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A disgraceful plug…

It is Christmas soon and for those with race fans in their family, I would recommend a subscription to GP+ for 2015. It is a great value gift that will last them all year long.

However, if you are looking for something that you can wrap up and stick under a Christmas tree, there is always The Grand Prix Saboteurs, a true story of Grand Prix drivers who became secret agents in France during World War II. I am entirely biased, but I honestly think it is a great story and I don’t know many people who have not enjoyed it.

If racing is not your thing (why are reading this?!) there is also The Man who Caught Crippen, which is a marvellous story of unlikely adventures of a sea captain, who lived through some extraordinary moments in history.

Here are a few snippets from Amazon reviews about the books… just to try to win you over!

About The Man who Caught Crippen:

“The Man Who Caught Crippen is entertaining and educational and very well written. It is a terrific read and I heartily recommend it to anybody.”

“A great and gripping yarn of an amazing life, in a different time to what we know. Have bought multiple copies to pass on to others as I rate it that highly.”

“Following on from the excellent ‘Grand Prix Saboteurs’ Joe Saward has again come up with a cracking tale that is slightly off the radar from the obvious. This is another piece of excellently – and extensively – researched material. It’s a rattling good yarn of life at sea in the days before travel was accessible to everyone and pre the days of instant global communication.”

About The Grand Prix Saboteurs:

“I can recommend this item to every Formula one fan. Great story, well written.”

“Hugely interesting, either from the point of view of a Grand Prix enthusiast or as someone interested in the war this book gives a real sense of the people that were hugely motivated to make a difference, living life to the full.

“I am enjoying reading this book and find it difficult to put it down, thats how good it is for me”

“An interesting and well researched true story about ‘Willy’ Grover Williams, the first winner of the Monaco Grand Prix who went on to become a British SOE ‘spy’ behind enemy lines in WW2.”

“I am a huge fan of F1 and have recently been reading more and more about the history of racing. I have always been fascinated by the details of the Second World War and all of the heroism and development that it necessitated. This book is the intersection of these two worlds. Best of all, it is true. Obviously the work of years of research, this book tells many compelling stories that were new to me as well as provides new details to well-known episodes that have only recently become declassified. A truly unique book that everyone can appreciate, but if you are a race fan and love spy stories, get this book now.”

“I bought for my partner as a present and he loved it… Easy to read.”

“I was totally hooked on this book the moment I picked it up. It is a true story of British Secret Agents working behind enemy lines in occupied France during WWII in an attempt to sabotage the Germans in preparation for the D-Day landings. Although I got a little confused with the wide range of different people mentioned the story gives a very detailed account of what life was like for the Secret Agents, the risks they took, and the efforts they went to in order to help win the War.

“I got this book and I was amazed at the detail and information that it contained. I was hooked. Fantastic book for anyone with an Interest in SOE, cars and motorsport. An amazing book.”

“A rivetting read backed with exhaustive and revealing research into the incredible lives of the early Grand Prix drivers in France who became resistance heroes in WW2.

“This is a really great read. The book has been painstakingly researched over a number of years, and this has been translated into a very easy to read, and exciting book. The story is true, but it has been written like a good novel. There is a great balance keeping the story going, without getting bogged down in too much detail. There are however some amazing details in here, such as the insight into the British War effort in France, through the use of an intricate spy networtk, through to the motor racing scene at the start of the last century. Absolutely brilliant!”

“I am not a huge fan of motor racing, but despite this I enjoyed the first chapters of the book which is mostly about the early lives and racing careers of the saboteurs. The author really brings the people to life and makes the reader care about them. Once he starts writing about their SOE activities the book comes to life. He must have done an enormous amount of research, because, despite reading many, many books on the SOE, I found a lot of new information. Excellently researched.”

Representing eighteen years of thorough research which could not be verified until 2003 when certain war time documents were declassified, this is a fascinating piece of work and a glimpse into another murky backdrop of WW2. Saward is actually a professional motor racing journalist and author, his prose really comes to life when the story allows him back into his area of considerable expertise but he does a fine job of unpicking the strands of people and events which weave into this amazing account of intrigue in the face of oppression.”

“A truly fascinating book that will work not only for fans of motor racing from the classic era also fans of a ripping wartime yarn will not be disappointed”

“I was surprised at how easily the story flowed and how Joe Saward managed to combine so many different elements into a coherent whole. A classic in every sense of the word.”

What now for Ferrari?

A letter sent to Ferrari staff explaining why Marco Mattiacci has been replaced at Gestione Sportiva throws some light in the decision. Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne explained to the staff at Maranello that he is committed to “ensure Ferrari maintains its position of influence in the governance of F1″ or in other words that he wants the F1 boss to be in with the right people and not trying to create better structures. Mattiacci was smart and quickly identified that F1 needs to change to progress and that the teams can only be powerful if they work together, rather than always being divided and conquered.

