The Italian Junkyard

Thoughts, ideas, criticism about cars. Interesting news and facts from the world of the automobile. Events in Italy and Modena. What you can find elsewhere, filtered through the eyes of a discerning enthusiast. Design, style, everything on the chopping block. Nobody is safe anymore.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

If you've had enough of Formula One then...

Ready for some live action?
The racing season is going to finish soon, summer is over and for some weird reason we won't see F1 and GT cars fighting each other on icy roads and cold tracks, not this year, but give Bernie Ecclestone a bit more spare time and a new assistant I'm pretty sure he will end up with a dangerously similar idea.

While Formula 1 is stormed by yet another scandal, actual racing seems to loose some of its appealing side, with few action on the track, and more involving happenings off the track.
If you want my opinion, this new crash-gate thing, involving Renault F1 Team, Briatore and Symonds, trough sacked and poor performing driver Nelson Piquet Jr, stinks, a lot.
Follow the jump to know why.

First of all I don't see why on heart they should give Piquet immunity if he collaborates, he he would be as involved and guilty as the others. If his excuse was to be in a delicate position, waiting for a new contract, and that he was the young and helpless driver threatened by those old and bad men, well, grow up kid.
Then it's amazing how people call this the worst scandal ever in F1.
No one crashed at 300 km/h against a brick wall with no helmets, it was actually a pretty "safe" crash and i don't see nothing to be so upset about.
I'm not saying I'm fine with such a fact, at all, it's just that I can't see why this should be worst than Nigel Stepney stealing all the data and papers of the latest Formula One car from Ferrari, and bring it to Woking, McLaren, and specifically to Mike Coughlan.
Not be forgot, Stepney was also found guilty of sabotaging the Massa's car adding a chemical salt in the fuel tank, absorbing some of the lubricant substances present in the fuel.

On the other hand, I'm of the opinion that this could be just one case among many others, which we just don't know yet. I don't think this three people are the only one capable of such a decision, and I think many others have already happened.
I can't remember which year it was, but I remember that in the 250 cc Motorcycle World Championship, there was a Spanish rider, one of the Nieto' perhaps, who won the title by just one point over Italian rider Marco Melandri.
Want to know how he got that point?
previously that year he was about last during a race, but his team mate was in the points. A quick calculation showed that if the team mate would have stopped, the Spanish driver would have arrived 15th, which incidentally is the last spot to take one single point.
The other driver didn't crashed on purpose, but he did something even more humiliating I think. he stopped at one meters from the finish line, and let pass all the other riders, including his Spanish team mate, which got that point.
So, how was that?
Want to talk the million times Barrichello or Irvine slowed down evidently to let Schumacher pass when he was driving for Ferrari?

The weird part is Renault initially backing Briatore, moving forward for a legal action, and then saying it doesn't want to contest the charges it will face on Monday. Another couple of days and Briatore and Symonds left Renault after life-long careers there. Fishy, to say the least.

If you think Formula One is more and more about politics rather than motorsports, than wait for this.

BMW said it won't take part to the 2010 season. Fair enough, even if it's a bit weird after all the fights for breakaway series, FOTA VS FIA and so on. I don't think the decision to withdraw was taken in the last few days, but perhaps it was in the interest of all the other car makers to have things going right, even if one of them, BMW in this case, was about to leave a few weeks later.
But that's not the point.

The point is BMW putting the team up for sale, a no one apparently buying it. Former team founder and manager Peter Sauber tried to buy it back, but his offer was considered a bit short on money (as if 10 Million $ less are a problem when you already lost hundred of them and are looking to drop the deal as soon as possible).
Rumors started circulating about a group of investors from Malaysia. Why from over there? Petronas, one of the main sponsors and also a supplier (fuel) of the team since the days of Sauber, is the national petroleum company. To give to the whole deal a bit more credit, Proton, the national automaker, owns Lotus, the English sportscars maker. To be honest the trademark "Lotus F1 Team" was actually bought some years ago by another English company, so that wouldn't in the end have led to the come back of the formerly great English team.

Eventually the FIA opened a new contest to find the new 13th team for the 2010 season, and this new team from Malaysia won. The thing is they didn't buy the ex-BMW team, but created a new one.
At this time being, there isn't not only a car, but even a factory, a team, technical personal if not Michael Gascoyne, who joined Lotus a year ago or so.
The ex-BMW team on the other hand was bought by an Arab-European consortium of investments. They won the 14th spot on the grid, so they are basically the first reserve.

What is funny is that so far Manor, USF1, Campos and now this new Lotus team, which are the ones chosen to enlarge the grid for next year, lack of the technical infrastructures and even background in some cases, while much more credited entries have been turned down.
Eventually Campos will be backed by Dallara, so it should be ok.
But how they decided to leave Epsilon-Euskadi, Prodrive and now the former BMW team in the dust is simple incomprehensible. Epsilon-Euskadi proved its value the LMS championships, and they have a vast and powerful technical knowledge. Lola even had an F1 car ready this summer by the time the 24 Hours of Le Mans was on.
Then there was also N.Technology, a company perhaps unknown to a lot of people, but whit a successful background. They were behind all the recent racing efforts of the Fiat, Abarth and Alfa Romeo brands, especially for what regards the all-conquering Alfa Romeo 156 which dominated various touring championships since its debut in 1998. They were ignored as well.

So with all these sop-opera-ish things going on, Formula One doesn't look anymore as the pinnacle of motorsports, just the link between a car and a gossip tv program.

Wat's my answer to this then?

In 30 minutes I'll embed the streaming of the 6th Round of the FIA GT Chmapionship from Algarve, Portugal. Start is set at 13:45, BST.
So stay tune for more.

The Italian Junkyard

Photo credit, Flavio Briatore and Elisabetta Gregoraci: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe

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