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GP Week : Issue 51
Phil BRanaGan All change? editor, Motorsport news Okay, now we are talking … Competition is the heart of motorsport and now, there is the prospect of having competing F1-style series to watch in 2010. Both look set to have similar cars – the technical regulations and design of the cars are pretty much locked in for next season – and will compete for the attention of the motor racing public (and we in the media). Great. No really! I think it’s great. And I have a cunning plan, which will short-cut the whole championship-building process: FOTA should buy the A1GP Series, throw money at it and build that into something really special. A1 offers a series with a small but established audience, an easy-to-understand brand (A1, but let’s ditch the ‘World Cup of Motorsport’ tag) and TV deals on which to build, and that certain, intangible something – tradition. I know that the FIA side of the series will claim that they have tradition on THEIR side, but work with me here. A1 already offers events at circuits such as Zandvoort, Kyalami and Brands Hatch – all discarded F1 venues. The list of other tracks to have lost F1 events is long and distinguished. Let’s add Montreal and Indianapolis to the list; with Mexico City (its A1 race was shot down this last season by rock music and Swine Flu) and suddenly, we have a one-month flyaway North American element. In Asia, we can have Fuji (owned by FOTA stalwart Toyota) and maybe Sepang (already on the A1 schedule). Now Europe. Where do we start? With more F1 discards; Imola, Silverstone and Magny Cours – and Hockenheim (struggling to make its F1 race pay its way). New tracks? Portimao in Portugal, and Mugello (owned by Ferrari). Surfers Paradise is already on board (the A1GP train) in Australia, and a good spot for a South American stop is the stunning Potrero de los Funes circuit, near San Luis in Argentina. Suddenly, this is looking pretty good. Tradition is built on more than teams and blazers. It is about tracks and history. And I bet that more people will flock to these venues – particularly if admission prices were to be kept under control – than circuits in F1’s new heartlands of China, Bahrain and Turkey. FIA F1 might have new teams – Forza Campos! – but if FOTA starts to look good, companies such as Honda and Ford could even be tempted to come back to the sport. Now we are talking the legacies of Clark and Senna. Now THAT is tradition. 22 Will Buxton GPWeek editor “I’ll make you a bet,” a wise Paddock sage grinned on Sunday morning. “You and I will both be standing here, in this very paddock, in 12 months time, at the 2010 Silverstone FIA Formula 1 British Grand Prix, and nothing will really have changed. “Except that maybe we’ll all be arguing over what size shoes we’re supposed to wear, or how big the tread is, or something .” He had a point. Plus ca change, say the French. Loosely translated, it’s the age old mantra of : Same shit, different day. We are, however, at an impasse. And it should not be underestimated. I genuinely believed that Max Mosley had played a very smart political game in his dealings with FOTA. I didn’t necessarily agree with it, but I thought he’d played the game really rather brilliantly. What I don’t think he, nor anyone else in this sport, really expected was for FOTA to remain as strong as they have. But now that we know FOTA is serious, what next? How do we get ourselves out of this mess? Mosley looked like a beaten man at Silverstone. He looked tired… not frail, but not the statuesque statesman we’ve grown used to. Yes he’s been through a difficult year personally, but he just didn’t seem as confident in his position as the Michael Scott MotoGP editor Catalunya was a racing spectacle second to none. It was also proof of how a trend is turning into hard fact. In its third year of development, Yamaha’s M1 is fast becoming the definitive 800cc MotoGP bike. This always tends to happen. Every past formula has yielded a definitive design. Soon the others all make imitations, and GPs become a race of clones. When it all started in 1949, four-cylinder Italian bikes took over for many a long year. When Honda came to challenge in the late 1960s (unsuccessfully), it was with a similar across-the- frame four. The two-stroke 500s blew Who ca them away, and then went through many iterations. At first it was between Suzuki’s RG500 square four and Yamaha’s TZ500. Both had two crankshafts (running as a linked pair of 250s), but the Suzuki had them one behind the other, the Yamaha side by side. The V4s came next – basically a square four splayed apart. The V4 that would ultimately prevail was slightly different: Honda’s NSR was a true V4 with an in- line crank. By the end of the two- strokes, the NSR defined the breed. The 990s weren’t round long enough for any finality. For the first couple of years, Honda’s V5 was pretty much opinion opinion opinion