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So it is time for the August shut-down and, being contrary by nature, I am shutting up while everyone else shuts down!

It is a pointless exercise to try to fill the F1 world with news in this period so pretty much all of what you will read will be space-filling as no-one is around to create news. I guess that those who find themselves missing the sport will thus be able to appreciate just how much they like it…

It’s really quiet as the F1 teams finish up the last few days before the summer break, which basically runs for two weeks from tomorrow (Friday). I will be shutting down the blog in that period because the F1 world is basically going to go quiet and most of the stories will be manufactured tosh. There may be deals done in the period, but most sensible F1 people are going off to find some sunshine and some rest.

Bernie Ecclestone continues to be reported saying negative things about the sport, which remains an odd thing for the championship promoter to be doing. The truth is that he cannot now say it’s boring after the rip-roaring race in Budapest, so now it is “too clinical”. Sigh.

Renault is in the process of deciding on its future path. The only route that makes sense given the company’s investment in the sport is to get its own works team going and chase after Mercedes. Pulling out would not be good for company boss Carlos Ghosn, nor for the company. It needs to sell cars… This creates a big problem for Red Bull which is now paying for being too mouthy about Renault engines. The company needs to find new engines from somewhere – and there aren’t any. The word is that the team was talking to Porsche about a customer deal (similar to the TAG engine deal that McLaren did back in the 1980s) but that seems to be stuck at the moment over who would own what IP. This, by the way, was exclusively reported in my Business of Motorsport newsletter (click here to learn more).

News is thin on the ground beyond that. Jenson Button is supposed to be talking of as a possible TV host job on the revamped Top Gear. Max Verstappen is having driving lessons, Lewis Hamilton is being linked romantically with someone else… and so it goes. The one story that I think is interesting and significant is the the world’s largest advertising agency WPP is bidding to buy Chime, a rival organisation. If you trace down the various subsidiaries this means that two of the sport’s most important marketing agencies – JMI and Prism – will end up with the same ownership and that will inevitably mean that there will be consolidation.

F1 is too negative – but that comes from the top and it seems to me that the best thing is to ignore all this because the sport itself is fine. Yes, it would benefit from a limit on engine prices. I think a switch to pay-TV is inevitable given the way the TV markets operate and that is bound to drive away sponsors and new viewers, so it is absolutely essential that the sport gets a grip on social media as an advertising medium, rather than trying to earn money from it. We need to find future viewers before the current generation of fans pop their clogs. It would be smart for teams to have a budget cap to keep costs down and bring in more competitors but asking the teams to agree to this really is like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.

The FIA continues to be invisible and, in my opinion, failing in its role to build and protect the sport. Still, if it wants to be an irrelevant organisation in relation to the sport (which I think is its primary activity), then so be it. A robust FIA is a better idea but if the clubs want to be powerless then who are we to stop them?

Beyond that, silence is golden…

HUNGARY COVERThe Hungarian Grand Prix showed Formula 1 at its finest. It was an emotional weekend in Budapest, following the death of Jules Bianchi, but the Grand Prix drivers rose to the occasion – and produced an action-packed race, filled with surprises and fascinating from start to finish. And then, after the engines had fallen silent there were touching moments as the stars of the day remembered Bianchi. It was a great day for Red Bull as well, with Daniel and Daniil both on the podium, while Max Verstappen was fourth. Even McLaren-Honda went home with a bagful of points. It was not a day that Mercedes will remember fondly, but it keeps the World Championship interesting…

Also in GP+ this week…

– The F1 circus remembers Jules Bianchi
– We ask whether F1 needs better promotion and new technology
– Blue Bird runs at Pendine Sands
– Alex Lynn shines in GP2
– JS wonders why there are 21 races when the rules say 20
– DT worries about sports trying to control media coverage
– The Hack looks back to darker days
– Plus the usual fabulous photography from Peter Nygaard and his team.

GP+ is the fastest magazine in the Formula 1 world. It is published as the mechanics are still wiping down the cars after each and every race. It appears in PDF format so that you can read it on your computer, your tablet and even on your smartphone, but it’s an old style racing magazine 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 21 issues for £29.99, covering the entire 2015 Formula 1 season.
For more information, go to http://www.grandprixplus.com.

Franz Tost is not necessarily a great strategic thinker, indeed I have heard him described in a number of less than complimentary terms than “team principal” over the years. Still, one man’s bag carrier is another man’s legend. Anyway, when asked about whether F1 should go to Azerbaijan, Tost went into the usual spiel about how sport transcends politics and all is well in Cloudcuckooland. This is, of course, unadulterated tosh. Sport does not operate above politics, it is either used by politicians or not, depending on whether or not the sport is willing to sell itself to the highest bidder. The only people who try to make out that sport can solve problems are those with a vested interest. Tost was then asked if he felt it was right that accredited journalists should be denied visas on political grounds, as happened at the recent European Games in Baku.

“There must be a reason why the visa was denied,” he said. “I don’t know the background.”

The second part of this sentence was bang on the money, the first part showed that if one does not know what one is talking about it, it is best not to say anything, as one can end up looking ignorant.

