Feet up! : motorsport

Imola revisited

Out of the archives of Fun-1, Ewan finds an old post of mine about the tragic events at Imola in 1994, which I had also revisited in 2009.

18 years on, I'm still stunned when I think of the event, although Asif Kapadia's Senna documentary has softened my viewpoint on Ayrton. Perhaps the events of the day should be required viewing for anyone desiring a motorsport license; a little reflection is never a bad thing.

Roland, Ayrton, rest in peace.

[Thu, 03 May 2012 07:24] | [] | #

Where next for Grand Prix - GP2.0

So the FOTA teams have finally given up with Max Mosely's inept, meddling, petty dictatorship and decided to run a rival 2010 championship. This will relegate the FIA's "Formula One" to an also-ran or feeder status.

But perhaps the real question is, which circuits will the FOTA teams use? I'd like to start the ball rolling with Le Mans, the obvious choice is the Bugatti circuit, but an F1 car on the Mulsanne straight is quite a thought!

Suggest a circuit on Twitter or Identi.ca with the #GP2.0 tag and see whether we can influence Ferrari et al. If you're stuck for ideas, Wikipedia has a list of circuits which have hosted a FIA World Championship race from 1950 to 2008.

[Fri, 19 Jun 2009 06:57] | [] | #

Imola 15 years on

Autosport front cover, 5 May 1994Fifteen years, wow. Five years since I wrote about Imola 1994 on the now defunct Fun-1 blog where Ewan and I used to scribble things that amused us about motorsport. A lot of things have changed in Formula 1 in the decade and a half since Ayrton and Roland paid the ultimate price for the sport they loved. High cockpit sides, HANS, smaller long-life engines, moveable front wings, KERS, night races, old tracks losing races (Imola, Indy and Montreal amongst them), new (but ultimately boring) circuits in new countries, ITV winning (and eventually handing back to the BBC) UK TV coverage; Frank, Flav (Swiss Tony), Bernie and Max somehow staying in charge, Ronzo putting on his slippers, Michael winning many titles (and at least one without cheating). Far too many things to fit into one sentance.

One could speculate about what Ayrton would have done if he had survived; World Championships at Williams (instead of Hill and Villeneuve), running a team (like Emerson), ice racing (like Prost!?), Indy 500 (like Andretti, Mansell, Hill, Montoya), or even politics (like Reutemann)? At the end of the day though those are just wild guesses, or possibly hopes. My thoughts about Ayrton have changed too, 15 years back I did not like him, 5 years back I was still rather harsh on him, but I'm much more mellow these days; he was a sportsman driven to win by any means he could, without that drive he would not have got where he did, and we would not have had the opportunity to witness his great skills.

Am I going to spend the day with a black armband? No, I will be celebrating their lives and that of the human spirit. Take Ayrton and Roland's example, do a good job of what you do and enjoy life to the full.

[Fri, 01 May 2009 13:30] | [] | #

Grand Prix thoughts

Magny Cours French Grand Prix

A few random Grand Prix related thoughts, as I've no Fun-1 to post them on these days.

I've ranted in the past about the ludicrous ticket prices for the British Grand Prix - £99 is the cheapest and that's sold out, the cheapest currently available is £199.

The high prices are not the circuit owners fault, purely Bernie's greed. For those who don't know, the BRDC (who own Silverstone) pay the FIA a huge fee to hold the Grand Prix, which they can only recoup through ticket sales. Advertising, TV rights etc. all goes straight into Bernie's bulging pot.

Anyway, according to GrandPrix.com the French GP at Magny Cours is keen to attract disenchanted British fans - much like Le Mans has a huge British following. To this end cross-channel ferry company are offering 5-day crossings from £30 each way for a car and up to five passengers, and with three-day tickets to the Grand Prix event costing from just £57.50 the British prices start to look silly.

According to travel site ViaMichelin, Magny Cours is a mere 670 km from central London, a cost of around 90 Euro for petrol and tolls. So rough figures for two people going to the two events would work out at British Grand Prix £198 (398 if you were trying to book today), French Grand Prix £205 - factor in the far lower cost of living in France for food, hotels, the cost of getting to Silverstone, or another body in the car, and the French Grand Prix looks far more economically appealing.

