Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Why Donington Failed

On Monday the British GP saga was settled. Silverstone announced to the world they had signed a 17-year contract to host the British GP and they would be redeveloping the track from the new year. A new pit and paddock complex is expected to be built between Club and Abbey before the 2011 event and a new track incoroporating the International and National straights and a new corner called the Arrowhead linking the two before re-joining the existing GP track at Brooklands. The news has met with mixed reviews from F1 fans. Some will miss the high speed section of the Bridge corner where the cars flew downhill, under the bridge and kinked right through Bridge corner. Some however will be glad the complex has been broken up as it often produced no overtaking.
But in all cases Silverstone is the winner as it the British spectator. But futher up the country the track which from July 2008 until October 2009 held the 17-year contract to host the event lies half built and in a terrible state.
Donington Park went full ahead with their plans to host the British Grand Prix with no funding. They relied on a debenture scheme which from day 1 was risky and with the advent of the recession was unrealistic. They got used by Bernie in his war on the BRDC leaving the track in a state of disrepair and in administration. They were managed badly by Simon Gillett. His ideas of using public transport to the venue were awful and the lack of campsites and local pubs add to the spectators misery. Donington also used the services of Tilke to redesign their track. His tracks are generally thought of my F1 fans as being spectacular to look at but the racing produced is boring (Valencia, Singapore, China, Abu Dhabi).By charging ahead with no funds to host a British GP they have lost their blue riband event of the Moto GP. It's very sad to see a great track and legacy of Tom Wheatcroft at risk because of the poor business planning of Simon Gillett.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Silverstone or bust

Will we be at Silverstone for the Grand Prix in 2010? That is the question on many British F1 fans. Today it looks more than likely that Donington’s chances will be ended. It was always destined to end like this. There was no way that Simon Gillett could have got the track to F1 standards and raised the money to do so, even if the economic climate was not so hostile.
In June Bernie Ecclestone said we would ‘for sure’ be at Silverstone in 2010 if Donington failed in its bid but now he is backtracking. Why? Well in June Bernie was probably meaning that Silverstone would be a stop-gap so Donington had more time to develop the circuit. Silverstone bosses have quite rightly rejected that possibility. They are now negotiating with Bernie for a long term contract. This is where the problem lies, as it did 18 months ago. The contract is, in Silverstone’s words, unviable. Bernie is saying that they can take it or leave it. We don’t know what this contract entails but if it is unviable how can Silverstone accept it?
Meanwhile Donington will be facing its biggest challenge yet – survival. Their unsuccessful bid for the Grand Prix has made an utter mess of the track. There are holes, diggers and mud everywhere. The iconic Dunlop Bridge has also been dismantled and of course they have lost the Moto GP contract to Silverstone meaning they will barely have any blue ribbon motorsport next year, if that. Bernie will no doubt charge them a cancellation fee, which has been reported in the press as being upwards of £15m. Could this cancellation fee be used to safeguard Silverstone? Stranger things have happened but do not be surprised if there is no British Grand Prix on the calendar next year.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


Today the five non-FOTA teams are due to meet with the FOTA eight. Max Mosley has said that FOTA can only shape the F1 regulations with the support of all the teams.
The five non-FOTA teams should sign up to FOTA as soon as possible. It is ridiculous to have a FOTA organisation with eight teams only out of thirteen. A unified FOTA gets results. Look at what happened earlier this year re: winner takes all system. A breakaway was never feasible with Williams remaining in the FIA Formula One World Championship. Alongside McLaren and Ferrari they are the most important team in the championship. They need to get back into FOTA to help shape the rules.
Max and Bernie knew they were on to something when they still had Williams in their championship but if Williams had stuck with FOTA throughout the breakaway would have been a bigger threat.
I hope the breakaway still doesn’t happen. It is imperative that Williams and Force India along with Manor, Campos and USF1 join FOTA as soon as possible. When this happens all breakaway rumours should cease and FOTA can shape the rules.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Are McLaren in trouble?

In today's first day of the Barcelona test McLaren Mercedes languished in last place some two seconds and a half off the pace.

They are reportedly having issues with the rear end of the car, hence the reason they have been running with their 2008 rear wing on many occasions.

It seems that McLaren have had a habit of having a great season followed by a poor one in recent years. In 2003 Kimi Raikkonen ran Michael Schumacher close the title and in 2004 the team started off very poorly and finished fifth in the constructors championship. In 2005 the McLaren was clearly the fastest car for most the season with Raikkonen again runner up in the title race, this time to Fernando Alonso. The following season McLaren failed to win a race for the first time since 1996.

2008 was clearly a great year for the team taking the drivers title with Lewis Hamilton and now they are having massive problems in pre-season testing, with Lewis pushing so hard in Jerez he actually crashed backwards into the barriers.

McLaren face an uphill struggle if they are genuinely struggling but only an idiot would bet against them turning up competitive and challenging for the win in Australia. After all, history cannot repeat itself again, surely?

Saturday, 7 March 2009

BBC F1 coverage

F1 2009 is nearly upon us and this new season is shaping up to be one of the closest in living memory.

I'll write my first blog on one of the most exciting aspects for the UK audience is the return of F1 to it's natural home on the BBC. I must admit I only really started watching F1 in 1997, so missed the BBC years but I had always heard "The Chain" and even though I never have experienced it starting a live F1 race yet it still means F1 to me.

The new BBC team is an excellent one in my opinion. Jake Humphrey the anchor seems enthusiastic and bubbles over with charisma. His blog on is fascinating reading. He is joined by the legendary Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard; two men known for their fiery personalities so Jake has got his work cut out controlling them.

In the commentary box sees the combination of Jonathan Legard, who is the best choice the BBC could get (Ben Edwards aside who is the best commentator in the UK bar good old Murray) and the fascinating Martin Brundle, who livened up so many dull races with his witty banter and technical insight. And hopefully his grid walk will return in it's full unedited form

Patrolling the pit lanes are Ted Kravitz from ITV and Lee McKenzie (who co-presented ITV's short lived Speed Sunday back in 2004 and has also presented A1GP on Sky). Again another two great choices.

And of course Murray Walker will be returning to do special video features on the BBC F1 website. FAAAAAAAANTASTIC!

The coverage will be second to none with all sessions being broadcast on the BBC Red Button and online with qualifying and the races live on BBC1.

And of course "The Chain" will be returning as the theme tune. I do hope though that the coverage will keep on expanding in years to come and will feature archive races being broadcast on Red Button and online (like Fuji TV do) and that all the sessions have the interactive screen with on board cameras etc (at present it's only being done for the race).

But if the BBC introduced this all at the beginning it would hardly allow them room for improvement as the contract goes on.

Anyway that's all for my first blog and musings on F1.