“To be honest, I don’t care about this,” he said. “We go there, we race there and that’s it. It’s your problem how you get the visa.”

I have always believed that it is best that the teams and the media have respect for one another. We are all in this together and whether the sport likes it or not, it is the media that has created F1’s marketing power. I wonder if the people at Monster Energy’s rival understand that the media does not always need to be nice to those who lack understanding, charm and respect.

So, Franz, how shall I put it? We don’t care if your cars blow up or if you completely fail to meet the lofty ambitions you talked about at the start of the year.

That’s your problem – but we will remind everyone of it.

Sauber has announced that it is extending the contracts of Marcus Ericsson in 2016. The news means that rumours of Nasr going to Williams can be discounted.

“This early signing shows that the drivers and the team are sure they are heading in the right direction,” said team boss Monisha Kaltenborn.”We have full confidence in the talents and skills of Marcus and Felipe. Both have shown solid performances, gained experience and learnt quickly. We enjoy having them in the team and they give it a positive boost.”

You know that F1 is not really doing much when the lead F1 story on the news-clopping services is “Tamara Ecclestone puts her cleavage on full display in bikini in Mykonos”.

Given that the story is repeated (at different venues) on a fairly regular basis, I cannot say that this did much for my passion for the sport. Still, in this age of celebrity I guess one needs to keep strutting your stuff if you wish to stay famous for being famous. I don’t get it, because it seems to me that the goal of today’s celebrity is to get rich, using the fame to sell your brand of knickers/gumboots/nail varnish (etc). If you are already rich beyond the wildest dreams of almost everyone, I don’t see the point of fame. It just means that people will rush up and mistake you for a Kardashian, when you’re in the checkout queue in Tesco…

Anyway, I’ve been sleeping on the flight to Budapest, as catching it required a start at ridiculous o’clock. I’ve not been in an airport (deliberately) since Canada more than six weeks ago, having driven to the last few races. One forgets how little fun flying is in the summer holidays, when everything is blocked by amateurs of the bucket-and-spade brigade, sniffling kiddies, large-bottomed African ladies, minor celebrities, such as former Presidential mistresses, and normal folk to whom airports are not business tools but rather more baffling than Demotic script.

It’s hot here in Budapest, so with a wiggly track perhaps Ferrari will mount a strong challenge to the boys in silver and turquoise…

Let’s hope.

“We didn’t know any better in the old days,” the great Denny Hulme once told me. “Now we’ve got the most incredibly hygenic circuits you have ever seen. Some people criticise them. They say it’s terribly boring motor racing. Yes, compared to the old Nürburgring it is… but it’s better than going to a funeral every Tuesday morning.”

Today in Nice the world said farewell to Jules Bianchi. He had a short and sadly tragic life. His is a story of potential that will never be fulfilled; of talent that will never be rewarded; and yet, lest we forget, it is a story that has happened many times in the history of the sport. In my generation I think particularly of the young Stefan Bellof, but there have been dozens of other young men who rolled the dice and lost.

Death in sport is rather a new concept for a lot of people in the F1 paddock and one gets the feeling that many don’t quite know how to handle it. The older folks have seen it before, not just at Imola in 1994, but at many race meetings, far and wide. By the time I was Bianchi’s age I had seen four or five deaths at races. It happened more back then, but I am not old enough to have lived through the really bad years as those in their 60s and 70s today had to do.

And yet, let us keep things in perspective. The trials of previous generations who lived through wars remind one that we are fortunate in the modern age. The school I went to had World War I memorial boards. One day I stopped and counted the names.There were 600 of them and it struck me that this was the same number as my entire generation in the school that day. That shook me. We like to think that those who die young do not die in vain, that the world learns from such terrible waste. As Laurence Binyon famously wrote of his generation: “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them”, but you cannot help but wonder.

In the end, there is no point in trying to find reason in all of this, nor even to take comfort from flowery words and phrases. The only value is that we learn from what happened and try to makes sure that it does not happen again.

Assuredly, at some point or other, circumstances in F1 will come together to kill again. We never know when that might be. You cannot make motor racing 100 percent safe. What has been achieved in F1 in the last 30 years is extraordinary, but we must never forget that every time a driver steps into the cockpit of a racing car, they are at risk. They accept that and, if not, they walk away. They have the choice. Big accidents still happen – and always will – but today the consequences are different. The drivers are unhurt after an accident that would have killed them 40 years ago.

That has happened because of advancing technology and a willingness to learn and do things differently.

In medieval times, people felt helpless in the face of the harshness of life and they sought solace in the romantic ideals of chivalry. They wanted to believe in pure and untainted actions and be inspired by them, even if they knew deep down that the world was a cynical and nasty place. At times like this, I like to hope that this lesson will be learned by the brilliant, positive and passionate people of the Formula 1 world. I hope that adversity will teach them to race like the heroes that they are, not like ruthless, money-grabbing rats, willing to do anything to get to the top. And when I think of this, I remember an evening in Brazil in 2008 when Lewis Hamilton beat Felipe Massa to the World Championship. I was proud of the sport that day, proud of the two men.

So let us move on in a positive way, remembering the shooting star that was Bianchi, and trying always to learn, to inspire and to do things in the right way.


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