MMR Blog

My Word: F1 – The Green Flag Falls

Posted on March 20, 2014 Comments (0)

By Denise McCluggage

It is St. Patrick’s Day as I write. I see green things around me never meant to be green—beer and bagels. Then I am struck with an “aha” moment. On the weekend I saw something like beer and bagels that was also never meant to be green: A Formula 1 Race.

If a race were meant to be green there’s a simple way to assure that it is—don’t have it. If you’re planning an intimate party, don’t rent Yankee Stadium. What is it, I wonder, about “antithetical” that the FIA doesn’t understand? A selection of wheeled objects on which lots of money, engineering brilliance and time were expended and a season of races planned as far distant as they can be one from the other to decide which of these costly objects can go faster than the others. Beautiful in its simplicity, if not egregious in its expense.

All this is created so as many people as possible can pack into their own wheeled objects and get to these venues to watch the purpose-designed wheeled thingies perform. All the time hoping that as much noise of a pleasing din level can be made for their near-pain pleasure. Has anyone asked if this is socially desirable or in the best interest of humankind?

Hardly relevant, really. If a foot has been set on the path it is too late isn’t it? And cannot something be soul-satisfying without having redeeming social virtues? Like racing has been for most of us forever. Wasteful, pointless, marvelous and fun. Rationales have been created—improvement of the breed etc.—but racing doesn’t really need them. After all it’s hard to overcome the simple fact that the start line and the finish line are the same. That’s important, isn’t it? But if you wish you can point out the rear-view mirror was invented at Indy in 1911. Breed improvement rampant I’d say.

In all this did someone this year actually say, hey wait. F1 must be meaningful. F1 must act in the interests of frugality and fuel-saving technology. F1 must express relevancy to our time.

Why? Really. Why?

We are talking about F1 which is an embodiment of one Bernie Ecclestone, the very essence of excess. What’s relevant to Bernie is money. That’s why and how F1 exists. Who sold him on this social relevance irrelevance? Green is meaningful to Bernie only in stacks of bills. Was it Jean Todt? Crikey, I knew that guy would get up to nonsense if given half a chance.

Anyway on that March weekend of Australia I watched some boy racers do some fine things in the uncertainty of a new scene in new tools. And I saw some veterans get shat upon by those same tools. I suspected it would be entertaining to see who would literally and figuratively be up to speed in the new Formula. Though I would have just as soon given them all a pre-season opportunity to do their learning and make their adjustments so we could then get to racing right away in its simplest form of comparing speed to speed.

The FIA has its ways. Sigh. Complicating matters is a favorite.

And such high tech ways of doing it. Take regeneration. As Henny Youngman would say: “Please!?” What F1 needs is new ways to heat things up, produce smoke in odd places and at odd times. Collecting expended energy seems to do that. C’mon. Stop it. RACE!

And if you want to limit the fuel cars use (to interfere with their actual racing) just give them some barrels of it and say that’s it. No, the team engineers are too clever. They’ll find fiddle factors and ways to create an advantage. So make them eye-dropper the fuel out over time. Make them use FIA meters which don’t work properly and keep the metering out of the control of drivers. Why should racing drivers have control of their race cars? They’ve been giving that up for years.

Which brings us to Daniel Ricciardo and his second place finish. And don’t cry for him, Australia. He did finish second. You all saw it. The charming glee on the podium from the young newcomers (Magnussen was a trip, too) was refreshing and very good for F1 racing. That moment cannot be erased. It was real. Oh, the points can be erased and were. That’s what the FIA does hours after the fact. That’s why it is called organized racing.

But that performance cannot be erased. Racing occurred, a result resulted and we cheered it. An adjustment was made (open to readjustment) and we readjust to that, but that is scorekeeping. Not racing. Scorekeeping makes championships possible but that is an adjunct to racing. Racing is what happened and so congratulations to Danny Boy. Celebrate. So you are less likely to be champion this year but you may have beaten the guy who will be. While racing.

And the silly eye-droppering of fuel which mattered more to the green foolishness of the FIA than the racing stole the day. Perhaps I should be cheering the FIA’s earth-saving efforts to be bolstering to the planet. I have my own preference (for diesel power and algae-based fuels—but not necessarily for racing). Saving the planet isn’t a bad idea. I simply see the FIA efforts as insincere, misplaced and antithetical to what F1 is truly about—racing.

Green is the “go” flag. Other than that, forget it.

