Racing people are fighters. They don’t shrug their shoulders and say “we did our best”. They say “we failed” and look at the reasons why and try to fix them. They might say that they have a disadvantage if they are fighting teams with three times their budget, but they will fight nonetheless in the knowledge (or at least the belief) that one day, they will be in a position to win. They will show the world they are the best. The big budget Johnny-come-lately teams – the Red Bulls and Mercedes – forget that part of the success in F1 is failure. It drives the hungry onwards, perhaps it creates dysfunction as well, but then part of the charm of the sport is that the people who run things and win are not normal people. They are extreme individuals. I’m not saying that F1 people are better than folk in the real world, they just have different priorities and different energy levels. F1 is a sieve that separates the wheat from the chaff and leaves the hot air behind. Never forget that Frank Williams spent nearly 10 years known as “Wanker” Williams before the team broke through; never forget that there is a reason that McLarens are called MP4 – because Ron Dennis had three projects that failed before Project 4 took over the McLaren team. Never forget also that Ferrari had times when things were dire and the racing team nearly died. They did not whinge nor pull out, they battened down the hatches, survived and worked hard and their opportunities eventually came along. Sauber has been doing that, Force India too, even Manor. Lotus seems a team that is a little lost at the moment, being not one thing or the other but the signs are that the engineers will put them back on the straight and narrow. These teams are the lifeblood of the sport, the people who are still there when the going is tough. There are many others that folded up along the way, the team bosses giving up because they realized that they had bitten off more than they could chew, or because they had got rich, or had bigger ambitions: the list includes the likes of Eddie Jordan, Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley and many many more. So to hear Red Bull whingeing about losing and threatening to pull out simply shows that they are still neophytes in this great game. Perhaps it has been too easy for them…
The view in the paddock is very clear, if they cannot dig deeper to win some more then they can go and no one will give a monkeys. Benetton did that, British American Tobacco did it and a raft of car companies as well. These are the users of F1, the people who come and go, not the hard core. Sadly Ecclestone gave the current generation of users more power than they should have, at the expense of the hard core, and the sport is now suffering as a result. The FIA failed the sport by selling its power to keep things sensible. That is unforgivable.
It will all change in the fullness of time, but racing people don’t want to wait, which is why they are fighting for change right now. One way or another the system will change and we can only hope that the next generation is wiser and builds a structure that looks after the sport, not just the people running it. In the meantime, may the best team win. It would be good if the playing field was a little more level but equality in all things is impossible.
In the meantime I note with interest that someone unknown has started a grassroots campaign to knock some sense into the sport. Grassroots campaigns usually have a face so the fact that this one doesn’t makes it more interesting, someone wants to give the fans a voice…http://www.saveourformula.com