#F1 Daily News and Comment: Saturday, 16th May 2015


A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,

Why I Disagree With Our Chief Editor

“Jackman” Is Back In The Gene Pool

Busy Weekend for Miss Nordschleife

Why I Disagree With Our Chief Editor

a counter argument to CUSTOMER CAR DECISION BRINGS SHAME ON F1’S GOVERNANCE by TJ13 Provocateur in Chief Fat Hippo

hippo3Yesterday our Editor In Chief Andrew Huntley-Jacobs wrote a ‘The End Is Nigh’ article about the devastating effect he believes the customer cars will have and I disagree with that notion. One effect it will have is that most likely a lot of people will lose their jobs. But that is merely the price we pay for not electing a Dear Leader and living in socialism. It is a grim reality of a market economy that people will be made redundant when the economic circumstances change.

Another effect will be, that it will be an economic game changer. The vision of surviving a season on 50 to 60 million quid will become a reality and those customer cars will probably be slower than the works offers, but not in the region of four to six seconds, like Manor at the moment. I’ve written extensively about that in my article 18 months ago.

What our Chief Editor is rightly bemoaning is how that change came about – the big teams ganged up on the small teams in collusion with Ecclestone. But then his criticism is a moot point. Because a small elite calling the shots on the vast majority with only their own interests at heart is a daily reality – it’s called democracy. We delude ourselves into having a say in the form of elections, but everybody with half a brain knows that we don’t. Whomever we ‘elect’ into Downing Street Nr. 10, the Bundeskanzleramt or the White House, the result will roughly be the same. The decision to send German soldiers to war again was not made by the right-wingers – it was a coalition of the left-ish social democrats and the Green Party, which comes from the 1980’s peace movement.

No matter what power you have, you are faced with certain realities. You can only push through so much of your agenda. Ecclestone forced the double-points idea against the majority, and it got abandoned in a damn hurry when it didn’t work. The same is happening here. Customer cars was Ecclestone’s pet project – everyone bar Red Bull was against it. Now the big teams seem to swing towards the ‘aye’ side. I’m with the Chief that it doesn’t happen out of charity – there is something in it for them. But that’s where our opinions diverge.

Unless you’ve been living under rock since 2009, you know what effect it has to win too much. Red Bull, who won a lot between 2009 and 2014 are almost universally despised and admitting to be a fan of theirs would be like walking into Maranello wearing a “F*@! Ferrari” T-Shirt. Mercedes is on an express train to the same treatment. The Hamilton crowd can only support their juggernaut for so long. What they need is being seen wrestling down a Ferrari and a McLaren in a fierce fight. Currently they’re looking more like whacking babies and stealing candy from them. Wins like the one in Barcelona don’t have any marketing value.

We wouldn’t be seeing the whole VJM08 saga if the customer cars come. Without having access to Force India’s accounting, I would hazard a guess that for the money they wasted on nailing that Frankenstein car together, they could have bought last year’s Merc chassis. They’d probably still be a second a lap slower than Merc, but now they fight with Marussia for last place, two seconds behind. And what our enraged Chief is overlooking: If the rules were changed to allow buying a chassis, Sauber, Force India and Lotus could legally implement the co-constructor idea they’d been pitching.

One can bitch and moan about the way this decision has come about, but the truth is, I think it is what Formula 1 needs. In that regard it doesn’t make the least bit of difference if the decision was made by a Greenpeace committee or by Kim Jong-Un, as long as it is the right one.

I don’t agree with the Chief’s fears of two tier racing either. Customer cars have been in the very DNA of F1 since the early days. We’ve had several driver world champions before the constructor championship was even introduced. In 1968 a certain Jackie Stewart won the first GP for Tyrrell – in a Matra MS10 chassis with a Cosworth engine. 2008 Sebastian Vettel won the Italian GP for Toro Rosso in a Red Bull chassis. Customer cars do not mean crap cars. All it takes is a few engineers with good ideas and an upcoming young driver with a point to prove and the chassis supplier might end up scratching their heads how the hell they’d been beaten by their customers. And as the years go by and after healing financially, some of the customer teams might be in a healthy enough state to give the construction business another shot. Both Williams and McLaren started out that way.

Instead of blasting the decision right from the bat, we should make sure to keep an eye on how they implement it, because if done right, F1 could look a damn site healthier in a few years than it does now.