As speculation goes, Pitpass's: "Ralf out, Kimi in?" looks a little odd. But, with all the rumours that Ralf won't even complete this season at Toyota, and Kimi not gelling with the Ferrari team, it doesn't seem completely unlikely.

Have you wondered what happened to Ferrari's early season pace? Personally, I attributed the relative slow-down to the FIA seeing through Ferrari's imaginative interpretation of the flexible floor rules. But, GrandPrix.com (who are far better connected than I) have heard runours of a major windtunnel mishap at Ferrari. Nasty (and dangerous) stuff if true, CFD "windtunnels" would never fail in such an exciting manner.

[Wed, 20 Jun 2007 19:16] | [] | #

24 Heures du Mans 2007

24 Heures du Mans 2007 logo

It's that weeked again, sun, rain, beer, motorsport, funfair, and general lunacy. Unfortunately I'm not there this year, but I'll be following it over the web, tv, and radio. For that full experience I might even sleep in the garden, drink some French beer and build a beer mountain. Best I get up to the supermarket before the 15:00 CET start...

Anyway, here are my main sources of vital info:

Things I'm looking for this year? The Peugeots to give Audi a good run for their money, and Aston to put in a solid performance, the weather looks like it'll be a lottery too, so that could really make things interesting.

[Sat, 16 Jun 2007 10:38] | [] | #

Honda's bold Green approach

Honda's Green F1 machine Honda raised a few eyebrows when they unveiled their new F1 car recently. The Google Earth style paint-job will look pretty good with the now traditional post engine blow-up fireball trailing behind. But, it's certainly an odd design, even if you do get a chance to put your name on the car as Iain has done.

What Honda omitted to mention at the launch is that as part of their new-found enthusiasm for tree-hugging they're also saving the planet by a commitment to making their cars go slower and use less fuel, how else can we explain that the 2007 Honda is slower than the hastily repainted 2006 cars of Aguri Suzuki's team?

[Fri, 16 Mar 2007 13:09] | [] | #

Guilty of trying to run a race

The US non-GP proved at least one thing, that when it comes to creating a FIAsco the FIA are in a league of their own.

Because of this we've gone into mourning on Fun-1 abandoning our apparantly traditional scarlet colour scheme for a fetching tone of funereal charcoal.

Not content with severely dropping the ball 2 weeks ago, the FIA have now decreed the teams to be guilty, well we've scratched our heads and we can think of three things they're guilty of, but it's not what the FIA's comedians have come up with.

[Wed, 29 Jun 2005 22:45] | [] | #

Fun-1 revs up again

fun-1 small logoThe 2005 Formula One season has kicked off in yawn-inspiring style in Australia, but never fear Fun-1 are on the case!

In McLaren style we've even recruited a third pilot this season to help with set-up and to put in the hard yards when Ewan and I are swanning around with sponsors on a Friday. Mark's got a long track record of successful F-1 sites behind him, but we'll not hold that against him. In fact I think he rather enjoys being the Senna in our Berger/Ronzo led team. We're all set for a season of fun and games, so why not make Fun-1 your preferred Formula One blog?

[Mon, 07 Mar 2005 22:25] | [] | #

Traffic News

fun-1 small logo Fun-1 is still going from strength to strength. Despite a 3 week gap between races, a testing ban, and light posting due to Ewan moving to the frozen North we blew past August's (rather conservative) target of 6,500 visitors and exceeded 7,000 for the first time.

We're still aiming to be conservtive for September, and the new goal is 8,000, I think we might be pleasantly surprised yet again, especially if we mention Jos Verstappen.

It looks like our overall figures are doing ok so far:

May  200
June 500-10001500
July 3000-50005000
August 65007000
September 8000?

[Thu, 02 Sep 2004 13:28] | [] | #

Traffic Update

We hit our July target of 5000 readers for Fun-1 (just). Ewan's announced the August target of 6500, which to be honest we were both rather pessimistic about, what with 3 weeks between races and a test ban. Fortunately the Da Matta sacking and the Button soap opera have sent scads of new readers our way.

September's target? 10K? Who knows!

