The big one

Having seen the slow motion replay of the Alonso crash, it provides a timely reminder of just how incredible these modern F1 cars are. That was an enormous accident, tearing most of the car to pieces, but the important crash structures stayed in place.

We’ve seen huge crashes in the last 10 years, and most of the time we have been lucky to see drivers walk away.

Hats off the McLaren design and production teams at Woking and to those regulating the rigorous safety tests at the FIA for protecting another great driver from danger. 

We are always keen to criticise others in and around F1, but today reminds us of the need to give credit where it’s due. Incredible work guys.

If I was Bernie – 3 car teams in #f1 – my thoughts

I’ve been considering over the last couple of days quite what the options for F1 are around filling the grid and as well as putting my own thoughts down I’ve asked a few people to give their views too (coming up over the next week or so).

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It is fair to say the FIA seem to be powerless and lacking influence under Todt to the point we only ever really hear from Charlie nowadays. I can’t imagine Max would fever have been so invisible at a key time.

It strikes me that F1 could react in 3 different ways to the loss of Marussia and Caterham – although I personally hope both might find a way to continue against the odds.

3 car teams

This seems like the preferred option for Bernie and would result in Ferrari and Redbull running three cars.

I’m strongly against this idea, unless cars were banned from constructor points and drivers had to be juniors.

What sort of credibility would F1 have if you had 3 Redbulls on the podium dream on Christian) and one didn’t score points.

Another ill conceived idea in my view, purely designed to stop the triggering of the penalty clauses in commercial deals.

Allowing Customer chassis run by independant teams

If a new team were allowed (effectively how Ligier in the 90s and Toro Rosso more recently have done to some extent) to run an at least 1 year old chassis from a larger team, plus the option to tweak aero etc, that might allow a lower base spend to become sustainable.

But why they when Dave Richards pitched the idea was that not allowed?

Better revenue share/aiding smaller teams

Take a sport like the NFL and look at how the revenue from commercial deals is shared.

The great majority of revenue is shared equally, and the draft system allows flexibility are refreshing of the chance to succeed.

Is that completely impossible to achieve in F1?

This sport is currently a loaded deck – the larger teams have an advantage that is inbuilt in their financing. Why shouldn’t F1 have a base payment that is equal (say 40m) then have the majority of the rest shared based upon success.

Redbull and Ferrari seriously expect the sport to fund most of their spend then complain at the first instance of anyone doing a better job. Redbull have spent some 800 million in recent times on F1 – staggering….

Where is the capping of engine costs for customer teams. The technology is great, but an extra option from a Cosworth or similar (someone who can actually develop to a reasonable budget) would greatly ease the funding squeeze.

How many times in the NFL or Basketball to you see previously I fancied teams have a spell of success.

That brings more supporter engagement and reinvigorates their support.

Coming up over the next few days will be some additional comment from a wide range of fans, those in the sport etc to see what they’d like to see.

That is why the blog is called If I was Bernie after all..

What do you think out there?

Is hell about to freeze over – Alonso – McLarens marmite man?

You’ve heard the phrase – he’s like marmite – you either love him or hate him right?

Well if Autosports sources are correct (and they rarely aren’t), hell has frozen over – Fernando is coming back to Woking. The McLaren fans version of marmite.

Interestingly as many of my fellow Mclaren fans are disgusted at the news as there are those of us who think it’s positive.

This is a key piece of Honda and McLaren “throwing the kitchen sink at it”. Big technical signings, another top driver, it’s a big statement of intent.

It’s with that thought that I’d also expect McLaren to re-sign Jenson to partner. I am a big fan of Kevin Magnussen, but you can’t underestimate how much points plays into a serious constructors bid.

I joking tweeted in 2011 the following picture taken at Mercedes Benz World in Brooklands with the caption “a meeting of the Fernando Alonso mclaren fanclub meeting).

2011 Brooklands meeting of the McLaren Alonso fanclub
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I’d heard in early October about the possibility of an Alonso deal and couldn’t quite believe it. But I’ve got to say he’s a great driver and we need a huge push to get the team back where it belongs.

It will be interesting to follow over the next week or so whether this does play out or not.

It certainly provides an interesting side story to the big WDC battle between Rosberg and Hamilton. Possibly the best battle we have seen for many years.

Imagine a McLaren “prodromou” B spec car getting in the middle of the title battle in Abu Dhabi!

McLaren are back, you just don’t know it yet 😉

Is F1 losing the plot – Marussia and Caterham

I seem to be relatively alone in thinking F1 is in the process of losing the plot. You might pick up that from the blog name I chose I think we are steadily creeping away from the sport that inspired me as a youngster.

There are two views of the current state of F1s smaller teams. Those that think the Marussia’s and Caterham’s of this world did not deserve to continue to be in F1 as they weren’t good enough, and those (like myself) who grew up watching a succession of great drivers and technical staff emerging from the smaller teams – and recognising the value they bring to F1.

If the figures in Joe Sawards recent blog post (and he’s generally switched on) are to be relied upon, F1 has an annual income in the region of $1.8 Billion per annum. Clearly a healthy slice of that is hived off by the commercial rights holder (which is a phrase used in F1 in such a mythical way that you’d compare it to “he who must not be named” in the Harry Potter series), but a great deal goes to the teams.

So how can a series with such a huge income stream fail to provide a reasonable base income from the revenue?

Only the top 10 constructors get paid, and the current proposition for Sponsors in F1 would seem to be limited. If you wish to find proof of the problem here, then go an look at a picture of a midfield F1 car in the 90s – where have all of those sponsors gone? Many of those have remainder in sports advertising spend, only in different sports.

With the incredibly sad demise of Marussia (and no doubt suppliers will be heavily affected), and it looking like barring a significant change of fortunes the demise of Caterham, F1 seems to be unable to see past the end of its nose.

We have all heard the rumours of financial strife at Lotus, Sauber and others but the big teams seem like they do not care.

If we get three car teams that will be one of the first nails in the coffin. If that is the sport the fans want then that’s the sport we will get I guess – but I will miss the days a team like Minardi others could exist in F1 without having to have a billionaire owner.

What will happen to the increased chance a smaller team bringing through capable drivers or technical staff – it will be massively reduced. Ah well…….

Sims on F1 – Increased relevance for the auto industry

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We’re quite lucky on this blog to be able to draw contributions from some people who actually know what they are talking about, rather than my musings.

Today it’s the turn of Alexander Sims – proving to combine speed and adaptability in equal measure with his driving exploits. He is our resident professional racing driver, and he has finally dusted off his typewriter to contribute a cracking post on F1.

And it gives me an opportunity to use his selfie pic he sent when I first featured his views on the blog. It’s a beaut.

We were talking recently about the increased attraction of F1 for road car manufacturers with the road relevant turbo and hybrid power systems ( or whatever you call a bloody engine these days).

Here are his views.

“There has been quite a lot of talk recently regarding the spectacle of F1 racing, whether it be the noise the cars make or the amount of artificial overtaking that has been happening thanks to the DRS system.

Personally I find it bizarre when I read things in the press where those inside F1 circles are slating the situation, especially when it is the top brass of Ferarri – it seems like a bit of an own goal to me.

I understand that with change comes new opinions and reactions but to slate it immediately isn’t exactly clever or fair is it. I always try and flip the situation around and think how we would respond.

Imagine we have just had 40 years of racing cars that were quiet, efficient and small (partly the same thing I know!), we would be used to this and the spectacle would still be the racing and the technology advances with possibly different energy sources to petrol.

Say the regulations then changed to allow roaring naturally aspirated V8s or V12s. We would probably have a massive rant about how we now all get hearing damage, that they are massively inefficient and don’t add to the racing.

The new technology in F1 certainly has changed it radically in some ways over the winter, but in other ways its still exactly the same.

We still have rivalry’s up and down the pit lane, we still have crashes and car failures and in short, we still have bloody good racing.

The end result is that the sporting side of F1 stays the same, now though the technical side has been brought up to date with what interests car manufacturers and dare I say, much of the general public nowadays.

Times have changed and up until 2009, I feel F1 was getting left behind in the dark ages in terms of relevant road car technology. Please do not get me wrong on what I am saying though, they were incredibly impressive machines that pushed the performance envelope a huge amount and quite honestly, I liked them a lot.

This however does not get around the fact that with such huge budgets involved and tobacco advertising banned, the automotive industry tends to be quite a good link for F1!

Therefore if there is more energy recovery technology in a Toyota Prius than an F1 car, then the two areas are probably forking away in different directions.

Nowadays electric cars, hybrid systems and fuel efficiency are what many/pretty much all manufacturers are investing heavily in.

That’s not to say cars are going to become boring, people still like to drive fast cars and there will always be a strong market for that so I don’t see any reason why that will change but as the Porsche Panamera Hybrid, BMW i8 and others have shown, it can be done in a slightly more environmentally responsible way.

Now F1 ties into that philosophy and the technological breakthroughs in the coming years from F1 will now have a relevant place to filter down to, your future road car.

This will hopefully be attractive to car manufacturers so they consider entering into F1 in some capacity or at least those who are involved will want to remain, therefore helping to get the sport into a healthy position again with a strong future.”

Thanks Simsy. I owe you lunch!

Do we really need another bloody gimic in F1?

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I’ve not written on the blog for a while, mainly because I lost my blog password, but felt compelled to write again.

I’ve watched all of the criticism of the new Turbo V6 engines (I refuse to call them a power plant) in terms of the pitch, the volume etc

“It’s not F1 etc etc without screaming V10s”

Now, I have to say as a spectator I’m with Darren Heath on this. I love the new noise, it’s raspier and actually after a day at the track it’s a better experience than having a piercing headache.

Now I read that merc are looking at a revised exhaust (pictured below) to up the sound level.

When did F1 become so flappy in the wind? How about saying, yes this is the new Tech relevant series and if you don’t like it don’t watch it.

I’d like to see F1 get back to racing. Which incidentally is the real bonus of this year. There has been some great battling between the merc boys at the front, then further down the field.

Whatever next? The vuvuzela exhaust when the trombone exhaust isn’t loud enough. Or drivers busting through paper hoops or out of birthday cakes?

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2014 F1 Predictions – Mikey Harvey

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Well I have well and truly broken the Nico clean sweep on the WDC prediction with my ridiculous bias towards Jenson Button.

I feel there is long tech race to go, and McLaren have a solid car to develop unlike the nightmare ride on the Front suspension last year.

Next up on the 2014 predictions is Mikey Harvey, top twitterite and former editor of Top Gear and Autocar mags. Currently also contributes to Telegraph Luxury.

Mikeys profile on Twitter states he is a Maturing Neophile, which having checked with the relevant authorities is not a reportable offence 😉

We all talk about the great additional layer the DMs bring into the Twitter tool, and Mikey sent me the best message I have ever received on Twitter.

It was basically an “oh yes, did I mention that…..” which is generally followed by a comment of no real interest. Only what followed was epic – and I don’t use that word lightly!

I would never tell the story, but I still chuckle about it more than a month later.

Anyway, onto Mikeys predictions

Drivers Champ – Nico Rosberg
Constructors – Mercedes
Surprise – Sergio Perez
Dissapoint – Daniel Ricciardo

Interestingly despite pretty much everyone acknowledging Lewis as a fast driver, Nico Rosberg really has impressed a lot of people over the last couple of years.