Notebook from Interlagos

IMG_0771I won’t tell you all the things that were written in my green notebook in Brazil, because some of the words I used to describe the FIA President are not expressions that he would want to see in print. I was not alone in my assessment, as I heard the President described by a lot of people in a lot of colourful ways and I don’t recall a single one of them being in any way positive. The most polite was “completely out of touch with reality”.

Jean Todt’s fixation on hosting his commemoration for road accident victims, to the exclusion of any form of recognition of the Paris massacres, was extraordinary. Everyone makes mistakes and had it been just one ridiculously insensitive statement, then perhaps one could forgive him this transgression, but he simply compounded the error by refusing to back down. As this process went on, it multiplied my anger because this is the man who is supposed to represent F1 to the world at large. The fans and those involved in the sport did not vote for him in that role and I find it deeply disquieting that he does not appear to comprehend that it was not the moment to be pursuing his own agenda. Quite a few people felt Jean’s actions were so misguided that they were worthy of resignation (although no-one would say it out loud), but Todt is not the resigning type. No-one at the FIA has big enough shoulders to attempt an overthrow.

What makes this whole thing all the more astonishing is that Paris is Todt’s home town. This is where he grew up,  in the pleasant-enough suburb of Bezons, just a couple of miles from where I live. He was the son of the village doctor, a background that one would imagine would provide a solid grounding in human sensitivity. How can Todt not realise that Paris is a sufficiently small city that almost everyone knows someone, or knows someone who knows someone, who was killed or injured on Friday night? This was traumatic stuff, yet all Jean saw was an opportunity to promote his road safety agenda. That is not normal.

It may be true that more people are killed every day in road accidents than were killed in Paris, but that is not the point. Lots of people die for lots of different reasons each day, but most of these are deaths are not caused by an assault on everything that is dear to us in the democratic world. It was an attack on the freedom to go out for dinner; to go to a football match; or to go to a concert, without fear of being murdered by ill-educated fanatics who have been manipulated by twisted people who claim that they speak for some God or other.

When the world is in shock, it is not the moment to do anything other than provide support and compassion, and perhaps even a little moderation. The rest of the F1 community managed very well to hit the right note, with suitable messages of condolence and support to the French nation and the families of those killed and injured in the attacks. Others at the FIA obviously realised what Todt’s disastrous interview with Canal+ had done and rushed out a statement that sounded like a statement rushed out to cover for a PR disaster. It was too little, too late. Then within hours, out came a new statement detailing how the road safety commemoration would go ahead on Sunday and how a moment of remembrance for Paris would be shoved into the driver’s parade. This was wholly inappropriate as the drivers are supposed to go around waving and smiling at the crowds. All this did was to make them uncomfortable because they did not know what to do. It compounded the original problem and was utterly wrong on pretty much every level.

I have no problem with remembering road accident victims, but the timing was wrong and insensitive and it was really hard to understand how sensitivity would not come naturally to someone who espouses a humanitarian cause. Campaigning about road deaths implies a deep-rooted sense of caring for humankind, but how can someone feel for road victims and yet be so completely insensitive to the victims of a horrendous terrorist attack? There is a disconnect here that inevitably leads to questions. Not everyone is born with great communication skills, but if one does not have them and one wants to deal in a high profile world, it is best to surround yourself with people who do know how to communicate – and to listen to them.

I don’t know how it happened, but on the grid we heard the announcement that the commemoration was for both events. We did not know this until it happened. I wonder if Todt knew… So, we ended up with Todt with a picture board of road accident victims and some of the drivers with a French flag. It was awkward and confusing.

This made me very angry and keen to get out of Brazil and get home to Paris. The logic of air travel is sometimes weird and meant that my tickets included a 12-hour stopover in Miami. Having spent the same sort of time in a lounge in Mexico City recently, I decided I would use my time in Miami in a more constructive fashion and so I rented a car and drove south to Key Largo and then down the archipelago known as the Florida Keys. My goal was to not think about the F1 world or Todt, but to have simpler thoughts and a more relaxed life: I wanted to see a bit more of the world, and find some conch chowder and Key lime pie for lunch. I did not want to waste any further mental energy on motorsport. It is a long drive to Key West and the trip was slow and the weather bad, but I achieved my goal, albeit with a little too much driving. I didn’t really have time to properly explore Key West, which was frustrating. The return journey was easier and so I found that I had a spare 10 minutes when I reached the signs to Homestead-Miami Speedway. It was a 10-minute detour on the way back to the airport.

Next weekend, Homestead will be the venue for the finale of the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the NASCAR big rigs were already rolling in and everyone was getting ready for the race. They will have a decent showdown because the rules dictate that the last race will always have four championship contenders – and thus a decent story. The F1 circus goes to Abu Dhabi the weekend after with all the titles settled and, frankly, little interest left beyond whether or not Lewis or Nico will be on pole and thus will win the race. We can only hope for something better.

Most likely NASCAR’s finale will be a raucous affair with current champion Kevin Harvick, retiring legend Jeff Gordon, the comeback king Kyle Busch and the outsider Martin Truex Jr battling for the title. Whoever wins the title this year will not be able to match Joey Logano’s total of six race victories. The scoring system is complicated but the last dozen or so races are basically knock-out competitions. Logano was literally knocked out by Matt Kenseth, a move that resulted in the latter being suspended for two races. Personally, I think it should have been more than that. Kenseth has won five victories this year, as has Jimmie Johnson, but the latter’s chances disappeared with a mechanical problem at a key moment.

The title challenger with the most victories is Busch, who has won four times, but he did so having competed in only 24 of the 35 races, having broken a leg and a foot at Daytona at the start of the season. Kevin Harvick has won three times, while Gordon and Truex have had only one victory apiece. So, come what may, the champion will not be able to equal Logano’s score of wins. Is that fair? Not really, but it is good show business.

Sometimes one wonders whether the show business route taken by NASCAR might not be better option than F1’s more sophisticated balance between business and sport. Personally, I prefer F1 because of its relevance to the world. It is amazing that while Jean Todt will seemingly do anything to be seen to be a big banana in road safety, he has completely missed the opportunity to promote himself as a man who has done much to save the world with the brilliant 1.6-litre hybrid turbo formula that has raised thermal efficiency from around 30 percent to 45 percent, an astonishing and completely unpublicized achievement. Even if it was someone else’s idea, he made it happen. He is in the process of ruining that achievement as well having now agreed to allow some cheap and basic 2.2-litre twin turbo engines to race against the fabulous hybrids. If that happens it will mean the complete surrender of the FIA’s strategy of making the sport relevant to the world.

