Monday
Aug152011

Give Em a Hand!

I have not posted the last few days as the news is a bit thin, but if you want to catch up go to www.bobbarnardtrackengineering.com.

Mercedes should be applauded for helping out a young man who did not have a hand. In a wonderful piece of PC he is described as having "a lower arm deficiency that means his left arm stops at his wrist." You can read the whole story on ESPNF1, and it is certainly one of the best things F1 has done lately. Thanks to Ross Brawn and the team they have arranged for a new bionic hand to be supplied free as part of a deal for technical cooperation with the manufacturers, Touch Electronics. It seems when Ross started making enquiries both parties realised how much technology they had in common. A nice feel warm story, and again displays the incredible technology in an F1 car that most of us do not see.

I watched the Indycar race from New Hampshire yesterday and I hope a few more did than were at the track. I've seen bigger crowds at an SCCA race at Texas Motor Speedway. Of course the track's General Manager said how pleased he was at the attendance, I bet Bruton Smith wasn't. Dario had the race won until he and Sato managed to run into each other on a restart, and it looked to me like Dario moved down on him, but that was not how he saw it. Rain was a factor, bring the race time forward to try and beat it, but the boys did not need rain to crash, Conway taking out Rahal at the first corner, and the Castroneves losing it there the next lap. Nice tire wall there made of used race tires! Could barely hold themselves up let alone stop a car, and in the wrong place. Will Power got all hot and bothered at the last restart after being taken out when he had a chance of closing the gap on Dario in the Championship. Lots of talk about the track being too damp to restart it, but in reality only one driver spun and caused the rest of the carnage, all the other drivers managed to keep it straight. Now that's not to say they would not have spun later, but in racing someone has to make a decision and live with it, it is not a democracy. Have the ratings really improved so much that ABC will now carry the races and not Versus, or did they work out the ratings would never improve on Versus?  

Missed the MotoGP race but was fortunate to see a great Moto2 race, just like the 250cc days. I like the Brno track and it has aged well. Great use of the topography. A little repetitive in the corners, but produces some good races, and a lot of spectators. Interesting Honda are saying they will limit bikes for next year in MotoGP, but one has Bradl's name on it already. Northern European market must need a boost, but well deserved. Great news that Gardner Senior and Junior, and Mick Doohan are to ride at Phillip Island this year, nice touch, and Remy is to have the Moto3 bike for 2012 to ride.

No blog would be complete without a reference to Bernie. News today that he is going to sell his shares in QPR soccer team to Tony Fernandes. Good time to sell as they have just been promoted to the Premier League, so sell at the top, it probably will not last. Apparently he cannot get on with the other shareholder, Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal. Now Lakshmi has in the past shown an interest in F1, and it is a shame he does not have a team because then we really could have had a driver "put the pedal to the Mitall."

 

Saturday
Aug062011

MSI Member Tony Dowe Speaks

Almost none of the usual blog sites have anything new this morning, so I thought I would share with you the thoughts of Tony Dowe on racing in a recession, even more pertinent given the events of the last two days on Wall Street. For those of you that do not know Tony here is a link to his impressive bio:

http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/cref-dowton.html

Now here's the link to the Last Turn Club web site to read Tony's take on how to survive:

http://lastturnclub.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=784&Itemid=55

Tony is a member of my Motorsport Services International Team of experts.

ALMS is at Mid-Ohio with the race this afternoon, live streaming on www.espn3.com.

Friday
Aug052011

Bernie Speaks

One person not on vacation is Bernie, he continues to speak out on topics and is obviously still hard at it making deals. That is what he loves to do, so I guess that is as good as a vacation.

Turkey are desperate to get themselves back on the calendar and their negotiating ploy is a bit unusual." The Sports Minister is "ready to do everything" to keep the race. Music to Bernie's ears I would think. The "everything" includes "publicity and promotional campaigns to raise attendance and earnings." Well there's a novel idea, pity they did not think of this for the last 6 or 7 years, they might not be in this position.

Bernie is back talking about next year's calendar and giving a hint that Turkey could get back on. He is suggesting that the calendar could grow, and says that the teams would accept it if one of the ones to be dropped were to be Monaco or another team favorite. Nice one. The last seven races next year take place on four continents over ten weeks, the worst back-to-back being Sao Paolo and Austin, no direct flights. All this to be nice to Bahrain he says, "They" didn't want it up front apparently. Now the article seems to suggest that "they" were the Bahraini Gov't, but they seem happy just to have the race back as long as it is not in summer. From my recollection it was the teams who did not want to risk another embarrassing fiasco at the start of the season if the situation in Bahrain was not settled, but obviously felt that a race at the end could quietly be dropped. Now the teams are complaining about the logistics of those last seven races. Can't have your cake and eat it too. 

There was an odd reference as a footnote to this story about Austin and the State of Texas approving the funds. The State funds can only be distributed a year in advance, so presumably within twelve months, not a calendar year. So that $25m is not available until November, and presumably someone has read the contract to find out when Bernie's fee has to be paid. The writer suggests that this will delay the construction of the circuit, but this is not construction money so I don't get that.

