Mad Max Strikes Again
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The meeting of the F1 Commission is over and the FIA (read Max Mosley) have vetoed Bernie�s proposal for a change in qualifying format from Silverstone. Bernie has had some daft ideas in the past � this wasn�t one of them. In a rare moment of lucidity Bernie wanted to fix qualifying. While it wasn�t a return to the old Real Race it was a huge leap back in the right direction. We will never know whether Max used whatever blackmail material he has on Bernie to keep him from pushing harder to get it through or perhaps Paul Stoddard has some glossy photo�s of Max doing something he shouldn�t but it is status quo (read boring) for Saturdays.
Paul reportedly, and reluctantly, went along with the changes despite huge (and justified) fears of the to-be-reinstated 107% rule sidelining one or both of his cars at some circuits. Max just blocked it saying it wasn�t radical enough and then used the classic bureaucrat�s answers to activity � refer it to a committee (bury it!) and deflect the blame onto Bernie by requesting more market research via the television companies. Whatever, qualifying still doesn�t work and Lord Max has flexed his muscles successfully again to drive yet another nail into the lid of the coffin of F1. There can�t be much room on that lid for any more nails � they may need to get a bigger coffin. History will show that Bernie made F1 into the world�s most popular motor sport and then, as senility progressed, conspired with a power mad Max to kill it.
FIA Vice-President Jacques Regis has come out against Max�s megalomania but even if he is deposed next year it seems like it will be too late. Max indicated at the F1 Commission meeting that he intends to force through the rest of his daft plans on �Safety Reasons� � one can only hope that these changes are given all the attention they deserve and get scrapped by the final arbiter � the World Motor Sport Council.
Try as I might I just cannot see the GPWC staying dead � or is that just wishful thinking?
Indianapolis is behind us now and the red cars have another 1-2 for the history books. Sato has his first, but not last, podium and the F1 world is again focussed on safety. It�s a damn shame that it takes a 70G stop against a wall to achieve that focus.
First a few words on the drivers performances. I have been a major critic of Sato in the past and, based on his performances, I don�t take any of those comments back. I never denied he was quick, just reckless and hard on cars. He�s still reckless and he is still hard on cars, but he is also entertaining. Would I want Sato as a driver in a team I owned? No. Not yet anyway. I firmly believe that he is as fast as any driver on the track but he hasn�t yet tempered his enthusiasm enough to take calculated risks rather than every opportunity. In many ways he reminds me of JPM in his first season, brash, blindingly quick, but lacking in racecraft. When he settles down I just hope he can still provide the same level of entertainment he does now. His move on Trulli was brave, daring, spectacular �.. and dumb! He almost certainly would have had another opportunity before the flag, given Trulli�s declining pace. To have made that move when oil flags were being displayed was courageous, and damn dangerous. Not only was he putting himself and his car at risk but also Trulli and his chances for a 4th place. Don�t get me wrong, I�m all for courage, I just prefer drivers with both brains and balls. Sato pulled it off in Indy, statistically I guess he had to get one right eventually.
Michael needs few words, he managed the race and he won. Rubens didn�t. He was fastest in qualifying, he was fastest in the race and he (again) almost won. I don�t subscribe to the �contract theory� that says he isn�t allowed to win. I do accept that he is not allowed to risk putting both cars out in trying to. Neither is any other driver for any other team allowed to risk team points for a switch in finishing positions. Rubens� day will come, but it will not come as a result of a marginal chance on track when the red cars are running 1-2. Michael seems set to blow away a few more of his own records, most wins (11) and most points in a season (144) among them.
Kimi, again, showed just how good he is. He, again, worked harder than anyone in the field and got a result that he deserved but the team didn�t. David made up the numbers and circulated very quickly and very safely and very uninspiringly, a task he is better at than any other driver out there.
With only 8 cars there (or thereabouts) at the end Paul Stoddard gained an invaluable point and Minardi�s fortunes suddenly took a turn for the better. Congratulations to them and to Zsolt Baumgartner. Minardi really is, as Paul loves to say, �everybody�s second favourite team� and I for one would be terribly disappointed to see them go under. I just hope they aren�t seriously looking for any more points this season.
JPM quite justifiably is irate. He deserved a much quicker decision on his disqualification. I�m not arguing with the decision, just the excessive delay in publishing it. As Sir Frank said though, at least the sponsors got an hour and a half of exposure. Renault were unlucky to not get a better result. Trulli did very well to come from the back and get a 4th. Alonso was doing well until his puncture and, although they were never going to win, the team can take some heart from the performance of both the cars and drivers.
The race was overshadowed by incidents and the stewards need to look closely at some of their actions. Carbon fibre and tyres don�t mix very well and when bits of it are still on the racing line then you have a recipe for disaster. A disaster like Ralf�s. I wasn�t on the ground at the time that the cleanup was going on after Ralf�s shunt so I won�t comment on whether the race should have been stopped for that. I did see pieces of bodywork being thrown up after the first corner incident though and that means that inadequate attention was paid to ensuring the safety of the drivers by failing to clean the track of debris. Ralf paid the price for that inadequacy.
Along with every spectator and commentator I was disappointed to see the very long delay in getting attention to Ralf after his accident. I can understand why it took as long as it did for the medical team to arrive, it�s a long way around the track to where the crash took place. I can understand that marshals are not permitted to touch a driver until the medical team arrive. I cannot understand why it took so long for a fire marshal to get there though. What was an unfortunate incident caused by near criminal neglect on the part of the stewards could have been an unmitigated disaster had the car caught on fire. The spectacle is not worth the lives of the drivers and there is no way that Ralf would have come through that incident with only a concussion and bruising had a fire marshal been required. I don�t like Ralf as a driver but his safety, along with every other driver and marshal out there, needs to be everyone�s first priority, even if it means stopping a race to allow marshal�s to be at the car before it stops moving. Ralf was very lucky, and I�m glad he is OK. The next driver to have a major accident might not be. One would hope that in the current litigious environment the fear of legal repercussions, if not the concern for the safety of the participants, would prompt some serious procedural reviews by race organisers and the FIA.
Now we are off to France, where will all be surprised to see red cars 1 and 2 on the podium yet again. Traditionally the Renault team have used this venue to announce their driver line-up for next year and, if they do so again this year then the silly season will have begun. Renault have indicated that a decision on Trulli will come in July but I won�t be surprised if they opt to keep him and announce it at Magny Cours. If, as I suspect, they have resolved their contractual arrangements with Jarno Trulli and keep their team as is then the rumour mill around Webber, Schumacher jnr, Coultard et al will ramp up another notch or two. DC seems to be effectively out of the running for the second Williams seat and is looking increasingly like being a test driver for McLaren next year. Personally I think he would be a great buy for Toyota, given his technical skills. Webber seems odds-on for the Williams and JV must be coming back into contention based on his reported willingness to eschew a salary in favour of performance payments. Sir Frank must love that! I still doubt it though. My money is on a retired Jacques staying retired and Webber getting a propeller fitted to the nose of his company car to replace the cat.
Oh, did I mention that Michael should win again in France?
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I say that if the the �contract theory� wasn't true, or if Rubens was racing for BAR or another team, he would simply lift his foot out of the gas before the crossing line when Michael was racing beside him and let the German be punished for overtaking before the start of a new lap when the safety car left the track. By the way, the difference between them at the start of the lap was under 1/10 of a second. Michael would never do it if he wasn't sure that he wouldn't be tricked. I share with you the same feeling about Sato. For once he was lucky, but he was willing to blow it for himself and Trulli - Andre B - Brazil
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