Gosh, what a week. You’d never know we were in the F1 close season, would you? Headline events include the news that McLaren was finally prepared to confirm Lewis Hamilton’s appearance at Race of Champions – as long as the most challenging opponent he faced was a bloke on a bike. Admittedly, one of the best blokes on a bike in the entire world but, even so, fans were not overly impressed.
They just don’t make ’em like they used to, do they? Do you see DC seeking a contract waiver that means he’s only allowed to take to the track if his opponent’s in a rev-limited Reliant Robin? No, they make them tougher than that in Scotland, young Lewis.
In other news, we learn that next-door’s builders are not to blame and that Bernie Ecclestone is indeed facing a divorce from the statuesque and lovely Slavica. He must be praying that the money’s not divided on the basis of height. We had trouble telling Bruno Senna from Lucas di Grassi as they tested for Honda at Barcelona, and we worried about the future of several races.
The Canadian Grand Prix seems to be a lost cause, China is wavering and a planning delay at Donington means fresh shadows cast over our home race. What with pressure on manufacturers and a credit crunch limiting the pool of sponsors, these are worrying times. So let’s bury our heads in some of the more interesting odds and ends to have come out of the world of motorsport in the last week:
- It’s not been a bad end to Andy Priaulx’ touring car season, considering that the reigning champion was set to hand over his title at the end of it, ending his record-breaking four-year championship haul. He managed to complete the ultimate Macau stages with two podiums – a second and a third place – leaving him in fourth overall. Seat driver Yvan Muller is the new champion. But Priaulx still has one task to accomplish – roping Jenson Button into helping him beat all comers (including David Coulthard – but not Lewis Hamilton) in the Race of Champions event on December 14… More on Priaulx’ season here, and on RoC here.
- So, Bernie Ecclestone wants to introduce a medal system into Formula One, does he? For those who find this downright puzzling, we refer you to the following quote from Damon Hill, on hearing that Silverstone had lost the British Grand Prix: “Bernie struggles with the concept that F1 is not like the Olympics, which is involved in the regeneration of the East End of London. Taxpayers are happy in principle with that. But no one is going to buy into giving F1 money.” No, no-one is going to give F1 money if it tries to cash in on the credibility of other sports in this cynical way. Even if Bernie is going to need all the cash he can get pretty soon…
- Whatever happened to Gordon Murray, the creator of the iconic McLaren F1 supercar? Well, the designer, who enjoys pretty much mythic status among F1 fans and petrolheads alike, has been running his own consultancy since July 2007 continuing his work on super-light cars including the Rocket roadster. And it seems like Rocket 2 might be on its way, as well as a tiny T25 city car. To learn more about what he’s been working on recently, read on here.
- We like the columns that racing driver Ben Evans writes for F1 Fanatic. And, towards the end of his latest one, Ben addresses the possible consequences of Ecclestone’s current policy: “The manufacturers and the blue chips will only stay in the sport if they can see real value between advertising and revenue. The 2009 calendar as it stands doesn’t really make that link an intuitive one. Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, Singapore and Turkey are not core markets, whereas the unrepresented North America (Canada and the USA) and under-represented Europe are. To continue to move races away from the European core of the sport could well kill F1.” True, the big picture’s pretty bleak, but it’s the first bit of pressure in the right direction that we’ve become aware of. Read the complete column here.
- Elite motorsport’s glass ceiling has been shoved a few feet higher over the last week with the inclusion of a woman in the recent GP2 tests. Natacha Gachnang races under the Swiss flag, is a former junior karting champion and scored four podiums with Campos in Spanish F3 during 2008, coming third overall. The 21-year-old was driving for FMI and she didn’t set the world on fire at the test – but, hey, one thing at a time. We say: bloody well done to her for getting even a toehold in this most boys-own of boys’ clubs.
- We couldn’t let the week go by without commenting on the new-look F1 cars that have been wheeled out in testing – did you see those rear wings? The debate here at Brits on Pole global HQ is whether they look more like the handles of shopping trolleys – or aftermarket Mitsubishi Evos. Now you come to mention it… they’re the same thing, aren’t they? Ho ho ho.