Elsewhere, the US was much in the news in Brazil because the Texas state government seems to have decided to cut the subsidies for the United States GP, which may result in the Austin race dropping off the calendar. Tavo Hellmund is working on plans for an alternative race, rumours suggesting in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is also busy talking up his desire to buy into an F1 team. You have got to give him credit, he’s a proper old school promoter and has got tongues wagging in the US by suggesting that he would offer the drive to NASCAR’s biggest star, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hellmund’s primary target has been to buy Manor F1 but there does not seem to be much substance to get owner Stephen Fitzpatrick interested. Fitzpatrick has just named that former McLaren Sporting Director Dave Ryan will be Racing Director and would like to see Alexander Wurz as his team principal. I am assured that this will NOT happen. Elsewhere, Pastor Maldonado’s continued grip on the PDVSA sponsorship took a hit with a scandal surrounding the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Two members of Maduro’s family have been arrested in Haiti and indicted in the US on charges of drug trafficking conspiracy. They were alleged to be in the final stages of a deal to import 800 kgs of drugs into the US. This makes it rather more difficult for Maduro to survive in office and there is no guarantee that his successor will agree to give Maldonado the huge sums he gets today…

129 thoughts on “Notebook from Interlagos

  1. Thanks Joe. JTLYK that reading this blog is always the first thing I do whenever I switch on my ‘puter. Then I can make sense of all the other news offered by your colleagues from the paddock … I hope the events in Paris haven’t impacted on your life too much. Take care.

  2. The minute’s silence at the Brazil GP certainly left F1 looking like the Clampetts again. The back pages are (in some cases literally) full of the great solidarity between the English and French football teams yet a sport run from Paris, by a Frenchman from Paris, with a French driver, French sponsors, etc. had that bungling farce on the grid. It’s long past the time for Todt to go. He’s mis-managed F1 from the start of his presidency.

    As for F1 in general, yes it’s hard to get excited about the last few races once the title has been decided and especially when there’s more important and immediate worries to think about. (I think) Pablo Elizade published an article on Saturday after the attacks entitled “Brazilian GP: Let’s be honest, no one really cares.” The article had no content, just a headline but it certainly summed up the mood for me.

    Also it looks like Pastor Maldonado’s not the only one who’s going to be short of a few quid. The BBC are cutting £35 million from their sports rights budget so I’d guarantee that F1 gets the chop.

    1. Yes, only three years left on the Beeb’s contract. I’ve yet to read anything from the teams (most of which are based to England) as to whether or not they are concerned about a reduction of the TV audience in the UK from millions to the low hundred of thousands – assuming SKY will continue of course. They should be. What’s even more concerning is the BBC’s allegedly wanting to terminate the contract early. Let’s face it, if a ‘F1 loving’ nation like the UK can’t attract, say, a million subscribers it casts doubt on the reported global audience – extrapolated across the EU that’s 28 million (I would say that’s generous), add a few serious contenders like the US and Canada and it starts to look a though official figures have been doctored a little (400+ million, itself way down on previous years). To the tune of millions.

  3. The current formula has basically brought us the Lewis Vs Nico world championship. The refusal of manufacturers to supply a competitive team with a competitive 2016 engine. A group of also-ran teams unable to pay their bills. You preferred solution that manufacturers become bound to supply cheap engine deals was vetoed by Ferrari, egged-on by Mercedes. Something is needed to redress this mess.

    Today there is news that the BBC might end its limited F1 coverage. That will be the sport’s death nell for huge numbers of former fans in the UK. As the top 3 of both championships has been reasonably foreseeable since Malaysia, it is easy to understand that their sports department should be obliged to seek out opportunities where genuine competition takes place. Proffessional darts looks like a more favourable candidate.

    It is all very sad. I understand your need for a drive to the Keys for a chowder.

    1. ITV have already tied up the professional darts. And cycling. And motorcycling… so I guess the BBC will have to focus on things that fit their agenda and budget, like speed cake baking and dancing competitions.

      Sport on the BBC is dead already. They just don’t know it.

      1. Great insight as always Joe – Todt’s inability to get his priorities right is staggering but no longer surprising.

        F1 should pay attention to Moto GP’s lack of exposure in the UK after selling itself to BT Sport – the core audience know it exists but nobody else does. A thrilling title decider was barely reported by any major outlet.

        There are many stupid / self interested people attempting to run F1 into the ground but surely they can work out that it needs at least some ‘free to air’ live coverage. Difficult for the BBC to justify paying for what is effectively an advertiser led sport in the current climate. Premier League highlights, with the league’s appeal, is a property of far greater public interest so easier to justify.

        Can see Channel 5 possibly taking a punt though – appointment to view tv, they’ve invested in sports rights for the first time in a while recently (Football League highlights) and it would safe viewing figures for them. The problem is, if that did happen, it’s difficult to imagine them doing a particularly good job with it. ITV could be tempted again, especially after losing all of their football live rights. The thought of them missing another title deciding moment during an ad break is enough to bring me out in a cold sweat!

      2. Sorry, Darts was the daftest thing that sprung to mind. Who owns the rights for Croquet?

        Perhaps following in the path of baking, sewing and pottery, flower arranging could be the next big thing for the BBC

  4. The moral equivalent of Todt’s actions would be standing at the Cenotaph on Armistice Day louding pointing out that more people died of Spanish Flu than in the First World War.

  5. Well said as always Joe.

    In other news there are reports of the BBC dropping F1 completely to save money for football and drama. I think that my regular F1 watching will stop then, I will continue to subscribe to Grand Prix plus as it is the best way to learn what happened in each race but I won’t be subscribing to sky. I am sure there will be ways to watch for free, but that will probably be ‘live’ only and I don’t always want to be stuck to a screen 20 weekends a year.

    1. I REALLY hope the BBC thing isn’t true otherwise I shall be in the same boat as you – I have been watching BBC/ITV since 1979 – perhaps that demographic says it all as far as the F1 cash machine is concerned – they better be careful though because none of my kids or their friends are interested in F1

  6. I think the fact that someone like me, an avid motorsport fan and member of society, knew nothing of it being the “World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims” proves that the FIA isn’t doing enough to promote it in the first place. Also, what does the FIA actually do to help reduce accidents other than point out it would be better if they didn’t happen? We all know road traffic accidents are a bad thing, I don’t need Jean Todt to remind me of that with clumsy PR disasters like this was.

  7. It was almost as if Todt had decided nothing would “rain on his parade” not even the most evil atrocities carried out on his fellow Parisians would interfere with his planned exposition in the name of Road Safety.

    For a man that has been constantly vilified for his “invisibility” in the matters of current F1, he was very visible for his, determined, lack of empathy.

    Surely this is what Todt will be remembered for most because everything else that he stands for as head of the FIA is forgettable.

    The man bought the sport that I love in disrepute and made it look like it couldn’t care less. How can he remain?

  8. I have no problem with the recognition of road-crash victims or a related minute’s silence before a GP. However, given Friday’s deplorable, cowardly events the planned tribute before Brazil’s GP should have been exclusively for the victims, family and friends of those involved in the Paris abomination.