[Tue, 10 Aug 2004 13:23] | [] | #

Race Day

The Fun-1 team are going racing today. Ewan is racing around the tube with Tom the Womble porn guy, and I'm off to Bayford Meadows for an endurance kart race. I carbo-loaded for stamina at lunchtime, but I'm not entirely convinced a bellyfull of Mexican food from Chicos (formerly Maya) will do much for my power to weight ratio...

[Fri, 30 Jul 2004 15:27] | [] | #

Traffic on the race track

fun-1 small logo Ewan's goals for Fun-1 seem to be well on track, we were aiming for 5000 unique visitors in July, and we've already passed 3000.

I know Ewan's a bit busy for the next few days, but I'm sure I can fill in by writing some suitable nonsense for Fun-1 that retains at least a handful of our readers, and hopefully doesn't teach us about libel law the hard way...

[Wed, 14 Jul 2004 13:29] | [] | #

Fun-1 - London Grand Prix?

London GP, a McLaren leaving parc ferme A London Grand Prix? Is that really going to happen? 200mph down the Embankment sounds fun, but I can't see it happening. A London race would bring in most of the traditional banger race strategies of a street circuit, and it would sort the men from the boys as Monaco does. And Michael will eventually have to learn that trying to put opponents on the grass when there is no grass does not work...

However as Ewan says there's many downsides to a London event, the construction required, the lack of Government interest, Ken's desire for a car free London, etc. etc. would all make it a non-starter, but we've seen stranger things. Magny Cours and the new Nurburgring kart tracks to name just two. Me, I'd like to see Brooklands back on the calendar, and it's only just down the road from Woking!

Fun-1 logo Anyway, the London race is a nice story for Fun-1. Which has now moved to the long threatened proper domain http://www.fun-1.org/ We've seperated the content into two blogs; one for the links and one for the rest, so although the most recent links appear on the front page, otherwise they're seperate entities, and the good bit is that you get two sets of feeds to pick from.
Article feeds:
RDF - XML - Atom. Link feeds
RDF - XML - Atom.

I'll have to now get on with finishing the Circuit Guides, at least I've written the Nurburgring guide so there's no mad rush for this Sunday.

[Mon, 24 May 2004 14:01] | [] | #

10 years after

Autosport front cover, 5 May 1994 Today is the tenth anniversary of Ayrton Senna's death at Imola. So what has happened in Formula 1? Are the cars safer, slower, is the driving cleaner? Yes, No and definitely not - Michael's outrageous punting off of JPM at Imola is graphic evidence of how low F1 driver standards have sunk in the past decade.

I watched both accidents at Imola ten years ago (I also watched Berger's accident at Tamburello a few years previously), Ayrton's didn't affect me. Maybe I was in shock, but I didn't like the guy. Sure he was exquisitely fast, but his general attitude to racing - if in doubt punt your rivals off - was abhorrent to me, imagine your grief if Michael was killed today? Rightly or wrongly that's how I felt about Ayrton.

photo of Roland Ratzenberger Roland Ratzenberger was a different matter; he was one of the good guys. I'd seen him race at Le Mans a few times, and he was no muppet paying for a seat. I believe he was Toyota's first non-Japanese works driver, which in those days said a lot, even if Toyota's current approach to employing drivers is somewhat surreal. Just wanting Schumi lite never mind being willing to pay him millions is rather odd...

Watching a driver (or any human being) being given heart massage on live television is not an everyday sight, and it's not one I want to see again. But that's what I saw after Roland's accident and it was very moving and disturbing. Later in 1994 I went to Le Mans and one of the SARD Toyotas had four drivers' names painted next to the door, but only three drivers at the circuit; Eddie Irvine, Jeff Krosnoff and Mauro Martini. This was going to be Roland's car. 90 minutes from the end of the race it was leading, when it slowed and stopped just past me on the pit straight with a broken gear linkage. Krosnoff got out of the car, went around the back and manually selected third gear. He then proceeded off on a slow lap of the 9 mile circuit before pitting for the linkage to be replaced. The car lost 13 minutes and dropped back to third place 15 seconds behind the second placed car. Irvine cut this lead at a rate of three seconds per lap, and I've never seen so many people willing a car to go faster. Irvine took second place on the penultimate lap, but the lead car was a lap ahead, and "Roland's" team had to settle for second place.

