Thoughts with a glass of wine…

Blimey, I have had a busy couple of days. Today I went back in and out of Paris again to talk business and catch up on the gossip. I was also doing some more of the Resistance stuff, which continues to be a bizarre contrast to modern Formula One. I find myself leaping from Silverstone to Buchenwald, which involves a fairly major resetting of the brain each time I do it. Still, this is the time of year when folk like me write books. It is when we have the time. I was on the phone to my mate David Tremayne and he is doing the same at the moment. We are all busy putting together deals, paying bills and getting things in order for the fast-approaching year ahead. I wish that the winters dragged on a bit more sometimes, as they seem to come and go so fast. Maybe that is me getting older…

Anyway, I am now home and having a glass of wine and looking at the day and noting that Nick Heidfeld got the Mercedes test drive. Not big news. It has been expected for some time. It says a lot for the teams who are still to name their race drivers. It means they need money rather than talent. Nick is a perfectly good racer, a man who could win races in the right car, but there is no car for him. He’s been around a long time and I kind of feel sorry for him, but part of the skill of being an F1 driver is getting into the right car at the right time and if he has not done that then one cannot really do much to help him.

The Virgin ran for the first time (One day I am going to get used to writing about Virgins but it still seems rather strange at the moment) and the team seems to be full of hoop-la and bla bla bla. We will see how they do when it comes up against the proper opposition. I rate Timo Glock as a racer, but he’s not a great qualifier, so it will be interesting to see how the Virgin goes (if you see what I mean).

There is also much talk of the new teams being allowed to miss three races this season. I heard about this a while ago, but did not really start sniffing around it until the last few days. It is certainly a new concept for Formula One given the previous insistence on teams being present 100% of the time. It seems clear to me that someone is deliberately leaking this confidential information, presumably because it means that talks to change the ownership of teams can now go on until China (the fourth event).

So what is the story?

Reading the Concorde Agreement is a bit like getting access to the formula for Coca- Cola, or getting to know the nuclear bomb launch codes that President Obama will get if the moment ever presents itself… …however, a bloke I know (at a secret rendezvous point) tells me that in Article 13.5 of the new Concorde Agreement, there is a clause which states that teams can “fail to participate” in up to three events without their ears being cut off or the team principals being stoned to death. After that they are deemed to have withdrawn from the championship, and thus they lose all their rights, obligations, trousers etc.

Of course there is no money if they miss races… but it does mean that if, for example, a new team was desperately looking for cash, but did not want to sell its entry for peanuts to a third party, it could miss the first three races, while looking for another option. It may be more complex than that. A cynic might say that there is always money out there but not all of it is in the hands of the right kind of people.

Let us talk hypothetically at this point. It may be that a supposedly-struggling new team COULD find money if that money were allowed to come from a hypothetical country called Just Anywhere, even though this nation has the reputation for being a den of iniquity: where gangsters, drug dealers or people who do not know how to pay their bills live. The clean-living folk of Main Street, Formula One, may not want Just Anywhereans moving in and ruining the neighbourhood and it may be that it is best for Main Street to have a deluded dreamer or two who will turn up for a bit and then default on the mortgage…. rather than letting the Just Anywhereans in.

It is all theory, of course, and no doubt the glass of wine has helped…

26 thoughts on “Thoughts with a glass of wine…

  1. I think it did help, in my experience wine and keyboards don’t mix up so well, nevermind i finished my bottle …

  2. Joe, do you know any more about the rumour that StephanGP has bought up the debt owed to Dallara by Campos in a move to further freeze out the wayward team?

    And I smell the return of the return of the Penelopes. I do wonder what they have been doing on their hiatus…

    1. I spoke to The Mole recently. He says that now that the BBC has stopped trying to use his name in F1 he is considering a comeback. He is thinking that the future is in blogging rather than with a straight news site. I am negotiating to win him over. He says that all is well at the office and at Mole Manor. Penelope (Roedean) has been “very naughty” with a man in the Grenadier Guards, but is now young, free and single again. Penelope (Benenden) – who is really called Jane – is still waiting to rip her glasses off, let down her hair and tear off the blue stockings, but cannot find anyone who meets her expectations. Penelope (Cheltenham Ladies College) is wondering whether lesbianism is the answer, while Penelope (Wycombe Abbey) is still looking for the man who is not frightened by her, can keep up intellectually and can afford her… They continue to do whatever is necessary to collect the latest information from the F1 world. Schmutzli the creepy archivist is still frightening children at bus stops, Isabelle the Renault Spy has left the company as she felt it took Carlos Ghosn too long to fire Flavio Briatore. She has joined Jean Todt’s new regime at the FIA. Sadly, Norbert the Mole’s man in Germany had one too many slices of Schwarzwalderkirschtorte and had a heart attack. Alas he fell beneath the wheels of a passing tram. Mrs Batty is still drinking gin on the quiet. The Colonel is still loud, opinionated and wrong. Miss Pringle-Featherby (of the Berkshire Pringle-Featherbys) has become Ms and is still not very intelligent. And Mrs Mole is still doing good deeds in the community…

      1. Oh, and Oswald the chauffeur has been laid off by the government and is hoping that Gordon Brown loses the next election. He hopes that the Conservatives will win.

  3. More importantly, what wine are you drinking? I have to thank BBR for a lovely glass (or two) of Chateaux Giscours 2001 while enjoying your blog. Very decadent for a Thursday evening! No doubt you can get better and cheaper wine chez vous.

