Notebook from here and there

IMG_0051The Spanish Grand Prix was a fascinating race for many different reasons. The fight at the front was interesting and Ferrari was left confused by a ‘magic’ pit stop that Mercedes strategists called as the Virtual Safety Car was ending. This was not magic at all, just genius and came from the very sound logic that a pit stop when a VSC is ending is a great idea because there is the possibility to travel faster over the same piece of track as your rival has done when the VSC is still in operation. Thus, as Sebastian Vettel watched the VSC deltas, Lewis Hamilton came into the pits. When the race was on again, Vettel pitted as normal and was surprised to find Hamilton there beside him. He rebuffed the challenge in a fairly forceful manner (some might say it was rude) but rude moves are allowed these days and so Lewis had to use a tyre advantage to win the place back a few laps later. Once he had the track position then the victory was complete because Vettel was stuck behind him.

I have a scrawl in the green notebook after a conversation I had with Sauber strategist Ruth Buscombe on the Friday, which says that the race in Barcelona is usually ‘dictated by track position’. This is because overtaking is so hard when the cars are as evenly-matched as they are today. Ruth was right about that and during the race, I watched her pull off the same trick with Pascal Wehrlein doing “a lesser-spotted” one-stop strategy. The Sauber is a slower car than its rivals but Wehrlein kept going when most of his rivals stopped and he was able to use his tyres carefully enough to move up to seventh place when he finally pitted. He lost one place to Nico Hulkenberg, but gained that back when Valtteri Bottas retired and then held off his other rivals until the finish. He did lose one place with a five-second penalty for entering the pit lane in a cack-handed manner, but bottling up its rivals gave the team its first points of the year. Track position was indeed the secret…

Ruth also came up with one of the best quotes of the weekend when she told The Guardian that the strategist being a woman is irrelevant to the drivers. “It is so competitive in this paddock,” she said, “they don’t care whether it is a woman or a chipmunk talking to them.”

In my experience strategists are clever people and while they may have some at Ferrari on the racing side, their PR work continues to amaze everyone. When the team appeared to pull off a fabulous PR stunt on Sunday by finding the weeping Kimi Raikkonen fan and letting him meet his hero, investigation revealed that the idea had come from the Formula One group and, it appears, from Sam Tremayne, who is in charge of social media at FOM, who communicated it to communications manager Joanne Revell in Spain, who put the idea into action. We concluded that if enough journalists weep on television, perhaps we might get some effective communication from Maranello…

I was talking to a senior person in the F1 world about this problem (and it is a serious one) and he reckoned that it is because the team people are so frightened of saying anything, that the team has simply decided to say nothing. Frightened of what? Being given the heave-ho by Signor Marchionne? I have bad news folks. One day Ferrari will drift back a little in competitiveness and Marchionne will lop off the nearest head, come what may… and there’s the problem. Autocrats may get things running better than average folk, but it’s not fun.

Fun was a word that also appears in the notebook, describing the world of F1 since the new people took control back in January. Barcelona was the first big occasion when the new philosophy could be shown to the world with fun stuff like zip lines, teeshirt guns and wandering minstrels. There were cartoonists working on the walls and all manner of fan-friendly stuff. The circuit was bustling with life and enthusiasm and the general attitude inside the paddock was positive.

In GP+ I used the description as follows: ‘F1 feels like it is on the move once again and that is a good thing after too many years of what now feels like Soviet-style control. In F1 the wall has come down’. That really is how it feels…

The F1 world still has plenty of uncertainty. It was worth noting that the paddock was full of race promoters. I reckon that almost all of them were present to try to have talks with the new guys. This created a number of talking points.

