Grand Prix+ - Grandprixplus
  • No tags were found...

Grand Prix+ - Grandprixplus

Gr a n d Pr i x +


DECEMBER 20 2008

It’s a l l a b o u t t h e p a s s i o n

A great


for F1

looking back at 2008...

...and forwards to 2009

Gr a n d Pr i x +

Gr a n d Pr i x +

ISSUE 35, DECEMBER 20 2008

To go to the relevant page, click on it

No man is an island

These are difficult times for Formula 1 racing

and it is good to remember that while there

is much value in being positive, it is also

necessary to be realistic. Formula 1 is a luxury

activity. It is not an essential part of life and, like

a car on a very small island, it is of limited use.

Thus it must be sensible in its approach and

ensure that it is financially sustainable, with or

without the automobile manufacturers. If they

are going to depart - and who can predict US

car sales at the moment - then the budgets

must be such that ambitious new teams from

GP2, or wherever, can have a realistic chance

of stepping up to the plate. The first steps have

been very positive. Let us hope that these have

the desired effect...

On Th e Gr i d b y Jo e Sawa r d 3

Pi c t u r e s o f t h e Ye a r 4

Wh y Ho n d a Qu i t F1 17

Le w i s Ha m i lt on Lo o k s Ba c k 22

Ro a r y t h e Ra c in g Ca r 29

Pl a n s f o r Do n in g t o n 34

Th e Ne w F1 Ru l e s 39

A Re v i e w Of Th e Ye a r 47

Bo o k Re v i e w s 72

Th e La s t La p b y Dav i d Tr e m ay n e 75

Pa r t in g Sh o t 76

Gr a n d Pr i x +

Grand Prix + is brought to you by

David Tremayne and Joe Saward

Photography by Paul-Henri Cahier.

For a new subscription to GP+ for 2009,

click HERE

© 2008 Morienval Press. All rights reserved.Neither this publication

nor any part of it may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or

by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording

or otherwise, without the prior permission of Morienval Press.


The Honda Qualifying Lunch Club

For the last 10 years, every Saturday at every Grand Prix in Europe, I had lunch at the Honda motorhome. It started

with Mike Doodson and me but then we started to invited interesting folk who happened to be about and each

weekend we had a table of four or five. The conversation would ebb and flow depending on what was happening

on the race track, then there would be a flurry of note-taking. The drivers all had nicknames... Stonefish, Britney,

The Peasant and Peabrain, Fuschia-man and Darcy. People who listened in probably thought we were all mad...

And we had great competitions as well. There was a time when we would multiply the grid positions of the two

Hondas and see who got closest to the total. But then as they slipped down the grid, we left the comfort zone of

the 12 times tables and had to give up because 17 times 13 is way too hard after a few drinks...

The Honda Qualifying Lunch Club was all about shared passion for the sport, about having fun. I’ve

forgotten all the guests we had over the years but my one regret was that we never did get the boss of Toyota F1

to join us - although he was invited several times... The aim was always to enjoy the sport, enjoy the company

and not worry too much about the colour of the shirts.

It was the best part of most race weekends and the kind of public relations that money cannot buy. I still

laugh about the day the chef Dave Freeman (known also as ‘The Madman’) told us about how he is really ‘Lord

Freeman’ and owns a square metre of land somewhere in Somerset, over which he rules with an iron fist. Why

would you do such a mad thing we asked. Upgrades, he said. Hotels and airlines love aristocrats and you

always get better treatment, particularly if you get someone else to ring up and say: “Lord Freeman will be staying

with you this weekend. He likes a seaview.”

Or the time that The Madman was arrested for impersonating a police officer in Monte Carlo and was

thrown in jail, his only worry being that he had left a curry on the stove in the motorhome...

But what talent The Madman was one of the few people who put money on Jordan to finish third at

Indianapolis in 2005 - and made a huge pile of cash, much to the annoyance of the bookies. He’s the only gaijin

I ever knew who can make proper Japanese cuisine, while also knowing where to buy the best bangers in the

world. Over the years we had a glorious cast of others involved: wonderful Jenny-san, who always had a secret

stash of chocolate and Neurofen (depending on the mood). It was a delight when she ended up in the arms of

the gallant Ned the chef. There were Claire’s extremely naughty puddings and Carlo’s Italian masterpieces, pasta

“Just-a like-a Mama make-a!”

And the gorgeous, glamorous Fatna... who could talk about the poetry of Racine and Corneille and told

unlikely tales of being given stallions by passing kings (all true I should add) and did I know someone who might

like a top quality Lusitano, as they are rather expensive beasts to look after...

That was the Honda Qualifying Lunch Club. A little slice of madness in a world that was sometimes too

austere and humourless.

There was one point when fellow scribe Mike Doodson and I decided that we would repay the hospitality

and actually took over the kitchen and cooked for the Honda engineers and technicians. Yes, we really did! And

I don’t think anyone died of food poisoning, although the way the Japanese rotated the young guys through the

team makes it hard to know for sure...

Alas, the demise of Honda is not just another car company wandering off. It feels to me that we have lost

a little bit of family.


Jo e Sawa r d


FOR 2009


Grand Prix + 3

Pictures of the year

Grand Prix + 4

Grand Prix + 5

Grand Prix + 6

Grand Prix + 7

Grand Prix + 8

Grand Prix + 9

Grand Prix + 10

Grand Prix + 11

Grand Prix + 12

Grand Prix + 13

Grand Prix + 14

Grand Prix + 15

Grand Prix + 16

Why Honda pulled out of F1

The announcement that Honda was pulling out of Formula 1 sent shockwaves through F1

circles and created some panic amongst the other teams, until they realised that there was

a very specific set of circumstances that had caused the decision. There may come a time

when the automobile markets get so bad that other manufacturers will decide to quit F1,

but for now it seems that everyone else has things under control.

The big question now is whether a buyer can

be found for Honda and while there are many

who say they are not interested, the sport will

almost finally find a way to keep the team alive.

It may not be as big or as ambitious as it was

but the potential is there and the team has to

be seen as a real bargain for someone who has

the money available, particularly as budgets will

be coming down in 2009.

“It makes me spit to see a team like that

for sale for virtually nothing,” said one team

owner, the other day. “We have spent 20-odd

years building up our operation and have

invested hundreds of millions of dollars and

now someone is going to come in and buy all of

Honda’s stuff for a dollar.”

The first real hint for Honda came only

on the evening of Monday, December 1 when

Honda cancelled its annual British F1 Media

at the expensive Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

restaurant near Oxford, at less than two day’s

notice. In the letter explaining the decision the

team said that “the motor industry is under

severe economic pressure and Honda, like

others, has been forced to put production on

short-time. In light of this we do not think that it

By Joe Saward

Grand Prix + 17

would be appropriate to continue with our lunch”.

That came soon after the US sales figures for

November were announced, showing a 32%

drop in Honda’s sales compared to the same

period in 2007. This followed a seven percent

drop in August, 24% in September and 25% in


By the afternoon of December 4 the first

rumours began to emerge,

reporting that teams across Europe were saying

that they had started to get large numbers

of Honda F1 people asking for work. By the

evening it was clear that Honda was going

to quit. The announcement from Tokyo came

the following day, as The Independent ran the


In Formula 1 terms the decision makes

no sense at all. The investment made by Honda

Motor Company since it acquired the team from

British American Tobacco at the end of 2005

has largely been wasted - and the package that

was being put together around Ross Brawn for

2009 has not been given the time necessary

to develop. In 2006 Jenson Button gave the

company its first win in F1 since the Sixties but

earlier that summer Honda had fired technical

director Geoff Willis and named a Japanese

engineer as the new head of the technical

team. The Japanese believed that Willis was

not good enough to take them to the top, but

Grand Prix + 18

as it turned out this was a big mistake. The

desire for the team to become more Japanese,

rather than leaving it to the Europeans to run,

was a disaster. By the middle of 2007 it was

clear that a change of strategy was needed

and the recruitment of Ferrari’s Ross Brawn

was a sign that Honda had recognised the error

and remedied the problem. The difficulty was

that Brawn arrived too late to have much real

influence on the 2008 car and thus everything

was focussed on a big improvement in 2009.

Honda’s problems are, however,

immediate problems. With US consumers

stopping spending money and no likelihood of

that changing for a number of months, Honda

was forced to cut production at five of its seven

plants in the United States. The company’s

share price has fallen to around half what it was

at the start of the year.

With factories idling, workers being made

redundant and shareholders nervous, Honda

management felt the need to react to protect the

business and chief executive Takeo Fukui (right)

concluded that getting out of Formula 1 was a

necessity “in light of the quickly deteriorating

operating environment facing the global auto

industry, brought on by the sub-prime problem

in the United States, the deepening credit

crisis and the sudden contraction of the world


“Honda must protect its core business

activities and secure the long term as widespread

uncertainties in the economies around the

globe continue to mount,” Fukui continued. “A

recovery is expected to take some time. Under

these circumstances, Honda has taken swift and

flexible measures to counter this sudden and

expansive weakening of the marketplace in all

business areas. However, in recognition of the

need to optimize the allocation of management

resources, including investment regarding the

future, we have decided to withdraw from F1.”

Honda’s involvement was much more

expensive than that of its rivals. The decision

to support Super Aguri F1 - again driven by a

desire in Tokyo to create a Japanese F1 team

and not to lose face after letting Takuma Sato

go - meant that in 2007 Honda spent $218m

in F1, a sizeable percentage of which was

used to keep Super Aguri afloat when the team

failed to bring in the sponsorship money that

it had hoped to find. The Honda Racing F1

team management in Brackley tried hard to

sell Super Aguri in the early part of 2008, but

the deals under discussion all fell through and

finally Honda decided that the customer team

must close down.

However, the financial impact of the

Super Aguri failure appeared on the Honda

books, and that made the F1 programme look

much more expensive than it actually should

have been.

The other key point is that Honda was in

the strange position of being the one F1 team

without a major sponsor. Some believe that the

strategy was adopted in 2007 because Honda

could not find a financial backer and so decided

on the concept of Earth Dreams, to promote

an environmental message and thus use the

F1 team to enhance the image of Honda as a

Grand Prix + 19

company that is responsible and cares about

the world’s ecological problems. The long-term

goal of this was to create the environmental

image and then use that to attract companies

wishing to send out a similar message. The

arrival of a new marketing team in 2008 looked

like it would bear fruit. A deal with struck with

Brazil’s Petrobras for 2009. That would have

been announced at the Brazilian GP but Williams

F1, Petrobras’s current partner, insisted it be

delayed until the end of December so as not to

damage Williams’ image.

