Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Dark Day for Formula 1 Grand Prix

Am I a McLaren fan? Yes. Do I think Ron Dennis is an honest man? Yes. Do I think the penalty given to the team is unfair? Yes. Do I think the World Motorsport Council has got it wrong? Maybe.

I was shocked to hear amount of the fine imposed on McLaren. Then I found out that the team would lose all its constructors points. Even worse. $100 millon. Will we ever hear about how the WMC came to its conclusion? Probably not. I for one would think that the public need to know about the why's and what, and how's to better understand the judgement. The team by virtue of the huge penalty imposed on them will certainly take away sponsorship for the team. How on earth can they send the most competitive team to the gallows? It is a complex turn of events leading to the risk of undermining the pinacle of motorsport that is F1. What does the FIA now need to do in order to ensure the integrity of the sport. A single engine manufacturer sport? Not likely. F1 allows car manufacturers to advance motor technology and feed their technology to the everyday man. Think BMW with the development of F1 technology into road cars. V10 engines in their M Sport division. Suspension geometry to the masses. Braking technology saving peoples lives. And lets not forget tire technology. Although it is a sport, it is an advancement in motoring technology that benefits all. The last time we had a huge technological leap in transport was through several furious wars. Do we really need to do that? No. Sport provides much the same for improvement and innovation in technology.

Hopefully history will see this as a blip in F1 and not a turning point in the degeneration our approach to what we gain from a very interesting, strategic driven sport.

F1 does not appeal to everyone. And nor is it supposed to. Football, Rugby, Tennis, Basketball to me is akin to Street Fighter, Doom, R-Type (for those old enough to know) and Pac man. A quick fix of competitive sports. F1 is more like Age of Empire and other suitable strategy based games. There is plenty of chess play involved in F1. The subtle psychological battle field played both on and off the arena. Where for the ill informed or uninitiated, its a bunch of fast cars going round and round a circuit. Some may say that the sport has been diluted and that the spectacle of a car bursting into flames was part of the excitement is lost. This isn't a sport of brutality. It is a game of the utmost in professionalism. Of course there are the diva mentalities of the drivers which is part and parcel of the sport.

This years competition and competitiveness of two great drivers in McLaren should not be overshadowed by the spy scandal that looms over what has been so intriguing so far. What F1 has been missing is not the overtaking and sheer speed of old but the rivalry of totally brilliant and engaging driver personalities. Does this sound like a formula for a sporting soap opera? Of course it is. It is very much like a drama unfolding over a year and not like the total orchestrated dominance of one driver and one team that was Ferrari. The FIA listened to the paying public in our outrage of unsporting behaviour withing Ferrari and changed the rules accordingly to provide a fairer racing spectacle. Irvine and Barichello suffered at the hands of a team in love with a driver who although was somewhat of a miracle and a natural successor to Senna, discredited the sport. This recent event is clearly not on the same level. Espionage has been part of the make up of F1. How else would it have worked in the first place?

Another thing to consider is how this has come to be. Well into this years season and some wrong doing was discovered by who else but Ferrari. Miffed at not employing the world champion, although supposedly doing well to poach Raikkonen from McLaren, Ferrari knew from the start of the season that the opportunity to stamp their dominance on the sport was to be an aborted re-birth. Seeing the new talent Hamilton, a loyal servant to McLaren steal away points right from the start, initiated an intensity of suspicion that would accumulate in this terrible mark on the sport. Can I be bold enough to even suggest that Ferrari made a sacrificial lamb of Nigel Stepney. With his knowledge of intent to deliberately entrap McLaren to be a suspect of spying on Ferraris technology and strategy. Would Ferrari be willing to win the title by delibrately framing McLaren to win this years title? As distasteful as it may sound and also as biased as it may sound from me (after all we are all faced with taking sides now), could it be possible that Ferrari would stoop so low to win a title after the embarrassment of Renault winning twice.

