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OTD lite:Alain Prost takes pole position for the first time
On this day in 1981, four time champion Alain Prost qualified on pole position for the first time in his Formula One career at Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix.
He would go on to secure 33 of the little blighters in a career spanning twelve seasons and 199 race starts. Perhaps most telling is he shares his placing with Jim Clark – also on 33 poles. Yet Clark achieved this from a mere six season of competition and 72 race starts.
Prost would take a further pole position in 1981, 5 in ’82 and 3 in 83. In 1984 in the dominant Mclaren MP4/2 he took 3 and added another 3 over the course of the 85/86 seasons.
In 1988-89 with another dominant car at his disposal, he claimed 2 per season against Senna’s 13 annually… and that was it until his greased his way into Mansell’s seat at Williams for 1993 and took 13 pole positions in the most dominant car of the season.
His fans will say he drove this way because he used his intelligence to win races and qualifying was not important. Personally I counter this and suggest he drove this way because he didn’t have the innate speed built in him.
Politicians begin to question F1 in Sochi
If the wheels of politics generally move slowly, then those of European Union politics are best measured with a time lapse series of photograph’s.
In 2012, the political heavyweights were alerted too late about the impending F1 race in Bahrain, which would be set against the background of civil unrest and brutal oppression.
However, since the crash of flight MH-17, the daily pain and anguish of relatives to those killed is played out over and over again on the news bulletins across the world.
It is now !0 weeks before the F1 circus intends to play to the Sochi audience, and political comment is already forthcoming.
British deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, has voiced his personal opinion that Putin loves the oxygen of self publicity, and that his personal project of bringing F1 to Russia should be taken from him.
“We’ve got to take tougher sanctions, but also we’ve got to make it quite clear that he cannot expect to get the privileges of being at the top table of world affairs if he’s not prepared to play by the basic rules of world affairs.”
Opposition shadow minister for foreign affairs, Douglas Alexander, has said that Fifa should be making contingency plans for moving the 2018 World Cup due to be held in Russia, and that the Labour party should be making a stand against the grand prix in Sochi.
TJ13 has been informed; at least 2 well known figures within the sport are planning ‘sick notes’ for Sochi. The matter has been the subject of discussion at a number of team amongst the race personnel. This most emotive of human tragedies appears to have reached beyond the normal run of the mill issues within team life.
Ex-minister and Conservative MP David Davies says these are exceptional times calling for exceptional measures. “Whilst I’m not particularly in favour of cancelling sports events at the drop of a hat, here you’ve had the murder of 298 citizens. It can’t conceivably be defended as a reasonable act of war, and therefore I think that Formula One should reflect that.”
Former Liberal Democrat UK party leader Menzies Campbell observes, “Public opinion all over the world will find it difficult to accept Mr Putin taking all the plaudits for this grand prix in Russia.’
Ecclestone, a personal friend and guest of Vladimir Putin at the Sochi Olympic Opening Ceremony, is adamant the race will remain on track. Cynics may suggest this could be something to do with the $200 million plus Russia plans to pay Ecclestone and F1, for a 5 year race contract.
Bernie is sticking to the party line. “I don’t see any problem with going. We are not involved in politics. We have a contract with them. We’ll respect it 100 per cent and so will Mr Putin, I’m sure. He’s been very supportive.”
This constant trumpeting of ‘contracts are contracts’ is disingenuous, because all race contract’s contain ‘force majeur’ clauses, which excuse Formula 1 from attending a race and being deemed in breach of contract should events defined as such arise.
It remains to see whether the French politicians can mount sufficient pressure on the Paris based Federation which governs world motorsport, to call of the race.
At present, the Jean Todt and the FIA are adopting their usual stance, which is without consensus from all other parties involved… do nothing.
Ecclestone Bribery trial likely to end
German magazine Der Spiegel has published details about the state of the Ecclestone trial that reveal the farcical nature of the undertaking. For those with a short attention span, we’ll summarize the article beforehand: Bernard E. will avoid being sentenced for bribery – by bribing the court.
Thankfully for the short stuff from Suffolk the trial is held in Munich, which is in Bavaria, which is as corrupt as a regional government in Uganda. Bavarian officials have been in the thick of corruption scandals since the early days of post-war Germany for bribery, abuse of office, nepotism, tax evasion, fraud and other white collar crimes.
Basically, Bavaria is a totalitarian state within Germany, ruled, with the exception of five years since 1949, by the Christian Social Union, an ultra-conservative right-wing party that exists only in Bavaria and is the sister party of the Christian Democratic Union – the party of chancellor Angela Merkel. By accord, Merkels more moderate CDU operates in all of Germany, except Bavaria. The Bavarian CSU has only once since 1957 failed to get more than 50% of all votes in elections for the Bavarian parliament, results that one usually only sees in China, Cuba, North Korea or the United States, where there are only two parties to begin with.
As a result, the hard-liners in Munich are pretty much free to do what they want and they do so. The Bavarian courts have long been accused of being a two-class judicial system, where the ultra-rich can buy their freedom for loads of currency.
The trial had derailed, when several witnesses of the prosecution, including Mr. Grabkowsky, made u-turns on their previous testimonies and testified a lot more favourably towards Ecclestone than before. Seeing that the trial was going nowhere, the state of Bavaria has offered to let Mr. E. go free for payment of 100 million Euro. Since he was unwilling to pay that, the state of Bavaria has changed its demand to 100 million dollars, insisting on a three-digit million sum for aesthetical reasons [sic]. Obviously judge Noll and his fellow Nigerian princes have failed to look at the current exchange rate of the Zimbabwean dollar. That could have sped up the talks with Ecclestone’s lawyers.
The sum will still be around 100 million euro as he will still have to pay damages of 25 million to Bayern LB in addition to the bribe of the court which through the dollar trick is about 75 million Euro.
According to Süddeutsche Zeitung the Bavarian authorities have already signalled that a deal to end the trial is likely. Judge Noll and the corrupt court in Munich have failed to end corruption in F1.
The only chance, it seems, to remove Mr. E. form F1 is to wait for his natural demise, but nobody knows if he has bribed the grim reaper, too…