The team was also in deep discussion

with at least one major sponsor that was keen

on the environmental message. This was

Emirates Airlines, which launched new initiatives

to improve environmental performance of

its operations back in August. The airline is

now introducing the new eco-efficient Airbus

A380s and wanted to use a sponsorship deal

with Honda to promote the ‘Emvironment’

Grand Prix + 20

programme. The credit crunch meant that

those discussions stopped and that may have

been the final nail in the coffin of the Honda

F1 programme as another year without major

commercial support was daunting.

“Honda is not withdrawing because of

a failure to sell commercial partnerships,” the

team marketing director David Butler said after

the announcement. However, there is no doubt

that this did not help the situation as all the

other manufacturers have major commercial

sponsors on the cars and thus the costs involved

are offset significantly.

There is hope that Honda will be able

to sell the team but this will not recoup much

in terms of money. Honda will need to give

guarantees that the new owners will not close

it down within a year and, in any case, there is

little or no demand for F1 teams and so the deal

will inevitably amount to Honda giving away the

assets it has spent so much to build. This is not

good management of resources but obviously

Fukui and the board of Honda believe that it

is better to take this route than to incur further

losses next year and continue a high profile

involvement in an expensive sport at a time

when factories are being slowed down. v

Grand Prix + 21

He came... he saw...he conquered

By David Tremayne

In the immediate aftermath, he said, he simply could not believe that he had won. Such were

the dramatic circumstances of Lewis Hamilton’s succession to the throne as the youngestever

World Champion in the history of Formula 1. For 38s nail-biting seconds, it seemed

that rival Felipe Massa had beaten him with less than two laps of the season to go. Then

Hamilton overtook Timo Glock’s Toyota almost within sight of the finish line, and suddenly

the great dream became reality… But how does Lewis Hamilton look back on 2008

Grand Prix + 22

“It’s amazing,” Hamilton gasped in the aftermath

of the most dramatic World Championship

denouement in history. “I can’t get my breath

back. It’s impossible to put into words. It’s been

such a long journey with loads of support from

back home.

“I just thought: I’ve got to get Vettel back,”

he explained, having been overtaken by the

German. “You don’t have time to lose focus or

think it’s gone, it’s gone. You just have to think,

how do I get him back

“I was trying to analyse everywhere

where I was losing time. My car wasn’t feeling

great at the time. I was close, but there were a

couple of corners left and there wasn’t enough.

I had no rear tyres left so I could not get close

to him. Then I think in Turn 10 they told me

that Glock was just ahead, on slick tyres and

struggling. I didn’t know if I was close enough

and there were only two corners left.

“I came through Turn 11 and saw Vettel

pass him, and he was just about to turn into the

corner and I shot up the inside. So at that point

I relaxed and thought I should have it. I was

expecting the team to go: ‘Woo hoo, you’ve

won the Championship!’ But they didn’t! So I

was panicking for a second…”

It had begun to sink in by the following


“I didn’t drink last night,” Hamilton

revealed during a press briefing with selected

media. “I had a couple of glasses of champagne,

but I mostly drank water.

“I remember towards the end of the night

I just sat there on the side, a song came on: We

are the champions by Queen. I saw all my team

members, my mechanics, my engineers, the

catering people, the bosses, my dad, everyone

Grand Prix + 23

– they were all so happy.

“I could just sit there and take it all in. It

was just a feeling that you can’t put into words

– to see how happy you have made everyone,

and how much work they have put in and how

satisfied they are. It was really nice seeing that,

and after that I was up and ready for bed. I

learned my lesson from last year!”

“It feels great. It feels great,” he smiled.

“I don’t think it has hit home yet. I woke up this

morning – I felt relaxed, I felt satisfied and I

felt full of energy. I felt really fresh, and then

it keeps popping into my mind: wow, you are

World Champion!

“Never in a million years would I have

thought that I would be here. I had dreamed of

having it, which is why it probably does feel like

having a dream. That is why it keeps popping

back into my head, to show it is reality. So it is

a great feeling.”

You didn’t need to ask him what the real

high point of his season was. It was written

there in the brilliant smile of victory. But, as Ron

Dennis is fond of saying, success in Formula

One championships does not come over one

race, and there have been many highs for

Hamilton this season, starting with a dominant

run in Australia. But the two he always cites are

Monaco and Silverstone.

“Monaco was one of the highlights of my

career. Over the last few laps I was picturing

it: Ayrton Senna won there many times, so to

win there… It was an incredible feeling, very

emotional. The last 20 laps were very emotional.

Time and time again I’ve had a lot of belief in

myself and the team but there you really need

to have things going your way. At the time, that

was the best. Even if I win there again, that

Grand Prix + 24

would be the best one.”

And Silverstone…

“That was definitely by far the best victory

I’ve ever had, one of toughest races I had ever

done. As I was driving I said I’ll believe if I win

this that it is definitely the best race I have ever

won, on my home ground. Going into the last

lap I could see the crowd beginning to stand,

and I was praying just keep it on the track, just

finish. You can’t imagine the emotions that were

inside me.

“I’d had some troubles in weeks leading

up to the race, but as always my family was

always there to support me. Before the race my

brother Nic said, ‘Don’t worry, it’ll be all right.’

And he was right!”

The low points came in Bahrain, Canada

and Japan, where mistakes cost him dear.

Hamilton is less keen to talk about them, even

now. Each time, he fell back on the mantra that

the errors would make him stronger, that they

were behind him. Sometimes you could almost

believe him, but it is clear that, though he is

brutally honest with himself and the team, he

Grand Prix + 25

struggles to articulate that publicly. Or perhaps

it is just that his father Anthony advises him not

to. Perhaps now the monkey of winning the title

is finally off his back, future championships -

and confessions - will come a little easier.

Spa (right) was also a very low point, after

such a brilliant triumph was taken away. Again,

he is careful what he says. “It’s always been

a driver’s dream to win at Spa. And to do it in

such amazing conditions… It was exhilarating,

and exciting. My heart was racing. I just felt

disbelief afterwards, but that’s to be expected


So where was the turning point

“China, I think. To be honest, it was quite

an easy victory, and another step towards the

championship dream. Our approach to that

race was about right: try score as many points

going to Brazil. After that I knew that it would be

a much different situation there than it was last

year, with a seven point lead.”

And so came that dramatic climax to the


“As I crossed the line I was thinking

do I have it Do I have it Once I crossed the

line and found out, I was more emotional than

ever. It was such a dream to repay the faith of


“Then afterwards all the media, seeing

my family, seeing my team, celebrating with

them. It was kind of weird, because we did

what we needed to do. We went there to finish

in a certain position, and for a racing driver to

accept that you are not going to be winning that

weekend was tough. But we wanted the bigger


“It took a lot out of me last year, but this

year took even more out of me. There was so

Grand Prix + 26

much going on, with people pulling me left and

right. I wanted to just embrace the moment, and

I still am. It feels great. And I don’t have to have

that number 22 on my car any more. I can have

number one on my car, and that is the coolest

thing ever.”

Hamilton says that there are valuable

lessons that he will take out of a 2008 campaign

when he not only emerged as a more mature

driver, but also found out how punishing

mistakes can be.

“I think this year was a lot different to last

year. Last year we had a lot better consistency,

perhaps fewer mistakes. But at the end of the

year I was at a point in my life, where I was

thrown into the limelight. I was leading the World

Championship and the pressure that I could be

World Champion in Brazil was tough to take.

“I think losing that World Championship

probably made me stronger and that is why

we pulled through at the end of this one. But

there were races this year that we won, we won

some of the best races – Silverstone, Monaco,

Germany – but there were races we lost either

through a mistake from myself or a mistake by

the team.

“But we win and lose as a team. I think

going into next year we are going to analyse

everything that happened this year and just try

and correct them.

“They are only subtle changes, but that

can have a huge impact on the results. So we

are going hard on the car, I want to be fitter

when I get to the first race – which will be hard

as I was fit this year. But we are just focusing

on trying not to make those mistakes – like the

way we approached this weekend - and try to

be more consistent.”

Does he feel ready for the next challenge,

the next level of performance

“I think I am. Every year you have new

experiences which just build your character

and build you to do these things. The first year

it took a lot of adjusting. I think I have handled

it okay this year, and towards the end I have

just got stronger and stronger – and that is

how I will keep moving forward. I will continue

to improve. But I don’t anticipate changing too

much. I will go back, take a bit of a vacation,

spend time with my family – but I am going to

focus on next year. We want to do it better. Do

everything better next year.

“Each year I am getting stronger. People

say the second year is harder, but I don’t believe

that. I think you just get stronger, you learn

from mistakes and hopefully I will continue to

grow as a driver. If that means winning more

championships, then so be it.”

When he visiting the 1000 employees

at McLaren’s Woking headquarters the

Wednesday after Brazil, he told them: “I love

this team, I’m going nowhere. This is the best

team in the world. I’m very proud of everything

McLaren have achieved.”

He admitted that he didn’t know what

to expect when he got back home. “I know I

Grand Prix + 27

have an incredible amount of support there,” he

said. And there remains a huge incentive to add

more World Championship tallies to his roster.

Last season he had a bet with Ron Dennis that

if he won three world titles, Ron would give him

a McLaren F1 LM roadcar.

“I want to get that, so I will definitely work

as hard as I can to get to number three at some

stage,” Hamilton smiled. “Just to get to one has

been unbelievably hard, so hopefully the next

one will be easier – but the rules change every

year. It is going to be just as competitive every

year and there are great drivers like Felipe

Massa and Heikki Kovalainen. They are always

going to be pushing me, so to beat them every

year is going to be tough.”

He smiled as he looked around McLaren’s

remarkable headquarters.

“You know, even when I was growing up,

when I first knew that racing was what I wanted to

do, I knew that it was McLaren I wanted to drive

for. I used to go to the old headquarters in Albert

Drive and see Ayrton Senna’s Championshipwinning

car, and I used to touch the steering

wheel and dream that some day I’d have one

with my name on it and the number one on the

front. And now that dream has come true.” v

Grand Prix + 28

By Joe Saward

Creating the F1 fans of tomorrow

Formula 1 is a world with a demographic that the marketing men like. Wealthy, welleducated

men with disposable income. But the F1 audience is getting older now and the

new generations have a lot more choices. However, F1 has found an unexpected ally in

Roary the Racing Car, a new TV phenomenon produced by Keith Chapman, the man who

created the Bob the Builder franchise. Roary is booming... and F1 will benefit.