The Brazilian GP looks like it is on its last legs. Brazil is not a happy place at the moment. The people have lost faith in the traditional politicians, who all seem to be tainted by corruption scandals. These have disrupted politics and the economy and sporting events are in the spotlight because of money wasted on the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. The city of Sao Paulo wants to sell the Interlagos circuit, but no-one wants to buy it, at least not for a Grand Prix. The Prefeitura de São Paulo has funded the race for many years, with support from local sponsors and from the TV company Globo, a privately-owned free-to-air TV network. For whatever reason, Globo no longer wants to be involved. The viewing figures are great despite there being only Felipe Massa in the field, indeed Brazil accounts for 20 percent of the overall F1 viewing, so it is important. However, I hear that race promoter Tamas Rohonyi is selling up in Brazil and returning to Europe (he is a Hungarian). The Globo TV deal continues until 2020 but it is increasingly likely that the TV coverage will have to continue without a race. This is not the end of the world, but it is not great. The key to getting a race going is usually having a good driver and so what Brazil really needs is to find a way to get Felipe Nasr back in a car…

Elsewhere, I hear that Singapore has agreed terms to go on for another contract, or at least is close to doing so.

In Germany, things are rather complicated because Hockenheim is only really interested in holding a race every second year. At the same time the Nurburgring, which is actually the best venue, does not seem to want F1 at all. The other choices are in the east and none of them really offers much hope: Lausitzring, Sachsenring and Oschersleben all have serious drawbacks, either in terms of access and infrastructure, or in the design of the track and the funding available.

There is also a note in the book suggesting that the solution might be found in Nürnberg, where the annual Norisring races take place on a track laid out in the old Nazi Party rallygrounds, known as the Reichsparteitagsgelände. Each year the DTM manages to attract 123,000 spectators over their race weekend. The track is too short and the facilities are poor, but the city has 3.5 million people, there is a railway station next to the track and it is in an urban parkland, where they are used to big events and where a few upgraded lakeside roads could increase the track from 1.4 miles. The whole thing would then be reminiscent of Montreal or Albert Park, two of the most successful F1 venues.

There are no rumours about this idea, but I think there should be. Besides, I’d love to hear the commentators trying to say Zeppelin Strasse and Otto Ernst Schweizer Straße at speed…

Meanwhile the question of the British GP rumbles on with the BRDC trying to decide whether to action the break clause in the existing contract. On paper there is no real alternative. Jonathan Palmer runs most British circuits and he’s smart enough to know that a GP is not the best thing for everyone. The Circuit of Wales seems to have a large element of fantasy in its story and the idea of street races in London are simply not sensible. Silverstone can hope for government money (hope being the operative word) but the track is stuck with access problems which mean that it will never be possible to have public transport.

In an age where the idea is to take racing to the people, one needs very different circumstances and (as mentioned about) the Melbourne and Montreal models work best. However, I did hear whispers in Spain that there might be a new idea in London coming out of the left field, with tons of Chinese money behind it. The reference I heard related to London City Airport and when I started investigating it was immediately obvious that the only possibility for anything there would be in land that is on the north side of the Royal Albert Dock, between the ExCel exhibition centre and the University of East London, Docklands Campus. This is a large area of derelict post-industrial land. When I dug a bit deeper I discovered that this is also part of what has been declared the Royal Docks Enterprise Zone, with special deals for developers (I remember F1 trying to use these in the past in Korea) and I discovered that this particular piece of land is due to become the Asian Business Port, a home for Asian companies as they look to do business in Europe. The goal is to create a whole new district with commercial, retail and high-end residential developments, designed for Asian heavy-hitters, who will fly in and out of London City Airport in their fancy private jets. The blah-blah suggests that the project will create a new waterfront district with 20,000 jobs and improve trade links with Asia (cue government cash to help alleviate Brexit disasters). The whole thing seems eminently sensible with transportation links including not only several stations on the Docklands Light Railway but also the soon to be opened Elizabeth Line (otherwise known as Crossrail), which will the area link directly to Paddington, Heathrow Airport and even as far as Reading. There is clearly the potential to thread a race track through the new streets and on the waterfront and noise complaints would be largely negated because of the airport next door. It all seems to add up. That means it probably won’t happen, but one can see how it might if there was some good salesmanship involved. Monaco-upon-Thames… Hmmm…