    If Jean Todt’s road-victims tribute had been moved to Abu Dhabi next week it would, hopeful and in all probability, be a stand-alone tribute and, therefore, had a greater focus and impact regarding the FIA’s road-safety initiative.

    Regarding end-of-season GPs, once the winner of both the drivers’ & manufacturers’ championships have been decided (using normal point-scoring as is presently the case), I make the following suggestion to spice-up the action and fans’ interest.

    On Saturday afternoon a short 100 mile or 1-hour race should be held, but with the grid in reverse drivers’ championship order (with half-points awarded). On Sunday, the full GP should be run, but again with the grid in reverse drivers’ championship order (following the award of Saturdays half-points).

    These races will only decide the 2nd place & downwards teams’ & drivers’ standing at the end of the season, but the championship winning driver & team will still take place & score points.

    This should make great end-of-season racing with the fastest coming from the back and those drivers who are close in the championship (runner-up downwards) sat next to each other on the grid with the higher-point-scoring driver beside/behind the lower-point-scoring driver.

    I would put a lot of money on these races not being processional or boring! Come on guys & galls, get behind this exciting prospect.

    Garry J.

  9. I’d hate to see F1 go down the “showbusiness” route that NASCAR and the BTCC have gone down. F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport and adding more and more “success ballast” until everyone catches up isn’t really fitting. It’s boring watching Mercedes dominate, just as it was when McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari did so, but IMHO success ballast just removes the incentive to design the best car you can. Design a donkey in touring cars and you’ll still get your day in the sunshine.

    1. Well, certainly we haven’t quite reached the imposition of ballast – yet – but I think we’re already into show biz, with artificial sparks, artificially enhanced overtaking opportunities, and from next year, artificially enhanced sound. Almost the only thing that isn’t being artificially enhanced is the ability of all the teams to compete equally. The BBC will be gone in a year or two and, after forty years, so will I.

      1. The skid blocks on the FIA plank were previously made of a metal that withstood wear. Some teams were using this to prevent the FIA plank from getting worn down as much as it otherwise would, which is why the FIA changed them to Titanium, which wears easily, and also happens to produce sparks. They produce sparks when the touch the ground, and they touch the ground because the down force has pushed the car to contact the ground.

        Additionally, the previous blocks were heavier, which means if they broke free from the car, they pose more danger than the lightweight ones.

        So no, they aren’t artificial.

        Also, I have not heard anything about sound being artificially enhanced next year.

    2. We are supposed to be in the era of road relevant technology. How many manufacturers produce humdinger engines and then weigh them down with irrelevant added weight, powered door mirrors, cup holders, 4-wheel drive etc. etc. All requiring even more power and bigger brakes next year to drag them round and stop effectively.

      Adding ballast weight would be road relevant while at least making the sport look like a proper race. Most of the terminology of Motorsport comes from horse racing, hanycapping success should be the next logical step. Wasting money on ever more complex front wings serves absolutely no one.

      All the development on the hybrids this year has been on improving combustion chamber design to make better use of the additives used in the fuel they use. These do improve the efficiency, but do not help emissions. The fuel and oil of these engines also have no relevance to future road car technology.

      We have been sold a pup, disguised as a thoroughbred.

  10. You’d have thought he’d have learned from Di Montezemolo’s example at Monza 2001 about how to react to an event like this.

  11. Has Todt lost his f****** mind! Bizarre, insensitive and inappropriate. How very weird of him but am all in favour of low cost 2.2 tt engine. Anything that makes F1 more affordable and can vary the field more. However I very much doubt that the 2.2 will happen.

  12. Jean Todt has an ego the size of a Zeppelin. Is there a more self important man – aside from blatter? Don’t worry about Malden ado if he loses his backing he will stay in F1 on talent alone……

    .

  13. Given your interest in history Joe, you may enjoy researching the origins of the “road” to Key West: which was originally a railway. After a hurricane destroyed the railway, it was rebuilt for cars.

    1. Quite true! The Keys have a fascinating history that goes back to pirating. History is the Keys and particularly Key West’s second largest commodity.

      1. It looked like good pirate country. There was also Seven Mile Bridge on which they made the celebrated scenes for the movie True Lies with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis.

        1. It sounds and looks as though it’s on a long road to not very much but it’s been on my bucket list for a while. Well done for fitting it in in such a tight timescale rather than hitting the sauvignon blanc or whatever

          1. Overseas Highway is consistently rated as one of the top ten most scenic drives in the U.S. You have the Atlantic Ocean on the left and the Gulf of Mexico on your right. I’m sorry Joe hit it on a cloudy day. The water changes color every day. Key West is just plain magic. The Keys as a whole have a very different mentality than the rest of the U.S. We consider it a country: The Conch Republic.

            1. The Keys as a whole have a very different mentality than the rest of the U.S. We consider it a country: The Conch Republic.

              Get out.

  14. Thank you Joe
    Your insight and ability to always get to the point is very welcome in this day of hype and celebrity focus. When I look at most sports currently football, athletics, cycling and Formula 1 it makes one despair on such blatant cheating and shifting the rules to suit particular factions. I just hope that Formula 1 can manage to sort itself out, as in it’s current form it is heading for reducing viewers/spectators and a terminal decline. If only someone could takeover the running of the FIA instead of Jean Todt, someone who has vision and the strength to move the sport forward instead of the current fixation on money, money and lest we forget road accident victims.
    Like many other readers you are the first blog I read so I can gain an objective view on things. Thank you again

  15. I thought those previous photos (above the “Notebook from… ” posts) were just using a stock photo of a green notebook. That is, until I saw you in the background of the BBC’s following DC around on the grid, small green notebook in hand.

    “I’ll read the contents of that in a few days”, I thought to myself.

  16. With Todt’s words and actions so seemingly misguided and inappropriate , is there any chance that this was an attempt to belittle the actions of the Paris attackers ?
    To compare numbers of dead at such a time is so twisted that it makes me wonder how someone can actually be so out of touch .
    To add that he is a native Parisian takes it to another level of head shaking .

    Could it have been that he was trying to appear to be staunchly moving on , and had it taken completely the wrong way ?
    I know it seems a touch far fetched , but getting it as wrong as he managed also seems on the unbelievable side .

  17. Joe on a lighter note, it was good to see you asking some questions at the team principles press conference on Friday. They were good questions, especially the one on what engine they would be using in 2016.

    Am I right in saying when you initially gave your name and publication mimicking one of your press colleagues, that was an in house joke?

    There was plenty of laughter.

    I cannot remember the German name and publication you gave out but I have notice in the past that guy usually is the first to ask the a question or questions.

    1. Yes, I asked the question impersonating a South African colleague who asks endless questions but did not go to Brazil. It was a bit of fun to liven up the conference, which seemed to work quite well. It was edited out of the transcript.

