by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 19
GPWEEK OPINION >> the exemplary Repsol (pictured, right), Alice’s Neapolitan haute cuisine, and many more. The rot had already begun at Marlboro earlier this year. Robust buffet boards with roast quail and coils of gourmet sausages were replaced with frou-frou food: little stripy shot- glasses of exotic ingredients, toothpicks with slivers of fruit carved into suggestive shapes … you know the sort of thing. Never mind the food. How about the work? Previously, Stoner’s press debriefs were conducted at a long table. He sat in the centre, journos took their places and noted and recorded what he said. Then all the normal furniture was replaced with squashy stuff shaped like jelly-beans. The debriefs instantly became farcical. Stoner lounged low on a jelly-bean like some Roman princeling; the standing press all crowded round, trying to see over each other’s shoulders while manipulating a note- book, a voice recorder and a pen. All dignity abandoned. Toward the end of last year, Dorna instituted “as an experiment” an exclusive inner paddock, for MotoGP sponsors only. The outcome so far is depressing: the VIP paddock is a ghost town, with a severe absence of glamorous VIPs. Outside, a depleted sort of racing life goes on, without the top level. The bigger 250 and 125 sponsors (most notably Red Bull and Team Aspar’s bank and insurance companies) live cheek by jowl with smaller teams. If they are disgruntled by exclusion, so far they have tried not to show it. How long can this last? The very structure of bike GP racing has been changed, and it’s out of balance. And the sponsors with big cheque books just haven’t turned up, continuing the trend of the last five years or more. And, even more uncomfortably, how much longer can Dorna rely on Marlboro being allowed to remain present? Dorna is trying to sell MotoGP glamour, at the expense of the grass roots; trying to turn bike racing into Formula One. The traditional multi-class structure can go hang: the 250s will be replaced by production racers, the 125s ignored. But doing this subverts everything that makes bike racing special, uniquely multi- layered, and different. Could it be that the frou-frou feeders have missed the point completely? With Marlboro going up-market, our man Scott now has to rely on Repsol for lunch ... Epic in prospect for second half off the season singing Lewis Hamilton’s praises while questioning Ferrari’s strategic decisions and the temperament of Felipe Massa, not to mention his ability (or lack of ability) in keeping his scarlet car facing the right direction during a race. The British Grand Prix was a microcosm of where we were after the Australian Grand Prix four months ago. Hamilton in the ascendency, Kovalainen looking promising, the BMWs looking dangerous and Ferrari just looking completely bemused with their drivers and decisions. But if the last four months has taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t be quick to judge or to dismiss any driver or team. If you’d have told me a month ago that Honda would get a podium this season I would have laughed you into emigration. It just didn’t seem possible, did it? I’d have done the same if you’d have told me I’d have considered putting money on Massa to win the title. Real money. My money. I didn’t, but the point is I thought about it… and that just wouldn’t have happened four months ago. But that’s the great thing about this season. It’s totally flipping perceptions on their head. We’ve seen a great many twists and turns in this championship battle to date and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them yet. Ferrari has the capability and the will to come back from being lapped into submission by Lewis Hamilton. This weekend’s race will be critical for them. If anything, a Ferrari win on German soil would give the Scuderia greater reason to smile than beating Hamilton on his home soil. We have a genuine three way tie, but a very real four-way battle for the championship. Kubica is not out of the running yet, and Heidfeld and Kovalainen could yet play pivotal roles in the culmination of this championship. Wherever the twists and turns take us, expect your perceptions to be altered, your blood pressure to rise and your hair potentially to start to falling out. We’re a long way from over, and if the first half of the season was anything to go by, we’ve got one hell of a ride in store for the second half. 21