MMR Blog

Reflections on F1 2013

Posted on November 26, 2013 Comments (2)

Brazil is done. A race made interesting mostly by the threat of rain which never came. But didn’t the commentators and viewers wish it had. Other than that, it was notable for a couple of things.

First, of course, was the departure from F1 of Red Bull stalwart Mark Webber. A man of talent but also unlucky and inconsistent. Vettel may miss him most because he was not a serious threat. If it wasn’t clear before Malaysia, Mark’s position was very clear afterwards.

Frank Williams

Sir Frank Williams

Massa departs Ferrari. He appeared at times this year to require motivation. If driving for Ferrari is not motivation enough, he will surely disappoint at Williams. Sir Frank is not a cheerleader.

We learned, at this race, that in 2013 Ferrari and McLaren went to a different front suspension that allowed them an aero design advantage. This was apparently the major cause of their lackluster performance.

Heikki Kovalainen was consistent, sadly. Surely someone else could have done better and helped Lotus, themselves, and the viewers in the last two races. Management error.

Speaking of error. Red Bull’s on a pitstop for Vettel. A rare occurrence and a comfort to competitors.

Musical chairs will shortly end and many will be fitted for new uniforms and seats, but in the end, it is the cars that are the stars and Lotus, who do not have the budgets of RB, McLaren, Mercedes, and Ferrari appear to be punching above their weight. Where they will be after McLaren and Ferrari sort themselves out is an open question. On a positive note, they will have a Renault engine and a good chassis and a deserved reputation for being fast. Good drivers will be attracted to them.

Will Buxton’s interview with Nico Rosberg was a highlight of the interviews. Asked if he felt better about his improved performance this year over last, Rosberg replied no. It was due to an improved car and he left no doubt that he felt his performance was always good. He reminded Buxton that he had driven with Schumacher for three years and beaten him consistently. This is a driver who knows where he is at mentally and, should Mercedes deliver the car, he will deliver a championship.

Great credit is due and is paid to the Red Bull team, its drivers and management. Nobody on their side appears to say a word of thanks to their engine supplier Renault.

Red Bull

Finally, Vettel and records: A wonderful accomplishment for which he rightly thanks his whole team profusely. He is very good. He also owes thanks to Webber for not contesting his unexpected pass in Malaysia. That would have stopped the streak half way. Webber also deserves credit for taking 199 points that might have otherwise helped his competitors. He will miss Mark Webber.

In Will Buxton’s summary of the year he credited Vettel with finally realizing that he had to be ruthless to be a champion and that his pass of Webber in Malaysia showed he had come of age as a Champion.

This certainly fits the Senna–Schumacher mindset mold. Hardly fits the one from which Fangio, Clark, Stewart, Graham, and Phil Hill were cast.

As for Buxton’s comment, perhaps it is the times and perhaps it is the difference in our ages but when the goal is more important than the manner by which we achieve it, I lose interest. Fortunately for F1, I believe the majority of the drivers competing would not have needed to be reminded of team orders. It would never have crossed their minds to take a win away from a teammate.

NBC are to be supported for saving F1 from the Fox troglodytes. They have developed a first rate product and, if for them alone, the motorsports community should work like hell to grow F1 in North America.

As for the TV show itself, the sooner they get away from podium interviews the better. They are at best inept and mostly embarrassing to watch, and I would imagine to perform.

Despite all that, or perhaps because of it, F1 remains compelling.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on November 1, 2013 Comments (0)

Our featured images this week are by Garret Vreeland. These were taken in Santa Fe at a recent 356 Registry meet.

Sebastian Vettel

Vettel is Champion

Sebastian Vettel won the Indian Grand Prix, his sixth race in a row and his fourth World Driving Championship… in a row. That is impressive. The race itself was another strategic tire wear battle and was shaping up to be an interesting Vettel-Webber conflict until Webber’s car showed signs of breaking down and was ordered by the team to stop. The post race festivities somehow rang a little hollow with broadcasters seemingly more excited for Vettel’s championship than he was himself. Interviewers seemed disappointed that the key Red Bullers interviewed were pleased, pragmatic and, other than Vettel, quite unemotional. Perhaps the fact that they have been winning for four seasons, with no end in sight, has dampened their enthusiasm for celebratory gushing.

