Sportsfly.com’s Blog

Various Sports Mutterings from Sportsfly.com!

Dear Bernie (Ecclestone)…

Dear Bernie,

Bernie Ecclestone - "F1 Supremo" & Andy Warhol Stunt Double

Bernie Ecclestone - "F1 Supremo" & Andy Warhol Stunt Double

You must be under a lot of stress nowadays, as the global economic meltdown is affecting your business – Formula 1. I’m sure despite your denials to the contrary, Honda’s exit from the sport was damaging. Sure, you can shrug your shoulders and brush it off but any time a team fails and leaves, that’s really a reflection on you, FOM (Formula One Management) and CVC Partners.

Let’s think about how many teams have left Formula 1 in the past few decades – Eurobrun, Tyrrell, Prost, Jaguar, Minardi, Fondmetal, Super Aguri, Leyton House, Stewart, Benetton, BAR, Honda, Brabham, Lotus, etc, etc, etc. Sure, some of these teams were bought out and renamed, but the fact remains – this level of turnover can’t be healthy for any professional sports organization, especially one that is concerned one of the most expensive in the world to run. If the same number of teams left, say, the NFL or NBA, there would be outrage from fans and participants alike, but no such thing happens in F1. Because… you own every thing. And became a VERY rich man for owning the commercial rights to F1.

You’ve made a mockery as of late abandoning the GP in multiple countries because the venue wasn’t up to snuff, safety issues and so on. Let’s count the ways – Indy, Montreal, Kyalami, Adelaide, Phoenix, Detroit, Las Vegas, Jerez, Paul Ricard, Hermanos Rodriguez (Mexico City), Autopolis, Suzuka and so many more. But let’s face it. The true reason for abandoning these cities wasn’t those reasons you cite. Rather, it’s because they wouldn’t submit to your demands for fees. And you’ve made a mockery of grand prix racing in general by going to countries and cities where the locals couldn’t give two shits about motorsports. So why, Bernie? Why?

And now that the FOTA (Formula One Team Association) is making a LEGITIMATE stink about how the revenue split should be reconsidered, you’re lashing out. For the 9 teams still in the game to get less than 50% of revenues, while your 80-something self and CVC Partners getting the remainder doesn’t seem right to me. Without the teams, both the factory and privateer squads, you would be nothing. And especially in these hard economic times ahead, it seems ever so prudent and appropriate that the share of revenues should lean toward the teams, not YOU.

Face it, Bernie. You aren’t going to live for much longer. And you aren’t going to take all that cash with you. You live the lifestyle of a multi-millionaire. That’s not too shabby for a guy who left school at age 16. So let’s loosen up that wallet a bit and give more to the teams. And count your blessings.

Yours Truly,
SportsflyJohn

December 28, 2008 Posted by | Features & Opinions, Formula 1, Motorsports, Talkin Trash | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Goodbye, Honda F1… We Hardly Knew Ya

hondadumbos

Even Dumbo's ears couldn't help Honda F1 fly

Fond memories of childhood will most likely contain snippets of Dumbo. That rather cute and lovable pachyderm that eventually learned to fly and soar to new heights. Perhaps that’s what Honda’s engineers in the much beleaguered Formula 1 team were thinking when they designed that monstrosity that sat on the nose of the 2008 car. Perhaps it would help them soar and keep their jobs. Unfortunately, a Disney film they weren’t.

It all began as a re-entry into the highest form of motorsport as an engine supplier to the BAR (British American Racing) F1 team. Ah, hopes were high then. Daydreams of yesteryears, when Honda supplied world championship winning cars at the hands of Piquet (Lotus), Prost and Senna (McLaren), must have provided much motivation to the engineers, mechanics and drivers. With decent success as an engine supplier, BAR coming in 2nd in the FIA F1 Constructor’s Championships in 2004, Honda decided to buy the whole operation for the 2006 season. Revamped as the Honda Racing F1 squad, hopes were high. But never having been a true constructor, the uphill battle began. Sure, bright people were in place, but with Japanese OE competitor Toyota pumping in a reported $500 million a year on its Formula 1 efforts, it was hard to keep up. Perhaps Honda bit off more than it can chew.

With a dismal 2007 and an even more dismal 2008 season, everyone wondered where this operation was headed. Ferrari F1’s former technical director, Ross Brawn, was brought in to help put things into shape (and surely, the 2009 season probably would have leveled the playing field more for Honda with all those new technical regulations coming into play), the global economic meltdown put the final nail in the coffin for the Honda squad. And I suspect they will never come back after this disasterous effort.

Their #1 driver, Jenson Button, deserved a better car. He’s a very good driver capable of winning races. Although I couldn’t foresee this Brit winning the championship, he surely would have brought home many race trophies with a good car. But a good car Honda couldn’t deliver and it was all for naught.