Grand Prix + 29

The story of Roary goes back almost 10 years -

pre-dating the Disney Pixar project ‘Cars’ - and

was originated in England by David Jenkins,

who was involved in circuit management

at Goodwood and then Brands Hatch. At

the time he watched Grands Prix with his

18-month old son Tom. To engage the toddler

in the race, Jenkins told him stories about the

different cars on the screen and this led to the

decision to try to commercialise the idea of a

car-based character, using racing characters

he had known to support the lead figure and

a race track called Silver Hatch. In order to

make it easy for kids to relate to Roary, he is

energetic and inquisitive, which often leads him

into trouble and this allows the show to teach

lessons about life. The episode called Roary’s

First Day, for example, is a lesson about how

to overcome nerves when one goes into a new

environment. There are also lessons about the

need for environmentally-friendly fuels, personal

fitness, respecting other people, overcoming

fear of the dark, telling other people where

you are, fair play and other concepts that were

specifically designed to encourage parents to

be enthusiastic about the show.

It is designed for pre-school children

Grand Prix + 30

etween the ages of two and seven and it

began to take off when Jenkins met Chapman.

Trained as a graphic artist, Chapman

started his career in advertising before moving

on to the Jim Henson company, where he worked

on The Muppet Show. At the time he had three

young children and began to tell them stories

after seeing a large yellow digger in action on

a street in the London suburb of Wimbledon.

Those stories led to sketching and stories about

a character he called Bob the Builder. In the

mid-Nineties he approached a former Henson

colleague called Peter Orton, who had bought

the international distribution arm of the company

in order to market children’s programming

around the world. Orton’s HIT Entertainment

commissioned a pilot show, pitched the idea to

the BBC and in April 1999 Bob the Builder was

launched. Eighteen months later the show was

number one across the world, being broadcast

in more than 200 countries. Chapman (below

right) decided to sell the property to HIT but the

royalties associated with Bob enabled him to set

up his own production house called Chapman

Entertainment, with partners Greg Lynn and

Andrew Haydon, to create, develop, produce

and manage the intellectual property rights of

family entertainment.

The company’s first project was to launch

a show designed for pre-school girls called Fifi

and the Flowertots, which quickly became a huge

hit in the UK and went on to achieve international

success with sales in over 150 countries. The

sale of the TV rights, however, does not make

enough money to cover the production costs of

computer-generated shows so in order to make

a profit the company has to concentrate on

merchandising and spin-offs. Some networks

even refuse to pay for the shows, arguing that

they are promoting the merchandising and

should be paid a percentage.

“You need great animation,” says

Chapman, “and the programme needs to

stand out from the rest. The concept also

has to be universal in its appeal, be highly

merchandisable, be perfectly designed, with a

colour palette that appeals to kids and adults,

and have great characters that children fall in

love with. Just as important, you need a really

catchy soundtrack and entertaining scripts that

show humour and emotion.”

Once Fifi and the Flowertots was

Grand Prix + 31

generating money, the company began to look

for new projects.

“First comes the idea,” said Chapman.

“An original spark. I open my mind to concepts

that fill a gap. With Bob the Builder it was

building and diggers, which nobody had done.

With Fifi, it was coming up with a specific girls’


“When David Jenkins walked in the door

with his concept about racing cars, we knew

that was it.”

Work began and in the autumn of 2005

Roary was introduced to the world at MIPCOM

Junior, the world’s largest kids’ programming

convention in Cannes. It was quickly sold to a

number of licensing firms and to TV channels.

“I love the pre-school business because

it’s such a fascinating age group,” Chapman

said. “I loved playing with my own boys at that

age, watching them learning to talk, and read

and kick a ball. They learn so quickly; they’re like

sponges. And it’s all so innocent, they haven’t

been corrupted yet by outside influences. But

beyond five, you start to lose them to a world of

violence and peer pressure.”

Significantly, however, the toys and

interests in those formative years do much to

create lifelong interests. Thus Roary is creating

a generation of future fans for the sport - if the

sport is smart enough to embrace them.

An indication of the power of such a

franchise can be seen from Brands Hatch in

the summer of 2007 when the circuit decided to

have Roary and some of the other characters

at a race meeting to try to boost the spectator

numbers. Surveys showed that 75% of the

spectators cited Roary as a key factor in

deciding to visit the event.

“Roary the Racing Car is such a unique

and fresh concept that it can only help to

encourage more children to become interested

in motorsport,” said Brands Hatch owner

Jonathan Palmer at the time. “I’m sure that this

will help to encourage a whole new generation

of racing fans.”

The attraction of Roary and his friends is

obvious. It is fast, it is fun, it is loud and there

are plenty of thrills and spills. You can take a

look at some excerpts by clicking here.

The show uses a combination of

computer-generated imagery, stop frame

animation and colourful sets and has been

a huge success since it was launched in the

UK in May 2007. One smart move was to

get Sir Stirling Moss (left) to agree to narrate

the series. Roary was launched in the United

States two months ago, with Indycar star Sam

Hornish Jr (right) doing to narration. The show

has now been sold to around 160 countries and

has been a runaway success with five million

items of merchandise having already been

sold worldwide, 1.7m of them in the UK. The

Christmas period, the most important time of the

year for all toy retailers, is due to push up those

Grand Prix + 32

numbers dramatically. Even if there is a credit

crunch, the last thing to go for most people is

presents for their children.

It remains to be seen whether Roary the

Racing Car will match the success of Bob the

Builder, which is a business that is reckoned to

have generated more than $1.5bn in profits. If it

can achieve that goal and shows staying power

over a period of time, there is the potential to

become a permanent feature for generation

after generation of pre-school children, rather

than fading away as so many other characters

have done because they ceased to be relevant

to the next generation. One can argue that

technology will change and so a modern racing

car will become old-fashioned but that has not

stopped Thomas the Tank Engine remaining one

of the most popular attractions for children.

Trying to understand the success of

the great brands is not easy but some have

extraordinary staying power. The Wizard of Oz,

for example, dates back to 1900, Peter Pan

and Peter Rabbit to 1902, Winnie the Pooh to

1926 and Mickey Mouse to 1928. Mary Poppins

(1934), Thomas the Tank Engine (1946), Kermit

the Frog (1955), Paddington Bear (1958) and

Barney (1992) are all still popular, despite the

characters of each new generation.

Motorsport tends to avoid getting involved with

things that it did not invent, but this is a worthy

cause as a means of creating new generations

of fans. The good news is that some of the F1

promoters recognise the power of the idea.

The Australian GP in Melbourne is

planning a major Roary promotion this year, the

first time that there will be a direct link between

Roary and Formula 1.

To learn more about Roary the Racing

Car, click HERE.


Grand Prix + 33

The man behind Donington Park

Simon Gillett is a man with

some rather strange ideas

about running Formula

1 Grands Prix, but he is

determined to go ahead and

he firmly believes that when

people understand what he

is doing they will stop being

negative about the idea.

Gillett turned up at the Motorsport Business

Forum in Monte Carlo in the second week of

December to give delegates just a few more

details of the plans for the 2010 British Grand

Prix. He says that he intends to convince people

by delivering, rather than wasting time and

energy on public relations exercises. It is typical

of his down-to-earth and practical approach to

the problem.

Gillett grew up in the sport of motorcycling,

his father being the manager of Elf’s motorcycle

racing activities. He competed in motocross

but built a career as an engineer, working in

weaponry in the Royal Navy before moving into

software development and ultimately his own

retail consultancy, He started working on the

plan to buy Donington in 2005, the goal being to

develop the racing but also to use the facilities

better and widen the appeal of Donington in

other leisure and entertainment activities. The

By Joe Saward

Grand Prix + 34

deal is a lease for 150 years and includes a

25-year agreement to run the circuit, which

was previously sold to Two Four Sports Ltd in

1997. This company was then acquired in 1999

by the US group SFX Entertainment which has

been running the venue ever since, although

SFX had been transformed into a subsidiary of

entertainment giant Live Nation. Based on the

original deal, that will have cost at least $45m.

In addition to that DVLL acquired 700 acres of

land from the Wheatcroft family companies. This

would have cost in the region of $20m, probably

more. Once the track had been acquired, Gillett

set to work trying to get a deal for the British

Grand Prix and in July it was finally announced

that his bid had been successful and that the

race would switch to Donington in 2010 after

the current contract with Silverstone expires.

The funding needed at Donington was

reckoned to be in the region of $200m and

Gillett then shocked the racing world by saying

that there was no “mystery fairy godfather” and

that the money would be raised with either

a bond issue or “a fan-powered debenture

scheme”. A bond issue would have had to be

secured on the future profits of the circuit and

the debenture idea has been used at various

stadiums in Britain, with wealthy fans paying

up to join an exclusive club which would given

them privileges and the right to purchase the

Grand Prix + 35

est tickets. In order to raise the kind of money

needed to fund the rebuilding of Donington this

would require 20,000 fans each to pay $10,000

and it is hard to imagine that there will be

sufficient fans to come up with that sort of cash,

especially today. If this was a realistic option, it

is fair to suggest that Silverstone might already

have tried it. Having said that, members will

have access to the impressive facilities that

are being built into the dramatic four-storey

clubhouse (right), which will include a pool,

spa, fitness centre and sauna, plus a ballroom,

a bar, a restaurant and large amounts of terrace

space to give the members the best possible

viewing at big events. The clubhouse will also

have administrative offices and parking.

This will operate all year long, holding

events, receptions and parties.

There will be the usual Paddock Club

facilities in the main pit buildings, which will

also be used as function rooms when there is

no racing.

In addition to all this, there will be around

150 VIP suites at Redgate and at Starkey’s,

to enable the circuit to generate more income

from companies that wish to have areas for

their guests at race meetings throughout the

year. The new Media Centre will also have

the capability to be transformed into a large


Gillett said that he negotiated hard with

Bernie Ecclestone to get the maximum rights

he could, arguing that a private enterprise

without government backing needs a better

deal to make things work. Gillett says he has an

exclusive deal for the UK so no other races can

be held for F1 and he may also have a bigger

share of the VIP and trackside signage than

Grand Prix + 36

is normal, as happens at a number of events,

notably the Australian, Monaco and Brazilian


The decision to lengthen the track with a new

infield loop was taken for two reasons. It adds

to the challenge for the F1 cars, but also means

that Donington can henceforth be used as two

independent tracks at the same time - each with

its own pits. This means that track rentals will

increase in value and the smaller loop will also

be available for the owners of the 20 apartments

that are to be built overlooking the Hollywood

section of the circuit (above). These will each

have four-car garages, with direct access to

the circuit by way of their own pitlane. This will

allow collectors to store their cars, have a great

place to watch events and the ability to drive

their cars without needing to worry about speed

limits. In the United States the construction of

such club facilities has enabled private circuits

to generate large amounts of money as the

wealthy are willing to pay as much as $100,000

initiation fee for a lifetime membership of the

club, plus the cost of leasing the units. These

will not be cheap, but Gillett argues that there

are plenty of wealthy people able to afford

what amounts to a second home with garaging

thrown in.

He says that the numbers add up and

the circuit can sustain itself, even if it has to pay

the fees that F1 demands.

