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Max and the Future of F1

There is only one item of news of any importance today but it’s a doozey: Mighty Max Mosley’s proposals for rule changes in 2011. I won’t detail them here as there are plenty of sites that give the whole press release (Pitpass dot com has the best article so far, I think) but essentially, you can look foward to an F1 world of 2.2 liter turbo-diesels with traction control and standardized bodies.


Max Mosley

Before I begin, let me say that I resent being forced into the position of appearing to be an extreme anti-environmentalist. When the lunacies of the greenies begin to affect the sport I love, however, I have no option but to emerge from my preferred stance of keeping my own counsel to call for a brake on this drive back to the caves. Regular readers will have read me on the subject before and I have already had a good rant on the forum I use, but it is not enough; I apologize, but I have to raise my voice once again in the cause of balance and common sense.

Surely every F1 fan must be horrified by Max’s proposals. Already the calls for his resignation are rising from the ranks of those who truly care about the sport. This is not sufficient, however, as there is no guarantee of who would succeed him in that unlikely event; we need to attack this disease at its root, not its effect.

For F1, that root is the surrender of the FIA to the car manufacturers. That results in the two motivating factors behind Max’s brave new world: that F1 must become relevant to the advance of road car technology and that the sport must be seen as being eco-friendly. Both motivations are diametrically opposed to the prime reason for the existence of F1 – fun, entertainment, a sport indeed.

Those involved in F1 do so because we are a competitive species and love to pit our wits and skills against each other – there is no great benefit to humanity in ascertaining who is the fastest, the cleverest or the best; it’s fun and interesting, that’s all. The fans watch because they too are competitive and want to see humanity’s finest competing against each other and to root for their heroes; it is entertainment, no more and no less.

This is what we call sport and, naturally, F1 fans feel that it is the best sport there is. Take away that reason for doing it and suddenly F1 becomes meaningless beyond an extension of the motor industry’s R&D departments. Watching it would be like taking a tour of a car factory – interesting for the technically-minded but deathly boring for anyone who wants to become involved in a competition to see who is the best. It is the human factor that is being excised from F1 and with it will go all reason for watching it.

I have pointed out before that the manufacturers do not need F1 as a test bed – they have plenty of such facilities already. They should recognize that, if they insist on being involved, they are there only to provide the machinery that enables drivers to compete. Somehow F1 must be wrested from the grasp of the manufacturers and placed back in the hands of those who understand that it is a sport and therefore has nothing to do with practical, everyday things – it is about competition between flesh and blood above anything else.

What really galls me about all this is that Max is doing it in lip service to a theory that is fundamentally flawed and exposed several times over as just plain wrong: the idea that mankind is causing the warming of the atmosphere and that this will soon make the planet uninhabitable. This is not the place to enter the debate that rages over the theory; if you are interested, my website, Global Warming Latest is a quick and easy introduction to the arguments against the theory. But anyone as old as I am must surely remember that, before the global warming hysteria, we were subjected to assurances that we were causing the onset of another Ice Age and, before that, we were confidently advised that overpopulation would bring on worldwide famine before the year 2000.

These are fads picked up by politicians and exaggerated for their own nefarious purposes. Even those scientists who think that global warming is taking place admit that it will have no discernible effect on climate for another hundred years at least. There is no mad hurry to reduce society to some sort of hunter/gatherer paradise just yet, even in the worst scenarios imaginable. The haste is caused because the politicians who encourage the hysteria cannot afford to wait a hundred years – they want power now.

And for this mess of potage, Max wants to destroy F1 as a sport. How dare he propose such ridiculous changes to something that belongs to us, the fans who ensure that F1 continues? It is no longer sufficient for us to bow to the diktats of the greenies by some humble admission that we should be more eco-friendly, as is done by those who want to avoid a fight. The fight is upon us and it is time for us to stand up and demand that our sport remain as such.

I know that attempting to get some sense into the minds of the money men who run the FIA has as much hope of success as starting a search for the fountain of youth. But I have to try. If F1 fans do not raise a shout of protest that is heard even in the hallowed corridors of the FIA, we will see our sport reduced to ruins. We stop the rot now or never.

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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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Honda’s New Livery

I am trying very hard not to enter the Great Debate on Honda’s silly new color scheme, honest. All the expected criticisms and plaudits are flying around anyway, so there is little point in adding to the fuss – that would be giving Honda exactly what they want: news coverage.


Honda RA107

It is becoming quite difficult to keep silent, however, especially when a little-regarded news item about changes in the FIA regulations for the future floats across my screen. The World Motor Sport Council is delaying until 2011 introduction of some of the green rules for engines. Well, that is no surprise, in view of the fact that they sound good but are almost impossible to put into practice.

Perhaps I should explain why it is so difficult for me to bite my tongue over these ridiculous issues. My problem is that I do not accept the first premise of the global warming theory – that humanity is causing the planet to heat up and will ultimately destroy civilization through climate change and the melting of the polar ice caps. Since I am actively involved in another site, Global Warming Latest, that points out the lies and misinformation propagated by the global warming activists, I can hardly go along quietly with all the lip service paid by the FIA and Honda to a theory that depends much more on the scare-mongering of politicians than the actual findings of highly-qualified climatologists.

But I am trying to remain silent, I swear it, and, if sometimes I cannot help myself and shout “Baloney!” at some ignorant and preposterous statement from anyone in charge of the future of F1, please remember that it was not I who introduced the subject in the first place.

So, ignoring the alleged green-ness of the Honda paint job, I should point out that it is, in fact, mostly blue. The black bit at the back is obviously to indicate the curvature of the earth and is not for sponsor logos – they have made other arrangements for those, it seems. Overall, I have to say that the look of the car is not bad; it’s a bit too fussy for my tastes but a whole lot better than the other pictorial representation on the grid – Toro Rosso’s cartoon bull. But it leaves the BMW Sauber in undisputed top spot, regardless of the result of F1 Fanatic’s survey of opinion (yes, I voted – you can guess for which team).

I admit that the Williams is pretty tasteful too, almost a negative version of BMW’s scheme, but then it comes down to whether you prefer dark blue or white as the predominant color. And the thing about white is that it allows you to see the shape of the car underneath – dark colors hide interesting bits in shadow.

To return briefly to the Honda, however, I cannot resist pointing you to the best comment I have seen so far. Have a look at this.

Now that puts things much more into perspective I think!

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Car Manufacturers and F1

Pitpass dot com has a good article on the problems besetting Daimler Chrysler, particularly in America, and the possibility of a sale of Chrysler. The chances of this having a knock-on effect in F1 are quite high in view of the parent company’s involvement through McLaren. If a manufacturer gets into difficulties in the real world, it will not be long before any investment in F1 is regarded as unnecessarily expensive and short on returns.


McLaren MP4-22

To shareholders and bean counters it means diddly squat that the team won two rounds of the World Championship. They want to see the success of title victories pay off on the showroom floors and forecourts.

It is an excellent example of how the dominance of the manufacturers in F1 has changed the sport completely. Note that I said “the real world” up there – which is the place that car manufacturers live. Formula One has never lived in the real world before – in contrast, it has always been the realm of fantasy and dreams, a glorious world where the trials and troubles of reality can be forgotten for a while and legendary feats performed by gladiators in fireproof suits and sexy helmets.

The entry of advertising into this fantasy realm was the first chink in F1′s armor. With costs rising, the teams needed a source of money and the advertisers were happy to provide it. Fortunately (and probably because this coincided fairly closely with the restriction of tobacco advertising – F1 was a convenient loophole through the new regulations), no-one looked too closely at the figures to see if they were getting a decent return on their investment – the names were on the cars and the theory was that this was enough to sell the product.

But the manufacturers are a very different kettle of fish. Forget all the nonsense about F1 providing useful developments relevant to road cars – manufacturers have their research departments and do not need F1 to test their theories. They are there purely to prove that their products are better than anyone else’s – a marketing exercise that must show results or be excised from the balance sheet.

And, if the company experiences financial difficulties in the real world, the first thing it will do is try to cut costs. The millions spent on F1 with very little tangible return will stand out like a sore thumb just begging to be cut off. At which point, the company will leave F1.

In throwing in its lot with the manufacturers, F1 has tied itself to the ebb and flow of the real world. When car markets are buoyant, F1 will prosper with entrants and money; but, let the bottom fall out of the market and F1 will find itself in deep trouble, lacking participants and saddled with a formula designed for a more affluent era. The real world can be a cold and pitiless place at times.

The powers that be seek to offset this danger by presenting F1 as the leader in achieving low emissions – the sport that cares about the environment, indeed. If they can achieve this shift in public perception, the manufacturers will stay in for the benefits of being seen to care about green issues. Mighty Max has decreed that the majority of the public now see global warming as the major issue confronting mankind and that F1 must take note and follow the trend.

The problem is that it is a trend. In previous decades it was overpopulation that was going to end the world; then it was nuclear holocaust, then another ice age. When the present hullabaloo over global warming peters out through lack of solid scientific evidence, another threat will be invented by the alarmists and F1 will be left looking rather foolish.

The point missed by everyone is that F1 is a part of the entertainment industry. Oh, lip service is given in that the FIA are always looking for ways to improve the show and increase the audience; but the implications are not understood at all. Entertainment is essentially escapist – a fantasy world through which we can escape the real world for a while and indulge ourselves in pure, irresponsible bliss. By tying the sport ever closer to the harsh realities of the real world, Max forces us to remain in that uncomfortable environment and the possibilities for escape disappear.

Formula One is set to become a responsible, serious and relevant exercise in public relations. Which might help to improve its image in the eyes of the general public, although far more likely is that nobody will notice. And the lifeblood of the sport, the fans, will drain away as the races become just a huge advert for the car manufacturers.

Entertainment has become one of the most important industries in the world because we need it. Escape for a while is a necessary part of modern life because, for the vast majority, the daily round is meaningless and boring. And what better entertainment can there be than immensely powerful engines ripping through the fossil fuels, daring young drivers competing at the limits of human endurance and skill, and finely tuned projectiles in bright colors hurtling around a difficult track?

It’s a great show as long as you let them get on with it.

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