was a very enjoyable track to watch and produced some great races.

I think F1 should be a WORLD Championship and not just confine itself to Europe, but surely this does not preclude including historic races, countries with a large fanbase and an opportunity for plenty of money to be made. Take tennis as the model - they play anywhere and everywhere, and everywhere in between, but don't drop Wimbledon for the sake of a few quid! The traditional events with big passionate crowds look great on global TV, and this helps get people round the world watching, and surely the financial arrangement for the core tracks should reflect this.....

Sadly it does not seem it will be the case anytime let me indulge with my own fantasy calendar - all tracks upgraded to safety spec but no changes to the layouts!

2015 F1 Calendar:

Race 1: Australia, Bathurst
Race 2: USA, Laguna Seca
Race 3: Mexico, Mexico City
Race 4: Portugal,Portimao
5: San Marino, 
5: Monaco, Monte Carlo,
6: France, Paul Ricard
7: Germany, Nurburgring
8: Britain, Silverstone
9: Portugal, Esteroil
10: Czech Republic, Brno
11:Belgium, Spa
12: Italy, Monza
13: Turkey, Istanbul
13: Britain, Brands Hatch
14: USA, Road America
15: Canada, Montreal
16: USA, Austin
17: Singapore, Sinagpore City
18: Japan, Suzuka
19: India, Delhi
20: Australia, Adelaide

Errrrrrr whats that Mr Ecclestone? Im very sorry for publishing this, here is the corrected calendar.......

2015 Formula Bernie Presented By CVC
1: Abu Dhabi
2: Baharin
3: Qatar
4: Dubai
5: Japan, TI Aida
6: Korea, Yeongram
7: USA, Las Vegas Car Park
8: USA, Phoenix
9: China, Shanghai
10: USA, Indy Road Course
11: European Classic, Valencia Street Course
12: Austria, A1 Ring
13: Japan, Fuji
14: Russia, Sochi
15:Argentina, Buenos Aires
16: USA, Dallas
17: Belgium, Nivelles
18: Italy, Fiorano
19: France, Le Mans Bugatti
20: Abu Dhabi (Double race, double points, double $£€)

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Put Your Visor Down and Close Your Ears........

Truth be told, I am not a fan of the FIA. They seem to be doing a very effective line in acting as a chocolate fireplace over the myriad issues in the sport at present. The distribution of the revenues, the calendar, promoting young drivers.....they often have little to say, or pour petrol on the flames of an inferno! But finally, last week dropped in a collectors item, a sensible decision that will make F1 better for casual and committed fans alike...........a ban on changing helmet designs.

And with that, the F1 twitterati and forumrati and downthepubrati erupted with scorn.....

....And I would have to disagree with them!

A stultifying inability to do the small things should be no reason to do the big things. While there is a mammoth amount still to do (and I have minuscule faith in the their ability to do much) we cannot as fans deride the organisation for never thinking of the fans, and proactively change the sport, and then propel mud and rocks through the doors of the palatial Place de la Concorde offices when they do so!

To me it parallels the driver numbers change which was similarly lampooned last year. While it hasn't single handedly fixed all the problems in F1, it has been something that I have enjoyed greatly. Learning the reasons different drivers used choose their numbers, having them assimilate into memory though the nifty placement of them on the tv graphics, wondering what numbers new drivers will is all good fun. And I think this new change (or stopchanging change?) will be A Good Thing before the end of the year. Reasons to be cheerful............

A driver's helmet colour is his identity. Now the colours will be on for every race (no more tired Monaco specials, yaaaaawn) we can get used to the colours, and blend them into our mental image of the driver. No bizarre helmet changes like Alonso's (not)famous '1571' (you won't remember!) effort in India 2013. I won't go on about the absurdity of changing a recongnisable, unique helmet design for a random helmet focused on a record number no one would have a clue about, that didn't mean a lot anyway (the points given out for a win had increased markedly from Fangio or even Schumacher's day)  and for something that created zero excitement....apart from for the guy who gets paid to do his helmet designs?! Anyway, I won't go on about it (cont. page 1571)

It might even force the drivers to produce stronger simpler, more recognisable designs, now that they have to think about the downside of plumping for the wrong choice. Some more James Hunt or Ayrton Senna style designs would be nice.....