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“Jackman” Is Back In The Gene Pool

CEpaPQiWMAEmxQIOvershooting the mark on pitstops seemed to be the flavour of the day in Sunday’s Spanish Grandprix. Lewis’ Hamilton’s second stop was relatively slow as his car’s final position didn’t quite confirm to everybody’s idea of accuracy, Pastor Maldonado injured the foot of one of his mechanics, Fernando Alonso went straight through his crew with cooked brakes and poor Jason ‘Jackman’ of Lotus fame was sent flying with an almighty clout smack bang into the family planning. He was later seen icing down the Gentlemen’s jewellery.

Lotus have now announced that man is back in the gene pool and Mrs. Jackman can stop looking for… erm alternative methods of cross-pollination.


Busy Weekend for Miss Nordschleife

sabine_schmitzA busy weekend lies ahead for ‘Miss Nordschleife’ Sabine Schmitz. The Nürburgring Nordschleife expert will be part of this weekend’s 24h of Nürburgring for Frikadelli Racing in a Porsche GT3 R, but beforehand she’ll be a guest starter in the first WTCC race on the iconic 25 kilometre track.

Despite missing test mileage the German qualified fifteenth for the WTCC race. She wasn’t overly pleased with the lap, but felt halfway comfortable in a touring car for the first time. Her vast experience of many 24h hour races makes her one to watch in the race.

For the main event she’ll start in 14th position out of nearly 300 cars. The 24h race of Nürburgring will start today at 1500 GMT.


37 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Saturday, 16th May 2015

  1. On the customer car deal – It will be a two tiered series. It is what the manufacturers have wanted for a long while now. Now it looks like they will have it, a showcase. A nice, reliable, safe, make money for our shareholders, showcase that guarantees them success. Its a deal with the devil that will be sold as “ensuring the health of the sport”.

  2. Actually it was Grosjean who ran over the mechanic’s foot and tore the poor guy’s ligaments.

    Did Lotus or Romain say why his car over shot that pitstop so badly?

    Romain overshot turn one early when passing a Renault powered car. As he came back on line, his teammate’s rear wing was broken when they contacted each other.

    So I wonder if Romain’s car had a mechanical failure to cause the braking incidents.

      • Interesting.

        Since ESPN reported that Grosjean injured a mechanic’s foot/ankle, (which can be seen on the FOM race broadcast, btw), then if what you say is true, it means three Lotus mechanics were injured at Spain:
        Grosjean whacked the front jack man, and a front tire man, plus Maldonado hurt another mechanic.

        That is news!

  3. Great post hippo…without going over old ground I am skipping to Miss Schmitz. Good luck to her, I had the pleasure of a ring taxi before she did the top gear appearance and all I will say is…wow,that girl can drive. Yep,she knows that track inside and out and i bet she can name every bump and hole of the surface. Great sense of fun too and a wicked sense of humour

  4. Weren’t Super Aguri giving Honda a run for their money in 2007 in an revamped 06 Honda?

  5. Customer cars might mean we get a bigger field again. And that is positive. I’d rather have 35 cars battling for the available 26 or 28 slots per race on Saturday. This would mean a little bit more excitement on Saturday.

    • Totally agree, the battle on Saturday to make the grid would add interest, plus offer some meaningful opportunities for young drivers to show their worth

      • And a greater field makes a greater public interest. Especially if their are more nationalities on the grid.

    • A bigger field, perhaps. But less competition. And that would mean an overall loss.

      If F1 were to become spec, personally I’d like that, as it would make it all about the drivers — best drivers in the world competing under properly controlled conditions. But half-spec half-open kinda sorta something is not what I’d like to see.

      • F1 isn’t spec. Nor will it ever be. That would ruin it. F1 is not only about drivers (and never has been) the main thing for what I watch it personally is the cars and their technologies. I’ve had a ten year period where not one driver spoke to me yet I never missed a race. If the cars would be spec that would have never been the case. Many race series have/had this formula and they all failed to become the pinacle of Motorsport for that particular reason. But why would more cars make it less competitive? There would be more battles trough out the field. Because more teams would mean more of the same kind of level. Of course not all 30 would compete for the win.. but midfield battles are interesting too. And there the difference would be made by the driver. Which would than made the top teams decide that that youngster in that reasonable car would have what it takes to become champion in their great car…

        • “F1 isn’t spec. Nor will it ever be. ”

          With customer cars F1 risks converging towards only 3-4 manufacturers supplying the whole grid. This would decrease competition overall, even if there are more teams and more competitors. And competition could become more spec-like, and in several tiers, depending on who screwed better or worse their designs and by how much. From there to a spec series it doesn’t take a leap of faith…

    • To have actual qualifying with eliminations on Saturday, F1 would require a totally different business model.
      F1 is basically a franchise sport at the moment. Teams must prove that they are financially, sound and capable of competing for an entire season before they are allowed entry. FOM pays transport cost to the fly away races, and I don’t see them supporting more teams for this.
      Unlike many series, F1 does not have purses for individual races, so even if a team decided to only compete in the European races, they would need to do so without hope of any compensation. Even if they lucked out and scored some points, because they didn’t compete in the entire series, they would be ineligible for payment under the current system.
      While I agree that it would be nice to have the field open to those who can qualify, I don’t see them changing their business model to support this.

