On the podium in Sochi, Lewis Hamilton for the second year raised questions in the mind of commentators as to whether he’d been recruited by the Russian tourist board.
“I’m very, very proud to be here in Russia, we’ve had a great time, thank you so much everyone. Beautiful, beautiful country. If you’re watching and you’ve never been out here, you should definitely come”.
The moment was not lost on interviewer Eddie Jordan who added, “He sounds like an ambassador; I think we’ll have to appoint him”.
Yet a number of the paddock members have reported there is a general feeling amongst the teams of ‘lets’s get through the weekend and get out’. Joe Saward wrote, “People who one expects to see at races, were not there. Others kept their heads down and talked only of racing matters, and mumbled quietly about getting the weekend over and done with, and looking forward to going to the other extreme in a few days time in Austin, Texas”.
But it’s not just Lewis promoting Russia as some kind of F1 nirvana weekend.
Bernie Ecclestone did an interview with Russian TV broadcaster RT and he had the following to say. “I don’t think Russia needs sporting events to be great and look great. What it does, it exposes to the rest of the world what Russia is – and that’s a difference.”
Geo-politics is clearly something Bernie now thinks he has some expertise. “The trouble today in the world is that we haven’t got too many real leaders. If you look at all the countries and try to pick somebody – it wouldn’t be easy. You’ve got semi-sort of people who think they would be doing that, but they are not.” When asked specifically about Vladimir Putin, Ecclestone remarked, “Super. I’m his best supporter.”
In contrast, America-land appears to have fallen from grace with F1’s mover and shaker. “I’m not very enthusiastic about America, so… The biggest problem with them is that they believe they’re greatest sort of power in the world. And it’s difficult, because, they are a big island, so they are a bit isolated; they are slowly starting to learn what other people in the world do.”
The teams and their sponsors of course have a very different view on the importance of America to them.
Ecclestone also supports Putin’s stance on the treatment of FIFA’s president Seb Blatter. “I don’t think he should have ever stepped down, and I don’t think he should have ever been challenged, because it’s because of him we have a lot of countries around the world that are now playing football. And if these people allegedly have been corrupted to make things happen in their country, it’s good. It’s a tax football had to pay.”
The ramblings from Bernie also visit his usual favourites on F1 and democracy, his successor being ‘more democratic’ and the need to tear up the F1 rulebook and start again.
“I think a lot of that technical regulations are too stringent, and it’s really been like an old house and people keep adding bits and pieces to it, and really, nobody knows why we’ve added them. I am as guilty as anybody else; so, I think maybe we ought to tear it up and have another book”.
Of course the technical regulations make Formula One what it is and whilst TJ13 supports this idea, the F1 house that needs tearing down is bigger than just the technical regulations. The latest ramblings from the diminutive white haired old man at the helm of Formula One make it clear both the house and its builder are no longer fit for purpose in the 21st century, so it’s time to commission a new architect.