So long Honda Racing F1. We hardly knew ya because a poorly performing team isn’t on the minds of fans, sponsors and the media. Farewell.

December 7, 2008 Posted by | Features & Opinions, Formula 1, Motorsports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

FIA: Stop Smoking the Crackpipe

FIA President Max Mosley

VS.

f1rollcall

Max Mosley and his hooligans at the FIA seriously need to stop hiring hookers for Nazi camp re-enacting sexcapades and dreams of bringing back F3000. There are plenty of things that the global motorsports stage needs without all this drama queen BS that Max is bringing to the forefront.

One of the more ridiculous suggestions by the FIA is standardization of Formula 1 engines beginning in 2010. In 2008, it was a standard ECU (made by McLaren, no less), banning of traction control (which created more accidents than ever, in this author’s opinion) and a mandate 4-race lifecycle for transmissions. Sure, it may have created a slighly better experience for spectators (due to all the mishaps – recall Timo Glock’s off road excursions this year, including that spectacular off at Adelaide in Australia?). Mandating a standardized engine for F1 means that it’s becoming a spec series. And spec series racing is BORING at best. Let’s consider all the spec series racing around the globe:

  • IRL: okay at times, but boring regardless
  • Champ Car World Series: no longer around
  • Speedcar Series: eh, Europe-based stock car racing; full of F1’s has beens = BORING
  • A1GP: the concept is novel, but boring; who the hell watches A1GP?
  • GP2 / F3: sure, it’s the ladder series to F1, but agan… BORING

Perhaps Max is trying to appease the little teams that feel left out of the “race,” so to speak. Okay, so who are the current players in Formula 1?

  • Scuderia Ferrari F1 – constructor / engine maker / car manufacturer
  • McLaren Mercedes – constructor / engine maker (Mercedes via Ilmor) / car manufacturer (Mercedes)
  • Toyota F1 – constructor / engine maker / car manufacturer
  • Honda F1 – constructor / engine maker / car manufacturer
  • Renault F1 – constructor / engine maker / car manufacturer
  • BMW Sauber F1 – constructor / engine maker / car manufacturer
  • Red Bull Racing – constructor / engine supplied by Renault
  • Scuderia Toro Rosso – not really a constructor considering they get everything from Red Bull and the engine is supplied by Ferrari
  • Williams Toyota F1 – constructor / engine supplied by Toyota
  • Team Force India F1 – constructor / engine supplied by McLaren / Mercedes for the 2009 season

So, 60% of the current teams in F1 are manufacturers in the truest sense of the word. And the rest seem more than content with being customer teams, sourcing their engines from one of the big manufacturers. And obviously by being able to sell engines to customer teams, the manufacturers can reduce their own development and production costs. The system isn’t broken so why fix it?

So tell us, Mr. Mosley. You keep referring to cost reduction as the primary reason for standardizing engines, but the manufacturers are threatening to leave F1 if it happens. So if the teams are willing to bear the cost of development, manufacturing, testing, etc. of these gorgeous 2.4L V8 engines, who are you to stop them? And if standardized engines become the norm, I predict we’ll see the return of the late 80s and early 90s, when you had shitty teams with no money (Fondmetal, Eurobrun, Leyton House, Larrousse, etc.) trying to enter F1. There won’t be enough space on the grid for all these useless teams so we’ll see the return of pre-qualifying. We don’t need that for F1.

Max. Just leave it alone.

December 4, 2008 Posted by | Features & Opinions, Formula 1, Motorsports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Whiner?

rubino-7205981

It’s one thing when a driver exits the stage with some humility. It’s another when they bitch and whine about what happened in the past. Last week, current Honda F1 and former Scuderia Ferrari F1 driver Rubens Barrichello spoke ill of his former employer and teammate. Now, everything in retrospect is 20/20 but you can’t all of a sudden put forth accusations / statements about how he was treated unfairly at Ferrari. Come on, Rubens. You must have known that Michael Schumacher’s ambitions were going to be put ahead of yours. You must have known that the team’s ambitons were going to be put ahead of yours.

Sure, Rubens is a capable driver and his record is reflective of his skills. Although he has never won the driver’s title, he has a number of race wins and fine standings in the driver’s championships over the years. His record far exceeds the accomplishments of most current and past F1 drivers. It’s the stuff of dreams.

With his Honda F1 seat in question, perhaps this was his way of lashing out. Perhaps he’s going through a mid life crisis. Who knows. But if Rubens is the classy driver that everyone believes he is, then it would do much good to bow out gracefully. And even though he has said that he will not race in any other series if he cannot retain an F1 seat, perhaps putting the Indy Racing League in his future sights would be a good career move. The IRL needs some fresh talent from the continent and I’m sure Honda would more than welcome him with open arms.

December 4, 2008 Posted by | Features & Opinions, Formula 1, Motorsports | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment