MMR Blog

MMR 2011 Competition Headlines Preview!

Posted on December 21, 2010 Comments (0)

MMR Competition Headline Predictions!

MMR has consulted the oracles, gazed deeply into our crystal balls and read the sediment at the bottom of countless bottles of mediocre wine to bring you these predictions! Look for these headlines coming soon to a website just like this one. Or... only this one.

2011 Formula 1:

  • Adrian Newey has been found guilty of "over designing" and will only be allowed to do one line on the 2011 Red Bull car! Competitors insist it must be the tire! 
  • The traditionally inept FIA race stewards will now have expert help: "Rex" the Seeing-Eye Wonder Dog will attend every race and bite every little driver who does a "no-no" on the track or "wee-wee" in his driving suit!
  • Hermann Tilke has been commissioned to design “the most exciting country in the world”! Based on his F1 experience, he has chosen Switzerland as a model. One person in Switzerland recently yawned! The remainder are lying about waiting for Prince Charming to come and kiss them on the lips!  
  • In order to put an end to the confusion, every car on the grid will be called a Lotus! Except the Virgin... which will be called a Virgin because…God knows, Virgins are hard to find in racing.

 Nascar:

  • Rather than simply give him the 2011 Winston/Verizon/Holiday Inn/ Nextel Cup, Jimmy Johnson has been asked to retire!
  • The Association of Mental Health Professionals has released the results of their study showing that every Nascar driver, except for Jimmy Johnson, needs sociopathic adjustment counseling!
  • Michael Waltrip is missing! He may have disappeared six years ago but his family didn’t notice until they turned on the TV and noticed he was not starring in consecutive ads for Maytag, Preparation H and Baby’s Own Shampoo.
  • Road races, exceptionally popular with the fans, have been eliminated! Nascar officials fear drivers will cheat once they get out of sight of the tower.     

 Indycar:

  • Rules have been changed to allow rodeo clowns in fiberglass “pretend” barrels to run out on the track during caution periods to try and distract the drivers. Car owners say “We fought Randy tooth and nail on this one. He wanted to stampede bulls on the track during qualifying. We settled for the clowns.”  
  • Roger Penske has bought the Indianapolis 500!

 Moto-GP:

  • The 2011 rules have been changed to compensate for over-talented riders! Valentino Rossi will be forced to compete this year on a uni-cycle!
  • Upon receipt of his signed agreement to the change, Moto-GP promptly cancelled the season and awarded him the title, thus saving all the manufacturers a fortune! Racing will resume when he is old!

 LeMans:

  • All non-French cars will be compelled to use Mercedes aerodynamic packages in 2011!
  • Audis have been banned because French announcers cannot pronounce the name of the car without sounding like lonely cowboys.

 That’s all the news that’s fit to print…here?


Red Bull Gives You Wins

Posted on November 18, 2010 Comments (0)

Red Bull have won it all! And deservedly so.

Excited and exciting Seb Vettel wins Drivers Championship

Excited and exciting Seb Vettel wins Drivers Championship

The energy drink people at Red Bull have proven once again that unfettered money can beat the Fiats, Mercedes and Renaults of the world at what should be their game. Benetton were the last wholly owned non-automotive oriented team to win both Drivers and Constructors Championships and that was fifteen years ago.

But this was an interesting season. Not as much for the racing as for the people. We appear to have a group of drivers who have let their personalities shine through the corporate sponsorships and we find they are a diverse group.

The following are the impressions they left with me as the year ended.

Sebastian Vettel: His little-boy exuberance can be alternatively refreshing and annoying but there is no doubt that he can drive. He had the best car, he won the Championship and he really deserved it.

Mark Webber: Flashes of brilliance but not enough of them. Nobody ever thought he would accomplish what he did at his age and stage of his career. He has a sympathetic following but a dim future.

Hamilton: Quick and competitive. Somehow appears one dimensional. He will be better as he matures.

Alonso: Quick and competitive and smart. Interesting to see him being consoled by Ferrari after the race. I would have thought the check was enough. He has been with four teams in nine seasons.

Massa: Great guy who needs to step up his game. He is number 2 at Ferrari. The new Barrichello.

