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Colin, the great Stoic

FEATURE BY MAX NOBLE
01/09/2021

One of the great beauties of embracing an old term which in today's online culture will see you cancelled faster than you can say, "Yesterday's Sins", is that stoic state of being, often referred to as, "Fat, dumb, AND happy".

Marcus Aurelius set significant merit rightly in this world view. He did however have a darker, less happy view of it all. Lovely for him, Stoic Emperor, yet challenging for those that reached that point at which said humanoids with a stoic bent, but a significantly sub-optimal BMI, ultimately face-plant either into the blood-soaked earth of the arena, or the brutal cold steel of reality at a speed which induces significant trauma, injury, enlightenment, and possibly death. Or perchance, in a lightning flash of final existence all four within moments of one another, ensuring the beauties and treasures of the first three are wiped out at the abrupt arrival of the fourth.

Until that point is reached an "F, D and H" existence offers significant merit. To raise the conceptual bar a tad, consider that wonderful observation, "Measurement impacts behaviour".

Now when it comes to Quarks, and other curious folk that work day in, day out, to maintain the universe, it is Heisenberg and his cheery uncertainty principle that assures us we can either know where that pesky subatomic particle went last night, or what it did when it got there. But we cannot know both, with certainty, at the same time. And, naturally, if that intoxicated Meson hung out with Schrodinger's cat, well... The cat was not so much among the pigeons as sublimated into an alternate dimension with potential for pigeon-like tendencies, or not, or double. Or both.

Measurement. Impacts, behaviour. Being F, D and H, offers merit for a relaxed life right up to the point where that noted life can most surprisingly be relinquished by the formally relaxed owner thereof to a universe that cares not.

Rushing now from the last of the Five Good Emperors, and their brief, and fragile Pax Romana, in what passes for an approximately shared experience of reality dear reader, we arrive at the FIA. Long may their blazer buttons withstand the pressures of Pheasant-filled stomachs!

One of the great stoics of the Formula One age, if Colin Chapman, that most enigmatic of team owners was still alive and kicking, I truly wonder what he would be doing with the current rules. Actually I've a fair guess at what he'd be doing. At this moment I'm confident that both Messrs C. Horner, and T. Wolff are doing their damnedest to channel the stoic beyond the grave wisdom that is the animal spirit of Genius C. Chapman.

A crisp page from his book of philosopher's stoic wisdom might have cooled temperatures this past weekend. It rains. Rule book states, as it has for many years, two laps and you have held a race. It goes on to state that 75% distance is required to attain full points. All very clear to the Stoic who has pondered the implications of these recorded words long into the dark of night at the back of a sleeping garage. What else might Colin offer a quiet alternate approach to in these hurried times?

Cost cap? Not a worry. Off-shore all manufacturing to third-world universities run by outlaw drug Barons using crypto-currency for payment that fluctuates by plus or minus 7,042% within any twelve hours, and can only be converted into US dollars having first been turned into KiwiFruit, Bananas, Two-stroke fuel in Algeria, and then been matched one-for-one by Troy ounces to artisan-mined silver from South America. Monitor that dear FIA.

Time on track? Strap said F1 power unit (aka motor) into the body of latest Ford F-150 pick-up truck. Load with top-grade engineering nerds, ample fresh pizza, and the laptops of the Gods, and commence lapping the nearest unrestricted Autobahn for hour after hour of unrestricted engine tests.

Gearboxes...? Pile them into lower categories for prototyping, and refinement, (IndyCar anyone, oh, did I hear McLaren... Gee, wonder, what reliable delights will be "discovered" in that racing sideshow, a clear stones-throw outside the cost cap...), Paint, and fluid dynamics... other series, super computers, and other companies researching them for "other industrial uses". Excellent...

Cannot afford top flight racing research engineers... Well is it not time that the company sponsored them in their PhDs at Oxford, Cambridge, Leeds, or Southampton to relax, and find their inner genius on campus. You know, Researching such things as "... how to go faster than red-painted Italian cars in all weather conditions", sounds like a great outside the cost cap use of money to me...

