Grand Prix Comment.

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 Silverstone  Monaco  France  Austria  Germany  Hungary  
 Belgium  Italy  United States  Japan  Malaysia  

 (Editor burning midnight oil)


Malaysian GP

Not sure if there is a lot to be said for this one. Its the sort of end of term bash that we have forgotten about. Trues there was the slight frisson concerning the Constructor's Title, but even Big Ron must have though that was also over as well.

This did become academic after Hakkinen's unfortunate "creep" at the start, though once again, he did get the drop on Schumacher and a somewhat half hearted "chop".

Drive of the day? Well, Coulthard did well, but it was Schumi's race again; his 4th straight victory let's not forget. What better way to clinch the title and close the season.

Williams were way off the pace and Benetton and BAR slugged it out for 4th place. Not much Guinness going down Chez Jordan I suspect after what had all the hall marks of a typical "first season" performance instead of last years 3rd place constructor.

Right boys and girls, get the video's out, that's it now until next March.

Mind you, watch the CART race next weekend. After Surfer's Paradise, expect more fireworks.



Japan GP

Ah so, Championship not go to rast lound. Mosley in big trouble in Maraysia…..

Ok, sorry, but it's a few years since the title was settled in advance of round 16 (or 17) .
So finally, Ferrari fulfil their dream and I guess so does Schumacher, in not only bringing the Recalcitrant Horse to water, but also making it drink at long last.
But what a shame that this otherwise consummate performance should once again, have been marred by an appalling move by Schumacher on Hakkinen at the start. I suspect he lost sight of the fact that there were another 20 cars accelerating at 100mph after him and two cars touching at the front of the pack may well have meant a fatality.
To my mind a stop / go penalty was highly recommended, especially after Charlie Whiting had gone to great lengths to spell out the rules of engagement. (And it also may have taken the Championship to the last round again!!)

But lets not lose sight of what a great race it was, reminded me of the Senna Prost battles, and what a good result for the sport that Ferrari, who are the only team to have contested every F1 Championship, have laid this particular ghost to rest.

Winning Partnership: Brawn and Brain celebrate success for Ferrari at last.

Ah well, we can have fun at the last round now; Wouldn't it be nice if by some strange chance Minardi fumbled their way to the front? Then again, this is GP racing and that sort of thing just doesn't happen…..



Ok, so I'm late with this one, but was it as good as the hype suggested? Sure it some parts, we actually saw "drafting" and over taking. And wasn't it good to see them actually queuing up to get out at the start of practice. A big coincidence that, but I wonder what the reaction of the fans would have been if the drivers had sat in their pits for 20 minutes as happens in "Yoorp" One suspects the show may not have been seen in the same light..

I wonder also what price our American friends paid for their tickets. If they paid the same price as in England, then they got a very good deal. But I'm tempted to suggest that they paid a good deal less.

Anyway, the scales swung fully the other way and the driving boot is definitely on the Schumi foot with 2 rounds to go. His Shell lubricated engine has certainly shown less inclination to digest itself compared to the Mobil 1 moistened version by Mercedes.
It did look as though Hakkinen was piling on the pressure for a great showdown going into Turn 1 when the engine let go in fairly spectacular style.

Elsewhere, Jordan continues to disappoint in a fairly big way. I suppose they can say they can look forward to next year with their works engines, but EJ cannot be happy with his lowly placing this year. After all, Williams looks set to annex 3rd place and can only get better next year.
BAR continues to improve with Villeneuve, but really Zonta does not seem to get the best out of the car at all. Time for a move perhaps?


Italian GP

Well, it looked more like Formula Ford than F1 and OK, I suppose I'll be immensely unpopular about this, but I have to say that, once again, Barrichello had a part in Sunday's crash. He was so patently late off the pace to ensure that Schumacher was into the corner first there was a massive queue behind him just waiting to pile into each other! What a tragedy that someone died in this carnage and Yes! the race should have been stopped in my book. With so many cars in a critical area and one driver trapped in his car, plus all the debris, a red flag was obvious.

Why did they keep going? Well, I would suggest that the first chicane may even be changed before next years race as they were lucky to get away with it once. Who can blame them for not wanting to go through all that again??

Oh and forget any talk about the Italian GP being in jeopardy. Like Monaco, Monza is on the "secure list" no matter what any one may hypothesise...

As to the race, well Michael bounced back to an emotional victory which had both he and Hakinnen in tears (maybe even for the same reason, who knows?) The title is now wide open if Ferrari can make their obvious horsepower improvement, demonstrated at Monza, stick when they move to Indianapolis. Only Villeneuve has any experience whatsoever there even if it was running the other way round, but the Honda engine is going to have to demonstrate a lot more grunt than it displayed at Monza. Disappointing that, they used to be good, but so far are not demonstrating the sort of commitment (and therefore output) that we would expect.

But let's be grateful for the fact that the normal mid fielders had their glory day and well done to Arrows for just missing a podium. At least Sunday demonstrated what it might be like if the F1 field were a little more level. One day maybe.....