The thing about the new Formula 1 group, and its parent Liberty Media, is that they do business at a level that is very different to the old ways of the sport. They don’t just do a deal with a TV company, a race promoter or a big sponsor. They look at the big picture and who these people are, and what synergies there might be. So, for example, US broadcaster NBC, is a subsidiary of cable company Comcast. This owns TV and radio stations, movie studios, including Universal and Dreamworks, plus theme parks, resorts and digital properties such as the video streaming website. The French channel Canal+ is part of the Vivendi-Universal group, another of the world’s largest multinational mass media empires, which is involved in the music, television, film, video game, telecommunication, ticketing and even video hosting businesses. If Liberty Media wants a big music act to play a Grand Prix they can get one very easily from Vivendi-Universal and can also build up business between Vivendi and Liberty Media subsidiary Live Nation, which sells tickets and controls venues, while Vivendi supplies the acts. And so it goes on… F1 recently did a deal with CAA Sports to help find sponsorship. CAA is a division of the world’s most influential entertainment and sports agency CAA, based in Hollywood and responsible for an astonishing array of A List clients in the movie world, in music but also with TV video games. So, if F1 wants David Beckham and George Clooney to walk on the grid they need to call CAA. Similarly, if a movie company wants Lewis Hamilton to do something for them, then CAA can help. It is all synergy.

It is still a bit early yet for the driver market for 2018 but there is already chit-chat about who might do this and who might do that. Obviously, Mercedes and Ferrari might both have vacancies and so everyone is looking at the options. With Red Bull underperforming, the major targets for recruitment would seem to be Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, although Mercedes youngsters Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein are both doing well. Red Bull will tell you that their drivers are contracted, which is true, but contracts often have performance clauses which allow the drivers to get out of their deals early if a team does not deliver what they need. The word is that Red Bull drivers are promised “a winning car” and that they will finish in the top five in the Drivers’ World Championship and that the team will finish in the top three in the Constructors’ title. I hear that a driver can leave if two of the three clauses are not achieved. Max Verstappen is currently sixth in the Drivers’ championship and the team is third, the Red Bull is not going to win a race this year, except in exceptional circumstances. Therefore…

Finally, there was a minor kerfuffle in Spain because some Spanish do-gooder politicians have been trying to legislate on the use of grid girls, on the basis that the ladies seen at MotoGP events seem to do demeaning things. The argument was that there ought to be a dress code and that there ought to be an equal number of both sexes represented (let’s not get into transgender arguments for now). This is something that I find annoyingly presumptious on the part of those who flog this horse. In F1, grid girls are usually dressed in a sensible and sober fashion. It is a job that the girls want to do because it helps them with careers in modelling and so on.

If these activists are so keen on equality, how come they are not complaining about the Guards outside Buckingham Palace. None of the Guards are women. They wear daft uniforms and their job is not really to guard,but rather to march about and be photographed (I know someone will write in and say that some women from the Royal Horse Artillery have stood guard over royal residences, but I am referring specifically to the scarlet-coated Guards Division). They are a tradition, selling the royal family, Britain and indeed London as well. And yet none of them are women. Grid girls sell F1. It’s a tradition…

Which is more sexist?

185 thoughts on “Notebook from here and there

  1. The answer to getting Nasr back on the grid could be helped by new teams entering the sport next year. I’ve heard rumours of one such team being crafted as we speak. Any truth to it?

    1. Pretty sure perez got a mclaren drive out of doing exactly this same strategy. If sauber become kinder on their tyres than the competition they’ll score some points this season. Not a bad strategy.

  2. Speaking of F1’s contract in America with NBC… the coverage is awful. F1 will not grow in America without proper coverage. This weekend, viewers were subjected to advertisements instead of seeing the race-deciding overtake. Personally, I ended up finishing the race and really didn’t have a sense of what happened. Too many commercial breaks to know what was going on. Every few minutes coverage stops for an ad and I am left guessing as to what happened while I was gone. I am a hardcore F1 fan, and I found the program to be completely unenjoyable. I can’t imagine what a casual observer might have felt.

    1. I’m never sure why such a competent F1 TV journalist as Will Buxton is wasting his talents on NBCSN. Sky could do well by choosing quality over quantity, and paring back their clutter of superfluous ex-drivers and generic sports TV hacks.

      I’d hoped their employment of Marc Priestly and Pat Symonds would add some depth to their often tedious and always over-priced reporting, but neither asset has really been used on screen to their full potential.