Tired of Tyres!? I know I am. Get a work experience high-schooler, fill them with alco-pops each morning, and tell them to go to Pirelli meetings, and you will pay them a bonus based on how many engineers from other teams they can get to choke-up their teeth at your suggestions for how to build "Fair racing tyres". The more engineers you get to faint, throw-up, explode, or cry, the higher your bonus. Go get 'em!

Track limits. Time for some applied Colin Chapman Stoic artistry. First write to the FIA demanding track limits are enforced with all the passion of an Italian Opera. Then take a cold shower, walk the dog on a remote beach. Or if the mood takes you go hang-gliding over Mount Teidi, or bounce on a trampoline in an English Country Garden. You know generally relax, and clear your mind to allow fresh high-jinks in. Then write to the FIA demanding track limits are relaxed to allow proper racing, and provide the drivers with room to show they are gladiators. Then, yoga like, relax again.

When cooking a great Souffle one must maintain the right heat for just the right time in a delicate manner. So with the FIA. Wait precisely six days, four hours, and two minutes. Then return to the original Italian Opera passion. softly but concisely demanding that track limit encroachments must be punishable by public flogging at a bare minimum... wait another six days, four hours, and two minutes, before, with equal energy, once more demanding room to race. Wait. Relax. Repeat. A cycle of stoic beauty that all, other than the FIA, will applaud for an even handed approach to the madness that is life on Earth, and the curse of being able to measure so many things which, while now qualified, remain eternally beyond our control.

Referring to Spa Francorchamps, which has a noted record of rain at the F1 circus 20 years in a row... it rained this year and folk were shocked! Just because one has a weather radar it does not mean one controls a single drop of water...

No on-track testing? Simulators! Limited track days? Junior teams with the same ancillaries! Cost Caps? Multi-nationals! Confused hospitality rules? Team partners! Filming days! Shared facilities!

Oh sweet universe! To have dear Colin here now, flexing the rules faster, and further than an early season Red Bull Wing! We would laugh, cry, scream, shake our heads, and chuckle in such a confusion of emotions and un-coordination, that both our chiropractors, and our psychologists, would be buying late model Mercedes-AMG road cars from all our extra expenditure.

The on-track racing? Why dear reader, each generation throws out onto the sands of the arena the best that can find their way past the racks of swords, and armour of everyday life, and out onto the field of battle. Lasting one fight can be luck, lasting two, might possibly also be a gift of Lady Luck. Lasting three, four, a season, seven seasons. Well Lady Luck is capricious, short of attention, and swift to tire of the same faces. Unlike our dear dance partner Miss Physics, Lady Luck has no interest in consistency, concise measure, or eternal repeatability. She gifts once, maybe twice, and is gone faster than a dissolving used-car warranty in the harsh light of a cold Monday morning stuck on the hard shoulder in the rain.

The best win no matter the tools, the environment, or the rules. Think on that. Vettel did not luck into four World Championships any more than Ayrton Senna lucked into three, or Michael, and Lewis into seven.

The great warriors of the past battled with the tools given, in the arena, presented, within the rules defined, to the best of their capabilities, and over time, a season, maybe two, the best always won through. Colin, the great Stoic team leader of his age, won as much with his head, as with his heart, his mechanics, or his wallet. He simply turned each tool to the best possible use he could imagine, and worked within the limits of the day.

So it is now dear reader. As the FIA finds new ways to measure things we never knew anyone cared about, so the warriors of the day will digest, think, reflect, adjust, adjust again, trial on the super computer, and then the track, refine the prototype, and think again. And the very greatest of them will triumph, once, twice, thrice, and more.

Why? Because at heart the human race is a race to win. We cannot help it. From the school-yard, to the gym, to the red-light Grand Prix, to the national sport, to the sports of Kings, to the race for the stars. If there is one thing most of us cannot resist it is the temptation of the fight. The dance of life, which transmutes into a dance with death when on the edge. With death, ultimately and always, claiming the last line on our dance card.