Roland, Ayrton, rest in peace.

[Sat, 01 May 2004 20:21] | [] | #


Yet another site for your blogroll, Fun1 a site mostly devoted to the lighter side of Formula 1. There's a better url coming soon, when Rafe sorts out the DNS...

Main ranters currently are OPL mad Ewan and myself, athough more contributors are welcome.

[Tue, 30 Mar 2004 13:29] | [] | #

Are Ralf and DC even worthy of Minardi seats?

Probably not, I suspect even the lamentable Zsolt Baumgartner would keep their number 2 driver positions' safe. After all, their relative performances against their teammates last weekend in Malaysia were as poor as usual. I've panned DC enough times already, so today's fish in the barrel is Ralf.

Despite this mediocre performance, there are still persistant stories about Ralf re-signing for Williams or joining Toyota even if he does have to take a paycut, frankly if I was Frank, I'd be more concerned about losing sponsorship money and championship points (and hence Bernie's money) than a minor cut in an under-performing and over-priced driver's salary. Even if Schumi-lite does follow all the advice he's being given he's still a long way from being truly competitive.

Fortunately it seems like Frank is already looking very seriously at Mark Webber and Scott Dixon for next season, and Ewan tells me that the FIA allows you to change the number 1 driver once and the number 2 driver three times in a season. Given that JPM appears to be the number 1 driver, he suggests that we might see Gene in a Williams race seat once the season gets back to Europe. Wishful thinking perhaps, but as Ralf seems more intent on taking out his team mate, rather than overtaking anyone else, Gene could be a very wise choice.

[Wed, 24 Mar 2004 21:53] | [] | #

New season, new rules

Melbourne GP logo

It's less than two weeks until the first Grand Prix of the season in Melbourne, Australia. Pitpass.com has a useful overview of the 2004 season rules, the major changes are in Friday testing, longer life engines (a driver has to use the same engine for practise, race and qualifying), drive through penalties to be abolished, and some restriction of electronic capabilities (no auto gear changes or launch control).

The new rules could upset the apple cart a little, but not substantially, don't expect Minardi or Jordan to run away with the constructors title!

[Tue, 17 Feb 2004 13:31] | [] | #


The man with the squarest head in F1 is at it again, every pre-season he trots out the same spiel about how he's fitter, faster and smarter than ever before, and this year he's even claiming to be a championship contender.

So after a decade of doing nothing much in top teams, and seeing numerous teammates become World Champion does anyone really take him seriously? Bizarrely, Jackie Stewart still thinks "David is good enough to go out there and win the world championship" fortunately Michael Clark at pitpass.com takes a saner line in these two articles the right stuff and a year on. I really don't get the DC hype, can anyone explain it to me?

[Mon, 26 Jan 2004 20:47] | [] | #

Oi you, big nose!

Williams FW26, rhinoplasty gone mad!

Williams have deployed a very interesting approach to the droopnose design used by most F1 cars recently. Something none of the pictures I've seen so far show the full shapes of the "tusks", you could create vortices and do some very interesting airflow handling with these tusks.

Watch out for copycat designs from some other teams very soon!

Then again the hammerhead nose could of course be an elaborate spoof that doesn't actually function as well as a more conventional nose on the FW26. The intent being to send rival teams up a blind design alley in the coming weeks. Williams are a hard-nosed straight forward operation so this is a little unlikely but we'll find out for sure in Melbourne, in two months time.

[Tue, 06 Jan 2004 12:48] | [] | #

The Stig Unveiled

Maybe I missed this being announced on Top Gear, but I was always curious about who was playing "The Stig" their anonymous caricature lunatic racing driver.

Then I stumbled across Perry McCarthy's book Flat Out, Flat Broke in a bookshop and the front cover has a photo of him as the Stig, with the bold proclamation

"Perry McCarthy - TV's 'The Stig'"
I've read loads of anecdotes from or about Perry over the years in the motoring press, I bet the book is a cracker.
[Sun, 12 Oct 2003 20:51] | [] | #

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