With Arrivabene in charge of politics at Ferrari, Ecclestone will see Ferrari as a continuing ally. The two men know how the other operates.

“Maurizio brings a unique set of experiences with him. In addition to his long-standing relationship with our team, he has also served on the F1 Commission and is already keenly aware of the challenges we face,” Marchionne wrote. “He has a thorough understanding of the governance mechanisms and requirements of the sport, the level of competition and the challenges.

“In Maurizio, I see the qualities of someone who leads by his strong personal example, his professionalism, and the integrity of his decisions – in short by the type of person he is.”

The weak point is that Arrivabene has no experience running racing teams and is famously not very open with the media. Thus one would expect to see further changes at Ferrari, perhaps with a “sporting director” kind of figure to run operations and talk to the world, leaving Arrivabene doing the back room deals.

The Formula 1 season has ended and now is the time for summing up the year. You will no doubt read many seasonal reviews in the next few weeks and I am sure that there will be an exciting TV edit from FOM. I hope that someone will have the nous to stick a few clips on Youtube. The Lotus F1 truck jumping over the F1 car was posted four days ago and has six million views (just on YouTube alone) and it is still gathering steam.

But what have we had so far from the powers that be? Instead of press releases lauding a great season in F1 and drawing attention to the positives, what we have from FOM is… nothing (as usual).

And what we have from the FIA is a press release about the federation’s annual prize-giving party in Qatar. Talking about fiddling while Rome burns…

Do these people not read newspapers? Do they not see that in recent weeks Qatar has been in deep trouble for being a haven for al-Qaeda financiers, not to mention at the centre of sleaze investigations in the FIFA World Cup?

I’m all for promoting the FIA Prize-Giving Gala as a big event, but only if it sends out positive messages. Going to where the money is, is not always the right answer.

How much better would it have been if one or both of these organisations had put out press statements congratulating the new World Champion and his team for their brilliant success and making the point that the racing has been at the same level as last year, but has been done using 30 percent less fuel; that the rules achieved their goals and that F1 is creating free energy with its hybrid devices.

That is the big story of the year. That is the message that the FIA should want to deliver, but fails to do so because it is too busy writing about galas and road accident remembrance days. The United Nations and the World Health Organisation are dealing with road safety. The FIA is a still only a bit player at best in these activities and in any case the federation seems to be viewed as being an apologist for the automobile industry. And does this activity add value to the FIA? Surely, it is better to play to one’s strengths and tell the sustainability story as it should be told. F1 is driving new technology in road cars – and it has been a long time since that happened. And F1 is still an amazing – if underdeveloped – entertainment property that continues to wow the world, despite some very obvious weaknesses.

Just imagine what could be achieved if the Formula One group was making concerted efforts with the media, rather than Bernie dropping propaganda tidbits into the mouth of a big-eyed puppy who dares not bite his master’s ankle for fear of never being fed again, or giving interviews about how OAPs are F1’s primary target and saying that Vladimir Putin is the world’s greatest and most admired leader. It was proved not to be the case the other day when Putin left the G20 meeting in Australia early, with his tail between his legs having been brow-beaten by the other world leaders over his activities in Ukraine.

Jean Todt has never been good with the media and his handling of the press in Abu Dhabi was ill-advised. He held a press meeting for those who were deemed unlikely to ask him difficult questions.

Todt seems to be unable to grasp that criticism is actually a good thing. If you know how to handle it. Admittedly, there is some baseless “trolling” that has no merit at all. You cannot do anything about it, but it has little real impact. It is mist that evaporates.

Other criticism is legitimate, honest comment which intelligent communicators would identify as valuable, because it tells you that your audience cares and that you warrant feedback. If people did not care about a subject, they do not criticise, so having critics is inherently valuable.

The key is to try to win them over. Critics can also be helpful to a leader because they will often tell you painful truths that your friends, allies and flunkies will only say behind your back. If you surround yourself with yes-men you have inherent weakness as a leader. So the best thing to do with criticism is to embrace it, listen to it, discuss it and work with the critics to make things better. On top of that, if you have any intelligence, you will know that the best advocate you can ever have is a former critic who has been won over. So the media you want around you are not the docile who will write every word and not question the stories, but rather those who do ask questions and have opinions and, as a result, are more widely respected than those who never question anything.

Sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting “la-la-la-la” very loudly is not the best way to win friends and influence people.