On track form would suggest that McLaren had a rubbish time of it for the last two years. They could have done with a helping hand to be so successful this year. But just look at McLaren's conservate strategy for the times they did dominate the sport. Yes, through fairness towards its drivers and compliancy through the regulations and rules put to the sport. Ferrari regularly would push the boundaries of acceptable behaviour ultimately undermining the rules of the game. Some might say that they identified the weaknesses of the rules. Others might say that they took advantage of the bias of the members of the council. Let us be clear that Ferrari have always been close to being the death of F1. It is through their own arrogance that we are in the position that we are. Ever closer to F1 losing its identity and authority in the world of motorsport.

Most of all I feel sorry for Ron Dennis. A man greatly regarded as the most professional team bosses in Formula 1. His reputation more than tarnished. A man who has built career, reputation and "family" on the one thing special to him. You only have to look at how he has shaped the career and future of a young man from child to adulthood. Why? Because he believes. There are those like me who only believe in one thing about Ron Dennis, that he is the most sincerest operator in Formula 1. I hope this judgement will not see out an amazing man's career. The sport needs Ron Dennis. The sport needs McLaren.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Spanish Inquisition

Speaking to a friend of mine this afternoon he mentioned his trip to the Belgium grand prix. His first trip to see one. A virgin. Good for him I say. I hope to do so one day too. We moved on to the subject of our favorite racing driver Diva, Fernando Alonso. It is absolutely scandalous in my opinion to think that McLaren, a team of great integrity has been already tarred and feathered with allegations of cheating. A couple of weeks ago they were aquitted for involvement in espionage. Ferrari naturally not happy with the outcome were keen to pursue this case. I for one believe that although justice should be served if there was evidence of wrong doing am satisfied by reputation alone of McLaren that no cheating was involved.

So now we turn to recent eveents that once again threaten McLaren's reputation as an honest F1 team. And what better starting point than a communication between the World Champion and the reserve driver. Alonso has never hidden from the fact that he believes the team favours the british driver (Hamilton), because the team is essentially British and that Hamilton has been bred since he was a little acorn (awww) to be "The One". His miserable attempt to sabotage Hamilton's Turkish grand prix was nothing but childish. His arrogance to suggest that any team on the grid would be willing to give him number one status in their team is nothing short of laughable. Sure Spyker would do it......for the money, but for reputation? Not a team like McLaren. Does Lewis Hamilton's performance have something to do with the car? Yes. Favoritism? No. They have a world champion driving for them after all. What would be the better bet at the begining of the season? Alonso of course. But Hamilton is something of a miracle.Ok. Not a miracle, but something unexpected. Jenson Button had and has comparable talent too. McLaren are all about exploiting the natural ability of its drivers. Each driver has his own dedicated engineering team and both have an overall strategist to squeeze the maximum performance from the team as a whole.

Lets not forget Hamilton's proven ability to succeed. McLaren want the constructors title. To do that they need both drivers to excel in every race. Why on earth would they favour one driver to the detriment of the other? They'd want a 1-2 in any combination.

So to the latest. Alonso has been implicated in the scandal. Was there a secretive pact to obtain and use information from Ferrari to gain the upper hand. Maybe. One man's selfish desire to win? With Alonso's recent admission to preferring to land the drivers championship over the constructors title surely alludes to a lack of team spirit and being disassociated with the amibitions of the team. A very disappointing attitude indeed. Would Alonso be content in the dismise to a great team's reputation? Questionable. His ability to publically exercise his lack of loyality to the team that have paid him to work for them is not good. McLaren would be better off trying to poach Button.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

One of Those Days

Waking up to a hangover is never fun. Hangovers are either bad headaches and sore limbs or that fuzzy, still a little pissed feeling. I recall the moment I began stumbling down that boozy road. Bad day at the office and in need of a drink. Seemed like a mate of mine needed one too. So off down the local boozer for beer and a whinge. Fast forward to this morning. Check the phone for evidence of boozy texting or calling. None. Phew! Bruises? Nope. Bank balance? Not sure. Getting too old for that kind of lark? Definitely!