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GP Week : Issue 147
This week, my office is roughly the size of a double mattress and built from bamboo. I’m conducting business from a beach hut on an idyllic island somewhere in the Andaman Sea. With a three-week gap between the Malaysian and Chinese Grand Prix, Formula One’s teams have dashed back to Europe to fettle – and in some cases entirely redesign – their cars. It is a period of ferocious head-scratching and hard graft as they strive to make up ground against their competitors. If only you could design an F1 car in a beach hut too. Have all the engineers web-camming each other over Skype, turquoise sea glistening in the background, as the composites teams slave away in Woking, Maranello and Milton Keynes. Sadly, F1 teams don’t quite have the freedom of us freelance media types. But they have Per Diems. So screw ‘em. One bloke who doesn’t have to go to the office anymore is Adam Parr. The news of his resignation was a huge shock. Twelve months ago, it would have been almost expected but now, with Maldonado and Senna racing in the top six, I would have considered his position Fort Knox secure. He and Frank Williams have an excellent relationship. Personally, I got along with him very well. I know he wasn’t massively popular with everyone – I’d heard plenty of grumblings inside the team, over cut wages etc - but Williams’ IPO and the turnaround this year after the hard decisions he had to make – i .e sackings and controversial appointments – are paying dividends (literally in the case of the former). So we can consider his spell at the top of F1 a resounding success. Willys are back on track, and hallelujah. If only Pastor could keep it pointing for wards. Like I said, I think highly of Adam though he won’t be missed by everybody and I suspect this is the reason for his hurried exit, rather than the claimed “life balance” excuse made in the team’s press release. Bernie Ecclestone, it is rumoured, fired the shot. I can only speculate what might have prompted this, but from what I know of paddock politics, and the orchestrated back-stabbing of the team principals and the commercial rights holder, often you can be too smart for your own good. And Adam Parr always appeared very smart. I think there were a lot of people – not just Bernie – that felt threatened by Adam. He probably feels hurt and not-a-little betrayed by what’s happened. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and Adam Parr could easily find himself in another position that would allow him to wipe their nose. Something tells me we haven’t heard the last of him. Now Williams are going to have to replace him, and that won’t be an easy task. Sir Frank announced he was stepping back from the board earlier this year. Patrick Head has pulled right back to concentrate on hybrid technologies. Parr was the one steadying the tiller in that period of transition, a changing of the guard unparalleled in F1 given Frank and Patrick’s longevity of leadership. Now, who’s the guv’nor? The other challenge Williams face is to build on the fantastic performances they showed in Australia and Malaysia. You can expect everyone – particularly in the pack they’re fighting in – to make big strides ahead of China, and again before Barcelona. What with modest resources and now a bombed-out senior management, it will be very difficult to keep pushing for ward and stick with the likes of Lotus, Ferrari and Mercedes. What a shame it would be if Williams’ comeback were derailed so early in the season. As Bernie himself has made clear, in the special dispensations given to Williams in the Concorde Agreement, it’s important to have them around. And, as someone who grew up watching F1 when Williams were dominant, it’s also important to have them up there. PARR'S DEPARTURE COULD DERAIL WILLIAMS OPINION ADAM HAY-NICHOLS F1 Editor OPINION 19 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: