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Masi Worrier

FEATURE BY MAX NOBLE
17/08/2022

"When our actions do not, our fears do make us traitors." - William Shakespeare on the nature of fear from Macbeth.

You can fight without ever winning, but never win without a fight. Chasing shadows or blinded by the light? Fear and worry stalk all of us at some point in our endeavours. Yet rising to the fight, and finding our humanity reflected in others is core to our being here... alive... together.

Forced to be a Formula One Omega Man, endlessly driving alone, unwatched by any human eye would become swiftly meaningless. It would provide no challenge, and nothing to worry about, except long term boredom. It is our connection to other humans that renders our own humanity visible and real. Provides us with our meaning though the act of struggling for triumph, gifts us situations to worry about to motivate us to transcend the moment to achieve near-impossible goals.

If Fangio had driven alone, simply time-trialling himself year after year, yet with curious others watching, it would have been interesting to a point. We could compare his 1957 German GP time trial drive at the Nurburgring to the '56 or the '55 outings. Was he shaving tenths due to the new chassis, the refined gearbox or the improved tyres? Yet his 1957 triumph would not exist in our solo-sport universe. By 1957 would we have any interest in seeing Fangio push himself just a touch harder, but not too hard, in the pursuit of a solo time swifter than the year before? Would we still be discussing the feats of the human infested 1957 race sixty-five years later if it had been the lone Fangio racing against his time set the year before? His racing worries might have been reduced piloting solo, but the gladiatorial splendour gifted to a transfixed public by the actual race would be lost for all time.

It was the humanity of the racing, of pushing the human ability to perform and the ability of the machines to survive a race distance, all while dancing with death through every corner, braking zone and over-take. Yet, with the gift of struggle and sporting conflict, comes a world of worry. Possibly of fear.

So much visceral subject matter to worry about; placing a hand-finished tyre in the dirt; replacing fragile parts; even jumping in your team-mate's car because yours is broken beyond immediate repair, was not a worry any team or driver gave a moment of consideration to in the literal drive to survive race distance at a time Grand Prix, racing was more of a mortal combat.

The World was worrying about rebuilding after World War Two, the growing threat to the West from an increasingly powerful, and nuclear armed, USSR, and teams around the World were preparing for the 1958 Football World Cup to be hosted by Sweden which would result in a certain Pele being named best young player.

Did that make everything better? Is Fangio's 1957 German GP winning Maserati a finer car than the machines being wheeled onto the grid in season 2022? Is Fangio a finer hero than Vettel, Lewis or Verstappen? Or is each simply a man of their time? So much nuance over how to worry! Temporal fears, leave me be!

Many now worry about the Greatest of All Time (GOAT). While the worry first took root within Tennis, it has spread to most forms of sport, and even some areas of music. Oh the humanity of the worry!

Nuvolari used to rent space in his rivals heads via stories like his only ever buying a one-way railway ticket to races, as he would quip that you might never need the return ticket, so why waste the money? Delightful gamesmanship, if only it was not so terribly true in his day. Was Nuvolari worried?

Sir Jackie Stewart reminds all who will listen, and listen they should, that F1 in his day was about burying heroes on a monthly basis. Sir JYS focused his worry into supporting the drive for a far safer sport. A fine reason to worry turned into immense action on safety for which every driver alive and racing today should say a heartfelt "Thank You", for having a very high chance of returning home safe and whole after each race. Their only worry being a good take-off time slot at the airport.

Teams today. Ah, so much to worry about and so little time to post to social media about it! Christian Horner makes Chicken Little - he of "the sky is falling" fame - look like a full-time hippie on finest Amsterdam weed.

Ferrari, the Stewards, the fans, Lewis, friends of Lewis, Toto, tyres, the weather, Honda, the former engine supplier no longer referred to as Renault... So much to worry over! Let alone running a team and getting results each racing weekend! And do not get Christian, or I, started on worries over the evil incarnate that is the budget cap! Lord!

Mother Teresa is spinning in her saintly grave over how many of the World's poor could dine out on a shattered end plate. Let alone the mental distress of another Spice Girl's reunion. One can only assume Christian has moved all his supporting psychologists outside the budget cap so that his worry, about worry, is not an additional worry within said cap.

The FIA worry about... well it appears to be power, image and being seen as a saint of safety in that order. Road to relevance? More path to purgatory.

One thing they are not worrying about is Masi. He has been suitably prepared, his severed head on the finest silver platter, served for public consumption, and thus the worry for them is over. Which should be a worry for us fans.

The issue, like a pending plague sore, is festering below the surface likely to manifest painfully when least expected. Could Liberty and the FIA, survive two tainted championships in a row? Could a major team really withdraw in disgust at yet another poor application of the rules to the extent races, and by extension championships, can be placed in a grim fog of uncertainty as to the true outcome? Races must exist within a logical, fairly applied rules framework or they are rendered as meaningless as a water fountain at the bottom of the Pacific.