So relax, drink in the fights, both on and off track, in a season, yet to be fully measured by lines drawn in the sands of time. This will be a classic which I am sure is bringing a smile to Colin's face wherever he might be right now.

Many more quanta are yet to be defined, and measured by the FIA for their delight, our confusion, and usually the consternation of at least one team. Toto, and Christian would do well to reach for Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, and develop a stronger focus on channelling the Stoic wisdom of both he, and the Genius that was Colin Chapman, if they wish to survive a season that I think is about to test them both beyond recent measure.

With all this robust measuring going on within the shrinking shadows of the very edge of the sport, one can only pause to wonder what measure one should use to monitor the work of the FIA. After all. Measurement does impact behaviour...

Max Noble

Learn more about Max and check out his previous features, here

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Max Noble, 07/09/2021 0:20

"@Spindoctor - glad you enjoyed! Yes, even Blazers on occasion do the right thing… :-)"

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2. Posted by Spindoctor, 05/09/2021 13:17

"This piece has left me speechless!
A great tribute to one of F1's greatest competitors, innovators & rule-benders. He was known to wear blazers... but in a good way."

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3. Posted by Max Noble, 04/09/2021 8:49

"@Tonicf1since1962 - yup this past week or so all my regular sites, including the BBC, and CNN, have become massively more irritating. I think the ad providing companies have become far more annoying just recently… God Bless Technology Progress…"

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4. Posted by Tonicf1since1962, 03/09/2021 13:09

"I would like to be able to read the headline for this article, but and advert keeps popping over it and comes back if you try to close it. Very irritating. "

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5. Posted by Max Noble, 02/09/2021 10:31

"@ancient70! - lovely observations! Shame that in the cost cap, limited engine, limited running, limited, well, everything F1 of today all the teams would refuse to follow your idea without an extra engine being granted as a minimum! It all links back to my thinking around “… just because you can measure it should you?” The FIA now bound thing so tightly that something as enjoyable as you outline simply cannot happen.

As for the weather, thanks to humanity using more spray deodorant than 5 billion sweat averse giant spiders (that’s eight arm pits each folks…) it is only going to get worse… Lewis might well end up racing his Extreme-E race team on flooded Monza in the next ten years. I’m sure all those fine folk in Venice are going to be screaming blue murder soon… You’ll actually be able to visit the chapel where George Clooney, and Amal Alamuddin got married as a dive wreck soon…

…and enough climate change, and we might accelerate the magnetic poles swapping… at which point the Sun will rise in the West, and we will all have the joy of watching carrier pigeons fly backwards, or something…"

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6. Posted by ancient70!, 02/09/2021 10:17

"Max what totally bamboozled me about the whole Spa fiasco is that everyone was going on about how sorry they felt for the wet, cold and bored fans. Yet no one did anything about it? I think most people familiar with Spa weather would at some stage have come to the conclusion this is not going to get better. So can the race, but as the track was not undriveable, visibility was the issue. So split 20 cars in groups of 4 or 5 and send them out at suitable intervals to avoid visibility issues. One out-lap two push laps and in-lap. Repeat until 20 cars completed. If time and conditions permit, repeat whole process again as many times as required.
Now this could have a number of effects, firstly the cold, wet and bored fans will have something else to focus on except the fact that they are cold wet and bored. TV can actually broadcast something other than pictures of said cold fans and rain falling on a deserted track. The commentators can commentate on something else than raindrops keep falling an my head! The drivers can display their wet weather skills and stop being bored silly. The media can write about something else than its raining the fans are miserable and nothing is happening. The team bosses will have something to moan about, “why must my driver clear the track for your driver?” or else “your driver had better conditions than mine when he went out” Live with it, it happens al the time in the WRC.
The winner of the Spa wet lap challenge is the one with the fastest outright or average lap time. The trophy is a rubber duck, not championship point in sight!
But what are the chances that this could ever happen in the rigid yet convoluted world of F1? I suppose the chances are just as good as the sun rising in the West tomorrow. Oh, we would really be in trouble then!
Hindsight is a wonderfull thing!"

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