Clip The Apex
Dear Mr Ecclestone
This morning I got up at 6:30 to watch the Chinese Grand Prix and now regret this decision. You have commented recently that F1 is dying, I can't help but agree with your comments but the only people who can resolve the current nadir F1 finds itself in are the FIA and FOM.
One important point I should start with, the volume coming out of the exhaust pipe of an F1 car has no effect, either way, on my enjoyment of motor racing. The main problem, as I see it, is the prescriptive nature of the F1 engine requirements. Why do they have to have 6 cylinders and certain energy recovery systems? If an engine manufacturer believes they can compete with a 4 cylinder engine, a V3, an all electric system driven by a generator or a diesel engine why aren't these allowed?
DRS is a complete nonsense. Today a Honda powered car, reputedly with 150 less horse power than most other cars in the race, overtook a Force India using the engine widely acknowledge to be the most powerful in F1. DRS was introduced as a result, as far as I can work out, because of the F duct McLaren designed and the fact that Fernando Alonso got stuck behind Vitaly Petrov at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2010. One car breezing past another on the straight is not overtaking. An overtaking manoeuver should be something a driver has to work for not something which is just a gimme. The F duct was a clever engineering development which many teams copied but implemented in a dangerous and haphazard way. This was not a reason to ban it, what should have been banned was a system which required a driver to remove their hand from the steering wheel whilst going through a corner (for instance).
F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of motor sport but it now falls far short. The design regulations stifle engineering to such an extent that we now have cars which can only be differentiated by the colour scheme. Paint them all the same colour and I suspect most people wouldn't be able to tell one car from another. Previously one team would develop a competitive advantage which the other teams would then copy and test and catch them up. With only limited in season this isn't possible. If the testing restrictions are designed to help the lower order teams by reducing costs it isn't working. The rich teams simply throw more money at CFD and wind tunnel testing which is even more expensive than putting a car on to a track for a few days. Most teams now use these test sessions as money generators by putting pay drivers in to the cars so get no benefit anyway.
Barely has the dust settled on the China syndrome and we move a few thousand miles around the globe to the tiny Gulf state of Bahrain. The F1 circus rolls into town like a column of tanks and sets up camp for a few days. The race, the first to take place in the Middle East has been ran every year since 2004 with one exception when the Arab Spring went bouncing through. Fortunately for F1 fans the show must go on and so it did. Last year’s race saw victory for Lewis Hamilton and the word on the streets is that the bookies are tipping Hamilton again to take this year’s race. The country itself is known as quite a tolerant place to Western influence and as a former British colony, doesn’t actually hate Brits which makes a nice change. A place of interest worth visiting if you are ever in Bahrain is the rather nice duty free shop on the end of the Jetty in the commercial port. Good luck getting in their without an ID card but the race merchandise is a lot cheaper than that sold at the track. (Information correct as of 2006).
As the teams trundle into the fourth race of the season we are unlikely to see too many upgrades at this stage. Most of the teams are keeping their powder dry until the show piles into the first European leg later this month.
That said then the Silver Arrows should be pointing the way home for the rest of the field. Last year we had engine switch gate where the first cracks in the friendship between the two young friends started to appear. Fortunately, this season, their relationship is already in bits so we don’t have to worry too much about that.
Ferrari and Williams are once again set to be the next best but will temperature play a part here and push the Ferrari’s closer to the Mercs? While it shouldn’t be as hot as Malaya it should be warmer than China. Williams must be scratching their heads and wondering why they can’t get on the back end of the Mercs let alone the Ferrari’s. Last season’s comeback for Sir Franks outfit seems to have lost some momentum.
When I started these retrospectives of F1 drivers I said I wouldn't cover any World Champion's, so now I'm going to break my own rules but, as you will see, Keke Rosberg won his title in the most bizarre year F1 ever suffered.
Most of you youngsters will know Keke as the father of Nico Rosberg and someone who used to drive an F1 car, back in the day. How best to describe Rosberg senior? Balls out probably just about sums it up. Whenever Keke got behind the wheel of an F1 car I don't think he knew how to give less than 100%.
His record in the lower formulas isn't exactly stellar. In four seasons of the European F2 Championship he won 3 races, one each in 1977, '78 and '79. But when you consider he was racing against the likes of Rene Arnoux, Bruno Giacomelli, Eddie Cheever and Brian Henton he didn't do too badly and, from what I can see, never completed a full season.
In 1978 he got his first drive in a formula one car with Theodore. His performances in the Championship races weren't very good but he did win the BRDC International Trophy at a wet Silverstone. One of only 5 finishers in a wet race which included such F1 luminaries as James Hunt, Nikki Lauda, Ronnie Peterson and Patrick Depailler. Keke car swapped between Theodore and ATS in 1978 and in 1979 appeared in a Wolf car after James Hunt had decided he had had enough of driving round in circles.
Wolf folded at the end of 1979 and Rosberg joined the Fittipaldi team to partner team owner Emerson. He took a podium in his first race in the F7 in Argentina but the car was less than competitive through the rest of the season including a few DNQ's (in those days when there were so many cars some had to be excluded from the grid). Keke scored 2 more point for 5th in Italy to put him 10th in the championship and with double the points total of his more illustrious teammate.