  18. As I stated in reply to your last blog, Todt has qualified himself as a complete idiot. Before this, sure, we saw him as a bit of a bufoon. However now it’s clear that we have someone at the helm of the FIA woos, has developed into someone with a very serious psychosis. This is someone who has lost track of reality and is not living in the real world any longer. Of course the common term for someone such as Mr. Todt would be that he’s a madman. With that in mind, the FIA is being directed by a madman, plain and simple. To disregard 129 murdered victims of a horrible terrorist attack and use them as a tool for one’s own agenda, can only be from the mind of a madman.
    Regarding the economy engine that’s been talked about, I joked here that the IndyCar engine would fit the bill as it has over 800 hp and costs $680,000 per year. Now I see in your blog that the proposed engine is a twin turbo 2.2 liter. Hummmm? That IS an IndyCar engine after all.
    And finally, several months ago Hans Stuck not only came to Key West, but he took a picture for Facebook right outside my former house! I never saw him. Now you were here and I missed you as well. Call or write next time and I’ll buy you a beer at my bar, The Cork and Stogie!

  19. Who would use the alternate engine? Would it simply make it less costly to finish last- assuming McLaren gets its act somewhat together? Otoh, if it is actually a solid engine, why would a team waste money on a Honda…or for that matter Renault, unless Renault produces a better PU? It just seems to me like a cluster****, another reason to doubt the strategic leadership of F1.

    1. Red Bull will use it, if it happens.

      And because Red Bull are using it, the authorities will manipulate the equivalency formula to ensure that it is at least equal to the much more expensive hybrid powerplants, and Red Bull will be world champions again, as per what happened when the tyres didn’t suit RBR a couple of seasons ago.

      Red Bull have the best aero, therefore it is a fundamental principle that competitiveness and victory must always be determined by aero, not engines, not tyres, not anything else.

      I do hope that the rumours that Sky will pay the BBC to just stop broadcasting are true.

  20. Yup, Todt is a self-centered moron.

    But I disagree with your view of the engines. I think that this is a sport and entertainment first and foremost. Manufacturers already spend billions on R&D without needing F1 as a proving ground. The current F1 engine is not road relevant, even with its increased efficiency over the old V8. There are already road cars that are more efficient than that, and technology in the pipeline that is even more advanced.

    If F1 is truly to be a proving ground for engine technology, then a truly open formula is the only solution. A set fuel amount for each session should be the only limitation.

    1. The current F1 engine is very much road-relevant if you actually bother to talk to engineers who knows these things. It is also the biggest leap in automotive history, by a considerable margin.

      1. Evidently there are a great number of manufacturers who disagree with their viewpoint.

        TESLA have achieved far more in 12 years of research into ZEVs than all manufacturers have achieved since the 1900s

        ZEVs in city centres achieved through regulation is the foreseeable future, how a barrel of oil gets fractioned in the future will depend purely on market forces.

        A drive down to the Keys will be doable as long as fuel costs are $2 / gallon and Detroit pumps out cheap metal.

      2. Correct Joe, and that is because… the start-middle-end points of everything about an “engine” is based on the technology of the era in which we now live, aka the Information Age. ANY and EVERY move we make depends on a bl**dy computer.

      3. I can’t help but consider your trip to Florida Keys in the same vein as your F1 analysis. Many might think about leaving the airport for Florida Keys, many would stay at the bar.

        Likewise your preparedness to speak openly about Jean Todt and his appalling lack of taste. Thank you for putting this in the public domain, it gives the rest of us an opportunity to voice our displeasure.

        Your comments about the biggest leap in automotive history are a timely reminder to all of us when we look back at the history of F1. Despite the general progress in F1, aero, braking, engine location, safety features, the ICE and attached components would be potentially recognisable to early 20th century enthusiasts. For all the progress that we think we have made a car has pretty much been a car for the last hundred years or so. Whilst the new PUs contain an ICE they are a genuine leap forward in energy provision and usage.

        That’s not to ignore the progress in electric engines either. Though I would suggest that the concept of electric is very old and has only made big leaps itself in the last couple of decades.

        To my fellow commentators: it might be worthwhile sending personal messages to the FIA regarding Todt’s inappropriateness. It may be a waste of time but it can’t do any harm.

        Apologies if my naivety, in regard to the FIA, the point of emailing your displeasure, or my summary of car improvements, offends anyone.

  21. I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic or mean because there’s obviously a great deal of highly affected people out there but…I do think it’s daft that every company/brand/sport etc is pressured to show a creative and sensitive way of offering their condolances. If they don’t then they’re branded as being “disgusting”.

      1. Probably. Maybe i should run an F1 team?!

        I just find it hard to understand why anyone would have an emotional response to somewhere they’re not emotionally connected to. Hence I can understand why you would feel shock and grief but less so for the majority.

  22. Perhaps Todt could be sent to Coventry by all press and teams. Would he gt the hint or is his ego too dense for it to penetrate.

    On a happier note Patrick Head became a knight joining Sir Frank.

  23. Thank you for so eloquently and accurately putting into words my thoughts/feelings (and I suspect that of my fellow readers of your blog) about the victims in Paris and the idiocy that is Jean Todt.

  24. Dear Joe, all
    Re: M.Todt- based on his performance (for want of a better word) as FIA President, it beggars belief that this is the very same guy who ran a Ferrari team that rebuilt itself, and reached the zenith of its power during the Schumacher years.
    When he was elected, I feared a return to the “Ferrari International Assistance” days, and had numerous wild guess sessions with mates, as to what Todt would do, once elected. The scenarios were endless. Not so endless as to include the scenario of “Sweet bugger all”
    As to the FIA’s road safety initiative- well, if he has done anything substantial, it hasn’t reached Australia- it’s still predominantly a revenue raising game under the guise of “Road Safety” down here.
    Hey, but, when Big Bad Jean actually turns his eyes towards the land of OZ, I would be really grateful if he could do something about the Kangaroos that keep headbutting my car, I’d be deeply grateful:-)
    Cheers
    MarkR

  25. The superficial argument is obviously that there is a contract between COTA and FOM, and the price was obvious from the get go. The immediate issue is our State going about their “economic impact” calculations differently, which is a shame. So Bernie is “technically” correct when he says it’s “not my problem”.

    But it is his problem. Because the deeper story here is that it is more of the same old business model of FOM writing contracts that have fees that are not realistic without government support. It is a shame that some races must be subsidized in order to function, with other race series like NASCAR working to strengthen venues they go to, instead of weakening them, and then running off to an oil rich country when the race fails. Regardless of whether you like the racing or not, NASCAR seems to have a superior business model.

    Fans should not have to lose their favorite races. Monza. Germany. Silverstone. Just a handful of tracks that seem to have difficulty hosting a Grand Prix and balancing the books. Balancing the books should never be an issue for a circuit hosting a Grand Prix in my opinion.