His aim is to create a better experience

for the customers to get them to come back

time and time again. He believes that the sport

long ago lost sight of how to treat the public and

needs to focus on that to develop in the future.

The circuit is in the process of getting

the necessary planning permissions for the

development that is planned. Although the

circuit will be upgraded, more than 60% of the

investment of around $150m is going to go into

facilities which will provide it with sustainable

assets for use at other times of the year.

Gillett says that the aim is for Donington

to become an entertainment destination first

and foremost, with the racing providing the main

theme, although the circuit also enjoys much

success as a concert venue and for its weekly

Sunday market, which boasts more than 300

stalls, offers free parking, a small entrance fee

and generates considerable income.

Probably the biggest surprises is that he

has made it clear that cars are not going to be

welcomed at the race - and that fans will be

Grand Prix + 37

delivered to the track using mass transit means.

He argues that many big events these days do

not allow cars to drive right into the venue and

that motorsport should not be any different.

The idea is environmentally-friendly

and is tied to the construction of a new East

Midlands Parkway station on the main railway

line between London and Nottingham, around

three miles to the east of the circuit. His plan is

for there to be an efficient bus service ferrying

spectators to the station, from where they will

be whisked back to London in less than two

hours. Donington is 115 miles from London

but Gillett says that this system is much more

efficient than thousands of cars in traffic jams

for hours after the race has ended. The proof of

that pudding will be in the eating, but it works at

Wembley Stadium.

Gillett says that getting rid of the need

for parking at the track has also opened up

possibilities for much larger camp grounds,

which will be developed with all the necessary

infrastructure and access to shops and other

facilities in the local villages.

Working with the community, rather than

against it, he hopes to convince the doubters

that the entire Three City Region (covering

Nottingham, Derby and Leicester) will benefit

from the project. In the longer term there is a

strong possibility that a light rail service will

eventually be built linking the East Midlands

Parkway station to the airport and there is

potential for this to be extended to the circuit.

This will become necessary as air traffic grows

and there is an increased need to decrease


Another spectacular idea is to close East

Midlands Airport, which is located next to the

circuit (above). This will stop any interference

with flights and will mean that the airport facilities

will be available for the race, allowing large

amounts of parking for park-and-ride schemes

and providing the possibility of fans flying in for

the day on more than 50 commercial jets, in

addition to executive jets and helicopters.

There is much enthusiasm for these

ideas in the Three City Region as the locals are

already beginning to see how they can benefit.

Gillett argues that the best way to get support for

his ideas is to spread the revenues around. The

circuit’s planning permission will be decided on

January 8 and work will take between nine and

10 months. The circuit has 15 months available

but Gillett says the credit crunch has actually

helped him, as there are more builders now



Grand Prix + 38

Behold, a brave new world

KERS, a dramatic new aerodynamics package, slicks, increased engine life

requirements… As we say farewell to 2008, 2009 is already being hailed as a new

era for Formula 1.

By David Tremayne

Grand Prix + 39

Whether some teams like it or not, Kinetic Energy

Recovery Systems (KERS) will play a key part

in 2009 even though critics say the technology

involved is expensive - and pointless.

All along we have been with Max Mosley

on this thorny subject. Life, especially in F1, is

all about perception, and it is important – vitally

important, the way that the world economy

has been going lately – that F1 is perceived to

have an environmental conscience. We have

often talked of a time coming when suddenly

it would be terribly infra dig for manufacturers

to be seen to be involved with something so

outwardly frivolous, but none of us realised

that such a time could come so quickly. Don’t

be mistaken about this: it won’t take much in

the current economic climate for some smart

ass do-good lobby to start pounding the ‘green’

drum while attempting top make a social pariah

of a sport that spends so much money affecting

their precious carbon levels.

The critics had a field day in the middle

of 2008, with the very public electric shock

that a BMW test engineer received in Jerez

in August and the need for Red Bull Racing’s

experimental department to be evacuated when

a lithium battery caught fire. There was also at

least one battery explosion at Toyota.

KERS is, of course, optional for 2009. Its

main proponents - BMW, Williams and Toyota,

now that Honda appear to have fallen by the

wayside - insist that they will run it and are busy

testing their systems right now; others, such as

Ferrari, admit they are way behind. Even Toyota

has quietly allowed that its system may not be

ready for Melbourne.

The two concepts mostly likely to

see the light of a racing day are the electric

supercapacitor system under development by

Grand Prix + 40

BMW, and the flywheel being put through its

paces by Williams Hybrid Power.

“For us KERS is an extremely exciting

project and a great opportunity,” says BMW

Motorsport Director Dr Mario Theissen. “We are

standing at the threshold between a conventional

package of engine and independent transmission

and an integrated drive system. KERS will see

Formula 1 take on a pioneering role for series

production technologies going forward. F1 will

give a baptism of fire to innovative concepts

whose service life and reliability have not yet

reached the level required for series production

vehicles, and their development will be driven

forward at full speed.”

Williams Hybrid Power Limited’s system

is based on a composite flywheel rotating at

speeds of up to 100,000 rpm. “High-energy

flywheel technology is a challenging field of

engineering,” says Patrick Head, Williams

F1’s Director of Engineering. “We fully support

the FIA’s positive initiative in energy recovery

systems which we hope will allow Formula One

to make some contribution to the development

of an environmentally beneficial technology

that could help to reduce the carbon emissions

of vehicles.”

But will KERS work Will it yield a

performance benefit

“It will not make a massive difference to

lap time as the extra power will only be available

for around 6.5s per lap,” reveals Toyota’s Luca

Marmorini. “So a time benefit of around 0.1s and

0.3s per lap is realistic, without considering the

weight distribution and packaging implications.

But an additional benefit KERS could offer is

a chance to overtake. On one-lap performance

it is questionable whether it will provide an

advantage compared to a non-KERS car when

you take into account the weight distribution

issues but, providing that you have traction,

you could have a better chance to overtake.”

Grand Prix + 41

Cars these days are so light – some as

little as 455 kg before they are ballasted to 605

– that the extra weight of a KERS system – up to

40 kg - can easily be accommodated in theory.

However, the weight distribution issue is one

reason why Toyota is talking of designing two

different versions of the TF109, one with and

one without KERS. “It is expected that our car

with KERS would still be at the minimum weight

as defined in the rules because at the moment

our car is significantly lighter than the 605 kg

minimum but we comply with the regulations by

using ballast,” Marmorini adds. “If KERS makes

the base weight of the car 25-35 kg heavier, then

you have less ballast to move around and this

could have a performance impact as it limits the

opportunities to change weight distribution.”

Meanwhile, Markus Duesmann, BMW’s

head of powertrain development, explained

that an intermittent defect in the KERS control

unit, allied to a sporadic capacitive coupling

from the high-voltage network to the 12-volt

network of the car, which only occurred in

certain conditions, resulted in the mechanic

getting the shock in Jerez when he touched the

car’s steering wheel and sidepod. As a result

there was a high frequency AC voltage between

these contact points. “The voltage ran through

the wiring of the 12-volt network to the steering

wheel and through the carbon chassis back to

the control unit,” Duesmann said. “Only a small

amount of energy can be transferred through

this capacitive coupling effect. However, the

energy is sufficient to cause an extremely

painful reaction.

“The driver was insulated against the car

by his racing overalls and gloves and therefore

not in any danger.

“Among the measures arrived at are

changes in the design of the control unit to avoid

capacitive coupling effects, extended monitoring

functions for high frequencies and a conductive

Grand Prix + 42

connection of the chassis components to avoid

any electric potential.”

Toyota’s technical director, Pascal

Vasselon, recently addressed the issues of

battery fires and explosions. “Going through

the possible failure modes of the KERS system

is just what we have to do,” he said. “We will all

be trying to overheat or overcharge batteries.

We will all be trying to crash flywheels for those

who will use flywheels. We just have to do that,

so it will be all about making sure that we keep

these failures under control on the test bench,

and later on the track. So for sure, yes, you will

hear about battery fires and things like that,

simply because we will have to gain experience

in this direction.”

Both BMW Sauber and McLaren

Mercedes have been testing heavily with their

KERS cars of late, and there have been no

further safety problems. But not everyone is

convinced. One leading team owner, who did

not want to be identified, said: “I think KERS

will be good for F1, but there are some real

challenges to it to make it safe, to make it

reliable, and it is most certainly an extremely

expensive technology to pursue.”

But from the ecological viewpoint, isn’t it

good for F1

“That’s absolutely unsustainable as an

argument, but I don’t want to get into that.”

Not even as a means of improving the

breed of roadcars

“Quite honestly, I wouldn’t go down

that path. I mean, we are going to be dumping

somewhere between £50,000 and £100,000

worth of batteries at every grand prix. They

won’t be recyclable, they have very limited shelflife,

and you could be having an accident with

a hell of a lot of energy stored up. The amount

of work we have done to get through the safety

gates is just phenomenal. Is it going to have

any relevance to any production car None at


Not even design philosophies and


“We don’t think so.”

Here’s another thing about KERS: A good

race car must have great aerodynamic qualities

and decent engine power, but the most critical

thing an F1 car needs is balance. Balancing a

car in all the conditions in which it will run is

extremely difficult. And one of the things about

harvesting energy is that you are putting reverse

torque into the back wheels which means that

the potential impact for it to imbalance the car

is quite extreme. So you are constantly trying

to manage the influence of engine retardation

which comes through the friction in the engine,

when you decelerate into a corner. The ability

to lock up the rear wheels is one thing, but at

least you are dealing with a consistent situation.

Harvesting horsepower under deceleration

you are not sure about the consistency from

corner to corner and engineers see that as one

of the big challenges, how do they keep the

car balanced You don’t need to be very out

Grand Prix + 43

of balance to lose all the time gained. All the

mathematics show there is a potential for threeto

four-tenths of a second a lap with KERS,

over the lap. What that doesn’t show, however,

is that it might be that you can get that in a very

short period of time, as an energy boost that

might allow you to overtake, and you might be

three- or four-tenths faster down one straight.

But there isn’t yet enough knowledge to be sure

of the characteristics. All they know thus far is

that it is one thing to harvest the energy and

another to discharge it. They are very different


The new aero package is something that

Grand Prix + has recounted in great detail, so

we won’t repeat all that here. Suffice it to say

that the next generation of cars will not be as

pretty as their immediate forebears. The front

wings in particular as so wide that they look like

some of the freak aberrations that appeared

at Indianapolis in the late Sixties and early

Seventies when wings first became popular. In

other words, ugly.