Ferrari has appointed Maurizio Arrivabene to be head of Gestione Sportiva and Team Principal. Surprisingly, Mattiacci is being dropped completely.
Arrivabene is a Marlboro man, and has been the paymaster of Maranello for the last 10 years. It is also worth noting that the contract with Philip Morris was up for renegotiation.

One little known fact ( I am told) is that Mattiacci had interviews with both Aston Martin and McLaren over their road car activities…

The move is a clear indication of the way in which Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne works…

Well that was intense. A busy race weekend with too much to do, trying to cram it all in. It was good to see Lewis win the championship. It would have felt wrong if it had been Nico. 11 wins to five says it all. But I have to also say that I’ve been really impressed by Nico this year. OK, he had some pretty questionable moments at Monaco and Spa and I think the he learned from those and I hope became a better person. Lewis learned a lot too. Yes, he was rattled at times, but he has found a way to keep his strength and focus and good for him. Anyway, I’m so glad that Nico told the team that he was going to the end, to go down fighting rather than whining, and I am delighted that he did what grown-ups do and showed Lewis respect he deserves. If F1 wants to grow it needs more people who can be respected, not sleazy cheats and slimy deal-breakers. It is good to have villains in any story but there are too many these days. F1 needs to smarten up its act. It’s a great sport, a great entertainment and a great business but a little less greed and some more clever thinking will do no harm at all.
But the real front of house people are the drivers. They are the heroes.
After the race we crashed out GP+, which was pretty stressful. DT did an amazing job in the time available and we were able to overcome a few glitches to get the mag out, just five and a half hours after the chequered flag. Then, at just after midnight we hot-footed it to Dubai, through thick fog, with the local drivers all in a panic and doing daft things. I was at DXB by about 01.45 and on the plane within half an hour of that, flying at 03.20 and working on and off between snoozes. I had pretty much everything done by the time the A380 touched down in Paris at 07.45 CET. Just for once my bag was the very first to come out onto the baggage carousel and I went straight into the rush hour traffic before taking off on alternative routes, as I love to do. I stashed the car away, dropped into the boulangerie for some croissant and then shut the door on the world. Season over. Big sigh. Snooze. Then some lunch I think…

Cover

Lewis Hamilton was beaten to pole position in Abu Dhabi by title rival Nico Rosberg. But we knew that Lewis usually races better than Nico and on Sunday he showed it again, erupting off the line at the start and leaving Rosberg to eat the dust he left behind him. Nico did not have any answers and Lewis edged away as Nico hoped that his rival would be struck by mechanical trouble. But Fate was going to get the last laugh because it was Nico who ran into trouble with an ERS failure and he drifted backwards down the order, eventually ending up a miserable 14th. The team suggested that he park the car but Nico was having none of it: if he was going to lose, he was going to lose at the wheel, and afterwards he congratulated Lewis. That is how one should lose and Nico knows that. It was a tough season for both men but the statistics said it all: Hamilton 11 wins, Rosberg five. Any other result would have been wrong.

There was some excitement towards the end as Felipe Massa, in his Williams-Mercedes, closed up to Lewis. But he did not have enough left in his tyres. In third was Valtteri Bottas in the second Williams, who had a tough afternoon after an awful first lap. Behind them Dan Ricciardo drove from the pit lane at the start to fourth, ahead of Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg.

In GP+ this week…

- We look at the F1 champion
– Is Mattiacci moving on?
– Damon Hill talks of winning and losing
– A look at Formula E
– Remembering Grand Prix races on sand
– The Hack levels his gun and shoots
– JS goes off on a tangent – about architecture
– DT discusses engine politics
– Peter Nygaard celebrates his 500th Grand Prix with some more great photos.

GP+ is the fastest magazine in the Formula 1 world. It will be published before Lewis Hamilton even starts celebrating. It is 90-odd pages and is published in PDF format so you can read it on your computer, you iPod and even on your mobile. It’s an old style magazine but in a modern format. It goes right to the heart of the sport, inside the F1 Paddock. We are there at every race and we get to the people that matter. We are also passionate about the history of the sport and love to share it with our readers.

GP+ is an amazing bargain. You get 22 issues for £29.99, covering the entire 2014 Formula 1 season.

For more information, go to http://www.grandprixplus.com.

Give it a try for 2015.

Perez confirmed

Force India has confirmed that Sergio Perez has extended his contract to continue racing with the team for 2015 and beyond. The 24-year-old Mexican joined the team at the start of 2014 and enjoyed immediate success with a podium finish in only his third race for the team.

The news is not a big surprise but it does have some important implications, not least that there is no longer any seat available for McLaren to place a driver. That would suggest that either Force India would not will to wait any longer for McLaren, or that McLaren may have made a decision about the future.

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