The Green worry! Goodness. Dearly missed Max Mosley gave the finest quote on this a couple of oil crises ago. When pressed on the evil impact of motoring racing willy-nilly all over the sweet rolling hills of this earth, Mosley replied that the best way to "Green" the UK was to ban fishing.

He highlighted the amount of petrol consumed by all those fish-murderers racing around country lanes and seaside promenades was far and away in excess of the thimble fulls of fuel sipped by F1 cars each weekend. Possibly one of my favourite mis-directions of all time!

Your humble scribe fears for the planet and has "Green Worries" each time he turns on an item of technology or ventures out the door into V8 infested Australian suburbia. F1 with its globe striding antics, huge number of team members and gleefully travelling fans is not about to save the world via a synthetic fuel. No a sincere Green Worry, not shaped by the existing Big Oil Fat Cats is well overdue.

Does the English Premier league worry about Green? Play games during the day or in the dark to save on stadium lighting power? Tell everyone to watch from home and not burn energy travelling to games in person? Cease playing in Europe to cut team travel energy usage? Let alone the most enjoyable recent Commonwealth Games which saw athletes converge from the four points of the Compass and entertain millions of fans. Why not call the games off and save a bucket load of energy?

We all need to champion a safe, long-lasting, healthy planet. It is our joint social duty. It is not something a virtue-signalling obsessed F1 needs to directly worry about. Be a great sport. Be socially responsible and enact useful Green Worry!

Next F1 worry. The relevance. Once they are viewed as green as an Irish bog in Springtime, the FIA and Liberty then want to be relevant. Reflecting on football once more. Is it relevant to everyday life? Is art? Is the Tour de France? Directly, well of course not, and none of them worry overly about this relevance issue at all. For they appear to grasp, which the FIA and Liberty clearly do not, that the relevance each requires is provided by the transcendental desire to fight intrinsic to the human condition.

It is the honour, the trial and the difficulty of the fight that provides both great art and great sport with all the relevance required. Forget technical relevance. It has never been about the technology. Sport, and art, has a soul of competition (creation for art) that it gifts back to humanity as the delight of the fight and the honour of the win. Not new brake blocks. Not sticky tyres. Not non-road relevant energy recovery.

The grit to take on the fight, fall over and get back up. Time after time. The gift of competition improving humanity. The meaning being the act itself. In F1 this means the driving, the planning, the engineering, which makes it relevant to the teams, and hence, in its highest form, relevant to us the fans.

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So FIA, stop worrying about infantile technical relevance, focus on the honour of the fight within logical well-framed rules, and you will have all the relevance you ever need. Each team fighting with their raw humanity to overcome the fear of failure, the fear of loss, the fear of being wrong. Oh, so many worries! None related to being road relevant.

I wonder what Masi is worrying about? I hope it is nothing more than the urgent morning test of which one of many fine local coffee shops to visit for the perfect wake-up brew, prior to the exciting worry of the perfect matching pastry. The past? I recommend Masi leave any worries about that day to those too busy living in the past to enjoy the delights of the present. The future? I believe Masi is well respected enough in motor racing that his future will quietly sort itself out, as we say down here in Oz, with no worries mate!

Us fans? We should worry that the FIA and Liberty increasingly turn a remarkable, human condition transcending sport directly relevant to the betterment of the human spirit through racing into a distressing Desperate House Wives-on-wheels reality show romp. A contrived romp which once it is no longer considered the fashionable must-watch item of the day by a fickle quick to come, faster to leave, audience will have no relevance at all. Swiftly won audience numbers vanish, chasing the latest shiny thing, while the rusted-on fan will be rudely brushed-off by too many new brooms mindlessly sweeping clean.

The inaction of the FIA to address urgent issues will lead to fear for all fans, and make traitors of us all. To ourselves, to the sport and to the greatness of the human spirit pushing the bounds of the possible. Yes, that's a Shakespearian worry for the ages.

Max Noble

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

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Tardis40, 18/09/2022 12:43

"Nothing hits home better than well aimed humor and Max is a master of it."

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2. Posted by Max Noble, 24/08/2022 11:50

"@Spindoctor - glad you enjoyed! Yes if one could only select one sound-bite… I think that would be it for this piece. It is the greatness of the battle, the humanity of the struggle, the human sprint rendered real in a sporting context. It is why watching Nadal claw back from the edge of defect, watching a soccer team score an “impossible” last minute goal. Seeing two cyclists on La Tour (or the Vuelta right now…) push each other to utter breaking point at the end of 20Km of climbing, yet still they keep going, and one of them edges the other… No one in tour history has said “Dang that SRAM group set made a hell of a difference there Mike, what did you think?” “Well John…” etc.etc. Nope. It is “Mano Mano” - the humanity of the moment.

As an engineer I *love* the technology. Find it fascinating. But the humanity of the sport, the dare of the near-impossible overtake. What used to be the stunning mastery of the wet (which is now stopped the second it is about to get interesting…). It is the humanity.