Follow the Money

Drivers race for the title and glory of being World Drivers Champion. They are compensated by their teams and through personal endorsements. Teams race for the Manufacturers Championship, which is prestigious and certainly has advertising value and big money. Much comes from sponsorships and more comes from the purse available thru the Manufacturers Championship.

The exact amount of money the teams will divide this year is difficult to ascertain because the revenue from each event has not been determined until they have all been run. $700M is in the ballpark, with the top team receiving roughly $100M of that and second receiving roughly 15% less and third 35% less. So you can see that finishing second is hugely important. All positions thru 10 earn equal points for drivers and constructors. With only three races to go and 28 points separating Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus, having two cars finish high in the points is crucial. First place pays 25 points, second 18 and third 15. Now that is what racing is about!

Videos: 1955 Belgian GP and Modern Supercars

Many of you remarked how much you enjoyed the top quality film which was made by Shell and featured in last week’s Newsletter. This week we offer an interesting video comparing analog supercars. The vehicles chosen are the Ferrari F40 and F50, the McLaren F1, a Noble F-400, the Porsche Carrera, a Zonda and the Lambo 670SV. It is 17 minutes long and packed with neat sights, sounds and commentary. Our thanks to subscriber Paul Bicknell for sharing.

Goods and Services Directory: Storage - Auto & Motorcycle

Many of us live in harsh winter climates and have vehicle storage needs. The MMR Goods and Services Directory may be of some assistance. Visit the directory to find more storage locations near you.

Classifieds – Alvis – 1937 4.3 Vanden Plas Tourer

This week’s featured car in MMR Classifieds is a dramatic Alvis touring car that is worthy of note. Our Classifieds are growing and we welcome your comments.

Alvis 1937 4.3 Vanden Plas Tourer

Have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on October 18, 2013 Comments (3)

F1 - The Japanese GP

Webber out-qualified Vettel and started on pole. Vettel never passed Webber because he didn’t have to. The team changed Webber to a three stop strategy, one more than Vettel, and he finished second. It should be very clear to Ricciardo that he will be the new Webber. The deck gets reshuffled next year and based on past history it would be foolish to believe that Renault will not have a competitive engine for the Lotus and Red Bull chassis. Kimi is quick but he is also impatient. If Ferrari doesn’t supply a winning package for Kimi they may learn to dread his après race interviews.

IndyCar Fontana Finale Saturday @ 8:00PM ET

The Auto Club Speedway two-mile oval at Fontana will be the site of the final race of this year. It should be an interesting cap to a season that has seen exciting races and the emergence of a number of competitive teams and attractive drivers. The organization is still young and some of the tracks they use are less than ideal, but they do race and ten different drivers have won.

Petit Le Mans – ALMS Series Finale at Road Atlanta Saturday @ 11:00AM

The final race of the year and the final race in its history. Our man Tommy Kendall is 23 on the grid in the fastest Viper. Next year the ALMS and Grand-Am series will combine. The ungainly titled TUDOR United SportsCar Championship will hopefully bring together two organizations that have struggled for years to bring sports car racing to North America. Good luck.

Memories: Racing in the Sixties

With my meager savings and different sponsors every year, I managed to race little English sports cars for the first three years of my twenties. When I went for a loan to finance the fourth, my bank manager pointed out that, among other things, like collateral, I lacked talent. That was the end of a racing career full of promises. But I wasn’t through with racing.