As for the sound of F1, I’ve lost any facility to judge that. I certainly liked the scream of the old cars though I knew it to be dangerous. I never wore ear protection when I was racing, so now I have over-priced under-performing hearing aids and say “huh?” a lot. Once your hearing is compromised that’s it. Be warned. Certainly protect the kids. Then go sit on an amp at a rock concert if you wish. But trust me, you won’t like the outcome.

Hearing aids are not spectacles for the ears. They cannot “improve” what you’ve lost. Hearing aids will fill your head with raucous noise at the expense of genuine sounds. Music is different, voices are different, engines are different. Lament the change in the new F1 engines but that’s going to change for you anyway with time. Simply hearing it will change it.

The decision is yours. Be thoughtful.


Australian GP: What we’ve got here is a failure… of technology

Posted on March 20, 2014 Comments (0)

The first F1 race of the new era and the year has concluded. Or has it? As they say at the horse track, the previously formidable Red Bull team did not win, was kicked out of place and probably wished they hadn’t showed… up.

Mercedes, who were impressive in pre-season testing, took the pole and the win in different cars. The pole car failed. Red Bull took second for a little while. Then we learned that while their technology worked, it didn’t conform. Driver Daniel Ricciardo was stripped of the position. That meant that second and third fell to McLaren, whose Lazarus-like resurrection from F1’s graveyard was really the only feel good story of the day. Ferrari, from which much is always expected, fell short again. While both cars finished in the top ten, it was not a glorious beginning to their season.

Despite all this, it was a rather entertaining race. And for many fans, that may be in part because the very heroes who failed have made F1 races a bit of a parade for the past four years. Vallterie Bottas, the young Williams driver, was fun to watch as he climbed up and down the positions ladder finished a surprising fifth despite losing a wheel and Nico Hulkenberg hounded Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso all afternoon to finish sixth.

The only real winner today was Mercedes. Although they could claim credit for supplying engines to the top three cars, the pole winning Mercedes engine failed. Nothing is perfect in paradise.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on March 14, 2014 Comments (2)

Ferrari 275

As promised, we drove the WASRED 308 from Boston to Amelia Island and back, and shot 1068 images in the process. If you need official results from the Amelia Island Concours or the RM and Gooding Auctions, please look elsewhere as we will not get to them here for several weeks. MMR will bring you stories and images not found elsewhere. This week’s images are entitled “Setting the Field” and were taken as cars were either uncovered from being parked the night before or arriving to be placed. We also do our Picks and Pans about the roads, food and public washrooms en route. Read on McDuff!

Alfa at Amelia


Denise McCluggage

Broken but unbowed

Denise McCluggage, winning race and rally driver, missed Amelia because she recently slipped and fell, broke a bone and is now in rehab. But she still writes better than anybody we know and we will have her scheduled story for you next week. 

However, if you send her a cheery message we will happily forward it to her.


Sebring; great place to visit for 12 hours but I wouldn’t …

Justin Bell

This Saturday is The 12 Hours of Sebring and round #2 of the IMSA Tudor Sports Car Series. Only the first three hours will be live on Fox Sports 1. The remainder will be streamed live at IMSA.com. Young Tommy Kendall, the MMR Community’s youthful hero, has decided to sit this one out. “This track is really bumpy” he was quoted as saying in a recent AARP Harp magazine interview, “and my Depends bunch up in the corners.” He’s our hero. He and his slightly younger but equally irreverent friend, Justin Bell, will be broadcasters. Justin wrote to the MMR Community:

It’s called the IMSA Pre Show with Justin Bell and will air LIVE on IMSA.com on Saturday morning before the main race on Fox Sports 1. It is basically the longest grid walk in history and will see me talking with loads of drivers.

This should be a hoot, so don’t miss it.


A Cadillac! A Cadillac! My Kingdom for a Cadillac! N’est pas?

Sorry Richard, either the price is too high or it isn’t much of a kingdom. Our comments about the Sochi Cadillac ad in last week’s newsletter prompted some of you to suggest we try things that, while possibly entertaining, are simply anatomically impossible. On the other hand, some of you, agreed with us. Don Klein at Car and Driver, had this to say.


F1 2014 Season begins and you may be a winner.

Here we go again! Australia begins this weekend. Check your local listings. Also, please remember last week’s promise. If you were at Amelia and have 5 decent images, send them to us. We will pick a winner and send her or him a signed Denise McCluggage Ferrari Transporter image.

Have a great weekend!

