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FUMES #469

October 29, 2008

Formula Done.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

What if they had a race series and nobody showed up? Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley are hell-bent to find out, apparently. Their latest brain storm will undoubtedly see to it that the world's auto manufacturers walk away from the sport due to the dynamic duo's insistence on introducing common engines and other shared technologies to the Formula 1 specifications of the near future. Now on paper this idea may be a "throwback" to Mosley's days as a Grand Prix car manufacturer when he was involved with March Engineering and most everyone (save Ferrari) was running Ford-Cosworth power, but in reality time cannot be turned back, and the End Game may be brewing for the sport itself.

Cutting costs - the sole reason stated for Mosley's moves - is a noble idea that I would agree with, given the ridiculous $400 million annual budgets being expended by some of the top runners, but bringing the sport to a screeching halt to impose NASCAR-like levels of spec-car control is anathema to the very ideal of F1 and it will result in the death knell for the formula after its years occupying the pinnacle of the sport of motor racing. That Mosley and Ecclestone are actually thinking that they will be able to force the manufacturers to submit to their wishes is testament to the fact that they live in a complete dream world of their own fabrication, unfettered by such complications as logic and common sense.

Ferrari and Toyota have already made it clear that they would have little interest in such a series, while Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Honda are sure to follow. Max and Bernie clearly see themselves as "saving" the sport of Formula 1 with these actions, when in fact they are on the verge of willfully destroying the sport with their own hands.

Motor racing - especially F1 - needs vision right now, not regressive, Neanderthal thinking that would send the sport back to the Stone Age. F1 needs a complete fresh start, one that will take the sport into this still new century leading automotive innovation for the future, not by reproving existing technologies that have already filtered down to our passenger vehicles.

F1 has the perfect opportunity at this very moment in time to lead the development of alternative propulsion systems of the future, and it's a crime to think that they may just blow it to smithereens instead.

Could you imagine a new set of F1 rules that consisted of only the following set of specifications?:

1. Minimum weight. 2. Minimum package size of the vehicle. 3. Four wheels, and 4. Achieve the equivalent of 10 mpg at racing speeds, with everything else being "free."

Now wouldn't that foster the kind of creative thinking and innovation that this sport - and the auto industry itself - is so desperately hungry for?

It's just too bad that the powers that be - meaning Max and Bernie - are the ones entrusted with the future of Formula 1, because I couldn't think of two people on earth more ill-equipped for the task at hand.


Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD

(Ford Racing Archives)
Madrid, Spain, 1968. Graham Hill on his way to victory in his Gold Leaf Team Lotus 49-Ford at the Spanish Grand Prix. Denny Hulme was second in his McLaren-Ford, and Brian Redman was third in his Cooper-BRM. Hill was twice World Champion - in 1962 with BRM and in 1968 with Lotus. He also won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie in 1966 in a Lola-Ford, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1972 with the French Matra sports car team, co-driving with Henri Pescarolo. Hill is the only driver to ever win a Formula 1 World Championship, the Indianapolis 500, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. An avid supporter of rowing, Hill raced in a helmet design sporting the distinctive colors of the London Rowing Club, deep navy blue with white oar-shaped stripes. His son, Damon Hill, raced with the same helmet design when he won the F1 World Championship in 1996. Graham Hill retired from driving after the Monaco GP in 1975 to concentrate on his own Embassy Hill F1 team. He and five other men from that team died in a plane crash in November, 1975 while returning from the Paul Ricard circuit in France. Hill was piloting the plane when it crashed in foggy conditions, near the 4th green, at Arkley Golf Course, in North London.


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