Thus far nobody has really reported on

their findings from testing hybrid 2009 aero

set-ups, but Pedro de la Rosa, who was very

closely involved in the initial test programmes

that determined the new regulations, was

recently reported as saying the changes would

not make any difference to overtaking. What he

actually said was that it would still not be easy,

but that there should be more chance to do it,

and that is exactly what the Overtaking Working

Group sought to achieve.

Interestingly, Red Bull Racing technical

director Geoff Willis doubts that the push-topass

effect that will be created by KERS will

lead to more overtaking.

“I think the teams will soon learn how

Grand Prix + 44

to use and optimise KERS, but it won’t help

overtaking so much,” he said. “It’s a technology

developed on road cars that will find a limited

application in F1.

“The new aerodynamics regulations

will be the biggest factor in changing racing

by creating new overtaking opportunities. The

reduction in size of the rear wing will allow the

drivers to race more closely, because the loss

of downforce won’t be as radical while in the


Cynically, however, he believes that

teams will deliberately develop their cars

to make it more difficult for rivals to follow in

their slipstream. “Probably one aerodynamic

development will be to disturb the air flow of the

following car in order to make your own car less

prone to be overtaken,” he added.

Slick tyres also make a welcome

reappearance in 2009. Was I alone in abhorring

those treaded abominations Race tyres should

run on slicks, period.

BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld recently

highlighted the need to preserve the rear

tyres during tests of Bridgestone’s first range

of control slicks, and said that would be a key

factor in determining car set-up in 2009.

The new slicks are the same size as

the old-specification grooved ones. Thus

proportionally there is a bigger gain in grip from

taking the four grooves out of the narrower front

tyres compared to the four out of the rear.

“There are differences in setting up the

car, but it is mainly because of the tyres, not the

aerodynamics,” Heidfeld told in


“Everyone knows that the rears will

go off like crazy and that’s the main thing to

work on. You have a lot less downforce that

obviously gives you less grip in general, but

the biggest challenge is the tyres. We seem to

have proportionally too much grip on the front

compared to the rear. The rear tyre wear is very

bad. It is completely different to Barcelona where

nobody could heat them up. In Barcelona, as

well as the soft we had the hard tyre and I think

nobody, even the guys with high downforce,

were able to use it!

“The problem is the degradation of the

rear tyres. It’s bad, but at least it’s good that

everyone is in the same position.”

Despite his remarks, Heidfeld said he

is confident that there will be no repeat of his

2008 problems when he struggled to warm up

the front tyres in qualifying. Kimi Raikkonen

suffered similarly, both drivers’ less aggressive

styles benefiting less than their more aggressive


“After testing at two different circuits I am

starting to understand the tyres a lot more and

we will not have the same problems,” Heidfeld

said. “I think I understood quicker and easier

with this year’s tyres than with last year’s.”

Since our last issue, the sad demise

Grand Prix + 45

of Honda Racing has focused attention

much more on cost cutting than on the

aforementioned technical issues, and following

what was reported as a highly fruitful meeting

between Mosley and the Formula One Teams’

Association (FOTA) in Monaco earlier this

month, the World Motor Sport Council ratified

a number of highly significant changes that are

said to yield an immediate reduction in costs of

up to 30 per cent.

Engine life is to be doubled, and each

driver may only use a maximum of eight engines

for the season plus four for testing (thus 20 per

team). These units will be limited to 18,000 rpm,

1000 rpm down on their 2008 counterparts.

The cost of engines to independent teams will

be approximately 50 per cent of 2008 prices.

Unanimous agreement was reached on a list

of proposed changes to the Renault engine for

2009; all other engines will remain unchanged.

In-season testing has been banned,

except during race weekends. From January 1

2009 no wind tunnel may exceed 60 per cent

scale and an operational speed of 50 metres/

sec. A formula to balance wind tunnel-based

research against computational fluid dynamics

(CFD) research, is to be proposed by the FIA,

subject to the agreement of the teams. The

latter will close their factories for six weeks in

each year, depending on local laws.

Manpower at races will also be reduced

by various measures, including sharing

information on tyres and fuel to eliminate the

need for ‘spotters,’ who effectively spy on rival

teams’ strategies.

For 2010 engines will be available to the

independent teams for less than 5 million Euros

per team per season. These will either come

from an independent supplier (Cosworth) or be

supplied by the manufacturer teams backed

by guarantees of continuity. Any deal with an

independent supplier will be signed no later

than December 20 2008. This same engine will

continue to be used in 2011 and 2012. Sensibly,

to get around the nonsense of a single engine,

manufacturers may make their own power units,

but to the basic Cosworth design and power

output. That is a reasonable compromise.

Refuelling will be banned, and race

distances may also be reduced depending on

the results of market research.

In the longer term the FIA and FOTA, will

study the possibility of an entirely new power

train for 2013 based on energy efficiency. The

talk right now is of 1.8-litre turbos…

This is all good stuff, most of it well

thought-out in a hitherto unseen spirit of unity

and unanimity. But there is one thing we just

don’t get in all this, and it concerns KERS.

Why on earth are teams at liberty for

2009 to spend what they want – and believe me,

it is a big spend – on their own KERS systems,

when the FIA has mandated a standard KERS/

drivetrain to be built by Xtrac, from 2010


How does that make sense v

Grand Prix + 46

A review of the year

If 2007 was the most bitter year in recent Formula One history, 2008 marked a turning point

as Ferrari and McLaren buried the hatchet and instead indulged in a gripping, sporting duel

which saw the honours divided equally after a fabulous denouement in Brazil.

By David Tremayne

Grand Prix + 47

While McLaren Mercedes dusted itself off after

the bruising events of 2007, Ferrari regrouped

in the aftermath of the Jean Todt win-at-allcosts

era around a young man called Stefano

Domenicali and, as a result, regained much of

its old bounce, joie de vivre and respect. It was

as if there was an understanding there at last

that you cannot win them all, and that crucial

factor alleviated the spite that had been such a

characteristic of the previous year.

As Kimi Raikkonen unaccountably lost

his way, Felipe Massa emerged as a genuine

World Championship contender as he and

Lewis Hamilton fought their battle across the

tracks of the globe, each having his day in the

sun until it was the rain of Interlagos that saw

the latter oh so narrowly beat the former. But if

Massa lost the battle, he won the humanitarian

war with his stoic acceptance of the cruelty of

Fate, and his exemplary behaviour in the postrace

press conference which gained him the

respect as both a driver and a man that has

long been his due.

Hamilton, in his own way, was nonetheless

a worthy champion. Like Massa, he won a lot of

races – five to the Brazilian’s six. Three of them

- Monaco, Silverstone and Germany – came in

tricky conditions which enabled him yet again

to reveal a mastery that has convinced many

observers that he is the best man out there.

However… In Massa, Raikkonen, double

race winner Fernando Alonso and Canadian

victor Robert Kubica we have at least four other

drivers of similar calibre who will undoubtedly

keep him honest, and there are signs of others

coming through who will also leave their mark

Grand Prix + 48

given the right chances.

Another highlight of 2008 was the superb

performance of BMW Sauber which, for the first

half of the season, made the title fight a threehorse

race. Subsequently Renault showed signs

of awakening from its post-Alonso slumber,

while Toyota could be satisfied with its progress

and Toro Rosso achieved that stand-out win at

Monza courtesy of rising star Sebastian Vettel.

Sadly, the euphoria of the Brazilian

showdown – surely the greatest in history –

was soured subsequently by Honda’s shock

withdrawal, and the need to slash costs suddenly

became the number one priority. ‘Green’

issues have already placed the sport under an

obligation to clean up its act environmentally,

but there is nothing like money to hit where

it hurts. At a time when banks are failing and

governments are propping companies up left

right and centre as mass redundancies loom,

the sport faces an even more immediate threat

on a moral level. It must be seen to be lean and

mean, and relevant.

Our belief is, and always has been, that

you don’t win fights by running away. And that

the only way to get out of recession is to fight

your way out.

So let’s be positive about the future. As

these words were written, Honda has had two

firm offers on the table, and a third is imminent.

The remaining nine teams have pledged

themselves to their 2009 programmes. As you

can read elsewhere in this edition, there is a

plethora of new regulations which will not just

spice up F1 but help it to polish up its ‘green’


Reports of the sport’s imminent collapse

are widely exaggerated.


Grand Prix + 49

Fe r r a r i

Ferrari generally had the fastest car in Formula

1 in 2008 and to be brutal one can say that the

team did not make the most of it. In the end it

won the Constructors’ Championship but Felipe

Massa was pipped to the Drivers’ title amid

scenes of high drama in Brazil.

By the end of the year, however, Ferrari

had achieved something which does not appear

in the record books. It had gained a new respect

from the way in which it went racing. There is

no doubt that Jean Todt was a highly effective

figure, but he let nothing stand in the way of

winning and, all too often, this was perceived

as taking the win-at-all-costs philosophy too far.

People just did not like it. Those who worked

with him were full of praise but the F1 paddock

Grand Prix + 50

was not filled with Todt friends and fans. Stefano

Domenicali took over with a completely different

style - and it did Ferrari a power of good.

But there were too many mistakes.

The season began in disastrous fashion in

Australia with engine failures in qualifying for

Kimi Raikkonen and in the race for Massa. In

Malaysia we saw the true picture with Kimi and

Felipe running 1-2 until the latter went off for

no reason at all. And then he bounced back in

Bahrain to lead Raikkonen home in a Ferrari


There was another 1-2 in Spain, but the

pendulum swung again and Raikkonen was the

winner, while in Turkey - a fourth consecutive

Ferrari victory - it was Massa at the front. He

led in Monaco too, but the strategy was wrong

and he dropped to third.

In Canada he was not happy all weekend

and off the pace while Raikkonen was taken out

in a silly pitlane incident with Lewis Hamilton.

In France Kimi seemed strong but an

exhaust failure dropped him back and Massa

won, and thereafter Raikkonen seemed lost. At

a wet Silverstone the two men spun eight times

between them. Massa drove well in Hungary

but his engine failure three laps from home

was cruel. Then the FIA stewards gave him the

win in Belgium, which he did not deserve. In

Singapore there was another disastrous pitstop

and to add insult to injury Raikkonen crashed

four laps from home. By then there was open

discussion about his future. Ferrari reacted

calmly, announced that he would be staying

and explained that Kimi was not happy with the

car. That is no excuse. A great champion is best

seen when he is in a poor car. Kimi just looked

average and made mistake after mistake. The

team said that he will come back strong when

he gets a car he likes. Maybe so, because he

cannot afford another year like that...

Massa rose to new heights as the

season progressed. He bounced back from

setback after setback and in Brazil there was

no stopping him. It was a majestic performance.

He did all he could have done to win and when

GP+ Team Rating: 10

GP+ Driver Ratings

Felipe Massa: 10

Kimi Raikkonen: 7

he lost he did so with grace and style. If he is

never a World Champion this will be seen as

his finest hour. He won six races. Hamilton won


Domenicali says that Ferrari will learn

from its mistakes and be stronger next year,

which is a sensible way to look at the situation.