For new fans, some of them possibly very young ones (the ones who sneak past the opprobrium towards them from the promoter...) it means when they tune in for their second race they might be able to actually recognise drivers they saw in their first race...radical that!

With permanent designs and numbers, maybe we can even have some kick ass driver merchandise! Make it happen!

And it will be such a boon watching classic races now - no more trying desperately to figure out who that guy in the Toro Rosso is, having to Google and find out Vergene had a tribute helmet to Total Oil because it was the fifth anniversary of them changing their logo etc........

So drivers - get those good designs in for Melbourne, and let us all enjoy a change for the better!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Woking Worriers

Well thought I would be original on the blog so..............

The new McLaren livery.........I hate it!

After all the hype about global title sponsors, retro Marlboro liveries (yes please!) It was the red surround round the front nose that did it for me....a bizarre homage to the two year departed title sponsor Vodafone. But hey, logical enough, given supreme head honcho/leader Ron Dennis said during the Jerez test that there was no point changing the colour scheme until a putative title sponsor ponied up some moolah?

They took the red off last year. Ron...?

So not a good look, not good 'vertical brand external exposure imagery synergy' from McLaren! But all would be a temporary distraction if it did not hide some uncomfortable portents for the coming years.....

McLaren have long been rightly famed for the stable, heavyweight long term sponsorship deals they have been able to make. Marlboro, West, Vodafone, Boss, Mobil......high paying sponsors, on long term deals. Bullseye for the sponsorship team! But lately, they have been not reaching the board. The new McLaren is barren, bereft of sponsors large or small, and while I am sure the £50 polo shirts are nice, I doubt they are taking up the slack in the same way shirts do for a football team....

The problem may not be the sponsorship, at a time when costs are escalating, F1 is struggling for audience, and advertisers have a great number of other global outlets. But with Red Bull and Mercedes able to whack huge sums in from the parent company, who in the Darwinian world of F1 will have sympathy? And something is definitely wrong, with even Santander off the McLaren overalls despite the presence of Senor motorsport (don't mention the emails) Fernando Alonso. I wouldn't have thought even me making a presentation drunk with an upside down Powerpoint could have turned Santander off with Alonso there......

And can McLaren find the money to keep competing at the top table? They subidised their own team last year, have free Honda engines (although less FOM prize money) this year, but when the accounts for 2013 show £8 million in cash in the bank potentially down to £100 million this year, does the team rely on shareholder generosity (from Baharian?)? And Alonso will not have decreased the wage bill.......

And in this uncertain environment, when the team need a strong year, comes the new Honda engine. It was in recalcitrant mood at Jerez. Are Honda a year behind, destined for a frustrating year as the others pull ahead thanks to a year's experience?

Against these questions, McLaren have a lot of plus points. A driver many consider the best, and another World Champion. A designer fresh from Red Bull, who has produced a sleek agressive car (albeit inartfully monikered). IF Honda have used their year of observation wisely (will the split turbo work for them like Mercedes?) and get over teething troubles, odds are the  drivers and chassis can capitalise with hatfulls of points, and maybe a lot more. And if the title sponsor follows, McLaren may well have fallen through the years of victories and titles.

In F1, teams ebb and flow as the creative, personal and situational evolution drives ever forward. It is always fascinating when a team reaches a 'pivotal year', and it will be fascinating to see how McLaren do.

Good luck the boys and girls from Woking........and please repaint the car ;)

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Return To Blogging :)

Okay popped out to the shop.......for 3 years :) Lets try and get some regular posts up here.......and do better this time!