    On one hand F1 wants to be in the US. On the other, they still seem to have a problem convincing fans they want to be here.

    They could start by not royally screwing the pooch on this one.

    Austin needs to stay.

    (bias: I am an Austinite)

    1. The difference between NASCAR organizers and FOM is something Joe has pointed out – the FOM uses Formula 1 merely to milk money. It’s not a flawed business model as such but a diabolical scheme of things. If Bernie has made profit by visiting Austin till now and they are unable to pay further he’ll just go to another place to reap profit again.

      That’s why, this whole Bernie arrangement is just catastrophic for the sport.

      1. “That’s why, this whole Bernie arrangement is just catastrophic for the sport.”

        This is why it is a flawed business model.

        I get what you are saying, that this “flawed” model has been very successful for FOM, and in that sense, it is not “flawed”.

        Looking at the big picture though, F1 is losing fans. Fans pay the bills. It’s unsustainable, so flawed.

        I think we are really on the same page though, PT.

  26. Conspiracy corner time.

    Tavo Hellmund(friend of bernie) was the original brainchild behind COTA but got ousted by Epstein. Tavo goes away and gets the Mexico GP off the ground which curiously gets a back-to-back date with COTA. Great for for F1, but a killer blow for COTA that now has to compete with a rival GP just down the road. Tavo then announces he is setting up another GP in the US, further compounding COTA’s misery.

    Are Tavo and Bernie shafting COTA to get revenge on Epstein? If COTA loses F1 it will certainly be a victory for Tavo and I don’t think Bernie will mind one bit.

    That’s the end of conspiracy corner for today children. Next week; why has Ferrari turned it’s back on Bernie and how long until F1 becomes Formula Red Bull, once again.

    1. But it won’t really be a victory that I think Tavo would celebrate.

      He still talks about the USGP and COTA in a loving way. Despite his feelings towards Epstein and Co., I think he wants Austin to be a success. I think he wants the USGP and COTA to be a success.

      So no, if anything I think this might be an opportunity for him to regain control of his old project. If there is a conspiracy lurking here, I think THAT is it.

      But really, I don’t think Tavo would be happy to see the USGP at COTA come to an end.

      1. If he gets hold of his project he still will only get $19m from the state. Unless he is such good friends with Bernie that he gets a $6m discount, where will he find the money that COTA apparently cannot? Attendance has been dropping year on year, so I’m not sure what Tavo could do get them back, considering he will be taking customers away from COTA if his California project gets going. It is very bad news for a struggling COTA to hear of another US GP. They need exclusivity to get people at their GP, which is also why a back-to-back with Mexico was a very odd decision. Like I said, very good from a logistics point of view but bad for COTA business. This way Bernie gets out of the 10 year contract and his mate gets a new GP in the Sunshine State. A new circuit is always fun for Bernie and his friends. Tilke gets a job, Bernie gets all manner of “consultancy fees” no doubt and everything smells of fresh paint.

        It’s highly unlikely Epstein will sell the COTA, anyway, as it can still make money from other events.

        1. “If he gets hold of his project he still will only get $19m from the state. Unless he is such good friends with Bernie that he gets a $6m discount, where will he find the money that COTA apparently cannot?”

          He is good friends with Bernie. The rumor is that he had a much better deal prior to being ousted. This is not hard to imagine.

          “Attendance has been dropping year on year, so I’m not sure what Tavo could do get them back, considering he will be taking customers away from COTA if his California project gets going.”

          Tavo understands the game better than the current owners of COTA, so I imagine lots could be done to get them back. California is a massive state. Texas is a massive state, and there are many miles between them. This is a non-issue. In fact, the argument to this goes: more races in the US increases awareness of Formula One, which raises the water level and makes all boats rise. This is also not hard to imagine.

          “They need exclusivity to get people at their GP, which is also why a back-to-back with Mexico was a very odd decision. ”

          Huh? Exclusivity? No they don’t. And Mexico has already mentioned they would like to work with the USGP to cross-promote their races.

          COTA is always for sale, because generally speaking in the business world (especially for Epstein who is a Venture Capitalist and would love nothing more than to make his money and get out quick) everything has a price. Everything is for sale.

  27. I don’t think Jean Todt is an idiot – he is a very bright man. If he was an idiot he would of been found out long before now. However I do think he is autistic. He seems to have trouble figuring out emotions, how to respond to others emotions and how people will react to certain events.

    If you see grief in road accidents and grief in terror then it is quite possible he thought it would be fine to combine the two.

    He also demonstrates an obsessive trait common with autism (though in autistics it usually pairs with repetition) which is why he is focused on the Road Safety campaign.

    1. Todt lacks both empathy and self-awareness. Think back to 2002, and the row after Ferrari ordered Rubens Barrichello to move over for Michael Schumacher in Austria. Ferrari seemed tone-deaf for days as to the terrible message that action sent to everybody watching, until Todt finally admitted (sort of) that it might have been a mistake.

    2. I’m a little tired of the present trend to label a person who behaves in an insensitive and crass way in public as being ‘autistic’. It is as misguided and incorrect as labeling any man who is a bit camp as being a homosexual.

      Some people are do behave in ways that seem crass and insensitive do so because they are autistic, but there are plenty of neuro-typical people do it because they are just r-soles.

      Amateur armchair diagnosis does no one any good, as it risks stigmatising people who basically have good intentions and are trying to find their place in the world, whilst at the same time displacing the arrogance of the individuals who expect the world to bend to their will.

    3. Graham Reeds & gshevlin: Agreed. With apologies to Andrew’s views, the first word that came to my mind – and not for the first time regarding this person – was “autistic” too. Although I wouldn’t like to say it for certain, so perhaps Andrew is simply correct with his other two a-words: “arrogant” and…

      For the record, I do agree with Andrew inasmuch as many people on the spectrum are downright lovely people. In fact some of them feel too much. But if someone is not so lovely, then – so my armchair says – autism can magnify those traits quite badly as they can’t even hide their lack of compassion.

      As for Austria 2002, I don’t think my F1 fandom ever quite recovered from that. Barrichello had been ahead ALL weekend, and had always been promised – including the year before – that if he qualified ahead and was leading the race, he’d never be asked to move over to forfeit the win. Yet he still was, and for what?

      Until then I’d watched every single session I could, live, no matter what time of day or night. After that I barely watched the rest of the season and, although my viewing rallied in the mid-2000s (back to almost every race once the BBC got it back), once Sky bought the rights to half the races they waned again. Due to circumstances I’ve missed many races this year, most of which I’ve not bothered to catch up with except via Joe’s publications.

      If the BBC do give up on F1, then, sadly, I’ll be watching no more. Even if I could afford Sky Sports (which is pretty debatable, as it would raise an already painful £70/month internet/tv/phone bill to £100/month), I have no desire to put any more money into Murdoch’s pockets than the small amount I do indirectly via Virgin Media, and I begrudge even that.