      I’m surprised Liberty didn’t come in to F1 with a plan to streamline the under-valued North American audience. As long as Will Buxton is happy to stay that side of the pond, they have a real asset who is currently wasted – if not for the kind Youtubers, posting iliicit copies of his excellent pre and post-race NBCSN coverage.

    2. i totally agree. also the commentating is inane and often misleading. that’s why i choose to enjoy British coverage through means i’m not proud of.

    3. Can’t agree more. I couldn’t believe they muffed the coverage of that pass. Like euro football, part of the interest is seeing the evolution of a protracted, hard fought contest over time. In the US we get advert after advert, often for the very broadcast we’re watching! Personally I have favorable impressions of the advertisers whose names are on the cars or the hoardings at the event, but tune out completely those whose commercials interrupt the broadcast. The “side by side” screen ruse is fairly worthless as well since the repeat commercial take up most of the screen. In North America Univision does a better job than Fox/NBC in terms of event continuity, but one loses the sometimes perceptive commentary of Hobbs, Matchett, Buxton and Diffey. The other thing that seems to be making a comeback is the pan-zoom camera work, intended to make the cars look racier (I’m guessing). In reality this reduces the context (track location, other cars) that allow for evaluation of a car’s performance or driver’s technique. The occasional super slow mo’s are pretty compelling though.

    4. Well it’s good to see they’re at least consistent. I (try to) watch Indycar which comes either by NBC or ABC, seems to depend which way the wind is blowing, and they’re both woeful. Totally inept.

    5. Alas, so true. I sadly don’t even watch on NBCSN any longer. I simply watch the race sits, highlights one can find. NOT because I don’t want to watch, but because the NBC feed is totally unwatchable! If lucky, you see 80% of the race, but most often you will miss a full ¼ due to ads, and ads at the stupidest times. For instance, you’ll be subjected to a full safety car period, only to have them cut away immediately upon return to green conditions. To make matters worse, they NEVER bother to inform you of what happened during the goddamn ads you were just subjected.

      100% unwatchable. I hope beyond hope that under Liberty there will come a day for pay-per-view streaming minus ads.

    6. NBC has seriously ramped up the commercial time…

      On SPEED, the ads were all 2-minutes… with the shift to NBC, standard ads remained 2 minutes, but the window-in-window versions were allocated 3-minutes… then, they expanded the standard kind, such that they’re all 3-minutes… that’s a 50% increase in ad time right there… plus, upon returning from a 3-minute ad, you have to listen to Diffey do another 15 second ad from the both… which means all the 120-sec ads have grown to be nearly 200-sec’s long…

      Just as bad is the timing of them… on SPEED, they had some discretion about when to run them, based on the racing action… on NBC, either they have no such discretion or else the producer/director/whatever is a boob who has zero feel for racing…

  3. As per always really informative stuff. I prefer this element to everything else that you write apart from the travel element maybe !
    Many many thanks from a true fan

  4. Last time I was at the Canadian Grand Prix the grid girls were wearing ridiculously high stiletto-style shoes. One had to be helped off the track, obviously in great pain. I personally find the concept of grid girls ridiculous, and demeaning to female fans (of which I’m one). I appreciate there are many fans who like them to be there, in an anachronistic way, but the women should at least be allowed to dress comfortably in a way that doesn’t cause them distress. And while some women may sign up for the gig hoping it will do them some good, I wonder how many return? I applaud what motogp has done; yet again other types of motor racing are showing how out of touch F1 has become. Joe, you often argue for change when change is due – surely you can see this is one change that screams to be made. If the teams want mascots, why not follow in football’s steps and involve more child fans? It worked well last weekend, and would encourage F1 to appear family-friendly rather than looking like a playgirl mansion party complete with sad perves.

      1. Have then wear racing shoes and be in team colours for the grid position board they are holding. Each team could supply the imitation kit (3 layer fireproof being a tad over the top).

    1. I tend to look at the government legislating the dress code and function of “grid girls” to be paternalistic and sexist (like women cannot make decisions for themselves). The women employed as grid girls are capable enough of not taking the jobs. But something tells me it’s attractive to some for the pay and/or media exposure.

