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Reader's Comments

Just a few races to go and both championships are wide open. No longer is Michael striding like a Colossus over the F1 stage. We have had more winners this year than in any year I can remember and Silverstone has put on the most exciting race in years.

Bernie and Max must be congratulating themselves on a job well done. The brave new rule changes have worked a treat. Bullshit!

Using the old scoring system the top positions would be unchanged from the current ranking and the relativity between them is even pretty close. Points are easier for also ran teams to come up with but the teams at the top hardly notice. Qualifying is as exciting as watching paint dry and the fans are voting with their feet, attendances at most venues have been poor and Bernie�s net worth is dropping faster than Michael�s is growing as TV audiences find Lawn Bowls or reruns of �Lassie Saves The World, Again� more exciting than F1. Which is a pity because the (Sunday) racing has been generally better than the last few years.

So, if it isn�t Max and Bernie�s brainwave, why is the championship so close? Most of the answer is Bridgestone � the Japanese tyre giant has single-handedly nobbled the fastest horses in the race. Williams BMW deserve some credit too, not just for getting it right mid-season but also for taking their time about doing so. Had they succeeded in making the car as competitive as it now is back in March we would have had a repeat of last year with only the colour of the cars changed. The timing of the mid-summer testing ban has had a disproportionate impact on McLaren and Ferrari (who desperately need a fix from Bridgestone) versus Williams (who finally got the car right before the ban took effect). Kimi and Fernando also warrant a honourable mention. Both have managed remarkable results with cars that shouldn�t have put them on the podium quite as often as they have (seven times in Kimi�s case). The odd brainfade from Fernando, Ralf, Juan Pablo et al plus McLaren�s new car no show has contributed to the skewed results. Add in a mad, kilted cleric to the mix to explain Silverstone plus some variable weather and you have a close competition despite, not because of, the damn fool rule changes.

Bernie is really coming apart at the seams. He has done a remarkable job over the years, lifting the profile of F1 to undreamed of heights (and only making a few billion Pounds for himself along the way) but his decisions of late are somewhat less astute. First it was the deck chair shuffling with the new rules then it was drawing starting grids from a hat. Now he�s suggesting driver payments based on points scored. There are 4 or 5 drivers who must love that idea, and 14 or 15 who would be slightly less happy. Paul Stoddard�s drivers would be about as keen on it as Eddie Jordan�s or Peter Sauber�s would. Michael really wouldn�t care much either way given the relatively small impact his paltry couple of million per race salary has on his total earnings.

The debacle of Canada, 2004 is also down to Bernie. They change the timing of the US race to allow back to back races with Canada, then we hear from Montreal that it�s off because of cigarette advertising bans, then Bernie says that�s not true because he hasn�t even decided on next years calendar, then he remembers that it is indeed axed and the Indy race will have to go back to back with itself again, just in a new, warmer, timeslot. As at now Montreal is indeed off the calendar for next year but there�s still plenty of time for a few more reversals before the seasons done.

Putting a race in Bahrain in 2004 is a brave move in the current political climate. I look forward to it and plan to be there myself but I�m not sure 2004 was good timing given the other potential venues available. China on the other hand is a sure winner, Shanghai has both the money and the infrastructure to support a race and the potential advertising revenue from an F1 aware Chinese TV audience is immense. All they need then is an Asian mutant with a driving gene to give a local hero for them to follow.

The Quali-flyer
The Real Race Archive

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Reader's comments:

Re: Bernie's loose screw[s]! You are correct in every way; I said at the beginning of the year that in my mind Ford, Mercedes, BMW, Renault & Ferrari had paid Bernie off to so totally screw up the FIA that when they start up their own series, something like Real Formula One Racing, they'll be deluged with applications. When they do so, I hope they go back to the old rules and point system, so that the intervening years in the books can be marked with a superscript "e" which will stand for Ecclestone or Error, whichever seems appropriate. 
The Bahrain race does sound problematic to me.
Finally, regarding the need for an "Asian" driver to whet Chinese interest and support for F1. Bullshit. The only reason to support F1 racing is because it is the best racing in the world. Period. I have loved F1 since I was a teen-ager and have been a citizen of the U.S. all my life. Who have been my heroes? 
Fangio. Moss. Clark. Hawthorne. Senna. Gilles Villeneuve. Pironi. 
That is: an Argentine, a Scot, 2 Englishmen, a Brazilian, a Canadian and a Frenchman. 
Andretti was a phenom, but even though he "conquered" F1, it never suited him. He was like Montoya, not like Da Matta: he won with brute force, not finesse. 
Who are my current heroes? Michael, of course, and Kimi, Fernando and, maybe, Webber. 
I think one follows F1 because one senses that, on some level, the right driver can take a car past its limits, and I mean PAST its limits! -- and recover enough to win. 
All my past heroes have done that: won with lesser machines than their competition. I don't see any other reason to tune in. Of course there will be "dull" races where the best cars run in line to the end. But on any given day, the stars can line up right for a Senna or a Fangio and all the rest can do is stare and shake their heads. That's what F1 is about. Not local heroes. If you want local heroes, go back to football.


Thanks for the response.

While I doubt that Bernie has been paid off I do believe that between his actions and Max's the manufacturers have to be getting more serious with every new decision.
With regards to the Asian driver - We all like to root for the homeboy but the real issue (as with everything else in the 'sport') is money. We have seen a procession of Japanese racers who couldn't cut it and of course Alex Yoong has carved his place in history. Sponsors want relevance, and that means a hero who their target market can relate to. Sure a Michael Schumacher has international appeal but the Malaysian money men only released their purse strings when Alex came along to pose for photo's and watch the races after failing to qualify. Mark Webber's entry to F1 was delayed not because of a lack of talent but because he simply couldn't find the cash to support a drive. The Chinese seem serious about developing a team and they will need local money (and a lot of it) if they are to succeed. Make no mistake, we will see a Chinese driver as soon as one can qualify for a super licence and buy a drive. Given all the pay-for-drive hero's we have seen in the past and the current financial position of the privateers that won't be too many years away.
I agree totally with your reasons for supporting F1 - It is (but fast becoming was) the pinnacle of motorsport and the best of it's drivers are indeed super hero's - The Quali-Flyer

Thank u for the new point system. It seems working and it look more competitive than before and not only that, I think other cars makers have also been working very hard to fulfil drivers needs as to make the race much more interesting. 
Again I like to that this opportunity to thank the organizer, drivers and all the people involved - Mazland - Singapore

Your right Mazland, without the new scoring system we would have had Michael just in front of Juan Pablo with Kimi a close third. Wouldn't the racing have been boring then! - The Quali-Flyer

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