Went to a fascinating talk the other day at the world famous Candy Store. I have been asked not to reveal its location, let me just say that where ever it is-magnificent is the word. Pride of place goes the Niki Lauda’s F1 car. Looks as good as ever and brings back wonderful memories. The guest speaker was NBC’s chief statistician-Sean Kelly. I thought I knew a thing or two about mF1 but this guy is absolutely amazing. He provides material for 14 TV stations so when you will hear the commentators say something earth shattering don’t say “Wow, where did they get that one from?” look no further than Sean. The only-somewhat unfair question – he couldn’t answer was about the shortest driver of all times. I didn’t know the answer either; apparently it was John Love who came 2nd in a Cooper Climax back in 1967. I am still checking n this as my money would have been on tiny Arturo Merzario from Italy.
With the new season upon us I am just glad I don’t have to commentate any more. With all the new regulations –most of which few people can comprehend good luck to my colleagues who will have to go into the intricacies of the engine e, the electrical bits and to top it all the various penalties the stewards will be dishing out. Some of these stewards are retired racing drivers who cannot really relate to what is going on. Three times World Champion was not known for being called Black Jack, his tactics were somewhat borderline at times but in those days it was less PC than it is today.
Interesting that two former champions-Jackie Stewart and Jacques Villeneuve both complained about today’s plastic heroes and I cannot disagree. Half the grid in made up of rent a drivers and I am certain few of you would recognize most of them without their helmets with their names written on it. At the other end of the grid the great drivers have all been carefully briefed as to what they can and can’t say. Every word they utter is recorded by one of the PR lackeys for reasons I will never be able to fathom out. Pity.
The fate of F1 czar Bernie Ecclestone is still in the balance, interestingly enough one the major investors in CVC who own the commercial rights started to grumble about the Englishman’s fitness to govern. This is a Norwegian outfit, they take their integrity very seriously indeed. Others may follow but in the meantime it is business as usual. Well, not quite as usual because some of the drivers such as Felipe Massa will be listening to news from the hospital in Grenoble where his great hero Michael Schumacher is fighting for his life. All credit to the little Brazilian who spent hours by Michael’s bedside talking to him regardless whether Schumacher could comprehend it or not. I may be FORZA’s Grand Prix Editor but I would love to see Felipe win some races. Took him a long time to fully recover from his appalling injuries back in 2009 but while he may be driving for Williams this year I am sure the folks in Maranello would not begrudge him a victory or two.
I am writing this blog before the first race so let me wish everyone is good season, mercifully when the flag drops –or the lights go out- all the nonsense stops. May the best man win, just hope they don’t all run out of gas..