      With that said, if some fans find it distasteful (it can be tacky sometimes but I can live with it) they should certainly voice their opinions. The sponsors/brands associated with the practice will quickly make adjustments.

    2. Grid girls will always be a confrontational topic ; I for one like having them, maybe I’m one of those old pervs …

      People don’t seem to know much about the business side of it ; the ladies usually work freelance for agencies providing hostesses to events , promo gigs and such.

      Some might have a modeling career as well, but that’s a very different industry and career path; a model will usually only work such events for some extra cash, it’s not something that will help a professional career, quite the opposite .

      Most of the women are students and other young ladies who do it as a part time job for a few years ; it’s decent money , requires no training or commitment, and is fairly easy work .

      Downsides are the kind of attention they might get, and it can actually be very exhausting to stand around for endless hours, look pretty and be sweet to everybody all day .
      In that respect, being a grid girl is probably one of the better gigs in the business – better hours, more breaks and less exposure to jerks, compared to a car show or such .

    3. I’m not sure Gird Girls really send out a poisitive message, especially in a sport where Men and Women compete together. (Albiet woman have not made the grid in F1 for some time)

      I think the problem is that the grid girls are there to look pretty, they hold a sign and clap the winner. Joe – I dont think good looks are required for the Queens Guards as they are also fully operational trained soldiers (The Queens Guard is a operational Combat Unit) so the comparison isn’t quite sound. Furthermore since 2007 there have been women serving in the Queens Guard however this is only in support batallions which they are permitted to serve in.(IE Its an Army issue rather than specifically the guards). You need a pretty face and a pretty smile to be a grid girl.

      Also with regards to MotoGP – what have they done? Have you seen the Tech III grid girls? They are usaully in some rather racey (excuse the pun) attire. Although I do know one of the girls (they are usually about 16/17 in Moto GP) who competed in Moto3 (IE GP3 for bikes) refused to have a grid girl and she dispatched the organisers to fetch a man to hold the umbrella! (Good work!)

      I don’t really have a problem with the concept but it does feel a bit dated and the line of clapping girls definitely jars with me as a viewer – much more than the grid girls with the signs for the fans on the grid.

      1. As far as I and most male friends are concerned, pretty women gladden the eye but are about as relevant and necessary to the modern highly technical F1 grid scene as a Sperm whale would be floundering in an Olympic swimming pool before the racing starts. They are just there as eye candy. They know it. The organisers know it. And sure as hell we know it. OK …have all the pretty girls you think you need in the hospitality areas behind the pits. But not on the grid please. PLEASE !

    4. You may not like the grid girls, that’s fine, you may consider that they’re demeaning themselves, that’s fine also, with the proviso that you aren’t seeking to restrict their freedom of choice to do so. However it is quite ridiculous to claim that the freely chosen actions of any person are demeaning to another person. If I dislike the actions of somebody in the public eye, or even if I like them for that matter, those actions do not demean me, they do not reflect upon me in any way at all. Whether it be Ron Jeremy waving his tackle about on camera or Jeremy Corbyn refusing to condemn terrorists, their behaviour says nothing whatsoever about me.

      The actions of an individual reflect only on that individual. Now other individuals will see that reflection in entirely different lights, and make their own personal judgements on it, which is to be expected, but the actions belong to the first individual and for the second individual to attempt to make the actions about themself is an attempt to deprive the first individual of their individuality.

  5. It will be a real shame if Sao Paulo drops off the calendar. Is there ever a boring race there? (I’m looking at you Monaco)

    1. Could you ever imagined such a thing as no Brazilian Grand Prix during the Fittipaldi/Pace/Piquet/Senna years? The Brazilians are (were) some of the most passionate F1 fans!

  6. Joe, the guards do actually guard and they are a proper fighting regiment in the British army. Their marching bands do include marching women musicians.

    But more to the point: so it was one Luca Colajanni who brought together the little crying Kimi fan with Kimi himself. There are different versions of the story, citing various individuals. Some say a woman who now runs the F1 communications department was behind it. Carey himself said Ferrari were solely responsible.

