Posts filed under ‘McLaren’

FIA botch fuel decision

Unbelievable. What next?

At the cost of millions of pounds the FIA World Motorsport Council took two days to rule than McLaren’s appeal into the fuel irregularities of BMW and Williams was illegal. Two days? What the hell were they doing?

So what are the implications of the decision?

Well, the public objective of McLaren, namely wanting “rule clarification”,  has been thwarted as by throwing out the appeal the FIA could not adjudicate on whether of not the accused committed an offense. This will put the FIA in a very tricky spot next time this issue raises its ugly head. Are F1 teams now allowed to ignore fuel temperature differences? It would appear so. If any team is punished next season for the same offense then the decision of both the stewards at Interlagos and the FIA will seem hypocritical and laughable.

The other bone of contention is that no one connected with the sport wanted the title decided in court. I don’t think that is precisely correct — that may have been the view a month ago but we are where we are.  What people didn’t want was another FIA dodge, which we got. Forever more this non-ruling will leave a fug of uncertainty surrounding the 2007 championship. One other aspect that was particularly distasteful was the pressure applied to the FIA by F1 ringmasters Max Mosely and Bernie Ecclestone. This is supposed to be an independent court. Butt out. Imagine if in the US at the trial of a serial rapist the President said that he thought the offender deserved to go to death row … the President would likely end up in the slammer too.

One bright point is that Kimi Raikonnen deservedly emerges as World Champion. He was the fastest driver over the year (although possibly not the best) and is a genuinely good bloke. However, all the off track shenanigans will make this title seem slightly false. He’ll just have to go and win another one next year.

Bring on 2008 so we can finally put this fiasco behind us.


November 17, 2007 at 4:56 am Leave a comment

Machinations of the F1 circus

What’s the difference between Formula 1 and a circus? A circus has more clowns. And so it goes.

Anyone but the most ardent F1 fan freely admits that his favourite sport is quickly becoming nothing short of a total farce.

Consider this: by the end of the year the last four world championships will have been decided not by who crossed the finish line first, but by the legal wigs in the courts. There is a chance, not a big chance but a chance none the less that each of these championships will change hands because of the legal rancour.

One, the 2007 Constructors title, already has with the trophy sitting in a glass case in Maranello when, a team in Woking actually accrued the most constructor points. In three days time Lewis Hamilton could be handed the Drivers Championship if BMW and Williams are expelled from the Brazilian Grand Prix. In any other race they would have been but it is unlikely the FIA will have the guts to alter the destination of the title, especially when it was won by Bernie’s favourite team.

With Renault-gate picking up momentum there is a chance that the Enstone-based outfit could be disqualified from the 2006 Constructors Championship, as that was when confidential McLaren information first came into their possession. If so that particulary trophy would be headed in the direction of Ferrari. The 2006 Drivers Championship could accompany too as part of the same penalty although the 2007 fudge means that is unlikely.

At this rate I don’t know why F1 bothers holding motor races. Max Mosely is eager to cut costs. Perhaps each team should hire a cabal of lawyers and see who comes on top in the dock?

Today the world awaits the fate of the new rising star of F1, Lewis Hamilton. The odds are that the FIA will agree some fudge that sees the BMW and Williams cars disqualified but not the drivers. That will be good enough for Kimi to retain his title.

Whatever the outcome it won’t be especially satisfactory for the sport.

November 15, 2007 at 10:23 am Leave a comment

Reflections on the Alonso saga

Time often breeds clarity and the morning after the night before a smidgen of the fug surrounding Alonso’s departure has lifted.

The popular view is that Renault remains the most likely destination for the Spaniard, who is expected to sign a long term contract with the Enstone based outfit where he will assume clear number one status within the team. The gambling markets confirm this as Alonso is 8-11 on to rejoin Briatore, with Red Bull and Williams at 3-1, and Toyota 8-1.

Who are the winners and losers from the divorce:


  • Lewis: Lewis Hamilton emerged as the biggest winner as he has firmly established himself as clear number one in the team. Ron Dennis’ utterances on driver equality will ring hollow in 2008 given that Hamilton regards the team as family and Alonso’s replacement will almost certainly be inferior to Lewis and will have to learn the car from scratch
  • The team: McLaren should be in far better shape to compete in 2008 without Alonso. He ripped apart the team this year and Ron Dennis and co will be far better off without their temperamental Latin superstar
  • Rosberg/Kovalainen: One lucky driver, probably one of these two, will jump from laggard to leader by taking the  vacant seat in McLaren. The bookies have Kovalainen as slight favourites: it makes sense if Alonso jumps to Renault and the phlegmatic nature of the Finn will suit Ron Dennis


  • Alonso: At the minute Fernando Alonso is the big loser. He’ll move from one of the most competitive teams and his chances of winning a third world title in 2008 are slim to none.
  • Ron Dennis and McLaren:  Although Ron had to let Alonso go it isn’t difficult to construe a couple of scenarios where McLaren ends up with egg on their collective face especially if Alonso can snare a couple of victories in a relatively uncompetitive car next year. And imagine if he turns out for Ferrari in 2009 and wins another hat full of titles. Who’ll be the village idiot then?
  • Nelson Piquet Jr: An odd one this but if Alonso does turn out for Renault do you think he’ll want a highly rated rookie snapping at his heels? No. Given the rumptions in 2007 expect Alonso to pay close attention to his 2008 team mate and that may spell curtains for Piquet’s 2008 F1 ambitions.
  • Ferrari: Without the distractions of two number one drivers McLaren will now put all their efforts behind home-boy Lewis Hamilton. If Ferrari continue to follow a policy of equality it could spell doom for their 2008 championship homes
  • McLaren’s sponsors: The reason why Vodafone and Banco Santander backed McLaren was Alonso. Vodafone won’t be too fussed as the emergence of Hamilton will pay dividends in their home market but Santander will be peeved at the general hatred to McLaren among the Spanish populous. That’s one reason why Rosberg is a better fit than Kovalainen: his marketing potential is greater.

November 3, 2007 at 7:21 am Leave a comment

Alonso in McLaren shocker

I’m not sure you can technically call it news but Fernando Alonso and McLaren have parted company. To avid F1 watches this will come as no surprise. Heck, to those who have only half a pulse and need help urinating this won’t be a bolt from the blue.

Details are sketchy at the minute but the rumour in the paddock is that the terms of Alonso’s departure limit where he can drive in 2008.  The extreme view is that he is barred from competing for any of the manufacturer teams, which … err … leaves Red Bull, Williams, Spyker and Super Aguri —  not who’s who of the grid.

However, Alonso’s divorce from McLaren was all but guaranteed after the Hungaroring fiasco and he would have had some leverage in negotiations. I suspect that a deal of some sorts has been reached that prevents Alonso from joining either Ferrari or BMW while contracted as a McLaren driver (ie, for another two years).

As I mentioned a couple of days ago my sincere hope is that Alonso joins Toyota and tries to catapult them up the grid — with the resources at hand, Toyota could and should contend in a couple of years. I suspect a more likely scenario is either a return to Renault (although Alonso did poor cold water on that suggestion a few days ago) or a short stint at either Red Bull or Williams before joining either Ferrari or BMW in 2009.

Just because the season is over doesn’t mean the drama is muted.

November 2, 2007 at 5:10 pm Leave a comment

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