The team is in good hands.JS

Grand Prix + 51

McLa r e n

Before we look at the six victories that McLaren

Mercedes scored in 2008, it is important to

remember the hell that the team went through

in a 2007 season that was ripped apart by the

acrimony and controversy of the Stepneygate

scandal, and not least the $100m fine that went

with it.

Despite all of that, the team scarcely

missed a beat, and the MP4-23 was quick

straight out of the box when Lewis Hamilton

and his new team-mate, Renault refugee Heikki

Kovalainen, began testing it.

The season started well, with Hamilton

dominating the opener in Melbourne with a

display that confirmed that losing the title at the

11th hour in 2007 had not quelled his hunger.

But then came an unhappy strong of

races, as the Ferraris pushed forward and, in

Bahrain, Hamilton made the first of the mistakes

that would be one of the factors of his season.

He made another in Monaco, but there he made

up for that with a brilliant victory in the rain that

put him right back into contention.

Thereafter, 2008 developed into a cat

and mouse battle between the two greatest

marques, one surging slightly ahead of the

other as developments came on stream.

Hamilton should have walked Canada,

played worse than second fiddle to the Ferraris

in France, but bounced back emphatically with

excellent victories in Britain and Germany.

McLaren won in Hungary too, courtesy of

Kovalainen, but Felipe Massa had the Finn and

the fleeter Hamilton covered after a brilliant

start, until his Ferraris engine failed within three

Grand Prix + 52

laps of the finish.

Ferrari moved ahead in Valencia, Spa,

Monza and Singapore, before McLaren counterattacked

in Japan and China.

Ferrari owned Interlagos, where McLaren

rather bravely settled for the fifth place that

Hamilton needed to win the title, and only just

made it.

Alongside Hamilton, it was always going

to be a struggle for Kovalainen to make his mark.

To begin with the Finn seemed to be coping well,

and in the early races he was able to keep Lewis

on his toes in qualifying. In Spain he was headed

for victory before the nasty shunt that befell

him when a wheel broke, and to demonstrate

that that had no ill effects, he then challenged

for victory on his return in Turkey. Thereafter,

however, he proved deeply disappointing and it

could be argued that a stronger performance

from the Finn could have made life easier for

Hamilton had he been able to take points from

Massa and Raikkonen.

If it was fitting that a McLaren driver won

the World Championship, it was also apposite

that Ferrari secured the Constructors’ title.

In the overall analysis, the F2008 was very

slightly quicker. DT

GP+ Team Rating: 10

GP+ Driver Ratings

Lewis Hamilton: 10

Heikki Kovalainen: 7

Grand Prix + 53

BMW Sa u b e r

In a season in which the fortunes of Ferrari and

McLaren fluctuated, BMW Sauber was a model

of consistency. While taking the fight to the two

established top teams, it was the only one that

could lay claim to a flawless reliability record.

There was not a single technical retirement

and it notched up by far the most race laps and

fastest pit stops of any team.

The team opted for an aggressive approach

with the F1.08, which took a while to hone

during initial testing. Once the season began,

however, Robert Kubica proved a doughty

challenger as problems warming up the front

tyres in qualifying left Nick Heidfeld somewhat

in the shade in a reversal of 2007 form.

The highlight of the season was the first victory,

which was actually a 1-2 courtesy of Kubica

and Heidfeld in Montreal. But there were other

big deals, too: Kubica’s pole position in Bahrain

and two fastest race laps courtesy of Heidfeld

(Malaysia and Germany). They took 11 podium

finishes, two more than in 2007, and third place

overall only 37 points adrift of Ferrari and 16

behind McLaren.

The goal was a victory, and to make the title

fight a three-horse race, and in that BMW Sauber

succeeded admirably. After the first three races

the team was leading the World Championship

for Constructors, while Kubica’s win in Canada

put him top of the Drivers’ standings, such was

the Pole’s consistency. And it was not until

Silverstone that he made his first mistake of the

year; nevertheless, he was arguably the leading

runner who made the fewest errors.

The trouble was that the team could not maintain

Grand Prix + 54

GP+ Team Rating: 8

GP+ Driver Ratings

Robert Kubica: 10

Nick Heidfeld: 7

that momentum. Once upon a time that was

the malady that afflicted Sauber, but this time

there was no shortage of new developments for

Kubica and Heidfeld to try. The problem was

that the various technical developments failed

to produce the expected gains in performance.

Gradually, Renault hauled up until it was a

match for the team. To rub things in a little, Brazil

marked not just the only race in 2008 in which

BMW Sauber failed to score points, but the first

time in 34 races, since Brazil in 2006…

Thus far in the off-season BMW Sauber

has arguably done the most development work

on the F1.09, which will run KERS from the


Heidfeld is already happy his tyre

problems are behind him thanks to the return of

slicks, so the team should have a genuine twopronged

attack in 2009. But after the surprise

of 2008, strength and performance will now be

expected from the start. DT

Grand Prix + 55

Re n a u lt F1

For most of the year the Renault R28 looked

like a horrible car. Fernando Alonso returned

from his awful period at McLaren and drove

alongside promoted test driver Nelson Piquet.

It was clear from the start, despite a fourth

place in Australia, that the car was not up to

the job. There were a few grandstanding

moments as Renault management became

increasingly uppity, with Alonso on the front row

in Barcelona. The team said this was down to

a raft of new parts, which maybe helped a little,

but it looked like Renault was doing everything

possible to look good when it was clear the car

was disappointing and management needed to

be appeased.

Piquet looked to be a slow learner and setbacks

tended to knock him off balance as he rarely

came back strongly if the weekend began badly.

In the mid-season there was talk that he would

soon be replaced but luck was on his side and

in Germany the Safety Car deployed perfectly

for him and he scored the team’s first podium

finish. There was much irony in that. There were

points for both men in Hungary where the cars

seemed better - on a track where horsepower

is not so important. It was clear by then that

the biggest problem was that the team had not

developed the engines while others had fiddled

and been allowed to find better performance.

Team boss Flavio Briatore (left) complained,

but he is not known for his compassion and

when the boot was on the other foot, he did not

get any sympathy. Renault should have been

smart enough to have done the same as the

other teams. That was a fair point. Briatore has

never been a great visitor to the team factory

and an increasing interest in the Queens Park

Rangers soccer team seems to suggest that he

may not be around for much longer. He says he

Grand Prix + 56

will stay for two more years. Renault has said

nothing as yet.

After the fluke in Germany, Piquet

seemed to gain confidence, but he was never

on a par with Alonso. The cars edged forwards

as developments came through the system.

There were fourth places for Alonso in Belgium

and Italy but in Singapore, a convenient moment

given that Renault was taking stock of its F1

involvement, Alonso got to the front thanks to

a Safety Car caused by Piquet crashing. That

gave him a huge advantage and he used it well

to win his first victory of the year. In Japan he

won again but this time it was a more emphatic

win. How had the team transformed such a

bad car into a good car Alonso never seemed

quite sure. The team said it was constant

development. Others muttered about flexible

rear wings and the team being allowed to modify

its engine. It did all seem rather too convenient

to be realistic, but no-one proved anything and

the scrutineers found no scandals, so one must

conclude that the boffins were responsible. This

charge helped the team to rise to fourth in the

Constructors’ Championship, a significant point

as ING’s sponsorship has performance clauses

that might otherwise have terminated the deal.

Alonso and Piquet were re-signed for 2009, the

latter being rather a surprise, although the idea

of training up another youngster such as Lucas

di Grassi was probably not a better choice. If

Nelson fails to deliver next year, his F1 career

is toast. Alonso says he is happy at Renault and

not interested in moving but one suspects that

this view might change if a Ferrari seat became


If nothing else in 2008, Renault proved it

has staying power and grit. JS

GP+ Team Rating: 6

GP+ Driver Ratings

Fernando Alonso: 8

Nelson Piquet: 5

Grand Prix + 57

To y o ta

2008 was Toyota’s second most productive

season, and with two podiums and 56 points

it made clear progress on its way to fifth

place overall in the World Championship for

Constructors. In the past two seasons combined

it had finished on the podium once and scored

a total of 48 points.

Performance was strong, with many

top 10 qualifying runs, while the reliability was

also impressive with only three mechanical


It was only after Renault made its

dramatic improvement in the latter half of the

season that Toyota began to slip away from the

fight for fourth place overall, Fernando Alonso’s

victories in Singapore and Japan proving


Third place behind the Ferraris for Jarno

Trulli in Magny-Cours and second to Heikki

Kovalainen for Timo Glock at the Hungaroring

were the outstanding results, but the TF108

was generally competitive almost everywhere

as the two drivers amassed 10 top-six and 15

points finishes.

The step forward owed much to the

painstaking but undramatic effort of the

650-strong workforce in Cologne, who worked

the ‘Toyota Way’ under chairman and team

principal ‘George’ Yamashina, president John

Howett, technical director Pascal Vasselon and

team manager Richard Cregan. The TF108 was

not radically different, but it was ready early and

underwent intensive testing prior to the first race.

Part of the key to the success that followed was

that each element had been improved, even if

only marginally, and the fractions of a second

thus yielded all added up.

For the first time in its history, Toyota

really looked like a cohesive team that knew

what it was doing and was there for a genuine

purpose. Booting out Ralf Schumacher was

a major improvement, as was bringing in a

talented, motivated young driver in Timo Glock.

The atmosphere was much better, and Glock’s

youth and enthusiasm motivated everyone,

Grand Prix + 58

GP+ Team Rating: 6

GP+ Driver Ratings

Jarno Trulli: 6

Timo Glock: 6

Trulli included. At the same time,

the likeable Italian’s experience

proved invaluable for the

newcomer, and their relationship

gelled well. Glock began to keep

Trulli on his toes throughout, once

he had figured out how to get the

best from his tyres in qualifying.

The pair of them

communicated well, and that was

instrumental in developing the

car. DT

Grand Prix + 59

Sc u d e r ia To r o Ro s s o

It was in Valencia that things began to change for

Toro Rosso. Up until then Dietrich Mateschitz’s

second-strong team had done a reasonable

job, without looking particularly special.

In the opening race, in Melbourne,

Sebastian Vettel (Seb One) was an early

casualty, but Sebastien Bourdais (Seb two)

drove an excellent race to keep ahead of

former World Champion Fernando Alonso until

gearbox trouble dropped him from what should

have been a fourth place finish to seventh.

Elsewhere, Seb One had shown well, but for

all the world it seemed that the team that was

once Minardi was never going to emerge from

its role as also-ran.