Belgian GP

Ah Spa, you fickle woman you. Toying with our emotions like that. Perhaps not as exciting as some in recent years nevertheless, what a telling story. Was Hakinnen's move on Schumi the move of the season? Let's be clear, he overtook two cars going into Les Combes, is that grunt or what? It seemed by mid race that Michael had it all under control after Mika's half spin on Stavelot but McLaren are at least producing a good car and engine even if the pit work is sometimes crap. (Question: why not bring DC in as Mika was leaving? Far quicker to have him wait a few seconds rather than go a whole lap on the wrong tyres. I know they have to reset the fuel, organise tyres, etc. but I still feel that would have been the quicker option). Schumacher put a brave face on it in the press interviews but that MB engine has serious muscle and Ferrari have to respond to that for the last races where power is paramount.

However, in reality now, its almost certain that team orders will and should in my opinion, come into play. It should not be lost on Ron Dennis that there are still four races to go not three. But it is nevertheless now starting to move McLaren's and Hakinnen's way. How badly do you want top win Ron?

Spare a thought for Jensen Button who put his knowledge of Spa to good use and plonked himself on the second row only to lose out in an inexperienced move on Trulli, when in reality he had the legs of him if he had the patience. But what price now for Williams as 3rd place Constructor's? Who would have thought that at the start of the season. Come on Eddie, Jordan looks short of ideas and talent.

Lastly though, I have no objection to Hakinnen winning, in fact it would be quite nice to see history in the form of 3 Championship sin a row in my lifetime. But please!! will someone write Mika's script for him. Never was the old maxim more apt in the press conferences - Don't give up the day job Mika!!

See also Grumpy Old Men.


Hungarian GP

OK, it was just as boring as it always is and, yes I don't know why they keep going there either, unless Bernie is on some sort of massive kick back for cases of Bulls Blood. BUT!!! what a start! How did Mika get that power down SO smoothly??? That was no blast, more a controlled take up which allowed him to soar past the Ferrari. Did I hear mention of Traction Control or are you just pleased to see me?

No, seriously, as usual, the start was critical on a circuit which makes your local go kart track look like the Nurburgring. Michael must have weighed up his options very carefully for the start and found he was on a real loser. If he jinked to the right to block DC, Mika would just shoot through. If he stayed straight.... Well, he did and the rest as they say is history.

So, who would have thought it after the start of the season and before this web site was even a twinkle in its author's eye? We all thought it would be over by the time the schools broke up and we all tried to book family holidays to avoid missing a GP. Does this mean that Ron Dennis's tactic of actually running a 2 car team pays off? Rubinho after his storming German GP win was nowhere yesterday as he has been quite often this season, proof perhaps that the Scuderia only intends Schumacher to win (as indeed de Montezemolo indicated this week)

They could well now come unstuck. Hakkinnen now takes the lead as we move on to the power circuits where the Mercedes engine is expected to shine. Although DC is not out of it yet, he has to finish ahead of Hakinnen in Belgium to avoid any talk of team orders. As Ron says, as long as Schumacher is only finishing 3rd........

Do the eyes have it now??? Watch this space........

German GP

Rubinho at last!!

No one could help but be pleased that Rubens finally won a GP. Some critics did say that Ron Dennis was the only one not to be pleased. I don't agree with that. Ron, I'm sure would be the first to congratulate Rubens on a well deserved first victory. No, Ron was displeased, I'm sure, that his team lost. There is a difference and Ron should be only too aware that once again, McLaren fumbled it in the pits and , "helped" by the nutter walking across the track, conspired to lose a sizeable lead to the Ferrari.

Having said all that, what price the McLaren's retaining their lead in the rain anyway? The car looked a complete handful and certainly undriveable on dry tyres, whereas Ferrari can take some heart from the fact that their car looked extremely stable in the latter stages. (and that's not taking anything away from Rubens for a superb drive).

Latterly of course, Ferrari have now come out and dampened any talk of a four way battle for the title by stating that their priority is for Michael Schumacher to win the title for them.

Eddie Irvine will now be hiring billboards all over Europe with "I TOLD YOU SO!" on them writ in letters large.

Barrichello must now wonder, first win notwithstanding, whether staying at Ferrari is such a good career move. In recent times, we have seen a succession of talented drivers fulfil their dreams of driving for the Scuderia, but leaving with unfulfilled driving ambitions. Barrichello is committed to Ferrari for 2001 but afterwards? Who will be the next sacrificial lamb slaughtered on the altar of Schumacher's and Ferrari's ambition?




Well, the McLaren steamroller was almost incidental to the financial storm gathering over the "sport" which we all love so much.

I guess not many of the sports oracles will come out and say what the recent deal between the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone really represents, but I will.

It's bent.