      Joe needn’t worry on a personal level though, I’ll still be coming here, and will probably still subscribe to GP+ also (if only as thanks for the blog). Keep up the great work, Mr. Saward.

  28. According to the comments here, Jean Todt is a self-centred moron or a complete idiot; Todt has an ego the size of a Zeppelin (despite having lost his f***ing mind).

    The pre-FIA President Todt was an astute geezer as team manager or rally co-driver. We should therefore assume that Todt’s problems are more complicated than him being stupid.

    Max Mosley decided that he, as FIA President, would get involved in road car politics. Mosley associated himself with safety improvements that were certain to happen, but we can be generous enough to acknowledge that he accelerated change. That was Max’s good deed, perhaps to recompense for selling F1 commercial rights too cheaply.

    Jean Todt seems to assume that a precedent was established: the FIA President has to play in road car politics. That’s fine, Jean Todt, but you have to keep your eye on motor sport. Hybrid engines are the right thing for F1 but as Mosley observed, F1 racing costs need to be reduced. Instructing engine manufacturers to provide engines more cheaply to the independent teams does not reduce F1 racing costs; it just shifts the cost to engine manufacturers.

    If you had spent a few hours every week for a year in order to organise a road safety campaign at an F1 event, you’d be miffed that a human tragedy occurred elsewhere. You’d postpone it in annoyance and postpone it in sorrow. If you had good friends and good advisors, they would help you handle both respectfully. Sadly, Jean Todt does not realise that he needs better advice.

  29. Far be it for me to swim against the tide, but it would appear that ‘World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims’ was a pre-arranged commemoration. Forgetting it, or moving it to Abu Dhabi would be like postponing Remembrance Sunday for a week on the back of 9-11 or the events in London on 7-7.

    Todt’s pronouncements and general mismanagement of this aspect of the weekend is imbecilic, but in his position he was supposed to take a lead on the traffic accident thing. He just did it badly.

    As is always the case with these things, people lose perspective. The events in Paris were horrendous, and they continue today. However there are similar events all over the world on a weekly basis, and nobody bats an eyelid. A car bomb in Baghdad killing a similar number wouldn’t have been mentioned in this blog, would have had 2 inches on page 4 of The Times, and would have got 30 seconds on News at Ten (at 10:25). Nobody would have mentioned it in Brazil, least of all Mr Todt.

    According to WHO there were 1,240,000 deaths on the world’s roads in 2010, and I would expect that this figure rose over the 5 years since. It seems right that an F1 event should have taken part in a global initiative to recognise these deaths and remember these victims, even if the FIA president is not the right figurehead for the initiative. It’s right that the 129 victims on the events in Paris (131 now) were also remembered, but not at the expense of the 1.24m.

    Just my view.

    1. Iain Metcalfe: “Forgetting it, or moving it to Abu Dhabi would be like postponing Remembrance Sunday for a week on the back of 9-11 or the events in London on 7-7.”

      **** ***, Iain. Remembrance Sunday is the same, calendar adjusted, Sunday every year. On the 11th day of November at 11:00, many European people bow in recognition for those who died in war. But Iain doesn’t understand it.

      Oh, but Iain blinked “However there are similar events all over the world on a weekly basis, and nobody bats an eyelid. A car bomb in Baghdad killing a similar number wouldn’t have been mentioned in this blog, would have had 2 inches on page 4 of The Times, and would have got 30 seconds on News at Ten (at 10:25). Nobody would have mentioned it in Brazil, least of all Mr Todt.”

      I think it is about killing. Death, destruction and all of that.

    2. Hi Iain,
      I bat an eyelid.

      I think a lot of us do, I’m extremely confident Joe does.

      As Joe is based in Paris I thought it appropriate to express my thoughts specifically in regard to the Paris attacks. In other comments I did consider mentioning the Beirut bombings, perhaps I should have, but I didn’t think it specifically relevant to the particular discussion.

      I was happy to assume that the audience here are informed enough to have some awareness of the horrible truth about terrorist attacks around the wider world. I believed that the reason we were talking specifically the Paris attacks and Jean Todt is that this is an F1 blog hosted by a gentleman who lives in Paris. I didn’t assume it mean indifference to the horrible tragedies occuring so far and wide every day, but that is the type of discussion I have on social media or a political forum.

      The number of road deaths, 1.24million, is horrendous. It is a daily tragedy in it’s own right. We have to address it. I live in Australia and whenever one of our States goes on a shark hunt because a surfer/diver/swimmer has been taken, I remind myself I always stood a greater chance of dying on the way to the beach, than I did from a shark attack…

      To put Todt into perspective, the only mention I’ve seen of the FIA remembrance day is on this blog. So even when Todt commited what many considered to be an inappropriate gesture his remembrance day still did not cross any news I saw. Admittedly, partly because I do bat an eyelid, I don’t get Fox, or Murdoch driven news, maybe the FIA remembrance day would feature on their feed? Also, the race was not free to air in Australia – only non Todt inclusive highlights the following evening.

      I get your point but for me the problem with your comparison is that Rememberance Day (for us it’s the 11th of November) is a day that’s been etched into public institutions (schools, places of work, or worship), for nearly 100 years.

      Of course, the real shame in all this, is that the 1.24million were overwhelmingly overlooked and ignored by the world, simply because the ringmaster was incapable of understanding the historic significances at play.
      Given that this date will now forever be marked and remembered for the terrorist attacks Todt is going to have find a more suitable date anyway. Maybe I’m wrong but that’s a looming reality that I think people have missed.

      I think Abu Dahbi would have been a good way to close off the season with a sombre reminder to not waste your life or anyone else’s over the summer break by emulating your driving heroes.

  30. While the savages were killing, Al Gore had a climate change going on in Paris. US libs keep telling us climate change is the worlds most treating problem the world faces. Mr. Tout isn’t the only person who has it all wrong. #prayforparis

      1. I second your comment Stephen. I was aware that climate change talks were being held in Paris. When I first heard about the shootings I turned to my wife and wondered if this was the first wave of enviro terrorism. I appreciate that this will probably sound ludicrous to anyone that reads it. I hope it always remains a ludicrous proposition.

        However, I strongly believe that if we don’t see rapid measures to slow down climate change or significant attempts to offset it’s worsening impacts then we will see the rise of terrorism in various forms against recalcitrant states/companies/individuals. These comments are not intended to discredit or fear monger about the many fine people who are doing their best to help humanity accept, and confront climate change. For example though I look at the Pacific islands amongst many places and wonder how much obfuscation and lack of action that are able to accept before enough of their homelands submerge and someone decides to take retaliatory action against a world that drags it’s heels at the behest of rich industrialists and ignorant naysayers.