…now I need to go and worry about what to write about next… So much worry, so little time… :-)"

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3. Posted by Spindoctor, 24/08/2022 10:49

"@Max Noble
A succinctly argued piece which oh so neatly deals with many of the matters relating to Formula1 at present. So much so that it's almost impossible to single-out or address any or all your specific points, as they are part of a coherent whole. I guess I'll just single-out what I think is the most important thread and the pivot around which I think your argument revolves:

"...the sport and ...the greatness of the human spirit pushing the bounds of the possible."
"

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4. Posted by Max Noble, 23/08/2022 3:58

"@ClarkwasGod - keen observation. Interesting that, as you note, if he had “run his own race”, rather than trying to “beat them at their own game” he might have won more championships (especially an Olympic Gold…). It is fascinating how the heat of battle warps our minds. It is a wonder how the greats such as Michael, Ayrton, and Prost stay so cool under pressure, and repeatedly, over years, make the right split-second decisions time, after time. True greats!"

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5. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 22/08/2022 19:58

"@ Max - thinking of Zatopek reminds me of your countryman, Ron Clarke. Fabulous athlete - Held World Records in 5K, 10K, and various "mile" distances - but always seemed to fail in major championship finals, sadly. I could never understand why he didn't just ignore the other competitors, and just go at his own pace. He'd have run them into the ground that way, rather than trying to compete to their way of racing."

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6. Posted by Max Noble, 22/08/2022 0:55

"@Ancient70! - Quite so! Just as travelling to Australia now is more about trying to jag an up-grade, and getting luggage back as swiftly as possible, compare to a three month sea voyage with no weather radar… Comparing across seasons more than a decade apart is meaningless. The drivers are very much heroes of their time… and the risks of the 1960’s would be utterly unacceptable to drivers today… and rightly so.

Who these days stalks of Emil Zatopek? Yet he won three golds at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics in the 5,000M, 10,000M, and marathon… in the same Olympics! Most casual sports fans are having difficulty remembering who Usain Bolt was…. We are each temporal prisoners, but only some see it.

@Esteemed Editor, and @Italian Job - A worry I missed good lord! Who can rightfully be considered a God walking among humans? I personally like the Roman, and Greek approach having a pantheon of gods… such that we are not confined to simply selecting one… JC, and Sir Stirling would be very much first among equals!"

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7. Posted by Editor, 21/08/2022 14:31

"@ Italian Job

Indeed... though the late Dr Mike Lawrence would take issue with you in terms of your choice of supreme deity."

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8. Posted by Italian Job, 21/08/2022 13:34

"@ Editor
Hear Hear - to the extent that before I retired, the wallpaper on my work PC was JC (aka God) three wheeling a Cortina one weekend!"

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9. Posted by Editor, 21/08/2022 9:37

"@ ancient70!

And let's not forget that - back in the day - many of those dominating in F1 were also enjoying success in other series, sometimes contesting two or three different disciplines over the same weekend."

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10. Posted by ancient70!, 21/08/2022 9:10

"Great piece Max! With reference to your comment on the GOAT (not the animal!) may I cheekily suggest that drivers from the current era do not qualify because in the early days drivers really put their lives on the line. The driving challenge has changed constantly over time, so maybe if we really want to put drivers in these boxes we could refer to GOTE, greatest of the era.??"

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11. Posted by Max Noble, 19/08/2022 1:34

"@Chester - fascinating first hand observations. The sport needs to be successful enough to survive, which it very much is, but not so much of a “victim of it’s own shallow success” that, as you point out, attending the venues becomes hard work due to the arrival of all these “surface” fans… ummmm…."

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12. Posted by Chester, 18/08/2022 13:17

"Having been to every Indianapolis F1 and every Austin F1 (as well as many non-US GP's), I shuddered last year at Friday practice in Austin. At noon the venue was as crowded as a Saturday.

Now I see Austin is adding even more seats. I meet brand new F1 fans while walking my dog who admit they were drawn in by Drive to Survive.

Although I like Mercedes not winning this year and last, as I did Schumacher not winning, and Vettel not winning, I cannot wait until the new-it-thing bubble bursts- and Miami and Las Vegas are gone.

Maybe then Austin COTA will not feel like New York City or London at rush hour on the tubes. "

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13. Posted by Max Noble, 18/08/2022 11:12

"@ClarkWasGod - Glad the number 16 late night hit the spot :-) Agree Mosley was a remarkable character. Disagreed with him on some topics, but always respected his intellect, and ability to perform. Sad he has passed….

@Burton - FIFA shady! Good Lord. Never crossed my mind :-) FIA full of themselves? Never left my mind… :-)"

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14. Posted by Burton, 17/08/2022 17:39

"Even football, which is much bigger than F1 and unfortunately attracts all the shady characters and is arguably ruled by corrupts, has redress provisions in the laws of the game in case a referee makes a technical mistake.

The FIA, outside safety, does the bare minimum besides patting themselves on the back for a job not done."

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15. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 17/08/2022 14:24

"my comment was corrupted - a missing para:

Mosley also had the incalculable bravery to end his time on this planet on his terms when he knew for sure his remaining days would be few, and extremely unpleasant....

The present incumbent etc."

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