    I was very surprised that TV news in the UK did not decide to run the story, as the six year old is photogenic [esp when weeping] and usually feelgood tales like this are right up their street.

    Carey says it wouldn’t have happened under Bernie. That comment seemed to overshadow all the good that the incident had achieved. Bernie is gone; why kick him now??

      1. So I must apologise for giving Ferrari undue credit! Cigarette man’s team remains uncommunicative.

        1. Clearly they must have been involved, don’t you think?
          It was staged in their garage after all…..

  7. Thank you again for the insight that others missed regarding the VSC pit stop by AMG Mercedes. It was a factor though Bottas on worn tires held up Vettel quite badly to the tune of 4+ seconds which was an even larger influence. It would be a shame to lose Interlagos as the weather frequently provides for good racing and the track has ample opportunity for overtaking. Silverstone is the traditional home of the British GP and it would be a travesty to lose it to a Tilke design (boring) street/strip track. Red Bull’s Dr. Marko is being very vocal about contracts but the reality is one of their driver’s performance related clause will not be met thus he will be free to go. It all becomes a rather moot point if both AMG Mercedes and Scuderia Ferrari hang on to their Finns. Bottas seemingly has a better chance of remaining beyond this season than Kimi. Good to see the KGB/NKVD/Stasi/Revolutionary Guards/FOM persons are opening up access to fans. Lastly lets keep the grid girls!

  8. Glory be, I got to page7 of the GP+ Spanish issue and there was a photo of the backs and bums of beautiful women………thank goodness that the politically correct nonsense spouted by Mr C has not phased you Joe. My sweetiepie, who is a vibrant, strong feminist (aged 79) was completely with you in your reasoning with aforesaid Mr C. Keep on doing it right and keep on with your unique no nonsense reporting and story telling, in this corner we love it!

      1. Nothing wrong with properly dressed young ladies out in the sunshine. I also enjoyed the picture of the girls, and the variety of their shapes. Men will always enjoy decent pictures of such ladies.

        1. Perhaps, but not many watch F1 for prospective masturbation reasons. I did not realise this digital forum had such a high density of ‘Rolex wearing’ fans.

          1. I think your assumptions are wildly wrong, I’m in my 70’s and long past such things. I wear a Seiko, always have, and have no desire for a Rolex.

            Biologically, the day men stop being attracted by pretty girls is the day the human race will start to decline. It’s in the genes, nature made us that way.

          2. +1 – very well said Jakub. Happy to consign outmoded traditions to the past where they belong.

              1. No more male-only guardsmen – if something is ceremonial, fair enough but ceremonies do change over the passage of time.

          3. Referring to grid girls as “prospective masturbation reasons” says something… but I’m not sure it says what you think it does…

            I don’t care much about grid girls either way… they’re on TV for a few seconds… when they’re on, I enjoy noticing which among the appealing ladies seem particularly attractive to me…

            Evidently, you don’t know what it’s like to enjoy the ordinary, simple pleasure of seeing which among various attractive women ring your personal pretty bell… the fact that you seem to think it’s connected to masturbation, well, that strikes me as a rather sad thing…

            Please be assured that it doesn’t mean the same thing to me as it apparently means to you…

  9. Interesting proposal for Gallieons Point Marina?

    But is it a big enough piece of land for a race track? Would they need to cross the two bridges and use the Airport runway as the back straight?

    I guess they could also look at running the track into neighboring Beckton Park too

    Otherwise the location is great – The excel Centre being next door means a lot of the spectator infrastructure (food & entertainments) can be housed there and there is plenty of room in the calm waters of the dock for small cruise ships and yachts to moor up.

    There are also (importantly) very few houses about too.

    Of course it’ll never happen …..

    1. Those roundabouts for the DLR stations make excellent chicanes even in a road car.

      F1 at the Sachsenring would be something I’d go to.

  10. Soviet Style wall as you say has definitely come down.
    But some of the old guard are still welding themselves to their walnut mahogany desks (with the green leather top inlay similar to your note book) and the optional green glass brass table lamp.
    The Grand Wizard Todt and his merry band of FIA hobbits are still entrenched in their HQ.
    Until they go some of that Soviet Cold War Wall is still intact.