  6. “if done right, F1 could look a damn site healthier in a few years than it does now.”

    Without worsening reliability, it won’t. The whole customer cars principle has worked well in the past thanks to the simple fact that works cars would pop up at one point or another; now they never do.

    Sir Frank (or is it Wanker Williams?) bemoaned several years ago that having 4 Red Bulls on the grid would drive his team out of business. That was as true then, as it is now. And we’re no longer talking of Manor or Sauber being at risk; now even McLaren and Williams are very much ball and being readied for the chop.

  7. I really like the idea of teams co-manufacturing a car, pooling resources and having a bash at taking on the big guys up front due to their combined powers. This is better than them budgeting to finish the season and never having a hope of getting close to the podium. I can only see the fact that less people will be employed as a downside to it.

  8. So at the end we’ll have only Ferrari’s. The only manufactor really committed to F1. It might take 10 years, but that’s what it’s going to be.

    I like multiple constructors and I feel there are other solutions to save the sport, like freeing engine and fuel development within a number of joules etc.

    But I think the main threat will be that in 10 years self driving cars are the norm in the street, so less and less people will admirer the skill. F1 will become like horse racing.

    • That’s a bit harsh isn’t it. McLaren and williams do everything they can to compete in f1. Since a long time… they are as committed as ferrari in my opinion. ..

    • Recall the last open wheel series where Ferrari was the only set of wheels to have……..?

  9. I’m all for a bit of autocracy from a regulatory perspective, its just wrong the a handful of competitors with the most cash are doing this.

      • And politicians arent even ‘The best’ man Has to offer.

        But two wrongs don’t make a right. We now have the technical means for full democracy like in Athen but now for a whole country. In a sport with only 10 teams it should work.

  10. Re: Why I Disagree With Our Chief Editor

    If customer cars are implemented right the racing in F1 could indeed become better than it is now. But looking at F1’s decision making process from recent years and tell me how big the chances are that F1 does it right?

    There is one other very good argument that customer cars should be looked out for and that is: CART. And this time I’m not talking about the series that committed suicide because the teams couldn’t agree to work together. No what I’m talking about is that in the early 80’s CART had a couple of different chassis builders and engine manufacturers, this differentiation on the grid was one of the reasons why people liked CART and a lot of fans seem to find this kind of differentiation important. But a few years after CART split into two series both series ran with a spec chassis and not so long after that both series also had a spec engine. How likely is it that when Mercedes and Red Bull have enough of F1 that a new manufacturer comes in their place and builds a competitive chassis that it also sells to customers teams? How likely is it that within 10 years time we don’t end up with 8 Ferrari’s versus 8 McLaren’s?

    I would like to know what kind of steps F1 should make in the Hippo’s eye to prevent the possibility of F1 becoming a 1 or 2 chassis series?

  11. “Because a small elite calling the shots on the vast majority with only their own interests at heart is a daily reality – it’s called democracy. “
    No, it’s called “oligarchy”: you couldn’t have described it better.
    The “democracy” bit is a thin veneer obscuring this situation. You might like to note, Mr.Hippo, that in UK and the USA social mobility has been steadily declining for decades. In the USA one might confidently state that they have the best “democracy” that money can buy.
    It wouldn’t hurt to read Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the twenty-first century” – or even some reviews of the book. It’s amusing that those who tried to rubbish his thesis (like The FT) STFU’d pretty quickly when he published his source data for scrutiny.
    I’d say that for all the whinging about Bernie, his business practices are absolutely consistent with what passes for “democracy” these days.

  12. your two examples are weak. one was in an era where regulations had more loopholes than spaghetti, the other was a one off aberration under odd weather conditions in quali and race. today the regs are so tight and technology so advanced that for a small group to overcome the juggernauts is not possible like in the 60’s.

  13. Customer cars will be a one-way street. Once the first team is racing, they will need fewer staff and a smaller factory. Others will follow suit and those who leave F1 will not rush to return if customer cars turn out to be a dead end. A smaller gene pool of thinkers in F1 will stagnate the sport too.

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