However… Besides Vettel (and, to be

fair, to an extent Bourdais who did a reasonable

job as he acclimatised to F1), the team had

three major assets: technical director Giorgio

Ascanelli, a low-drag car designed by Adrian

Newey, and a Ferrari engine.

Ascanelli is one smart dude who knows

how to get the best from cars, and gradually

he and Vettel clicked as the STR03 went better

and better. In Valencia, Vettel’s initial speed

was expected to be surpassed as rivals hit their

stride. It wasn’t. The Toro Rosso was genuinely

fast. He finished sixth there, beaten to fifth after

Trulli slipped ahead in the first stops.

Then came Monza, and that superb

Grand Prix + 60

victory. Yes, Vettel had a low-drag car at a

place where low-drag cars are at a premium.

Yes he had one of the best engines in the field

behind him. And, yes, Ascanelli came up with

an aggressive strategy. But Vettel still had to put

all that together and keep his head, and he did

that in style to make the team the unexpected

success story of 2008.

Later came fifth for Seb One in Singapore,

sixth in Japan, fourth in Brazil. The season

made a star of Vettel.

Seb Two showed well at times, but

was desperately unlucky even before the

start at Monza, and treated disgracefully by

the stewards in Japan. With another season

he would mature well, but that is as likely as

anyone at Toro Rosso remembering that Tonio

Liuzzi was faster than Seb One when they were

paired together in the latter part of 2007.

How well Toro Rosso goes in 2009

remains to be seen, but in 2008 it sure as hell

embarrassed Red Bull Racing… DT

GP+ Team Rating: 7

GP+ Driver Ratings

Sebastian Vettel: 8

Sebastien Bourdais: 6

Grand Prix + 61

Re d Bu l l Ra c in g

Red Bull Racing ended 2008 with one podium to

its name and seventh place in the Constructors’

World Championship.

This was not exactly stellar, given all

the time, effort and money that has gone into

creating a super team for the Austrian drinks

company. Adrian Newey’s design group, teamed

with Geoff Willis’s down-to-earth ways, was

supposed to recreate the kind of success that

Newey enjoyed at Williams and then McLaren.

But it didn’t...

Grand Prix + 62

GP+ Team Rating: 5

GP+ Driver Ratings

Mark Webber: 6

David Coulthard: 4

The Renault engine was not as good as

the Ferrari and so RBR’s sister team Scuderia

Toro Rosso took all the glory and even won a

race at Monza. The folks at Red Bull said they

were happy because they had built the winning

car, but those were just words.

There were a few high points but overall

things were again disappointing. This was mainly

due to the fact that the lack of straightline speed

required the team to run less

downforce and that hampered

the cars in the corners. The

fact that towards the end of

the year Renault came good

did not really help, though it is

doubtful the two teams were running the same


Mark Webber had a run of five pointsscoring

finishes in the early part of the year and

then qualified on the front row at Silverstone,

apparently with a normal fuel load. Alas, he spun

away his chances on the first lap. He showed

well too in Singapore where good strategic

thinking with the Safety Car put him in a strong

position, but that time the car failed him - the

only time this year that there was a mechanical

failure in a race.

That was evidence of Willis’s solid

approach but there is no getting away from the

fact that the team faded as the year went on.

The points tally in the first part faded to almost

nothing in the second. Perhaps it was because

of the need to produce parts for two teams

(something which Honda found very tough) that

slowed development. Who knows Something

was not right.

On the driver front Webber did a decent

job and seemed a stronger racer than in

previous years. He has always been a great

qualifier and this year that helped him look a lot

better than David Coulthard, who suffered from

the very small gaps between cars in qualifying

and often ended up in the midfield, where one

is prone to have accidents. He had incidents in

more than half the races, although in Canada

his experience paid off and he came from

13th to finish third. It was ironic that he should

score the best result of the year and tough on

Webber, who seems forever in the wrong place.

Next year Sebastian Vettel arrives and it will

be interesting to see how the two compare.

Webber has nothing to lose, while Vettel has a

reputation that he needs to cement.JS

Grand Prix + 63

Wi l l i a m s

How did it come to this Williams has not been

having a good time in recent years and looks

back now to the end of the BMW relationship as

a major turning point.

Without manufacturer money the team

has still done well, but in modern F1 ingenuity

and great engineering is somewhat subjugated

to the ability to spend money investigating every

tiny piece of an F1 car.

Having said that, Williams seems to have

been failing for years to get the best from its

aerodynamics. The problem in 2008 was that

the car was better on tracks with slow corners

where the aerodynamics had less effect and

the mechanical grip of the car was good. There

have been three or four teams of aerodynamic

people that have come and gone and one

must end up asking whether the problem is in

the management of the people rather than the

people themselves.

The story of 2008 was one of good days

and bad days and wasted opportunities. Nico

Rosberg might complain that he did not have a

great car but he failed to use the chances he had

and made too many mistakes. As a result too

many points were thrown away and Williams’s

position looks much worse than it actually was.

Kazuki Nakajima also beat him on too many

occasions, which seemed to suggest that Nico

was not pushing hard enough, rather than

Nakajima being an exceptional talent. The reality

is that the Japanese driver was pushed into F1 a

year earlier than was sensible, because Toyota

wanted him to be trained up and ready for the

longer term. Williams accepted him because it

was worth it financially.

GP+ Team Rating: 5

GP+ Driver Ratings

Nico Rosberg: 5

Kazuki Nakajima: 5

Grand Prix + 64

Rosberg started the year with second

in Melbourne but it quickly emerged that the

Australian race was not the norm at all. And as

the season progressed other teams with big

budgets were able to develop their cars faster.

He was lucky in Singapore where a Safety Car

allowed him to climb to second place after he

pitted under the red light. The stewards were

slow in giving him the penalty and he was able

to build a big advantage as the chasers were

stuck behind slower cars.

Williams is the only team in the pit lane

that exists solely to race, and against a grid full

of over-spending manufacturers it has not been

easy. But these are gritty individuals who know

how to dig deep and have done so many times


As long as the focus remains building

the fastest car possible, Williams will be strong.

If the team is distracted and loses sight of that,

there are only problems ahead.JS

Grand Prix + 65

Ho n d a Ra c in g F1

Honda Racing F1 had a bad year in 2007 and

hoped for better in 2008. But the reality was that

its new car was no better than the old one and it

quickly became clear that there was little point

in flogging a dead horse. The team worked on it

and did make some improvement, but for Ross

Brawn the focus was clearly on 2009.

Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello

did what they could, but it was hard to stay

motivated in such circumstances.

It was also clear that the problem was

not just in the chassis and that the engine was

underpowered. Honda did not like to talk about

this, but that was the case.

There was one high point this year, at

the British GP where good strategy, experience

and a fine drive took Barrichello to the podium.

That was clearly an exceptional circumstance.

Button drove some great races but was

little rewarded for them. His sixth place in Spain

was impressive.

In the end Barrichello scored 11 points

to Button’s three but within the team the

feeling was that Button was the better choice

and Barrichello’s future was looking rocky,

particularly when the team tested Brazilian

youngsters Bruno Senna and Lucas di Grassi.

As the season went on Honda turned

more and more to 2009 - the logical thing to

do - but circumstances then worked against the

team as the high costs, the lack of sponsorship

and the support it could have given to keep

Super Aguri going all combined to make the

main Honda F1 team vulnerable to criticism.

The downturn in the US economy did the rest.

Grand Prix + 66

The Honda Board accepted failure and withdrew

and the team management is now trying to find a

buyer for the operation. It will not be easy given

the credit crunch, but it is a fabulous asset that

can be acquired for a fraction of its true value.

Honda management in Japan must

take the blame for a lot of what has happened.

Sacking Geoff Willis in 2006 was a bad idea -

part of the Honda dream of having a Japanese

F1 operation. The realisation of this mistake

and the hiring of Brawn was a good sign, but

it came too late to help the team in 2008. The

latter never even considered the possibility

that the Japanese firm, that prides itself on

its racing heritage, would simply throw in the

towel. It is a sad story, and one which illustrates

the vagaries of Formula 1 in its current highspending

mode. It is supremely ironic that it

took the demise of the Honda team to shock

the others into agreeing cost-cutting measures

that will help preserve the sport. JS

GP+ Team Rating: 4

GP+ Driver Ratings

Jenson Button: 5

Rubens Barrichello: 5

Grand Prix + 67

Fo r c e In d ia F1

If you went looking for an unhappy team in

2008, you didn’t have to go further than Force


Vijay Mallya attended every race, his

soul hidden behind dark glasses, and watched

as his lieutenants waged an inter-team war.

In the red corner there was sporting director

Colin Kolles, a tough, uncompromising fellow

who drew criticism as much as he drew praise;

in the blue, technical chief Mike Gascoyne, a

prickly, no-nonsense tell-it-like-it-is sort of guy

who doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

Both had their faults, both had their

talents. Neither got on. All year it was a ‘he goes

or I go’ situation, which was finally resolved

when Mallya decided after Brazil that both

should be shown the door. The wisdom of that,

rather than making them get along, is still to be


The sole high point for this team, which

professes to have bold ambitions without

showing much sign of knowing how to realise

them, came in Monaco, where a late attack from

Kimi Raikkonen inadvertently removed Adrian

Sutil from fourth place that would have counted

as Jack slaying the giant on the beanstalk. It

was, however, something of an illusion, since

Sutil should not have been that highly placed

having passed three drivers earlier on under

the yellow flags. Last time I looked that was a

punishable offence, but that was not the last

time the stewards cocked things up in 2008.

It was never apparent where Fisichella’s

‘experience’ was of benefit to the team. It certainly

wasn’t in Turkey, where he made a rookie’s

mistake and crashed over Nakajima, though

ironically that was one of the few occasions on

which he looked as though he was attacking

Grand Prix + 68

GP+ Team Rating: 3

GP+ Driver Ratings

Giancarlo Fisichella: 3

Adrian Sutil: 3

(above). The rest of the time he seemed more

like a tired man awaiting something better to

come along and rescue him from the tedium of

going through the motions of being a grand prix


It escapes me why Mallya didn’t have

the sense to put a hungry and talented potential

star such as test and reserve driver Tonio Liuzzi

into the second race seat alongside Sutil. At

the very least he would have kept the German

on his toes, which Fisi manifestly did not.

Unfathomably, the mechanics can look forward

to being motivated to do their best as the Sutil/

Fisichella partnership continues in 2009.

Go figure. DT


Grand Prix + 69

Su p e r Ag u r i F1

The Super Aguri F1 team never really had

a chance in 2008. Aguri Suzuki’s dream of a

Japanese F1 team was shared by some back

home at Honda in Tokyo. From the start, Super

Aguri was intended to be a Honda B-team and it

received engines, chassis and financial support

from the mother company. In return, Honda was

supposed to benefit from technical data.