From Monday morning thru Thursday at 5:00PM every week, I was a regular Champion Spark Plug Co. Sales Representative calling on service stations throughout the Province of Quebec and sticking Champion decals on doors and windows. On weekends, I put Champion decals on the cars, motorcycles, and boats of racers that carried our products. My task was to help the real Champion Spark Plug techs who, with their diagnostic tools and years of experience, were occupied with potential winners. If you were not a potential winner, (read: poor) I helped you. And god helped you too.

Fortunately we blew up very few engines. Please keep in mind that blowing up engines was not a rare occurrence in those days and melted plugs weren’t either.

At the time, I shared a ski house with a good bunch of people near the Mont Tremblant race track so I was in that area almost every weekend of the year. When the F1 teams came to Canada, because some of them spoke better French than English, I was their liaison with the Champion professional tech reps that were sent from the US to help them. In 1968 when they raced at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant, I was translating with the teams and recommending fine restaurants and arranging fancy box lunches. I was a 24-year-old kid! What did I know?

The real techs went to dinner with the teams and I took visiting race reps to my favorite restaurants and bars. I introduced them to young women friends and Canadian high-alcohol beer. Because the roads in the Laurentian Mountains are neither straight nor smooth, the ride back in my Champion Spark Plug Co. supplied 318 V8 Plymouth 4-door also introduced them to a new level of anxiety. All vaguely memorable to me now.

But it all worked out and at the end of that F1 weekend at Mont Tremblant, Ferrari’s Team Manager, Mauro Forghieri, gave me a Ferrari pin for my efforts. That was very cool. The next day I went back to putting Champion decals on doors and windows. It was good to be young in the sixties.

This week’s great images were taken by Chuck Schwager who recently co-drove Jim Taylor’s C-Type on this year’s Colorado Grand. Brave soul, he shot several of these from the passenger seat at speed.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on October 3, 2013 Comments (0)

Santa Fe Concorso

The fourth iteration of the Santa Fe Concorso was like a coming of age party. Each year it has gotten better. There were enough significant cars on the field this year to insure that an invitation to next year’s event should be taken seriously by collectors.

The organizers are fully aware that hosting a Concorso in Santa Fe is a double edged sword. Santa Fe is hardly on the main road to anywhere and neither is it densely populated. This means fewer qualified local cars and a smaller base from which to draw spectators. On the other hand, Santa Fe is a deliciously manageable city with a unique style and character in one of nature’s more gently beautiful settings. This year’s event was very well attended yet, mercifully, it hasn’t reached the crowd sizes we saw at Amelia and Pebble Beach this year. The Sunday show was a culmination of two days of road tours and tasteful parties. Think, Pebble Beach writ small.

Best of Show – Elegance: John Hayden Groendyke’s imposing 1933 Delage D8S Sports Coupe. The Best of Show – Sport: Lawrence Auriana’s rare 1967 Ferrari 275 GTS/4 NART Spyder. This important car, one of only 17 built, was driven to a Second in Class by this year’s Santa Fe Concorso’s honoree Denise McCluggage and co-driver Pinkie Rollo in 1967.

A full gallery of our Santa Fe Concorso images will be posted to our website next week.

Racing Over the Age Limit

We received numerous interesting responses to our commentary about aging drivers and we share some with you. As ever with these issues, where you stand often depends on where you sit. Motorcycle collector, lawyer, and racer, Ken McGuire even shared his thoughts and an exciting image of four beautiful Bultacos lined up at the beginning of a race.

In F1 and IndyCar the Race for Second Remains Close

In F1, Vettel has won but the battle for second and third is still interesting with only 38 points separating them. In Indy Car, Castroneves will be difficult to unseat. The next four places are only 25 points apart. Both series run this weekend. F1 in South Korea and IndyCar runs a two race weekend, Saturday and Sunday in Houston.

MMR Fall/Winter Garage Tours

Don’t forget to sign up for our upcoming garage tours. Our calendar for these events is firming up as you read. These are Bring a Camera tours, which means that each visit will feature a special car to be photographed by you with instruction from a professional photographer. Tours will be limited in size.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa

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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!