    I too think that Heidfeld and Glock will be assets this season. Both spent most of last season manhandling heavily fuelled cars to decent finishing positions. Both seem to have the ability to pull decent points out of the hat with a stubborn car. Qualities that I thought would be assets this season. Clearly not as big an asset as a hefty wedge of sponsorship… A pity. Let’s face it, neither of them are superstars (possibly another reason for the lack of backing), but I think there are poorer drivers in better drives for 2010.

    Regarding the 3 strikes issue, why not just bring back pre-qualifying? That way a no-show doesn’t start, or an embarrasng Anywheresville can be quietly shown the exit. On that note, I’m looking forward to Team Malaysia Fondmetal (or Lotus, as they’ve rebranded themselves) possibly getting through PQ. Along with the Branson Simteks.

  4. RichyS

    Alas, life as an F1 reporter is not all Chateaux Petrus and Nuit San Wagga Wagga. I tend to go for supermarket clarets and there is a lovely area called the Cotes de Blaye. It is halfway between Pauillac and Chateau Margaux but on the other side of the Gironde river. This makes it unfashionable and thus cheap – but the wine is very decent. The town of Blaye is defended by the splendidly-named Fort Paté… and has a very large nuclear power station nearby – which no doubt gives the wine a little extra zing.

  5. Well I am sure all the new teams are brilliantly funded, and if we have not seen a proper car that is just because they are scared of competitors copying the design… surely?

  6. Hahaha, very delicately put. I for one am a big fan of the Just Anywhereans, I have to say – McLaren have been the bad guys for long enough! At least they won’t be four laps down by the end 🙂

  7. so it will be interesting to see how the Virgin goes

    Monty Python…. Is she a goer? Is She? Is She? Go n, you can tell me, is she, is she a goer?

    She Is?

    What’s it like then?

    (Sorry, paraphrasing, great sketch though).

    Joe, there is room for some unusual images with posts like these. Mind you, you have to have the sense of humour that can see the link to Monty P etc to get there. Not that easy or obvious when you are posting the stories…

    BTW. Any racetracks in the Auvergne?

  8. That’s like getting a letter from your mum about the cousins you haven’t seen years bringing back lots of fond memories of idyllic childhood holidays together. Sorry to hear about Norbert. Best of luck coaxing him up from underground.

  9. (Another) Jon,

    The Mole says that he has been so busy that he needs to reorganise things. However the good news he misses the writing and wants to do it again.

  10. Although I’m rather new, and i didn’t understand doodledoo in this post, i did get that it’s full of i don’t want you to know unless you know what i;’m talking about…or it was the wine….fascinating code language though… the veteran F1 journalist world seems a very traditional and intriguing one…or at least you make it sound like that Joe, perhaps it’s the research about intelligence in the French Resistance…fascinating subject

    1. I was simply trying to suggest that Stefan GP is being used to keep someone else out of the sport. I was doing that not because I wish to exclude anyone from understanding, but rather because I cannot prove a word of it! And those involved might get upset at the suggestion. But there you have it. That is what I think in the sober light of morning!

  11. Ah Joe, the vignobles Bordealais… one of my heart’s desires. Penelope (Wycombe Abbey) being the other. Does she still subscribe to Guns & Ammo Monthly?

    I actually live not a million miles from there (in Montravel country actually) and I was told by my neighbour that the Paulliacs, Margaux are inferior because that tip of France is essentially gravel. The other side of the estuary, the terroir is clay and thus your Pomerols/St Emilions and so on are far superior! French logic.

    Anyway, token F1 comment before I get carried away on wine. The mysterious team being kept out by all the Stefan talk. ProDrive? What has David Richards done? Did he happen to be in Chelsea with a camera one afternoon?

    I’m working in South Africa at the moment. I drove right past the Kyalami circuit on the way home from work yesterday.

  12. @Joesaward…. AHHH that annoying sobering light of the morning… LOL….

    i got that much, but this Stephan GP issue seems to be really dodgy, the guy got every F1 misfit in his crew for the past few years and put them together… if they go through and race would they incur the wrath of the stewards…because if they are allowed with the Coughlan, Ryan and that other one i can’t remember his name now, what would the FIAs and World council reprimand be worth if they all go back racing so soon, in such a manner..

    in any case if they do go racing, i would suggest he hires Flavio Briatore as his team manager, Nelsin piquet, as a driver, and there you go… he can call the team Step-On F1…

  13. I must confess I’m curious – do you know if The Mole actually had a word with those chaps on the BBC F1 website, or did they stop using the name of their own accord?

  14. More a beer man myself, but anyway… The mysterious person from Justanywhere wouldn’t happen to an Angolan businessman with a past record of defaulting on payments for racing cars and a very murky business record in Africa which has in the past attracted the interest of the Foreign Office in relation to diamond smuggling?

  15. I almost feel it is the other way. They (Bernie not the FIA) are dangling this other enterprise out there as a threat to any of the teams who might default. Its an attempt to push them into sorting their deals out fast and getting some stability. As others have noted this Serbian outfit is filled with all the F1 rejects of old (be it from dismissals for theft or cheating) or Toyota (wait didn’t they steal Ferrari documents and weren’t punished much too!?!). This being the case I doubt the FIA will extend an olive branch to the enterprise. Zoran Stephanovic is likely to be running a pricey F1 experience enterprise. If Ralf joins up it will be just another bad decision for a overrated mediocre driver that he is.

    I suspect the enterprise will go bust at Bahrain, and will stay in the Gulf area as a F1 experience for wealthy men there. This has just been a way to get some publicity along the way. It may be ‘supported’ by Bernie, but I am not sure how far that support goes…

  16. re. BBC Mole not being a patch on the original: well, that goes without saying!

    I’m glad to hear that he plans to start writing again.

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