Here is a sport worth billions, sold to one man, without any bidding or tender process, for a pittance.
To make matters worse, most of the payments have been deferred anyway. So Ecclestone has just about got it for free.
In any other arena, this would just happen. There exists at this time massive conflicts of interest in Ecclestone's dealing, offset only partially by his excuse that much of holdings are in fact held by his wife.
That is a most cynical reason, which simply does not hold water. Here is a man placed now in sole control of the sport almost, who also owns circuits, the TV rights and a digital TV company which receives the best feeds.

Seemingly now, the FIA has totally abdicated its responsibility and relinquished all control to Ecclestone's company. Another man, Max Mosley, President of the FIA and more notably, an old friend of Ecclestone's has put much of this in train.
Both these men stand accused of the worst form of nepotism, but in actual fact appear to have done the deal and got away scot free. Only the European Commission stands in their way and it is to be hoped that they can exercise some clout in this matter and finally bring these dealings under control.



Well, what started off as potentially, "Le Grand Yawn" turned into a real thriller, with Coulthard putting one of the moves of the season on Schumacher at Adelaide to soundly beat off the Ferrari challenge. This, of course, was preceded by the usual ramblings from ITV about what could possibly be wrong with the German's car because someone was actually catching him. Later it was all rendered academic of course by the second mechanical failure in 3 GP's for Schumacher.

So, what now? When will team orders come into play? Adrian Newey let slip in the interviews that in 1999, team orders had come into play at some point, but he may be right in saying that it is too early for this yet; DC is, after all, but 6 points ahead.

However, it has to be said that should he best Hakinnen again in Austria, then McLaren must decide then , that, if they are to win, they have to favour one driver over the other.

There is no doubt at the moment, that DC is totally fired up. Ever since his near death escape from the plane crash, in fact. For this reason or some other, it is what the season needs, since more often that not these days, Hakinnen appears lacklustre and off the pace. All the more surprising that McLaren have already announced the same pairing for next year. Still, Mika could still retire....

It was also impressive to note that having got alongside Barrichello out of Adelaide, Coulthard was able to out drag him. Testament indeed to the power of the Mercedes engine. Of course, the arguably critical factor was that, for whatever reason, Ferrari couldn't make the tyres last longer than 10 laps before they started to go off.


French Ramblings.

I hope I'm not alone in celebrating the absence of the "voice of motor sport" Murray Walker? You can always tell when someone is getting money for old rope; they don't want to retire and here we have a classic case in point. People will point to Walker's impressive enthusiasm, which is certainly apparent to everyone. But the point is, here we have someone who is supposed to be a professional, who is highly paid, who is in fact a bumbling fool on the screen. If anyone thinks we like being shouted at about details which we know are incorrect, then they are surely sadly mistaken. James Allen did a first rate job with Martin Brundle, who is, of course, becoming the consummate presenter. Compare the commentating to the smooth professional American racing coverage and then see that this season, should be Murray Walker's last.



Silverstone "gets off the hook"

So the BRDC can breath a (small) sigh of relief as they apparently have until October to sort out the "chaos" which was the April event. The FIA of course have bent over backwards to help them and moved next year's event back some 4 weeks, to May. Well, that should make a huge difference. I had to laugh the other day, reading one of the press releases which stated that "old circuits like Silverstone" need to be drastically revamped.

Anybody heard of Monaco? While other circuit owners have to spend millions to bring their tracks into line, Monaco swans in with all its inherent and dangerous faults and gets away with it on the basis, according to BC Ecclestone, of "tradition".

Well, this is supposed to be a multi million pound sport with standards. Fine, perhaps someone ought to ascertain whether these standards are dual or not. This seems to be borne out by the dates fiasco, with no one apparently prepared to accept responsibility for the date changes this year, next year is showing some changes already. We are faced with a variety of bewildering requirements for Grands Prix. Apparently we can't move Monaco, because it coincides with Prince Rainier visiting the Bank to collect his interest, or something like that. (More tradition). Now, new GP's which come on to the schedule, such as the USA, means dates which have been fixed since Max Mosley was in short pants, now get shunted where they will.

I only hope with the date moving to a slightly better date in May, that the BRDC does not allow itself to be caught out as it did this year. Literally it cannot afford to.

It should take a leaf out of Roger Penske's book when he opened his latest oval in the States. He tarmaced all the car parks. Why had he done that he was asked, it never rains here.

"You never can tell" was his reply.

In motor racing, you certainly can't.



Is it time for DC to be given a clear run at the title?? After Hakinnen's lacklustre performance in Monaco and Coulthard's outstanding chase on Michael Schumacher, we ask, should McLaren now think about the dreaded team orders? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for an open Championship, but do McLaren run the risk of outscoring each other and letting Ferrari win both the Drivers AND Constructors Championships?

In my opinion DC did enough and has done, most of the season, to rate preferential treatment for this year. If Hakkinnen were up there, I'd be the first to support him going for a hat trick, but at the moment he has all the get up and go of a man jaded by success. he may not agree (Probably won't) but he certainly isn't cutting it on the track at the moment.