MMR Blog

F1: Sochi Sucks

Posted on October 15, 2014 Comments (2)

Sochi Sucks! Mickey Mouse Track Designer, Hermann Tilke, has done it again! His name is anathema to enthusiasts and was never mentioned. This was a triple threat come true. The track is boring, the race was boring (Alonso agrees) and the coverage was abysmal.

Hermann Tilke

Our sympathies to the talking trio who sit in Connecticut trying to make an entertaining contribution without any control of the broadcast feed or the ability to review images.

Having said that, their consistent braying “the drivers love it” about absolutely every venue sounds like a directive from F1 management. They and F1 appear to have forgotten who it is they are supposed to be entertaining.

Will Buxton

Kudos to Will Buxton for consistently asking the tough questions, also for his forthright statement to Alonso about the race: “It wasn’t a classic.”

Bravo also to NBCSN for highlighting the issues brought on by Russia’s recent actions in the Crimea, the Ukraine, and the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane. Their showing of the portion of the “Team Principals” Press conference in which Red Bull’s Christian Horner’s gutless response to the question of why F1 was even there, made very clear the teams’ principles.

$150M for five years is clearly the guiding one. 

Christian Horner

From the post race podium interviewer we learned that Hamilton “is a real fan of Russian racing”, “has been back in Moscow”, is “impressed with the ski resorts” and in his own words “(Russia) Is not far from where I live and I will be hopping over for some holidays for sure.”

F1 didn’t do itself any favors today. Lewis Hamilton will not get any Christmas cards from Holland and NBCSN made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Unfortunately, this overshadows Mercedes’ remarkable accomplishment. On this day they secure the F1 Manufacturers World Championship for the first time in the modern F1 era. Congratulations to them.

Ross Brawn

The genesis of this accomplishment is also interesting and historically significant: In an interview after the race, Paddy Lowe, Director (Technical) of Mercedes reminded all that the winning car was developed last year under the guidance of then manager Ross Brawn. The Mercedes Team was previously the Brawn F1 Team and Brawn actually bought the Team from Honda, purportedly for $1.00, when Honda pulled out of F1. The package he got included a car which Honda had developed for 2009 that was as significantly ahead of the competition in that year as Mercedes is of its competitors now. That car carried Jenson Button and Brawn their only championship.

Honda Team logo

Ironically, Honda is coming back to F1 in 2015 as an engine supplier to compete against its former, albeit significantly changed, team. F1 is a small world.


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”