It is some time since I have contributed to Pitpass and the reason is that I have had nothing much to say since I do not do garbage like, 'Will Max Chilton go to Ferrari?'
Formula One is going to Hades in a handcart and the FIA has introduced two measures: they have allowed drivers to nominate their own race numbers and prevented them from changing the livery on their helmets mid-season.
Am I missing something here? Are these the most pressing issues?
The previous President of the FIA, Max Mosley, was often controversial but even when one disagreed with him, one could follow, and respect, his reasoning. Jean Todt could be replaced by a cardboard cut-out and few of us would notice. About the only time he has been active was when he flew around the world, at the expense of the FIA, canvassing votes for his re-election. Affiliated countries, even those without a racing circuit, have a vote.
The term for eliciting such support should be called blattering.
Recently, the GPDA commissioned a survey of fans, which shows some people are aware that F1 is in crisis. It is a rare occasion when I fill in a survey, in fact the last time was 1999 which is how I came into contact with Chris Balfe. Let that stand as a warning to all.
I thought I would take a look at the GPDA survey then discovered I had to respond or I could not read it. After about 50 responses, a meter indicated that I was less than a fifth of the way through and I was already losing the will to live. I could answer that I had followed F1 for 'more than 10 years' but the fact that I have been following it for nearly 60 years, since the days of Fangio, Hawthorn and Moss carried no extra weight.
I logged my occupation as 'self-employed', but beggars and burglars are also self-employed, as is the better class of hooker. My self-employment requires me to be knowledgeable about motor racing yet that carried no weight.
A nod, however, to the GPDA for attempting to do, however ineptly, what the FIA might be doing. The FIA is supposed to be the governing body and it governs so effectively that we have lost a staple of the Grand Prix calendar, Germany, with its huge trackside fan base, If FIA officials could be lured from their private jets, helicopters, and all the rest, they might do worse than wander through the camp sites surrounding Hockenheim prior to race day.
Instead of Germany, Azerbaijan is to host a Grand Prix. Despite having no history of motor racing it starts at the top. A bit like Qatar and the 2022 World Cup with the difference that there is no hint of corruption in our sport.
The FIA has formed the Formula One Strategy Group which proves the adage that a committee has the intelligence of the dimmest present minus one point of IQ for every member. When you make a movie you do not leave the script to the stunt chief, or the person in charge of CGI, you appoint a director.
The Strategy Group has proposed the reintroduction of fuel stops which were banned in 2010 on the grounds of safety, or so we were told. We have not been told what has changed to make refuelling safer. One cannot escape the feeling that what they want to do is spark up the show.
Communications from the Strategy Group indicate that they believe their own hype: that Formula One is at the cutting edge of automotive development that 'Racing Improves The Breed'.
'Racing Improves The Breed' is a 1930s MG advertising slogan and it has never applied to F1 unless you think that the paddle gear change is a remarkable step forward. All the main advances have come from sports car racing, or from road cars. The Strategy Group lives in a little world of its own.
For a time before the Australian GP there was some doubt as to whether Sauber would be on the grid since Giedo van der Garde took legal action against the team for breach of contract. Sauber argued that if they ran van der Garde it would put 300 jobs at risk.
I take this to mean that van der Garde was able to bring the promise of money to the team at a time when they had no better option. Sauber had snapped him up with a contract before he offered the money elsewhere. Then someone else out-bid the Dutchman and van der Garde no longer looked so attractive.
There have been reports that Sauber agreed to pay the aggrieved driver US$ 16 million which gives some idea what sort of money is involved in buying a not-very-good drive. There are reports that Adrian Sutil is also taking legal action against Sauber.
I have admired Peter Sauber for many years and it saddens me to see the team he founded behave like this. This is the reality of F1, not helmet liveries or surveys.
One might ask were 300 jobs really at risk? Does it really take 300 people to put two cars halfway down the grid twenty times a year? How many PR, and other dispensable people, does Sauber employ?