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The FIA Gods Challenged

There is no doubt about it, the FIA do not like to have their decisions questioned. Way back in October last year, David Coulthard was smacked down for daring to put forward the GPDA’s view on safety matters and there are many other examples of the governing body reacting angrily to criticism.


David Coulthard

Now I see that even mighty Autosport magazine has had to print a retraction of earlier FIA-related statements made in a column of theirs. The fuss revolved around just how many teams were unhappy with the FIA’s sudden reduction of the engine formula from 3 liter V10s to 2.4 liter V8s, although I find it hard to see what was wrong with Autosport‘s columnist pointing out that not all the manufacturers were in favor of the change. Perhaps the problem really lay in his earlier assertion that the FIA had yo-yoed a lot – to hint that the FIA might be a tad indecisive would definitely be heresy.

The whole episode illustrates the FIA’s increasing tendency to see itself as infallible and above criticism. Which is a silly attitude to strike in a sport as contentious and full of differing interests and opinions as F1. The governing body would do wonders for its image if it were to accept criticism gracefully and listen a bit more. No-one has ever said that their job is easy and it is only to be expected that some will disagree with whatever they do; you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

The FIA would like us to see it as a forward-looking body that prepares for the future – hence their sudden fascination with green issues and the interests of car manufacturers. But they seem to be missing something very important about the brave new world of tomorrow: that in the information age, everything becomes known and is examined ad infinitum. They may be able to prevent the traditional media from voicing any uncomfortable opinions but the internet is a different matter entirely. Even governments have failed in their efforts to keep a lid on that beastie.

So the FIA would do far better if it were to act with more consideration of the views of those involved in the sport (and that includes the fans) and to be a lot more transparent in their actions. Except, of course, it can’t. So many of its decisions are driven by financial considerations and shady deals that it dare not explain some of them.

You may think that is a rather wild assumption; but it seems that Michelin agree with me – they are taking the FIA to court over the way in which Pirelli was selected as the sole supplier of tires to the World Rally Championship. Which brings to mind the odd way in which Microsoft MES were chosen as the suppliers of ECUs and Magneti Marelli’s doubts over the process.

The love of money is the root of all evil…

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Number 38 and the Spirit of Racing

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned Number 38 and his comments on the F1-Fanatic site. Since then, #38 and I have been in correspondence and it turns out he is actually Roy Jacobson, a man with long experience of motor racing and the occasional brush with F1. Roy is 62 years old now and still races his kart locally in Virginia – you can’t keep a good man down!


Roy and his M.G. at the Christie Sprints, Hamilton, Ontario, CANADA 1996

In talking with Roy about his experiences, it occurred to me that readers would be interested too and so I will be posting a few of his stories in these final few days before the season commences in Australia. Here’s a taster from early on in our correspondence:

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix of 1983

“I had entered an M.G. powered car called a Lester-MG and was assigned to a class filled with Lotus XIs, Lolas, Porsches and Ferraris.

“In practice, I qualified well but was gridded last as the stewards didn’t know what a Lester was and didn’t expect much performance.

“Just prior to the race someone asked if I was in the right class – after all the entire field, about 20 cars, had alloy, overhead cam engines and the M.G. engine was just a ‘push-rod , lump of iron’. I replied, ‘That’s why I’m starting from scratch, don’t want to embarrass anyone.’

“In the race, I went from last to 6th. No champagne, no trophy, no ribbon but I always get a time sheet! It was a personal victory.”

Roy Jacobson

Against that sort of competition, a victory indeed. Roy’s exploits range from kart racing, amateur events driving his MG TD and hillclimbs to racing in F1 GP support events and even helping out in the Lotus pit for the 1979 US GP at Watkins Glen. Through his eyes we can glimpse not only the history of motor sport going back almost fifty years but also get a feel for the vast sweep of motor racing that goes on every year, unrecorded, unsung, and yet the scene for deeds every bit as heroic as those we see in F1.

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Rob Ijbema

The Art of F1

A few days ago, someone expressed surprise when I listed the subjects of my various websites and blogs. Apparently, to have interests in writing, F1 racing, art, music, romance, astronomy and exotic cars is pretty weird. Well, today I found out that I’m not alone, at least in the art and motor sport thing.


“Alonso” by Rob Ijbema

I was wandering through the F1 sites and blogs, not really looking for something to write about as I don’t usually post on Sundays, when I came upon Car-a-Day by Rob Ijbema. This is a blog in which Rob has set himself the gargantuan task of painting a motor sport picture every day – he is on day twenty and still going strong.

Now, I used to paint a bit myself so I know the commitment and hard work that Rob has signed up for in going for his goal. It’s worse than juggling a dozen blogs on unrelated subjects and trying to remain sane at the same time. But Rob demonstrates not only incredible stamina in carrying out his task, he has talent too. He is not fobbing us off with hasty and ill-executed stuff just to keep to his timetable – his paintings are filled with movement, passion and verve, showing a deep love for and knowledge of his subject.

Formula One actually has a long tradition of attracting accomplished artists and some of the better known artists’ work sells for considerable amounts of money these days. In my opinion, Rob’s paintings can compete with any of these and better many of them for expression. Have a look at his blog and enjoy his work, bookmark it and return every day, that’s my advice.

And, if you have a few banknotes lying around and don’t know what to do with them, why not make a start as an art investor?

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