Button: In two years he has built a reputation for being smart, fast and easy on equipment. Moved from Mercedes at the right time and can give his teammate a run on any day. He was impressive this year.

Schumacher: Gave every aging F1 driver hope. Then dashed them with uncompetive drives. His crash on the first lap of the final race should be a message.

Rosberg: Quick and smart. Handled being Schumacher's teammate very well. He deserves a better team and car. I would love to see him at Red Bull.

Kubica: Very quick. Needs a top ride and then will be very, very competitive.

Kobiyashi: Exciting to watch and would be interesting to see what he could do in a better car.

Domenicali: The most refreshing team principal in years. After years of Dreary Ron and Silent John, he is a breath of fresh air.

The only difference between the cars is Adrian Newey and Renault power.

The last two races were good strategic battles on boring courses. If Abu Dhabi would have been the first race it would have been called a disaster for its lack of passing opportunities.

Formula One drivers are pretty evenly matched. Vettel had a car in which at least five other drivers could have won the championship.

A lot of people seem to speak for Red Bull but we never hear enough from the guy who really makes it all work, Adrian Newey.

Hopefully next year will see more teams competing at the front. Mercedes and Renault seem poised, Williams, less so, but could surprise. A few less boring Tilke tracks would help.

On to 2011, let the testing begin!


The Korean GP 2010 Settles Nothing

Posted on November 1, 2010 Comments (0)

I’ve waited up half the night for a lot of exciting things in my life. The Korean Grand Prix doesn’t qualify as one of them.

Red Bull's Korean Nightmare

Red Bull’s Korean GP debut was not pretty.

In a 16 race F1 schedule you can generally count on 75% of them being boring. The others are usually interesting either because they occur at the end of the year with a championship at stake, or it rains. Korea promised both. Instead it delivered a boring race in the rain and made us wait up for it. 

Alonso won by employing that clever old strategy of staying in front and not doing anything exciting. Webber and Vettel lost by being in front and being unlucky. In Webber's case he made a dumb mistake and was also unlucky enough to be caught out by it.

The really unlucky one was Nico Rosberg who was driving brilliantly until he was collected by the dumb/unlucky Webber who ended Rosberg’s bid for a podium and another trouncing of the once fabulous and now just plain old Schumi. Michael was jubilant with his finish and no one had the heart to point out that three guys in front of him had to crash for him to finish fourth.

In business or life, everyone needs a reserve of sympathy, understanding or forgiveness that gets one through a tough time. Supplying it is what friends are for. It’s what engenders a “second chance”. Webber may have eliminated himself from the championship and if he did and somehow there isn’t a great deal of that sympathy left in the tank for him. Odd, because he came into this race with the support of many but left it with much of that gone. At his level of pay and expectation, a self induced mistake at this point is really not forgivable.

If one of the Red Bull drivers or the team wins a championship, it will be despite their best efforts to throw it away. And if Alonso and/or Ferrari win, it will be because they never gave up. They took a “third best car on the grid” and kept making it better and they made less crucial mistakes. Ferrari Team Manager, Stefano Domenicali understands the sympathetic reserve and this season he has managed to put Ferrari in a position that the Todt-Braun-Schumacher team could never do. Through his thoughtful handling of interviews, he has mollified the ”anything-but-Ferrari” fans. Amazing what a little humility and grace can accomplish.

For raw talent there is not much to choose between the top six drivers and Rosberg. Experience and judgment are the determining factors and it is tough to take anything away from Alonso in either department. He is quick and he makes few mistakes and while that may win him a championship, it isn’t worth staying up half the night to see.


Singapore F1

Posted on October 8, 2010 Comments (0)

Racing into the Night

Heikki Kovalainen’s spectacular fire

Heikki Kovalainen’s spectacular fire

As a rule, televised night races hold little appeal for me. On the fully lit NASCAR and F1 tracks they simply render all the background objects dull or invisible. No blue sky, no green trees, no well known markers or bridges or signs. Just brightly lit cars travelling on varying shades of gray.

