On Muhammad Ali…

I am not into boxing. It’s really not my thing at all, but Muhammad Ali, who has died at the age of 74, was a part of my childhood and while not my hero in any real sense, he was a man to be admired. He was  a brash fighter, who floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee. He was a celebrity for a reason and delivered on his claims, at least until he danced on too long and was beaten by younger lions.

I am too young to remember him as Cassius Clay, but I do remember how people were befuddled by his decision to change his name to become Ali. At the time, becoming a Muslim was not perceived with any real negative connotation, but it was unusual. Ali was not really a campaigner, but rather a showman, a man who showed what was possible and inspired people as a result. He was confident, he was cocky, but he was good. His refusal to serve in Vietnam was a courageous act and he paid for it, but then he came back to win again. His fights with Henry Cooper were big news in the UK and it was hard not to like Ali. He was a big character. After he was gone from the scene, boxing slipped away from the spotlight and to my mind has never really regained its former position. Those that followed him lacked his charm and his wit.

Ali was the kind of human being that every sport longs to have, a superstar in the very real old-fashioned sense of the word. A character who was bigger than the sport, but led people to it.

The nearest thing we have to him today in motorsport is Lewis Hamilton, who does great work bringing the sport to people around the world, but he is too reserved a character to be an Ali. Some racing folk criticise Lewis for his lifestyle. I don’t. As long as he races as he did in Monaco, how he leads his life is his own business, and if that helps the sport then all the better. A visible champion is a good thing for any sport and so much better than the virtually invisible Sebastian Vettel, who has so much to offer but wants to keep himself to himself. One cannot really criticise that, but having an Ali-style character would be great.

100 thoughts on “On Muhammad Ali…

  1. Hi Joe,

    Surely Valentino Rossi is the nearest thing to Muhammad Ali in motorsport today. I’m not trying to start a Schumacher V Senna style argument, but in terms of showmanship and character, Rossi is a very special character.

    Sorry to hear about Ali of course, he’ll be a household name for decades to come, and a true legend.

      1. Given that it’s motorcars and motorbikes, surely both categories are motorsport? And try telling John Surtees that only his F1 World Championship counts as it was on four wheels, rather than the six he has for two!

        1. No-one’s interested in his two-wheeled titles or four-wheeled titles, just the fact he won on both. He’s nothing more than a fast driving fast riding novelty.

          1. Sorry Dita, but your comment displays a fundamental lack of motorsport history and legend, as well as an inability to understand what being an enthusiast is about. You should read up on Big John, who was, and remains, a thoroughly remarkable man and a real Legend.

            1. Damian +1

              Amongst other notable Surtees achievements, winner of the 1966 Can-Am Cup Challenge. This was against a high quality field featuring many of his F1 contempories.

              I sometimes wonder if anyone will ever match his feat of having both 2 wheeled, and 4 wheeled titles. My gut feeling is that it will stand, I would think career path requirements make it a harder or less likely endeavour to achieve.

            2. People who have won more motorbike championships than Surtees: Agostini 8, Rossi 7, Doohan 5.
              People who have won more Formula 1 championships than Surtees: Schumacher 7,Fangio 5, Prost 4, Vettel 4, Brabham 3, Stewart 3, Lauda 3, Piquet 3, Senna 3, Hamilton 3, Ascari 2, G. Hill 2, Clark 2, Fittipaldi 2, Häkkinen 2, Alonso 2.

              The only thing that makes Surtees interesting is he won championships on 2 wheels and 4 wheels. He was undoubtedly talented but he’s not a legend, he’s a pub quiz answer.

                1. Also, we shouldn’t forget that Joe Leonard won 2 and 4 wheel titles here in the US and he is the only one to do that here…

          2. Novelty…seems like a remarkable accomplishment. Interdisciplinary if you will.

            1. Not a Novelty Mark 7km. Surtees was not only a very good engineer on bikes and cars, but also an outstanding race car driver. He was able to battle the very best of his time, Jim Clark, and win against Clark. Against Hill, Brabham,and other great drivers. Also, Mike Hailwood was similarly quick and found racing cars no more difficult than bikes. There have been others who found the switch fairly easy for their talents. Valentino Rossi would have been one if he had joined Ferrari as he might well have done 10 or so years ago. He would have had the capabilities to win in F1 and might have been able to equal Surtees. The modern day restrictions placed by F1 and the FIA on drivers and riders does a disservice to motorsports and to the Fans.

              1. Good point about the driver restrictions by FIA who I have for a quite considered unfit for purpose! Sebastien Loeb could have probably made the step to F1 too.

            2. Mind you, someone needs to tell TV’s David Addison that Stuart Graham is NOT the only person to have won a TT on both two and four wheels. Freddie Dixon did it first and for good measure also notched up a win in sidecars.

      2. but you did include boxing, and by the way, some hamfosi will not like it you skipping Senna to like him too.

      3. Might be right. There are few events between bikers and drivers in contemporary sport.

        Motorcycle sport is motorcycle sport. I don’t have the hours in the day to follow all of the Superbike, MotoGP classes, TT road racing that are available to free to air TV viewers in the UK. Occasionally brilliant stuff.

        Way back when Bill Boddy eccentrically edited Motor Sport magazine, he put on his front page the photo of cars competing in a trials event. For years, the magazine supported multi-wheel sport, trying to change the rules so that Morgan three wheelers could compete against four wheelers.

        1. That’s as absurd as saying that Trials are not motorsport, or Rallying, or Rallycross, or Drag Racing or dozens of other sections of motorised sporting events. MotoGP and Road Racing like the TT, are Motorcycle Racing Events…..the clue is in the name….MOTOR! Even Formula E is motorsport, although not something i’m remotely interested in personally, as i find it as much fun as watching my washing machine in action….sounds similar as well! Anyway, have to completely disagree with you Dita, and with Joe on this. Joe used to report such as Touring Car races and F3 back in the day when i first read his work, and that was motorsport as well! The whole world of Motorsport is not just F1….indeed that is the main problem facing Motorsport at present, the fact that like the Premier League in UK Football, with Motorsport there is a big divide between the Motorsport enthusiast, and the just F1 Fan…there’s much more to motorsport than Bernie’s Circus! Thank God!

        2. Dita – watch a Grand Prix, and then watch a MotoGP race, and tell me which one is more ‘motorsport’…

      4. It was an amazing time my Father waking me up in the middle of the night as a 8 year old child to listen to the live radio broadcast of Ali in ‘Rumble in The Jungle’ and ‘The Thriller in Manilla’.
        The nearest in global boxing was the Young Mike Tyson…not the older version.
        Today’s boxing it’s all
        limp promotions on a fee paying boxing channel (in the style of the American Fake Wrestling Shows) which is making the appeal of boxing limited behind a cable company. Which will be the case for F1 in 2018.
        Ali and his limericks and funny poems just added to his global glow. Then man whipped his jabs in , faked a uppercut telegraphed a right hook only to bamboozle you with a left cross which would release a rain of sweat of his opponents head as he stepped in for the Knockout combination that inevitably followed, as the audience erupted in cheers….as I did around a Grundig World Wide Band Radio (which the previous owners of the house had left in the garage that took to 2 monster size batteries) in a Leicestershire Village. Then tried to stay awake (unsuccessfully) in a double maths lesson in algebra , on the Monday morning. Still worth staying up for.
        I agree Lewis is trying to get F1 in the minds of people around the world.
        I can only think of James Hunt for a short period being up their. Schumacher didn’t have the same appeal to James Hunt.
        “R.I.P. M.Ali” a true legend in every way.

      5. David, Rossi came instantly to my mind too, as I was reading Joe’s artical! It’s sad to think anyone, especially Joe, could evan hint that Hamilton is evan in the same paddock as Ali. I’v followed Ali since we could first watch TV coverage of his fights, also Rossi since his early 500 days so one actually feels like they’ve actually met them personally, and there’s no way I would ever want to meet Hamilton or evan be in the same room!
        PK.

    1. Surely In my eyes, Vale easily has more than twice the pulling power than Lewis.. Vale has a very good sense of how to build his brand, and even though his charm may be manufactured, it is very strong. You only had to watch the motogp round in Mugello to see it..

      1. Every race is a home race for Vale. I’m devastated to learn that MotoGP isn’t a motorsport. Not sure how I’ll cope. Oh, I know. I’ll just ignore the suggestion.

          1. Actually, what I’ll get over is the realisation that you’re not perfect, and that you have some views that I can’t understand or connect with.

  2. RIP Ali, he really was a legend. I’m too young to have seen him fight in his heyday so I mostly remember him from his appearances on Parkinson and other talk shows and repeats of his fights. The man had enourmous charisma and he left a big impression on me as a young kid. His name will always be synonymous with boxing like Senna’s is with F1.

  3. Ali was a big part of my childhood and growing up. I was about 5 when he won the Olympic Title, and so i grew up during his glory years when he ruled the Ring, and when the US Government tried to crush him. When he got back in the Ring, again he dominated, not just as the supreme athlete and boxer of his time ( maybe all time ), but as an outstanding Human being. Few people in any sport totally transcend that sport. Ali was one of a handful, Senna another, these days Valentino Rossi is also someone who overshadows their chosen arena of life. But in general they are very few. In Ali’s case it wasn’t just the skills he had, but the charisma he displayed and the way he was able to communicate to everyone on any level in life. He was a truly inspiring and remarkable man. R.I.P.

  4. Echo all the sentiments here. Ali transcended his sport and became an icon of humanity, a symbol to all of the best that we can be. I can only think of Nelson Mandela recently who had the same uplifting effect on people across the world. They make the dime-a-dozen despots, dim-witted royals and preening politicians that grace Bernie’s podiums seem very small in comparison.

    1. Ali was “an icon of humanity” eh?

      This is what Ali said of his fellow human beings:

      “All Jews and gentiles* are devils … blacks are no devils.”

      * in a later interview it was revealed that Ali thought that gentiles meant white non-Jews. He wasn’t very bright, was Cassius. Scrub that. He was as dumb as a rock.

      “Everything black people do wrong comes from white people: prostitution, homosexuality, lying, stealing; it all comes from white people.”

      “No intelligent black man or black woman in his or her right black mind wants white boys and white girls coming to their homes to marry their black sons and daughters.”

      He also said that people who engaged in mixed-race relationships should be killed.

      He also denied the existence of black slave traders and white slaves, despite the wealth of evidence proving both.

      Clay was racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, ignorant, arrogant, stupid, and a shockingly disgusting human being. Some hero. Some example.

      1. Everyone can make mistakes in life. Ali made mistakes as i’m sure you have done James. We all do. He had associations that were not good for him and although an intelligent man, he was not terribly well educated. In his early career he did say somethings that were pretty awful, although they also need to be balanced against his upbringing, education, and the times he lived in as well as the country he was growing up in. His views changed as he became more learned himself, and there is plenty out there for you to read if you can get past your bias on the guy. Frankly, there are many modern day political and business figures, not to say also ordinary people in some parts of this globe that haven’t moved on from the sort of views you quote pertaining to Ali. He did move on. And I think he helped sections of society to move as well….that is a good legacy for anyone.

        1. Exactly…

          His association with Elijah Muhammad is what Ali credited for setting him free, for teaching him to trust his own eyes and his own mind, and to stand up for what he believed…

          With time and experience, he used his own eyes and mind to move on… he soon left the Black Muslim movement, and moved on to other, more loving flavors of Islam…

          Since 2005, he identified himself as Sufi… the Sufi idea is that you love and accept everybody and don’t hate on anybody…

  5. I appreciate the point you’re making re: Lewis.

    At the same time, it’s unfair to Lewis to compare him to Ali, just as it would be unfair to compare anyone to Muhammad Ali. Nobody can measure up to that comparison. Ali’s impact on (American) society was both broad and deep, and was rooted in personal courage and commitment.

    As sad as it was for me to watch him hamstrung by Parkinson’s, I think the true tragedy was the loss we all suffered from that. Given the history of the 21st Century to date, what an important a role he might have played by virtue of the special combination of his sparkle, his voice, his quick wit, his basic humanity, and his core personal identity as a Muslim.

    He might well have helped bring together people who are divided from, and hostile to, each other due to the triple whammy of politics, religion, and culture. Sadly, we’ll never know what might have been if only he had been physically able to be the insightful, funny, culture-crossing Muslim of global stature that he quite naturally was. His injury-caused disease deprived us of a potentially unmeasurable benefit.

      1. Joe, the first sentence of your last paragraph is in direct opposition to your denial above. I acknowledge you are not elevating Lewis to Ali’s stature, but pointing out the differences is still a “comparison”, is it not?

        No one can compare to Ali, a true one off as an athlete and as a man.

        In his heyday (which I was privileged to witness) he was either reviled or loved; you watched his fights either hoping to see his head knocked off or win in yet another spectacular display of grace power and style.

        In this day and age of radical Muslim activities I am almost grateful that Ali was not in the fore front of these activities, as he may have become a target of those radicals. Much as Ali ridiculed Ernie Terrell (“what’s my name”) and denigrated Joe Frazier as an “Uncle Tom”, I fear today’s radical Muslims may have done the same to him.

        RIP champ, you will be forever remembered.

      2. “The nearest thing we have to him today in motorsport is Lewis Hamilton, who does great work bringing the sport to people around the world, but he is too reserved a character to be an Ali.”

        To suggest the quote above is not a comparison would be splitting hairs to the nth degree.

        Rossi (not Hamilton) is the closest we have in motorsport today (in terms of the definition that is universally accepted as opposed to anyone’s whimsical subjective measure of which categories ought to be included or not). Do however agree that individuals like Hamilton should be allowed to express themselves. As long as he delivers on the track, then what he gets up to during the rest of his life is his own affair (assuming it doesn’t involve drugs or anything else that would be a breach of any sporting code).

        1. Drugs? don’t worry his new billiard partner Bieber will keep Lewis on the straight and narrow, he has his back as the rebel youth like to say in the Hood (I just want to know how they keep there pants from sliding of their arse, safety pins?) . Bieber, now theres a Homey that can be counted on when times get tough.

          In comparison to the serial Twitterers courting each other – Ali was an absolute icon and an original. A brilliant athlete and a psychological warrior who found a way to win when the odds were not in his favour (Forman in Zaire). Defying the U.S government in a very public out spoken manner during the Vietnam debacle on top of a civil rights movement in it’s infancy – Ballsy beyond belief.

          A true trail blazer whose fighting instinct possibly aided him in his defiance to ignore intimidation and made him fearless. He transcended race (during a flashpoint era, to say the least) and the stereotype of his craft by the demonstration of his intellect and wit. The Howard Cosell interviews showed wit and charisma and more importantly his political rants had merit and inspired (The most important fight he ever won)

          What spirit, originality at it’s finest.

          Ali bomaye! and he did. The champ.

  6. I believe he was a campaigner. If you went to the States or more particularly the south you learned very quickly what an appalling deal the blacks had and you could forgive or understand some of his more extreme comments. In his own way as effective a spokesman as Martin Luther King. He first became well known when as the Louisville Lip he beat Archie Moore and the rest of his sporting history speaks for itself. In those days the Olympics were not well known for boxing and largely known for the 100 metres and 1500 metres and for some longer distances with Zatopek and Viren.
    He certainly achieved huge amounts for his fellow citizens and transcended his sport and will be best remembered.for that. The Establishment tried very hard to belittle him and put him up against a senior and well known intellectual. He may have lost that battle but he won the war.
    RIP

  7. The thing that crossed my mind this morning was that when Lewis dies, will F1 have become as invisible as boxing now has?

    I remember the whole family sitting close to the radio when Ali fought Henry Cooper. We have now had a British world heavy weight champion, but I cannot remember watching a boxing match for several decades.

    This presumably started when boxing went behind a paywall.

    1. Boxing started declining in the 1950’s, not because of a pay wall, but because it was over exposed. It was on primetime tv every Friday night for free. Plus all the other broadcasts. People tired of it. At least that’s the reason that was given for it’s decline.

      1. There were hosts of talented fighters, in most weight classes well into the 80’s and beyond. Most of the interest was generated on the coat tails of Ali. I believe the decline of boxings popularity was due to the intense infighting between the various promoters and sanctioning bodies, and the shift to pay per view.

        1. I am not sure why Joe thinks that the effects of pay TV would somehow impact differently on F1.

          When I was a kid, I am sure that Freddy Mills, Henry Cooper, Roger Bannister, Stanley Mathews all had similar, or higher profiles than Hawthorne, or Clark.

          Joe once informed us that Andy Murry has a higher social media profile than Lewis, but both would be dwarfed by Bieber hanging arround the podium at Monaco.

          You do not see many young fans on the bleachers at races, they also expect to view things for free on the net. If they want to go racing, they just call up a few friends on the X box.

          If you are your own hero in a virtual world, who needs sports stars?

      2. Perhaps boxing declined because people don’t want to watch a ‘sport’ in which the aim of the game is to give a serious head injury (i.e. a knockout) to your opponent.

      3. Total agree with this sentiment, I think the same thing is happening with football now too. And I fear for F1 with it’s surge towards more and more GPs in a season, put behind a paywall…

    2. Mike Tyson had massive interest and paydays. Big time media probably the biggest Heavyweight since Ali in terms of a boxing following.

      Ali was far more than a stereotypical boxer, a complex man and true Icon that impacted society, how many real Icons are there in a century?

      Bieber would be in the not true Icon dept. If he’s your Icon you’re as they say in Country and Western music vernacular ‘Hurtin’

  8. The thing about Muhammad Ali was that he was the genuine article. He was his own man, who spoke his mind and did things his own way – not an easy thing to do with all the outside pressures. So whether, it was boxing, Vietnam or religion, he was in charge and spoke out. As a team sport, F1 is different from boxing and there is less room for individual expression with corporate sponsors, team, engine suppliers, etc. to keep on board. Personally, I don’t see Lewis Hamilton being anywhere near the same league – there is a big difference between having a party lifestyle and speaking out on big issues with real charisma. There is nothing wrong with that, but F1 in 2016 is a world away from Ali in the 60s/70s.

    1. I think you’re viewing the past through rose-tinted glasses, Glenn. Clay/Ali enjoyed a party lifestyle in his youth, and got appalling abuse for it from the same people who applauded his charisma and humanitarian work many years later. I don’t think it’s fair to judge a person by what you see of them on TV. How can you possibly know?

      1. Maybe, I was just pointing out that the party lifestyle in itself is not the issue (otherwise we could all be heroes). It was more the independence of thought, speech, etc. and the fact that he could back his words up in the ring that maketh the man.

        1. Or the fact he was not afraid to take on the establishment without the backing of an army of crusading politically correct backers (The P.C police were scarce to non-existant in the 60’s)

          Ali’s biggest victories were outside the ring, relevant, real issues that carried weight. He didn’t take shit from others and kicked open doors. I liked the role and interplay with Cosell that helped expose and endear him to the public.

          He and others tackled the important issues so we now have time to do critical things like take endless amount’s of selfies. Good thing we don’t waste the opportunities when standing on the shoulders of giants.

      2. Ali certainly was a great athlete and did some good work in the field of civil rights but having read the Daily Telegraph piece “Muhammad Ali’s tangled love life leaves troubled legacy” that is as far as I would go with the compliments. In comparison to Ali, the current F1 drivers all look like paragons of virtue though Joe of course may know a lot more about the drivers than we do!

  9. I rode him out of town once. On an airplane. He was in First Class; I was in steerage. Saw him in a couple airports, shadowboxing with kids. They were thrilled; I was impressed.

  10. Unlike most, I guess, I am old enough to remember Clay the Olympian and Ali the consummate boxer. There was an interesting dichotomy in the Black population at the time. Some loved the things he said and just had fun with it, as I believe was Ali’s intent. Others felt that it was entirely inappropriate and wished that he would just box. However, I do think that everyone had great respect and admiration of his abilities as a boxer and athlete. One thing is for sure though. When Ali boxed, it wasn’t just a fight. It was an event.

    I’ve been a motorsports fan since the mid-50’s and discovered Formula 1 in ’60 or ’61. In that time I’ve seen MANY come and go; the field-fillers, the mid-packers and those few who, when you think of Formula 1 racing driver, their image appears in your mind. Fangio, Moss, Senna, Schumacher and that’s just about it. Of the current bunch, Hamilton I think is the only one that would be close to ascending to that level of being the face of the sport.

    In current times, the hate speech that is directed to Hamilton is not unlike what Ali suffered. Some ascribed it to jealousy, and perhaps there is that component. However, more significantly, I do believe a lot of it can be put towards unconscious racism. No one will admit to it, but it is hard to explain the degree of vehemence in the comments otherwise.

    One final point is regarding introvert versus extrovert. I think, in large measure, what Hamilton does when he isn’t racing has a lot to do with being an extrovert. He often talks of drawing strength and energy from family, friends and being out in the world. That is the sign of a true extrovert. I think if he didn’t have this public life, he would be someone very different.

    1. There is a contrived feel to individuals like Lewis actively courting a following to build a brand. The mindless Kardashian empire is the extreme runaway success of this phenomina that say’s something about present society, we are getting a collective lobotomy.

      The purity of an athlete excelling, doing exceptional things in their field with respect and admiration happening organically due to achievement rather than the hype machine being in overdrive is what some may prefer.

      1. Only problem is that since no other driver is doing that, there is no basis for comparison.

  11. I agree wholeheartedly regarding your comment on HAM.

    The difference is that Lewis’ individual performances inside the car are supported by hundreds of team members who are consequently paid by sponsors. Lewis is only able to express his feelings and speak the truth to a certain degree before being corporately muzzled.

    It is a shame, and we shouldn’t lose sight of all the great work Lewis has done for charities and children, while at the same time acting as close to a James Hunt as the current era allows.

  12. Had Lewis Hamilton not been picked up by McLaren, his life would have been different.

    Lewis would have had a different life, but his mum and dad would have made it a good one. As good people do for their kids.

    I don’t hate the people who hate Lewis Hamilton. I get really angry about stuff but I stop before anger turns into hatred.

  13. Vettel knows the sport does not give a crap about him after his succes is gone so why would he give all of himself outside the cockpit. And Joe with you being a scary opinionated person you find the reason I prefer the pirated uploads of your content. The fact Rossi is such a personality even benefits F1 talking about it. Especially the period he enjoyed the odd Ferrari F1 drive.

    1. No you prefer the pirated uploads because they’re free you cheapskate, don’t try to rationalize it with any obscure daft point. On the plus side you only steal from the best. It would be funny the next time you get paid at work that your boss decided not to pay you and that you should work for free – just to see Heinrich’s head explode in dismay. Not a pleasant thought is it? boasting about being a rodent on the Internet probably is not the best idea. Heinrich must be quite the charmer with the Ladies, do you bring your own crisps to restaurant to save on a dinner? you old charmer.

    2. P.S
      Whoever the Douchebag is that is uploading the content, what are you doing? Use your noodle, it’s bad enough the man provides you with a free blog that’s impeccably maintained and engaging. Why would anyone with an iota of common sense screw a freelance journalist out of income by feeding the rodents of the electronic age? Perhaps it’s a disgruntled competitor as you would hope any readers here have a degree of class and appreciation.

      1. With a wee bit of trouble, Joe could find out. He’s already described how to do it when he discussed what discourages teams from leaking their copy of the Concorde Agreement.

        p.s. Am not saying Joe wants to bother with it… just saying he could, that’s all.

        p.p.s. If he did want to, I’d be happy to spend some time helping catch that creep.

  14. I am old enough to remember Cassius Clay. And I remember my Mum letting me stay awake to listen to his fight with Henry Cooper on the radio.
    I always liked him. He might have had “big” fists but his heart was much, much bigger.
    Rest in Peace blessed Man!

  15. Love you post as usual.

    However I think what made Mohammad Ali an icon is he transcended sports. He talked about racial equality and expressed his opposition to the Vietnam war when it meant damaging his career. I don’t see this in any other sports celebrities.

    Muhammad Ali had a major impact in my life. I first remember him as Cassius Clay when he recited these little ditties predicting which round he would knock out his opponent (which he would then proceed to do). At first I found this to be arrogant, but his charm won me over so by the time of his first title fight against Sonny Liston I was fully in his corner. I also loved his ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’ metaphor.

    And more important he wasn’t white! I was harassed, bullied and beaten up for being Asian (and even sometimes for not being Jewish – I went to a Jewish high school). At times I confess I was ashamed of being Chinese. But then Cassius changed his name to Mohammad and announced he was a Black Muslim (who were considered ‘bad niggers’). I realized I didn’t have to be white, and I could be proud of my heritage. His opposition to the war (“no Viet Cong ever called me nigger”) just raised him higher on my pedestal.

  16. Hi Joe,

    Slightly off topic, but during the Monaco GP (particularly qualifying), I noticed that the Ferrari’s made quite a lot of noise when the drivers were off throttle – not quite RBR-Renault of 2011, but definitely different from Merc/Renault/Honda. Are they using (or attempting) some sort of off-throttle exhaust blowing, or is it just a noisy engine while idling (or am I mis-hearing?!!)

    Thanks

    1. Not sure if anything has changed in recent times, but the FIA mostly legislated blown diffusers out of existence by raising where the exhaust could exit and restricting what you could do with the off throttle engine mapping.

      The sound difference may be more of a function of exhaust system design.

      1. With the second tailpipe rules this year (for the wastegate), there was talk of blowing potentially returning, but there hasn’t been any mention since.

        1. I suspect that if it came to pass, it wouldn’t be nearly as effective. The volume of gases available is directly proportional to the displacement of the engine and the current engines are noticeably smaller. Previously, the exhaust just exited the system and went into the diffuser flow path. Passing through the wastegate would be another source of restriction and pressure drop. And lastly, the rules regarding engine mapping are still in place as far as I know.

  17. Normally I enjoy glossing over the comments to Joe’s posts, but many of these are just plain silly. I really wouldn’t blame Joe if he decides to give up blogging with this kind of reception.

    1. I agree with Observer. So much nonsense on here, so many people using the internet just to argue, such a waste of energy.

  18. I am old enough (70 now) to remember Cassius Clay and the early fights, plus the storm he started by refusing the draft etc etc.

    If you look through ‘1960’s eyes’ at Clay, he was so different, so lucid and so powerful that he just blew away a whole generation of boxers almost overnight.

    The changes that came later did not diminish his power or communication skills, but it did leave a lot of fans wondering about his new direction.

    Joe’s thoughts on Lewis Hamilton are quite valid, but you have to look through ‘2016 eyes’ to see where Joe is coming from I believe.

    In terms of taking the F1 sport to a new audience, Lewis has done far more than any other current driver to reach out and engage at his level. It is a shame that FOM don’t see what they are missing.

  19. I once spent three or four hours on a plane sat across from Muhammad Ali. I asked him for an autograph for my then two year old daughter so that later in life she would know who was “the best of the best”
    He had a charisma, a presence.
    This lead me to think of who else had such a presence in motorsport.
    If you put a limit of ten people that transcend the boundary’s of “normal”, then it becomes very hard to stay within a list.
    My motorsport ten includes Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt, Dale Earnhardt, Juan Manuel Fangio, Mario Andretti, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. They all had/have a presence that placed them apart from the rest in their own time period.
    But for me, while I have nothing against Lewis Hamilton, he has a long way to go before he has the “Presence” that sets the great apart for the “best of the best”

    1. While I have great respect for all of the names that you mention, I don’t believe that any of them faced the moral dilemmas that Ali did and that he made the decisions he did in spite of the sacrifices to his career. It is easy to make a difficult decision when you have nothing to lose, but when you have everything to lose, it is a very different matter.

  20. The closest F1 came to having a Ali like champion was Senna a man who was courageous always stood for what was right and was not afraid to call a spade a spade but yet was a great human being …. Hamilton is a tacky knockoff of the real deal

    1. Forty-three years after my forever-hero retired, I’m speechless with disbelief that his name has been mentioned only once so far in this thread about personality. So let me quote a man who might know just a little bit about the topic, named Murray Walker. You can hear him make this statement about Jackie Stewart, in the biographical 2002 DVD subtitled “The Flying Scot.” In the opening remarks, says he, of Jackie: “He’s the greatest motor racing personality of all time.” Amen, Amen, Amen. No driver, G. Hill and Hunt included, changed the face of motorsport like he did. Skeptics, name another racer who’s even come close to being named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year.

      1. If any F1 driver had anywhere near the long-lasting positive impact on the sport that Sir Jackie did, I don’t know who it was. Stewart was a 1-man crusade who left the sport a great deal safer than he found it.

        If another driver earned the kind of stature that Stewart earned by his efforts to make F1 better, who was it?

  21. Those who criticise Lewis Hamilton for his “playboy lifestyle” might like to reflect that many of the greatest drivers F1 has known have liked the odd party or two themselves.

    Obviously James Hunt springs to most people’s minds, but if I recall correctly both Graham Hill and Stirling Moss enjoyed the parties and the girls a lot as young drivers too.

  22. F1 has had a strong and popular personality as the face of the sport. The late Graham Hill used to regularly appear on talk shows like Parkinson, where he proved to have a great sense of humour and a fund of amusing stories He was a great loss to F1.

    I know you won’t post a link, but this 2 minute segment from the BBC’s Sports Personality shows Graham Hill at his best.

  23. I agree that Lewis is too reserved to be an Ali. Can you imagine him saying “I am the greatest”? – seems unlikely. The “invisible” Vettel arguably has more swagger at the track (that finger) but certainly not away from it.

    I was trying to explain to my kids who Ali was and why he was so iconic. The only contemporary sportsman I could think of who has the same swagger and showmanship, and transcends his sport in a similar way is Usain Bolt. Certainly no names from the world of F1 (past or present) came to mind.

  24. I’ll temporarily drop my negativism role to say that there’s one hope for getting Americans broadly interested in F1, and that’s an American racing Cassius Clay of any race or gender. Here’s what makes me concede as much: If Joe hints at a distaste for boxing, I’d venture he’s aghast at Mixed Martial Arts-Ultimate Fight Championship (MMA-UFC). “Barbaric” is what I heard people say when it first got modestly noticed. But it took off when a mouthy female fighter named Ronda Rousey, basically a Tonya Harding (remember her?) remake with even more attitude, won consistently and was hyped relentlessly. I boxed when young, and the boxing sport mildly interested me, but MMA not at all. Until the Rousey hype reached me. It gave me a villain to boo. I watched only one fight, and had the pleasure of seeing Ronda beaten senseless by challenger Holly Holm, a sweetheart girl-next-door. I won’t be watching any more MMA, but for Rousey I would never have even watched one match. My point is, I’ve seen a brash and well-promoted personality singlehandedly pull an obscure sport into U.S. prominence. I’d think that the same phenomenon could occur for F1, if a driver comes along whose personality is so promotable that Americans would say, “Wow, this guy/gal is something else, I’d watch him/her perform in any sport!” I know Rossi sounds vaguely like Rousey, LOL, but, sorry, not gonna compare.

  25. Are we still really discussing (or wishing) what type of F1 figure is good for F1 or if so and so should tamp down (LH) or tamp up (SV) their acts? A team order or PR coaching won’t be able to change who they are or what they do (if they’re winners). Unfortunately, our group of drivers are boring. Don’t get me wrong. I find some of them interesting and charming. None of have star power or can light up a TV screen without the car.

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