        Again, no discredit to Pacific Islanders or anyone else who lives in an environment that is changing too rapidly due to our continued bickering and lack of action. If those of us in western countries get a taste of the displacement that many others experience now, we will fall into savage behaviour as quick as anyone – we too have a legacy of barbary and cruelty we can call on.

        I hope we get our collective action together and that it never comes to this. Any honest analysis of the potential chaos that will result from not addressing climate change demonstrates it potentially poses a greater threat than anything else we have faced. Unless of course you don’t believe in climate change, in which case the train has left the station, you may as well go home and close the curtains. Me, I’m going for a bex and a lie down, sorry for the snoring.

  31. If the European Commission were not already of the opinion that the FIA is ‘unfit for purpose’ then Todt’s crass antics may cause then to at least look a little closer in that direction. Every cloud has a silver lining.

  32. “Sometimes one wonders whether the show business route taken by NASCAR might not be better option than F1’s more sophisticated balance between business and sport.”

    You really scared me for a second with that statement. I used to really enjoy NASCAR. They destroyed it, in my opinion, by over-regulating it and adding way too many contrivances in an effort to keep parity. I would not like F1 to go down that route. It needs some fixes, but nothing as ridiculous as NASCAR has done.

    As for Jean Todt. Timing is everything. His was very bad. Overall, he has been a real disappointment. I had hoped he could bring his F1 experience and leadership ability to the FIA and do some real good. I guess not.

    1. The whole NASCAR Chase thing smacks of artificiality and rules out the late-season charge from a driver who, for one reason or another, had a poor start to the year. Mind you, in the early Seventies it was – on paper – possible for a driver to win twenty-eight of the twenty-nine championship races, come second in the other one and still not win the title, which seems curious to the mind of this untutored oaf.

      1.   Mr Larrington> The whole NASCAR Chase thing smacks of artificiality and rules out the late-season charge from a driver who, for one reason or another, had a poor start to the year.I know virtually nothing about NASCAR, but according to Joe:  Joe Saward> The title challenger with the most victories is Busch, who has won four times, but he did so having competed in only 24 of the 35 races, having broken a leg and a foot at Daytona at the start of the season.So surely that’s not the case?

  33. “When the world is in shock,”

    This is a facebook world map of response to the attack. Even allowing for places with little or no access to FB it quite clearly shows “the world” isn’t that bothered.

    [Link removed – how many times of I have to make this point]

    1. In which case, I am afraid that I feel the same way about you, except that as far as I know you don’t represent anyone.

  34. Joe, during his time at Ferrari and Peugot Sport, JT firmly established himself as a shrewd and intelligent manager. Now he’s coming across as inept and out of touch. So which is the true JT? Has the man changed, or are (were?) our perceptions of the man wrong? I’m really puzzled by the transformation, and can’t reconcile the old JT with what we’re seeing now.

    1. +1 to the question.

      When he took over at the FIA, my concern was that he’d favour Ferrari (even more blatantly than had hitherto been the case). And in all fairness, it doesn’t seem to me that under his leadership the FIA has done that.

      I’m just at a loss as to what it *has* done, or what his leadership has consisted of. Completely baffled what he’s trying to achieve. Or why he even wanted the job.

  35. I often resist comparing any two forms of racing, but I think you have made a very keen observation about the difference between F1 in Dubai and NASCAR at Homestead. NASCAR’s final races have led to flared tempers and fans are enjoying the rivalries and competition. F1 is, to use a baseball expression, “playing out the string.”

    1. RH – I know, what’s that all about!

      She has the honour of having been deported and then banned from Myanmar a few years ago for angering the military junta by taking the role of Aung San Suu Kyi in a movie.

      Ironic that having struck such a bold blow for democracy she threw her lot in with Todt.

      Still I wouldn’t ever argue with the delectable but deadly Wai Lin!

  36. couldn’t agree more Joe , JT’s behaviour as an ambassador for F1 , a french man and human being were severely misguided . Past behaviour predicts future behaviour , he was hardly cuddly at ferrari , expect more i guess

  37. Good take on things, except a couple. First, the current F1 power spec accomplishes the great step of increasing carbon efficiency, but fails on all other levels. Most importantly it fails in F1’s primary function, which is providing the series with an entertaining and competitive racing platform. Inexcusable.
    Second, I disagree with your opinion of NASCAR’s Kenseth penalty. Logano knocked Kenseth out of contention for the big prize with an intentional crashing two weeks earlier with no penalty. Is the big (and unprecedented) penalty for effectively the same thing with the roles reversed justified just because it was retalitory, or for another reason?

  38. About 10 years ago I saw Jeff Gordon on one of those NASCAR tv shows that SPEED channel had. He said back in 1999 he talked to BAR about driving for their F1 team. According to Gordon one of the stumbling blocks was the path he should take. BAR wanted him to do a couple years in CART. Gordon felt that since he was three-time NASCAR champion that he should go straight to F1. I’m sure there were other obstacles but it’s an interesting “could have been”.

    1. But driving in NASCAR is nothing whatsoever like any other form of racing. it is unique in its on the edge high speed close packed block formations of heavy non-aerodynamic vehicles, where between car air pressure plays a significant part.
      Driving in CART would give experience of open wheel single seater characteristics with downforce even if somewhat different from F1. I think Red Bull were right in this instance.

      1. True, but besides being a great driver, Gordon also has personality that suits him well for co-hosting television shows like “Regis and Kelly” that non-race fans watch. While I think a NASCAR drive would have a far tougher time adjusting to open wheel than OWers have to NASCAR (and Montoya, Patrick, Allmendinger and Hornish have struggled), Gordon is the one taxicab driver who would have done the best.
        Dale Earnhardt Jr, OTOH, has always been open that he has no interest in driving IndyCar or F1. So Tavo’s offer is a joke.

  39. There is so much around F1 that I am increasingly finding repugnant, Todt’s actions just the latest astonishing disconnect from the real world and majority of the sport’s fans. I have been an ardent follower for 25 years but am reaching the end of the road. Joe, your writing remains the one consistent bright spot in all this. Keep telling it like it is – as if you’d do it any other way.

  40. Seems to me that Jean Todt has been in a few car accidents recently as he is not only tone deaf and cognitively disconnected from the awful events of last week in Paris but he acts as if he is concussed- did you notice that when he was interviewed last wknd?
    •The F1 hybrid technology is completely amazing and as you say, Joe, thermally 35-40% efficient. That’s almost a 100% improvement. The FIA should be taking out adverts in very paper and shouting this info from the tree tops!

    • Since JT is so concerned about road safety he needs to take a page/ perhaps a who chapter from his predecessor. Makes me wistful for the Max Mosely days.

  41. Todt was right here, why only honour Paris victims? Why not honour The Russian Plane victims too, they were also bombed by ISIS? Oh!, I get it, the life of a USA and its Nato lackies is worth much more than the life of the people of other countries. Sickening Double-Standards on display here !!

