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Honda’s Woes

I don’t know who “Helios” is (which is the idea, I think) but he appears to be a member of the Honda team. Certainly, his article for Pitpass today is written from an insider’s viewpoint. And it makes pretty depressing reading, especially if you were hanging on to the last shreds of hope that Jenson Button might yet get the chance of a few decent results this year.


The way Helios tells it, Honda’s problems stem from a lack of leadership and too much interference from board room level. It is an all-too-familiar scenario to me, having worked for a few companies that suffered from the same disease. Racing teams need to be small, closely-knit groups of people utterly dedicated to their task and not subject to the whims and theories of people who know nothing of F1.

Saddest of all was to hear of Button’s attempts to re-inspire the team. He is trying, apparently, but his body language shows that he does not have much hope for success this year. It reminds me too painfully of Bernie Ecclestone’s assessment of Jenson last year.

Can you see Michael Schumacher in such a situation? I am no fan of Michael but I know that he would have insisted on the team being allowed to work the way he required and he would have brought about a unity of thought and ambition that would have seen them conquer their problems by now. It seems that Bernie was right and Jenson lacks the ruthlessness and singlemindedness to create an efficient winning team such as the German did at Ferrari. As does Rubens Barrichello, it seems.

Helios is in agreement with all the other Honda-watchers in citing Nick Fry as the source of their weakness. And one cannot argue with the fact that the buck stops at the desk of the team manager – he is the only one with the power to make changes in the team in the quest for greater efficiency. So far, that does not seem to be happening.

It’s a picture of a team in disarray, unable to explain the deficiencies of the car this season, embarrassed by the greater success of their tiny sister team, Super Aguri, and unhappy with the management. I have to say that, on this evidence, Button can forget any chance of winning a race this year and he will find it hard even to score points.

So much for my hopes of a championship for him this year.

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Ecclestone and Silverstone

I see Bernie has being having a go at Silverstone and its owners, the BRDC again. Apparently, he is fed up with the BRDC never managing to fulfill its promises regarding redevelopment of the circuit.

Damon Hill

Damon Hill, president of the BRDC

As usual, the problem is funding the work necessary to bring Silverstone up to modern standards for F1 tracks. Noises are made about the possibility of government assistance but this is the UK we’re talking about – since when did a British government donate public money to a project as popular as keeping the British Grand Prix?

F1 Fanatic has an interesting proposal that might ensure Silverstone’s survival: that Bernie himself buy the track and spend a few of his many millions in bringing it up to date. Since Bernie has already invested in the Turkish Grand Prix circuit (and thereby ensured its existence for years to come), it seems reasonable that he should do the same for a circuit as loved and historic as Silverstone.

Now there would be a marriage made in the corridors of power, if not in heaven – the two Stones coming together in a union of bliss for the foreseeable future. But it’s the Silver that might get in the way; Bernie did not become rich by investing in lost causes and I’m not at all sure he would be interested in throwing his loot at such a big project as Silverstone. The Turkish circuit is almost brand new and does not need much cash to keep it up to par; Silverstone needs several fortunes to turn it into the glitzy venue that Bernie wants.

Yeah, I tried very hard to get in a quip about Eccles cakes but failed – see if you can do better…

So it remains to be seen whether Silverstone will survive yet again through its annual crisis. But there is one point in all this that I have not seen mentioned yet. Amongst all the cheers for Bernie’s purchase of the Turkish circuit, I detected no pondering upon the matter of a conflict of interests. Surely that must occur if the man who says yes or no to prospective GPs also owns one or two of them? How likely is he to cut out his own GP if it fails to come up to spec? And are not other circuit owners entitled to query his impartiality as a result?

It is not that I think Bernie would do anything underhand or that I want to see the future of some circuits threatened because they can’t get funding from Bernie. I am just interested and wondering why the matter has not been raised before. Call me awkward or a pot-stirrer – that would fit well enough.

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More on Night Races

Or should that be Moron Night Races? Never mind, Bernie wants them, so it is bound to happen. It is good to see that others are at last noticing the way in which the idea conflicts with other stated aims of the FIA, however. Far be it from me to say, “I told You So.”


Daytona chicane at night

In previous posts I have made my position on the Great Global Warming Scare quite clear – in a nutshell, I believe it to be unsupported by the evidence and a deliberate political scam instituted by unscrupulous people hungry for power. But that does not mean that I think efforts to make cars more environment-friendly are wasted. It makes good sense to look for alternative power sources since, sooner or later, the oil will run out.

So I was heartened to read Pitpass’ article about a new and more efficient solar power cell invented in Australia. It does sound as though this is a huge breakthrough and could make the use of solar power more practicable and widespread. Bonza, Australia!

It is not the whole answer, however. There remains the problem of where the power comes from in countries where the sun does not shine as much as it does in Australia. Batteries can store power from the sunny days for a while but there will always be the risk of it running low through a prolonged overcast spell. But be of good cheer, fellow Brits – our cousins across the pond have demonstrated what may well be the ultimate alternative power source for the automotive industry.

It is called the GM Hy-Wire and, having already written about it in another of my sites, I am going to take the lazy route and suggest you click on this link to see what the future holds. This, surely, is the future of both motoring in general and F1.


GM Hy-Wire

You know, if we could all drive one of those, Bernie’s night races might even become feasible…

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The Points Chestnut

I see Bernie Ecclestone has dragged the F1 scoring system into the limelight again, saying that there should be a greater points difference between winning and coming second. It’s a hoary old chestnut that has been tinkered with many times in the past and most changes have made things worse, not better.


Keke Rosberg, 1982

For once, however, I agree with Bernie – the gap between first and second is a bit close at the moment. But an increase to three points difference rather than two should be sufficient, otherwise we risk having championships decided by the halfway mark in years when one team is dominant. Interest in the rest of the season would just drain away.

Bernie’s other suggestion, that the championship go to the driver with most wins, would be a bad mistake, in my opinion. This puts far too much emphasis on winning instead of consistency. And 1982, a year in which the champion won only a single race, is the perfect answer to such a system. Although it is known as the year nobody wanted the championship, in fact it was the most closely-fought season ever. Incredibly, eleven drivers won races that year, Prost, Pironi, Watson, Lauda and Arnoux managing two victories each, while Rosberg, Patrese, Piquet, Tambay, de Angelis and Alboreto took one apiece.

In effect, Bernie is saying that Keke Rosberg did not deserve to be champion that year. Nothing could be further from the truth. Under Bernie’s proposal, the champion would have been Didier Pironi, on equal race wins and second places with John Watson but with a third place to swing the balance. One of Pironi’s wins was stolen in controversial circumstances from Gilles Villeneuve and was not exactly the kind of driving that deserves a championship.

Most of the other race winners shot themselves in the foot – Prost by squabbling with Arnoux all season instead of making sure that he beat him fair and square, Piquet by agreeing to take on development of Brabham’s new BMW turbo engine, and Lauda by being unable to overcome his under-rated teammate, John Watson. In contrast, Rosberg defeated whoever Frank put in the second Williams car (Reutemann, Andretti and Derek Daly were tried) and concentrated on always being near the front in a car that was not really competitive. He deserved the championship all right and it would have been an injustice to give it to anyone else.

It is too simplistic to say that race wins are all that matter. Consistency must always be an important part of the equation too, as I have argued before. And the strange thing is that, when we do get a year in which the driver with the most wins doesn’t become champion, it is always an exciting season of cut-and-thrust, nail-biting finishes and a championship decided at the last. Just ask John Surtees about that.

So I suggest you give the winner one more point, Bernie – that’ll fix it.

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