In the end the production processes

proved to be a strain and the feedback was of

minimal value as the cars were different. Honda

had to pay and Williams remained fundamentally

opposed to allowing customer cars, although

a deal was struck to allow them for a couple

more years. That was not enough to guarantee

a buyer as the investment needed to turn the

team into a constructor was prohibitive.

Things had begun to unravel in 2007

when the mysterious Hong-Kong-based

sponsor, SS United Oil & Gas, failed to pay

and then salvation from the Magma Group

fell apart because of the uncertainties. Honda

propped up the team for a few weeks but then

had to stop. It must take some of the blame for

dreaming about a Honda B team, while Super

Aguri itself must take some blame for failing

to find the money. Such is the way of F1. The

drivers did what they could, remained positive

and tried hard. One can ask no more.

The season, and the team, ended

after four races which had resulted in a best

performance of 13th. The team took five finishes

from eight starts but there was obviously not

much money about and it was all very hand-tomouth.

A great shame. JS

GP+ Team Rating: 4

GP+ Driver Ratings

Anthony Davidson: 4

Takuma Sato: 4

Grand Prix + 70


McLaren 10

Ferrari 10

BMW Sauber 8

Toro Rosso 7

Renault 6

Toyota 6

Williams 5

Red Bull Racing 5

Honda Racing 4

Super Aguri 4

Force India 3





FOR 2009



Lewis Hamilton 10

Felipe Massa 10

Robert Kubica 10

Sebastian Vettel 8

Fernando Alonso 8

Nick Heidfeld 7

Heikki Kovalainen 7

Kimi Raikkonen 7

Sebastien Bourdais 6

Jarno Trulli 6

Timo Glock 6

Mark Webber 6

Kazuki Nakajima 5

Rubens Barrichello 5

Jenson Button 5

Nelson Piquet 5

Nico Rosberg 5

David Coulthard 4

Anthony Davidson 4

Takuma Sato 4

Giancarlo Fisichella 3

Adrian Sutil 3

Grand Prix + 71

Christmas book reviews


The Rise of a Champion by Neil Drysdale,

Birlinn Limited, £16.99.

ISBN: 978 1 84158 763 9

Ask me to name three drivers I know who care

anything for the history of their sport, let alone

actually read about it, and two of them would

be called Franchitti – Dario and Marino. But

this time around it is Dario who is the featured

subject of this nicely written tome by Scottish

wordsmith Neil Drysdale.

It helps that Drysdale has known

Franchitti for many years, and the text flows

smoothly from the early days as George and

Marina spent everything they had keeping their

boys racing in karts, to his triumph in the 2007

Indy 500 and the IRL Championship. It even

touches on the less happy foray into NASCAR.

It may not be the definitive Franchitti

biog, but with inputs from Sir Jackie Stewart,

Allan McNish and the late David Leslie it rattles

along at a similar pace to its worthy subject while

painting a strong portrait of a battle-hardened

and extremely likeable small town boy who

made it all the way to the top. DT



World Championship Sports Car Racing in

Photographs, 1982-1992 by Janos Wimpffen,

David Bull Publishing, $149.95/£94.99.

ISBN-13: 987 1 893618 97 8

ISBN-10: 1 893618 97 8

There should be a warning with this book: Only

those with muscles honed in the gym should

attempt to lift it!

Monocoques and Ground Effects is a

monster that represents the final instalment of

Wimpffen’s four-volume photographic history

of world sportscar racing. The three previous

volumes, Open Roads and Front Engines,

Winged Sports Cars and Enduring Innovation,

and Spyders and Silhouettes, were also

produced by David Bull Publishing.

It embraces the Group C era of the

Eighties and early Nineties, which was driven

by innovations in aerodynamics and chassis

design, and well-heeled support from major

manufacturers such as Porsche, Mercedes,

and Jaguar.

Renowned motorsports historian

Wimpffen uses hundreds of rare photographs

to recreate the ambience and excitement of the

time via year-by-year accounts of championship

races at such classic venues as Le Mans,

Daytona, Monza and the Nürburgring. The

result is a fascinating, comprehensive review,

beautifully presented.

And don’t be put off by the price: the

photographs alone are worth it. DT

Grand Prix + 72



Epic Clashes for Supremacy by Karl Ludvigsen

Haynes Publishing, £30.

ISBN: 978 1 84425 412 5

Okay, I am disposed to like any book that has Lodovico Scarfiotti

and Jochen Rindt racing wheel-to-wheel at Monza in 1966 on its

front cover. Which is just as well because Karl Ludvigsen’s offering

via Haynes Publishing is, at £30, a trifle on the expensive side.

It traces the fierce racing rivalry between Ferrari and

Maserati, two teams once located only 12 miles apart in Italy’s

Reggio Emilio region, from the days when the latter was the

marque to beat to the time when Ferrari began to take the upper


Festooned with some photos I had not seen before (always

a good sign) from lensmen of the calibre of Rodolfo Mailander

and Max Le Grand, it covers not just Formula 1 but sportscars. As

ever, the indefatigable Ludvigsen draws on his own memories and

personal relationships with the likes of Carlo Chiti, Mauro Forghieri

and Giulio Alfieri, plus copious research, to create a work that is

worth every penny. DT


The Story of Rick Mears and the Mears Gang

Gordon Kirby, CMG Publishing, £25.

ISBN: 978 1 905334 30 8

If you have ever been fortunate

enough to secure the autograph

of Rick Ravon Mears, you will get

the title of this book; habitually,

the greatest oval racer of all time

signs his name: Rick Mears,


That tells you so much

about the character of this great

racer, but Kirby’s book delves

into the whole story of the Mears

Grand Prix + 73

Gang - his Mom and Dad Squib and Bill, and racing brother Roger. From the

early days racing bikes and buggies, Kirbs traces Mears’ path to greatness on

the superspeedways, and his stellar total of four victories in the Indianapolis


One of my great regrets is that Rick never raced in Formula 1, and Kirby

sheds more light on the reasons why, after highly promising tests of a Brabham

BT49 at Riverside and Paul Ricard in 1980, he decided that Europe was not for

him. There is even a colour photograph of that historic occasion.

Three years ago at Indy you couldn’t move for Danica Patrick; I watched

a man sitting quietly with his wife outside McLaren, all but ignored, and

pondered the vagaries of what we call fame. But Mears was never one to seek

the limelight.

How fitting then, if this man will not tell his own remarkable and inspiring

story, that Kirby has done so for him. DT


Triple World Champion The Autobiography by Andy Priaulx

HarperCollins, £18.99

ISBN: 13 978 0 00 728117 6

ISBN: 10 0 00 728117 X

Every so often a racing book comes along that not only captures a critical part

of the sport’s history, but captures the manner in which a character ran their

career in such a way that it becomes an inspirational handbook.

This is such a book.

Andy Priaulx is an engaging and immensely likeable character who is

well able to convey his feelings to ghost writer Tim Collings (who also handled

the official Lewis Hamilton books), but there is more to it than that. Priaulx’s

career started at the bottom, and he went through his days living in a caravan

at Silverstone losing faith in himself, yet did something about it, adopted only

positive thoughts, and overcame countless obstacles on his way to three

Touring Car World Championships. His autobiography thus becomes much

more than simply the story of a man who made it. Throughout it is sprinkled with

the philosophies that helped Priaulx, not the least his implacable determination

always to fight back in adversity.

If you haven’t met him already, Andy Priaulx is a man you would want to

know. This inspiring book goes a long way to making the introduction. DT

Grand Prix + 74


Let’s not meddle with medals

As if the withdrawal of Honda was not bad enough, we had to endure another ‘appearance’ of Gordon Brown,

Britain’s unelected prime minister, at the British Racing Drivers’ Club luncheon at the Café Royal in Regent Street.

Of course, we should not look a gifthorse in the mouth, and his presence to laud Lewis Hamilton as he received

five awards could be seen as the construction of an important platform from which to seek British government help

for motorsport, especially for the British Grand Prix.

But since I’m a cynic and a disbeliever in everything he stands for, I’ll wait to be convinced of that. I found it

outrageously hypocritical that the dull Scot should suddenly discover the sport only when the opportunity arose to

align his party with a British success story at a time when everyone is feeling the effects of the economic crisis which

he and his cohorts have done so much to generate.

Thanks, you dour deadbeat, but none of us on the inside need to be told by the likes of you that: “This is a

great sport – a sport that we’ve exported to the whole of the world.”

Will you be able to remember that the next time Damon Hill and the BRDC ask for your help to keep it that


Fortunately, it seems that none of the other F1 teams are about to follow Honda out the door, but with Subaru

also calling time on its rally programme my first reaction was to wonder if Japanese management hasn’t cornered

the market in tiny cojones. I could imagine poor old Soichiro Honda, racer that he was, spinning at 20,000 rpm in

his grave. You beat recession by fighting it, not by running away, but both withdrawals give everyone in the sport

serious pause for thought. They are reminders that nobody goes racing just for the hell of it; there are always

economic motives even if some teams do not always appear to understand their own fully.

When you read that reports to UK ministers suggest that speeding should be accorded the same social

stigma as drink driving, you can detect the direction of a big wind, and while we might all adore our sport there are a

lot of zero tolerance killjoys out there who like to stamp out things they do not like or understand, who do not. Who

see it as a frivolous undertaking whose only social effects are negative. More than ever, we need to keep a clear

sense of perspective. The current unity between the FIA and FOTA is a heartening sign that this is happening.

My Christmas thoughts are with racing people who face unemployment; I wish you all fulfilment in 2009.

A good thing, which came out of that BRDC luncheon, was the presentation to Ron Dennis of the BRDC Gold

Medal, one of only nine ever to be awarded. Now that’s the kind of medal I like. But I’m afraid that Bernie’s idea of

medals instead of points for the drivers just leaves me cold, especially as he and Max were the guys who revised

the ‘reviled’ points system the way it currently is to stop Michael Schumacher running away with everything in 2003.

Rather cleverly, the World Motor Sport Council tucked that proposal away as requiring further market research (the

very fact that the governing body would even think of such a thing is promising). That sounded rather like the way in

which Bernie himself once dealt with a proposal a friend had sent to him. The friend had heard nothing and asked

Mr E for an update.

“I put it in a file marked Do Not Ever Open Again…” Bernie replied.

There was one idea along those lines that nobody raised at the WMSC. And it would have fitted in perfectly

with that whole medal concept while simultaneously slashing costs by 75 per cent and reducing F1’s carbon footprint.

Why not just copy the Olympics entirely, and hold the FIA Formula 1 World Championship every four years v



FOR 2009


Grand Prix + 75

Parting shot

Grand Prix + 76

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines