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McLarens machinations, Motors, Monza & more

 

  Well Ron must have done some fast talking, or major grovelling, as Jenson has decided to come back for more next year. Exactly more of what is yet to be seen and I expect everyone, whether you like Button or not, does not want to see McLaren trundling about at the back again next year. Ron almost got all touchy feely in the days leading up to the announcement with comments to the effect that he should have been making Jenson feel all warm and fuzzy about his future in the weeks leading up to Monza. He had, after all, already decided to retain Button and he had, well just not found the right moment or the time to let Jenson know.

 

  Sure. This is Ron after all. His recollection of past events are usually as he wants history to remember them in hindsight. This is also the guy that hung both Jenson & Kevin Magnussen out to dry last year while he fought with his own board in an attempt to ditch Button. And what then for Magnussen? Another year as test driver will just about end his career but there are bugger-all spots left in F1 and none that will let him run near the front. A move into either sports cars or Indycar would also probably be the end of his F1 dream. An even shorter career than his dad’s. Meanwhile I don’t really believe that at this point in his life Jenson needed to have his feelings and emotions all cuddled up to. He was already comfortable with what he has achieved in his career and his decision to move on to pastures new. While all the words at the announcement were “on message” it seemed to me that Jenson had more of a wry smile, one of amusement at the situation, and the extra cash he had wrung out of Ron, than any one of delight that he would again be in front of a Honda motor next year.

 

  This is not necessarily to blame Honda. But like Renault, under these stupid “engine token” rules the chances of them being able to make the enormous strides required to catch Ferrari, let alone Mercedes by the start of next year are probably less than those of your present interlocutor becoming a billionaire and getting his leg over with a super-model. Frozen, or homologated, engines should never been introduced at the very beginning of a new engine formula as it is a recipe for entrenching one manufacturer as the dominant force. Yes Mercedes have done a brilliant job and deserve to be the front runner at this point but everyone should have the opportunity to do whatever it takes, or whatever they can manage, to bridge the gap. The concept of the homologated engines was that it would save money (bullshit) and prevent manufacturers from leaving the sport due to costs. As manufacturers like Renault and Honda are currently spending a bloody fortune with very little hope of challenging for wins, how long will it be before their boards will pull the plug on an extravagance that is only acquiring negative publicity?   

 

  Good news for Manor though with their announcing the Mercedes engine deal which may help them begin to close the gap. At the same time they announced that they are rejoining Williams in a technical deal for gearbox and suspension packages. Now as long as they can raise some cash...Renault have all but confirmed that they will be taking control of the current Lotus team. This will solve their current financial woes but probably not help with their competitiveness as they will be losing the Mercedes engine. It also sadly means that once again the name Lotus will be missing from the F1 grid. Romain Grosjean has had enough and signed with HAAS, probably in the hope of impressing Ferrari for the future. There are very few seats left before the music stops.

 

  I also absolutely loathe the idea of a “spec” engine formula for F1. It is utter rubbish that a performance levelling formula cannot be applied to motor racing, just look at the WEC. Audi, Porsche, Toyota have all taken vastly differing routes to their power trains and have all spent time at the front over the last 3 years. It seems we are about to have the third different LMP1 manufacturers champion in that period come seasons end and the racing has been absolutely stunning in all classes. Why a sport with the technical know-how that F1 has cannot replicate this is, unhappily, just a bad joke. Imagine if all manufacturers were able to run competitively with engines that match their ethos, from small turbos to screaming V12s. How many more may be tempted to join the fray? The added benefit would be that there would be no complaints about the sound. Hell, it’d be like 1983 all over again. In-line 4 cylinder turbos, V6 turbos, V8s, V8 turbos, V12s.......bliss. You would just need to introduce rules regarding the cost of supply to teams and that manufacturers be enforced to provide for a certain number of cars (say after a first year to allow for development) and there would be more engines than you could poke a stick at. We wouldn’t then have the current ridiculous situation that Red Bull finds itself in. Obviously they can’t go back to Renault and as Honda can’t, and Mercedes won’t, their only supply option is Ferrari. But Ferrari are also too scared to supply 2016 spec engines to them for fear of having their horses arses kicked. Just like Renault and Honda it is hard to see just how long the Red Bull board would be prepared to spend a fortune to run about in mid-field with year old engines.

 

  And on top of all this stupidity, Bernie is threatening to drop Monza. Monza for Christ’s sake. Just think about it for a minute. Monza, the home of the most passionate fans on the planet. Monza, that temple of speed, ghosts, history, passion, insane neglected banking, the Alps in the background, Italian girls, the Tifosi, over officious cops in the beautiful setting of the national park. No Monza? Might just as well go and run a race in a go-cart track in a Las Vegas car park! Oh that’s right, he’s already done that. How about the FIA cancel F1’s FIA World Championship status and set up their own Grand Prix World Championship, just as Bernie threatened to do in 1981. Using the above engine formula and running on all those circuits that Bernie has dropped due to his desire for more and more money (along with one or two others). With none of the sports money going out to a bunch of vultures they could lower the cost to the circuit owners while giving more to the teams. Everyone would benefit. Mostly us, the fans. How’s this for a calendar? (Remember I am not including any current – except Monza, oh all right, Spa and Monaco as well – circuit);  Argentina (Buenos Aires), Brazil (Jacarepagua), South Africa (Kyalami – the old one), USA – Long Beach, San Marino (Imola), Spain (Aragon), Monaco, France (Paul Ricard or Le Mans), Britain (Brands Hatch or Donington), Germany (Nurburgring), Austria (A1 Ring), Holland (Zandvoort), Belgium (Spa), Italy (MONZA), Turkey (Istanbul),Qatar (Losail), India (New Dehli),  Japan (Fuji), Korea (Yeongam), Canada (Mosport), USA (Watkins Glen – or Road America or Road Atlanta) and Australia (Adelaide).  OK some of them are no longer plausible but it gets you drooling doesn’t it?

 

  Over to you Jean.

 

  Or should Sam become Il Presidente di FIA? For Life!!!!! Maniacal laugh inserted here.................

Sam Snape

9-10-2015