Over the white line: Drivers to be confined to ping-pong
By LJ Hutchins
Friday, November 28th, 2008
Our first duty this week is to wish Mark Webber all the best. A nasty collision between the mountain bike-riding F1 star and a 4×4 on a back road in Tasmania left him with his leg so severely broken that doubts were raised about his fitness for 2009.
Webber was taking part in his Pure Tasmania Challenge, an event he set up four years ago with the twin goals of encouraging outdoor fitness and raising cash for charity. He was thankfully OK apart from the leg injury but it was initially feared his recovery might take so long that his 2009 season preparations would be compromised.
However, the Aussie hard man is already up and about on crutches and talking about returning in time for an F1 test in February. Will his adventures mean that F1 drivers finally get banned from doing extreme sports in their spare time even if, like Jenson Button, they tell the teams it’s all part of essential fitness training? Remember Juan Pablo Montoya and his defective tennis racquet that turned out to be a motocross bike? Rumours that all drivers are about to be banned from any activity more strenuous than ping pong are currently without substance… We say: if Felipe Massa can injure his neck sneezing in a lift, no-one is safe.
Next up is some news that will feel familiar to anyone who has ever been confronted with a cantankerous elderly relative, immovably committed to a course of action no matter how many problems it causes for other people. Bernie Ecclestone (78) is persisting with his idea of awarding medals to the top-placed drivers in every race – a move that would have seen that pesky Lewis Hamilton handing over his shiny new title to Felipe Massa this time around. And which may cause considerable problems for any team not able to compete at the front of the field.
“It’s just not on that someone can win the championship without winning a race,” Bernie told the BBC. Apparently Stefano Domenicali is very pleased with the idea! The other teams won’t come out against it, because they are gearing up just now for a fight on a whole host of issues, and are waiting to discover which ones have traction and which ones are window-dressing. But no-one really likes it and, most interestingly of all, Onkel Max is said to disapprove. We still think it’s to do with Bernie feeling entitled to public funding but this one is sure to run and run.
Finally from the ever-exciting world of F1, we bring you news from Toro Rosso where M. Bourdais (affectionately known to his Stateside fans as Seabass) is increasingly looking to be out of a drive. The predicted line-up for next year is Red Bull tester Sebastien Buemi and former Honda and Super Aguri pilot Sebastian Sato, who has changed his name in readiness for the announcement. Also, team boss Gerhard Berger has sold out to Mr Mateschitz (hilariously referred to by Berger as ‘Didi’ – now that conjures some images we’d rather not study too closely).
This means that the team is once again entirely a Red Bull concern and perfectly positioned to either be sold (another case of Red Bull giving them wings – in this case to fly the coop) or to have the Ferrari engines gutted out of them and carted off to Milton Keynes to be lovingly reunited with the Boy Vettel. As you may have guessed by now, we’re not predicting a good season for everyone’s new favourite minnows in 2009.
Here’s what else we’ve been reading this week:
- The Times: The 50 worst famous football fans
- Number 50 on the list of celebs you’d prefer didn’t support your team is (drum-roll) none other than “diminutive Formula One supremo” Bernie Ecclestone, who the paper points out: “loved Chelsea so much that he bought Queens Park Rangers with Flavio Briatore and Lakshmi Mittal. ‘The only way I might get involved in football is if Arsenal is up for sale at a sensible price and I could take total control,’ Eccelstone said, before snapping up QPR.” Read the full list here.
- A1GP: Team GB unwittingly implicated in Malaysia’s race-losing pitstop
- It’s been a hard life as a British A1GP fan so far this year – until Danny Watts pushed the squad right up the rankings with a double podium for Team GBR in China. Of course, things didn’t work out quite so well in Malaysia, but that’s sport. However the people that came away from that race with the biggest grievance were the Malaysians themselves, after interference on their team radio brought podium-placed Fairuz Fauzy in for an unintentional pitstop during the feature race. He eventually finished tenth. It was, according to reports, the Team GBR radio transmissions that confused him. Honestly, you really do wonder what else can go wrong…
- BBC Sport: Priaulx considers move to America
- It could be that one of the nation’s most successful racing drivers is about to flee across the pond. Four-time touring car champion Andy Priaulx, confronted with the possible withdrawal of his BMW team from the sport, is talking to America’s iconic owner/driver and Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal (of Rahal Letterman fame) about joining his American Le Mans Series team. Will it be a match made in heaven? More here.
- The Register: Formula One kinetic energy recovery rigs debut
- Ever idly wondered how KERS works? Well, stop it. The subject is really not one you enter into lightly. However, casual F1 fans can rest assured that all the technical details are safely contained in this one useful article, which your ever-solicitous Brits on Pole team has perused thoroughly in all its geeky glory on your behalf. So you never have to. But, never fear, it’s here should you ever need it…
- James Allen on F1: Medals or meddling?
- Allen’s transition from TV pundit to blogger seems to be going well. He’s enjoying it and getting a good reaction. Certainly he’s offering some insightful stuff and adding to the conversation. We liked this, from a post on the blasted medals idea: “The business model F1 has relied on in recent times is that a new superstar comes along, like Schumacher or Alonso, and his countrymen find lots of money to put on not one but two races. It’s derailed here. Hamilton explodes onto the scene, but dear old Blighty turns out its empty pockets with a shrug. Donington is to be financed by a debenture scheme and I can’t imagine that 2009 will be the easiest year to sell seats or corporate boxes at a drafty race track for thousands of pounds. You have to wonderâ€¦” Read full post here.
- A1GP/IRL: No chance to see Her Danicaness at Brands Hatch
- Here at Brits on Pole we’d describe ourselves as critical fans of Danica Patrick – at her best the Andretti Green driver is a breath of fresh air, but not everything she does goes smoothly. For instance, her slated appearance in A1GP after the outfit took over the running of the Team USA car. Marco, team-mate and scion of the House of Andretti, is happily ensconced – and crashing already – but it looks like Danica is staying at home. Overcoming our disappointment, because we’d have gone to Brands Hatch to see her drive, we discover this is probably down to a dispute about money. In a nutshell, the story goes that she wanted to be paid for the gig while Andretti Green thought she should be grateful for the extra experience. It’s unlikely very many A1GP drivers enjoy the luxury of payment and Danica could have been bigger than Beckham in the Far East, and a similar hit in Europe with the right marketing. But, whatever the rights and wrongs of this one, it’s a damn shame if she sits this one out. If you ask us.