On poorly lit tracks like Le Mans, it becomes a procession of darting white and red lights rushing from one pool of light to the next. Because the cars have no lights, the track at Singapore is completely lit in a stark white and color comes only from the cars and the pit action shots. On TV it is impossible to know where the cars are on the track or even where the track goes. Gushing commentators aside, if this is “the crown jewel” of the GP world, from a TV spectators point of view, the crown is made of dull tin.

Alonso Wins Under Lights

Alonso Wins Under Lights

On the other hand, the lack of color highlighted the colors of the cars, particularly the Ferraris. Is it just my TV set adjustment or has Ferrari gone back to the beautiful blue-red of the sixties from the Marlboro orange-red of the past twenty odd years? This year’s car is the most attractively sculpted Ferrari in decades, and the new color does it justice. Removing decals could only help.

Also, Heikki Kovalainen’s spectacular fire would not have been half as dramatic in daylight. And it was spectacular!

This viewer’s highlights of Singapore.

Alonso is unquestionably a great driver. But he always looks like he needs a bath and a shave, and unless he is on the top step of the podium he seems positively surly. By comparison Kimi and Mika are hilarious.

The drama of the race was watching Webber work his way through the pack and waiting for the guys in front to pit. Would that he could have made it to Vettel’s tail, it would have made interesting politics and racing.

Hamilton may have turned in on him, but Webber did nothing to get out of the gas or the way. Hamilton passed Webber in the first place because he got a really good run on him out of the previous turn. While Schumacher’s current driving style appears less forgivable in a lesser car, everyone else out there is just a mini-mike. Thank you Ayrton. Sorry Stirling.

My hero of the race is Kovalainen. What he did and how he did it was cool and you know it wasn’t something he could have practiced. It showed presence of mind. I like that kid.

What do you think?


Pointy Heads and Pointy Boots or Who’s Nervous Now Nellie?

Posted on September 30, 2010 Comments (0)

The boffins* of F1 race engineering will take their skinny little cars and their trailer loads of fashionably thin entourages to Austin beginning in 2012. Will the rich and clamorous follow them to the land of big hats and big egos?

Austin, TX: Tilke
United States Grand Prix (USGP) Track design

Austin, TX: Tilke United States Grand Prix (USGP) Track design

Bernie’s buddies and the Texas Gov bet they will but Bernie won’t rule out a second location in the US!

In 2007 Tony George explained to Bernie that in the USA the government won’t write checks to support F1 races and that the Speedway was not a charity. He was at least half right and that was the last F1 race held in the USA. F1 outgrew the independent entrepreneur’s ability to organize and fund a race many years ago. From time to time even governments in France, Canada, Belgium and the UK have balked at the financial commitments required to support “their” national F1 race.

As American F1 fans have learned, the stars ALL must be aligned for a successful F1 USGP. The major keys appear to be: a safe smooth track, a large amount of hotel rooms, a huge nearby population and the ability to throw a great party. And, oh yes, the reported $12M upfront cost of a date.

Austin United States Grand Prix (USGP)

Austin United States Grand Prix (USGP)

Now Bernie has an agreement with Tavo Hellmund, whose has family history with Mr. E and his respect and support. They apparently have $200M now and $25M annually from the great State of Texas to pull it off. They have purchased 800 acres and a track designed by the ubiquitous Herman Tilke.

This sounds a little like the Field of Dreams theme of “build it and they will come”. But the ingredients are there: Knowledge of F1, access to Bernie and the Texas treasury, land near the Austin airport that could be developed as a race track and industrial testing facility. Sounds easy and Austin has been told that the glamour of the FIA circus will put their city on a world map and also bring in $25M in cash.

I’m skeptical because I’m not convinced that there are enough people in the “huge nearby population” portion that care enough about F1 to spend the price of a ticket to see this type of racing. I further doubt that F1 fans will spend the money to fly from all over America and the remainder of the world to be seen in a Texas town famous for being the “Live Music Capital of the World”. And as they will learn when they get there, that’s not the only area Texans believe is either the biggest or the best in the world.

The F1 circus will go, because that is their business. I doubt anyone else will, twice. And I don’t think Bernie does either. That is why he has left the option of another race in America open. That would be fabulous for F1 but probably not so fabulous for either event organizer. Should the folks in Austin be nervous? Would you be?

*Boffin is a British term for “nerds”