    1. If this was a question of whether to include the Russian (and other) victims of the plane bombing, then you may have a point. But it wasn’t; it was about road accident victims taking precedence over terrorist victims.

  42. It’s not just the Chase points that are weird, senseless and… (I just can’t get enough adjectives). It’s also the provision to take vendetta in their own hands and hit or wreck other competitors who have done so (even unintentionally) in earlier races. What sort of a sick rule is that Joe? Are these NASCAR drivers adults or kindergarten kids? How can this be called a competition?

  43. Joe, on a completely separate subjects,

    Are planning to do any more pod casts?

    And is there any chance of you appearing on one of SKY’s F1 shows?

    1. You would need to ask Sky, but as I live in France, it is not going to be easy as I don’t suppose they will fly me to the UK on their coin…

  44. Joe… we ware preparing broadcast of our pre-race F1 show for Brazil GP. for the Czech republic and Slovakia (you may remember me from Hungary this year! When I learned that there is minute of silence prepared for 15 minutes point prior the race, we immediately started to reorganize the Studio content. It was to my disgusts to find our from press release, that Jean Todt insists to hold minute of silence for road victims, on such a monumentally important day for the European and World society, we simply decided to bloody ignore it. We were upset by FIA being the biggest political party in the world.

  45. I just caught the comment about Hellmund promoting a race here in the Bay Area. I highly doubt that will happen, although anything is possible. There are two circuits, neither of which is F1-worthy (as I understand it; both would require costly upgrades). The only urban venue suitable for Bernie would be San Francisco, which hates automobiles with a passion. So has Mr. Hellmund discussed this with anyone here in the Bay Area, or has he been dipping into our local medicinal supply of hemp bi-products?

  46. The Kenseth-Logano battle had been brewing over the second knockout round in the ten-race championship series. With some golf-style influences in the four-round knockout system, during the second round, Kenseth had dominated that race, with the possibility of a showdown between him and Logano (who won the first race in the second knockout round) in the final ten laps, when Kenseth began blocking Logano. With five laps remaining, Logano and Kenseth made contact, albeit intentionally, at speeds reaching 300kph, and Logano was able to win the second (and eventually the third of the three races) race of the second knockout round. Kenseth did not have the points to advance to the third knockout round.

    Martinsville, the shortest (barely 820m) oval on the circuit, has top race speeds of barely 200kph and lap speeds in the 145-150kph range, slowest on tour. During a Lap 435 restart, the top four were Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, and Kenseth. Keselowski and Kenseth had a collision that also involved Kurt Busch, as all three were back for repairs. In the spirit of the bad blood of a 400m oval south of US Highway 220 on the other side of the state line, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina at the legendary Bowman Gray Stadium (a gridiron stadium that hosts weekly motorsport from April to August), known as the Madhouse, Kenseth had enough of both Penske cars, one took him out of championship contention, and the other took him out of contention that day. Earlier that day, Kenseth ran Logano high in the turn once. But now, on Lap 455, Kenseth decided to run Logano high, and this time caused a collision at less than 150kph. Officials thought it was premeditated, and commentator Rich Schewiker noted the spectators’ cheering.

    The knockout playoff has a touch of golf, with the idea of “win to advance”.

    But on the Paris incident, NASCAR treated that with considerably more class than F1 did. The circuit’s chaplain mentioned it, and Dale Earnhardt Jnr took a page from his father’s interview at Talladega hours after Ayrton Senna’s death:

    “First off we want to say that we’re thinking about everybody over in Paris, everybody affected by the thing that happened there. Its been amazing the last couple days seeing the support that other sporting events and through Twitter and everything. It’s been really awesome to see everybody come together.”

  47. Globally the number of people who die from terrorism is down in the measurement noise of the number of people who die on the roads. And even more importantly the number of people who die in the West from terrorism is mere noise in the measurement of people who die globally. We care because it’s unusual and not for the platitudinous nonsense about what we hold dear. We hold every life dear if we feel empathy for the victim; if we can see ourselves or our loved ones in their place. I really admire Jean Todt for his stance whether I agree with him or not. When he has people telling him to stop going on about his silly little road deaths agenda and concentrate on what we want to hear he stood by his guns and did what he believes is right. People don’t care about road deaths. People don’t personally fear it and they also know they’re as guilty as the next guy for doing the things that kill others with their vehicles. We worry about terrorism and know the enemy is someone else and that’s what we want to hear about. So for F1 obviously they should have gone along with the customer and given us the minute silence we wanted.

    Like most people (and please do not be offended by my generalisation) you think road deaths are a mere unavoidable accident of our transport system. Sad but never mind. The reality is that there is real malice in a lot of road deaths. It is people believing they are OK to act selfishly around others, speed, take chances, show no regard for others. Auto manufacturers marketing cars on performance and making fast cars when obviously we all know this kills people and not just the person in the fast moving car. Like you say we should be free to go out and enjoy ourselves and not be violently killed by other people no matter whether that is with a gun or knife or a car. The real difference is most people have no understanding of why some nutcase thinks it’s OK to murder someone because of their religion but we can sort of see that we could be that person who kills someone with a car. Take it from me if you don’t have a car you have a lot less sympathy for drivers. You say most people in Paris will have some connection with these victims but I know you and everyone who has a road in their country will know someone injured or killed by a car.

    If you wanted to be intelligent and disconnect all emotion about this you would make a big song and dance about road deaths as the public can do something about it. Constantly talking up terrorism on the news makes terrorism effective as people starting believing they are at risk (particularly from a minority) and gives them fear when the greater risk comes from the other problem which nobody wants to do anything about even though they could – something they wrongly have no fear of.

    And on the subject of F1… it should very much be used to to spread the message of road safety. F1 is a sport done on a track not an advert for driving your road car fast and anything disconnects the idea that somehow you can copy what these guys are doing yourself on the road is very morally correct.

  48. Fully agree with you. There has been an attack on white people in a western country. The whole world must observe a minute’s silence. Innocent Russian flyers don’t matter, poor black girls in Nigeria don’t matter, Indians staying at a hotel don’t matter. How were any of these attacks different from the Paris attacks?

      1. Yes, thought about it. A lot actually. First thing I found was that the definition of “world” was always distorted by who’s looking. Second was that if you looked at the whole “world”, the reactions for over half of humanity was to shrug it off, because for them this is daily reality and not some one-off occurrence. I know you are emotional because it’s your city and you probably knew a few people who died and you have my condolences for that, but if you think that Paris deserved the moment’s silence and others did not, then you are as deluded as Jean Todt was in making that statement.

        1. You just don’t get it, I’m afraid. It’s about matching global sentiments to the moment. Some don’t understand. Most do. It does not diminish what happens elsewhere. The effect not the cause is the key

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