Peter

Setting the field at Amelia

Maserati at Amelia

Mercedes at Amelia


Road to Amelia

Posted on March 13, 2014 Comments (0)

The road to hell may be paved with good intentions but even if the destination is not attractive, at least it is paved. Long time readers remember that every March we drive the WASRED 308 Ferrari from its Boston area home to Amelia Island in Northern Florida, a trip of about 1,200 miles that takes us through eleven states and a short distance in Florida. Most of the drive is on I-95. On the way down I stopped in Philadelphia which, of course, necessitated going thru Pennsylvania. On the way back I used the NJ Turnpike and avoided I-95 in Pennsylvania entirely.

WASRED on her way south

We look for three important things in our trip review: Good roads, good bathrooms and good food. Obviously we didn’t stop in every state to eat and use the facilities but we did use their roads. This is our report of best and worse.

Roads: a caveat here. A Maryland trooper explained that the northern states have had a brutal winter and the freeze-thaw-freeze aspect of it has affected the roads terribly this winter. Having said that, each state appears to have dealt with it differently and this is all we can assess.

WASRED in the rain

Best roads were in Georgia. Three lanes in areas and no potholes.

Worst roads: By a country mile were in Pennsylvania. We did less than one hundred miles in the state but each mile threatened to damage a wheel or the suspension at least once. Rumor has it that some of the holes are deep enough to be designated tourist attractions. NY is second worst but is tops in missing or misleading signage.

Bathrooms: Because of the storm, we flew last year. I was quite pleasantly surprised by the improvement over our last road trip two years ago. None were bad and Maryland House which straddles 95 North and South was the best by far. Maryland, which only has 105 miles of 95, also had excellent roads.

Maryland House

Food: Many states see I-95 as a cash cow for local small town economies and therefore provide few state services. Maryland House is the exception and is the Taj Mahal of I-95. I stopped there both ways. Food, fuel and facilities are superb. The food court is a huge high-ceilinged hall and has tables in three configurations. Many have electrical outlets for re-charging computers and cell phones.

Stopping along the way

The issue with off-highway independents is that there is little fresh food and late at night there is none. I bought a chocolate bar at a gas-station/convenience store in Fayetteville NC. Fifty miles down the road I opened the package and found the chocolate to be frosted over white with age. Carbon dating would have proved it to be from the last century. Bring food and liquids from home.

Next week we will talk about the drive itself.

Peter

How to pack the WASRED


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on March 7, 2014 Comments (0)

Beautiful, and All Too Brief

Online newsletters are basically the same words and images as print media. The words, whether printed on the screen or on the page, are pretty much the same. Images, no matter how dramatically framed, cannot compare to the “pop” they deliver when back-lit by a screen. This week’s images are by Michael Furman, undisputed master of automotive studio photography. Enjoy!

1933 Rolls Royce PII Continental photo by Michael Furman

1933 Rolls Royce PII Continental – photo by Michael Furman

Amelia! Amelia! Wherefore art Thou!

It is early Friday morning as you read this and we are beginning our first day of events at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Since it is somewhat earlier in the week as I write this, I am trusting that the weather is warm and all is dry. The forecast was not positively negative. Either way, look for our detailed reports next week.

1955 Ghia Gilda photo by Michael Furman

1955 Ghia Gilda –photo by Michael Furman

The Collier

The Collier family name has been synonymous with motorsports for decades. Until now, access to the Naples Florida based Collier Collection archives and their historically important cars has been denied to all but serious collectors, restorers, scholars, and historians. We have recently learned from several sources that, in a partnership with Stanford University’s Revs Institute, the museum will soon be open to the public. This is exciting news and we will happily pass on details as they are confirmed.

1969 Shelby GT500 photo by Michael Furman

1969 Shelby GT500 – photo by Michael Furman

Gold Medal Ads

The Winter Olympics have nothing whatsoever to do with cars. Then again… without car ad revenue there wouldn’t be television coverage. We did a quick Picks & Pans on the auto ads. We look for your thoughts.

2014 Bugatti Vitesse photo by Michael Furman

2014 Bugatti Vitesse – photo by Michael Furman

Have a great weekend wherever you may be and if it is on the 18th fairway at Amelia on Sunday, say “Hi.” (I’m the one in the burgundy MMR logo cap.)

Peter Bourassa

2010 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 3.8 photo by Michael Furman

2010 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 3.8 – photo by Michael Furman

1975 Porsche 911 Turbo photo by Michael Furman

1975 Porsche 911 Turbo – photo by Michael Furman

1914 Flying Merkel photo by Michael Furman

1914 Flying Merkel – photo by Michael Furman

1959 Jaguar XK-150 Roadster photo by Michael Furman

1959 Jaguar XK-150 Roadster – photo by Michael Furman