On a positive note Robert Kubica's thumb has regained full movement, very necessary to push all those buttons. In similar news the likelihood of seeing Barrichello in a Williams next year is diminishing fast. I think Rubens is very disenchanted with the way the team is run.

The Renault chassis involved in the fire in Hungary has been written off, and the explosion explained as the air bottle that drives the valves getting too hot. The fire was caused by a cracked exhaust as a result of a "slightly different engine mapping in qualifying." Now I thought engine mapping had to be the same for qualifying and the race since Valencia, so are they saying they changed the engine mapping for both qualifying and the race? Strange way of saying it. No one noticed the crack which then got worse in the race and finally caused the fire after raw fuel was being burnt in the exhaust while it sat at the pit stop. No word on the marshal though.

Stating the obvious the Virgin CEO said that the fans will decide the success of the Sky TV deal. "From the point of view of the commercial model there are potential mismatches between a broadcasting that maximises viewers and one that maximises revenue." And we all know which one is more important don't we? He goes on to say that 90% of his income comes from sponsors and partners, which could be hurt if the audience goes down, but we are only talking of Britain here, so why is this getting so much play from the teams? Is the British market so dominant to the sponsors? Hard to imagine.

Wednesday
Aug032011

Silence is Golden

Some people just do not know when to shut up. We have some great examples today.

Bernie said that his mate Briatore was "In no shape or form .... involved in this." He then went on to tell the Daily Express. "He did make a payment for me but only because I asked him." ? I know when to say nothing.

Then there is Adam Parr, he who is telling disgruntled fans how expensive it is to run a team. He does it again today and I'm sure the fans appreciate being told that if they just accept the need for budget cuts in F1 then the teams would not need all that money and the TV and admission costs would go down. Well, he did not actually say the last piece, and we all know that the money will just go somewhere else. The teams could reduce the cost of the show whenever they want, just getting rid of those monstrous "hospitality" units would save a few million, each. No, Adam goes on to say that if each team spends 100m pounds a year to run then the cost of the show is 1.2 bn pounds. Well it is a lot more than that Adam if you add in the cost of building the tracks and staging the races, but let's just look at his maths. Each team has sponsors who foot part or all of that 100m pound bill, but let's say half, so now we are down to 600m pounds by his reckoning. Then there are the fees paid by the poor promoters, say 25m each by 20 races, that nearly covers the rest. You could almost put this on TV for free, but that does not include Bernie's cut or the CVC rape.

Adam continues with his "racquets and plimsoles (tennis shoes to you and me)" analogy, and then makes it worse by comparing the cost of admission to Crique de Soleil" at 100 pounds to the local circus for 10 pounds where you only get to see "a couple of mangy elephants and a rather droopy clown." Nice one Adam, just endeared yourself to the circus industry. Anyway Adam believes the fans will understand. I would not bet on it. At least F1 does not have a slogan of "For the Fans." The next FOTA forum in England should be a doozy, they could sell the rights to that for a lot of money, help defray the cost of running the races. 

Then there is India and the GP, which yesterday had 6000 workers going day and night with 250 engineers to finish the track. Today we are told its all done bar the top layer of asphalt and they were ready for and expecting Charlie last Monday, but he decided to leave it till August 30th. Now I am happy it is ready, but why tell us a story?

Last but not least we have another reported intent to stage an F1 race in the streets of New Jersey with Manhattan as the backdrop, with a race in 2013. Bernie and Martin Whitmarsh must be pleased. It is a private investment, so the question must be why? These are smart businessmen and must know what the costs are, but perhaps know better than I what the income will be, but I would check with Melbourne first. It is one thing for the City to fund this and reap the "economic benefits," but unless these guys own a bunch of real estate in the area it is hard to see the rational.

Wednesday
Aug032011

Holiday

With F1 off on its summer break for the next three weeks some of my fellow bloggers are also taking a vacation. As you know I write about any form of motorsport that interests me, so I will try and amuse you and prompt some critical examination of what others say and do.

On that note there is a piece today following up the protests by farmers at the loss of access and land for the building of the Indian GP track and access expressway. Eager to assure us all is well and that a repeat of Korea will be avoided we are told there are 6000 workers toiling around the clock to finish this, with 250 engineers! Well, as the race is scheduled for late October then one would hope that the engineering has been finished. Not sure what their definition of engineer is, but I cannot imagine you need 250 of them to design and build an F1 facility, however complicated. Speaking of late October, the FIA inspection is supposed to be 90 days prior, which by my calendar was three days ago. And what do you do with 6000 workers, groom the runoffs or mix cement by hand? No offence to my Indian friends, but a few photos are worth thousands of words.

The Sky TV rumblings continue, with the Crash.Net site running a poll which presumably is taken by people really interested in F1 and racing. So far 95% of respondents have either said they will not watch or F1 will lose audience. So 5% think it's "super for F1." Not the sort of numbers to warm sponsors hearts. 

On the home front Race Resorts of America is moving forward and is in discussions with a number of resort type tracks to become part of the RRA "family."