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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

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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Spyker Unveils Their F8-VII

It seems that as time goes on, new car launches become less and less hyped; Spyker unveiled theirs today amidst very little fanfare. The team is being careful in claims for the future, too, and are aiming to be in a position to win races in another five years’ time. That is refreshingly realistic.

F8-VII

Spyker F8-VII

I am starting to like this team a lot. Admittedly, that has something to do with their being Dutch and going with the national color, orange, for the car, but they also get on with the business at hand without making wild claims for the future. Colin Kolles is shouting the odds a bit over Toro Rosso’s and Super Aguri’s customer cars, but that is understandable, given the fact that Spyker are likely to suffer more than any other team if TR and SA make spectacular performance gains in the coming season. Nobody wants to finish last, after all.

In Albers and Sutil, the team has a good driver pairing as well. Albers is experienced and quick, Sutil potentially a star. If the car is as good as it looks, these two could cause some upsets in midfield. And the Ferrari engine was a pretty good choice, too.

Spyker have gone for development rather than innovation and the F8-VII is a fair example of standard thinking in F1 today. At this stage, that is the right way to go – once they have established a solid base of sound design and reliability, then will come the time for experimentation to gain a performance advantage.

Mike Gascoyne seems much happier with Spyker and his influence will be felt increasingly as the year rolls on, no doubt. It would not surprise me if the Spyker cars were beginning to get amongst the midfield runners by the time the revised car debuts, perhaps at the Turkish GP.

In fact, it’s just as hard to see who will make up the tail end of the grid in the 2007 season as it is to predict the winner. Everyone has a good engine now, all the chassis will be reasonably good (if TR and SA get their way), and all the drivers are competent. So who will be running last for most of the races?

I don’t know but, if I were David Coulthard or Mark Webber, I’d be pushing hard to get that RB3 sorted out quickly now…

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Helmet Design

Williams quietly unveiled their FW29 today and kept the hype very low key – the car must speak for itself on track, they advised. It is visibly a Williams with colors not much changed in spite of their new sponsor, Lenovo, but it appears to have grown a splendid mustache this year, the upper component of the front wing assembly curving up and away from the lower element. Messing around with the nose of the car is almost becoming a Williams tradition.

Helmets 1

As I was looking through the photographs, I came upon the standard portraits of the drivers and was struck by the complexity of their helmet designs. Much of this is caused by the profusion of advertising, of course, but there does seem to be a trend towards increasingly confusing designs. These days it isn’t easy to identify the drivers as they whoosh past, hunkered down between their high cockpit sides and its shoulder bulges, and these modern helmets don’t help with their profusion of colors and strange shapes.

Even a driver as recently arrived as David Coulthard has a clear and simple design for his helmet, based on Scotland’s flag without embellishment and instantly recognizable as a result. Compare this with Kathikeyan’s, also inspired by his nation’s flag but managing to appear similar in its spiky Indian wheel to Wurz’s red and white zigzags. Considering how much of the helmet is obscured by adverts, it hardly seems worth going into such detail with the design.

Helmets 2

Back in the good old days (said the old fart) things were much simpler. Nelson Piquet’s red and white teardrop and stripes were easily identified and Senna stuck with an even plainer theme of green and blue stripes on a yellow background.

Speaking of yellow, it does seem to be the in color of the moment – most new drivers use it somewhere on their helmets and Lewis Hamilton favors it almost to excess. I wonder if this is a subconscious hope that Senna’s magic might have come partially from his helmet colors. Don’t laugh – the F1 drivers are a pretty superstitious bunch.

Take green cars, for instance. There is a tradition going back over fifty years that green is an unlucky color in racing. That might have come from the fifties, when all the British cars were green and were routinely thrashed by the Italian red, and it should really have been exorcised by Lotus in the sixties and Benetton in the nineties. But I suspect that the myth lingers on, perhaps given new life by Jaguar’s brief return to F1.

To return to helmets, the fashion for complex designs certainly doesn’t help commentators and could make Murray Walkers of them all. Which is bad news for young drivers trying to make a name for themselves. If I were a driver just entering F1, I’d buck the trend and go for the simplest helmet design imaginable.

Oh, wait a minute – wasn’t Mark Webber wearing an unadorned white helmet in one of the recent test sessions…?

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Honda’s RA107

Having made a wild prediction that Jenson Button will be champion in 2007, naturally I have been awaiting the unveiling of Honda’s new car with some interest. The launch has been quite low key and optimism reined in so that we are not led to expect miracles. I like that – we’ll see soon enough in the races just how good the car is.

RA107

Barrichello in the Honda RA107

The car is still in its interim black livery, the new colors not to be revealed until next month, and this makes it difficult to see what changes have been made. But it is performing well enough in early testing, apart from stopping on Button’s first lap in it. That is what testing is all about, after all – identifying any problems now rather than in the races. Both drivers seem very happy with it and Barrichello especially is sounding confident.

This realistic but determined attitude seems to run throughout the team. After the disappointments of last year and then the flourish at the end, no doubt they have learned their lesson and are not going to set themselves unattainable goals this time. Maybe it’s my hope that they can upset the old order (which has been unassailable for a while now) but I think we will see Button leading quite a few races this year. Even Flavio Briatore added Honda as an afterthought to his list of most likely winners.

Speaking of Flavio, I see he’s been having a go at Ron Dennis again, mocking McLaren’s takeover of Valencia for the launch of the MP4-22. And he’s right, of course – no matter how much of an extravaganza you put on for the launch, all that really matters is how well the car performs in the races.

On that basis, Honda’s launch was just right – never mind the hype, we’re here to do the business.

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