    1. A family member is in the Royal Horse Artillery. His words not mine regarding the opposite sex in the RHA “as useful as a bout of small pox”.
      Personally I think both sexes do a good job in the Forces.
      But ask the Gunners on the light guns and they’ll give an earful of expletives. 💂

  11. Just to add to your last paragraph. Its not possible to be sexist against men as they are and have always been the ‘norm’ and never discriminated against etc

      1. To discriminate is to use a difference of some sort for any purpose. In this context it may be for or against any sex or gender. Positive discrimination sometimes forces employers to put less well qualified or suitable persons in a job, purely to satisfy some political or social ideal. (Or nowadays, law)

  12. For Brazil, the Sao Paolo Indycar circuit was fun – with the start finish straight passing through the Sambadrome. My money is on Silverstone getting some sort of whopping tax exemption as part of the brexit related stimulus plan you alluded to, if the loss of the grand prix becomes a real prospect. They’d probably have to do something with the automotive industry setting up a spoke of the Advanced Propulsion Centre there but sounds easier than a London street race.

  13. Hi Joe, you’ve mentioned the other Felipe… I saw 2 independent tweets over the Spanish weekend linking him to Palmer’s seat. Any thoughts on that one?

      1. Ever since taking up his race seat at Renault in 2016, Palmer has been very unlucky in that his driving skill is not able to match his ambition, nor the rest of the grid!

        Wouldn’t the kindest thing be for him to find a less challenging drive in a race series where he has a sporting chance? If it wasn’t obvious last season, hasn’t Hulkenburg made things pretty clear so far this year?

        If the works Renault team keep up their current progress, it would be a crime if they didn’t put another capable driver in his seat for 2018!

        1. /If the works Renault team keep up their current progress, it would be a crime if they didn’t put another capable driver in his seat for 2018!/

          They would have put a better driver in Palmer’s seat for 2017 already if there was an available one.

      2. Moss has made many interesting observations on the subject of F1 drivers and ‘luck’. To paraphrase, he doesn’t believe in it. In his model, what the outside world perceives as individual unfortunate events likely represents a deeper lack of ability or judgement. It takes more than just luck to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time, either literally or figuratively.

    1. / I saw 2 independent tweets over the Spanish weekend linking him to Palmer’s seat/

      Why should Renault bother with Nasr when they have reserve driver of the same class, Sirotkin?

    2. A vision has just popped into my mind on what occurred the last time a young Brazilian driver drove for Renault in F1.

      I’ll have to see if I can run it down…….

      1. Well, the last time a young Brazilian drove for what’s *now* called “Renault”, he was quite good. Three podiums in his maiden season, lapped both the Ferraris in the dry at Brands…

  14. I always wonder why, instead of trying to justify something like grid girls on some artistic or historic level, or make comparisons in justification we don’t just say men, most of the F1 audience, like looking at pretty girls. Pretty girls, most of the grid girls, like getting paid to be pretty girls.

    It’s as simple as that and that’s the truth of the matter. If it offends you don’t watch. Just like I don’t shop at Walmart because 300lb slobs in sweat pants offend me.

    If we adopted this approach most of the PC shit would be gone overnight. And although half the races are in despot countries now I don’t think even there the grid girls are forced to do it, they want if not like doing it. I’m quite certain over assembling iphones for $2 a day in a poisonous sweatshop in China or working in Starbucks I’d be a grid girl if I was prettier and more female.

  15. “… he reckoned that it is because the (Ferrari) team people are so frightened of saying anything…” Yes, this very much gels with remarks Ross Brawn made in TOTAL COMPETITION.

  16. Do you believe grid girls are as equally appealing to women viewers as you presume they are to men?

    I’m sure the women themselves are well remunerated and happy with their jobs, but selling sex-appeal to (mostly) men does implicitly suggest the organisers of F1 are less interested in their female viewers’ interests.

    Honestly, grid girls are barely seen these days. Regardless of F1, TV broadcasters don’t want to look sleazy and so aim their cameras elsewhere. Given their inability to sell sex appeal I think you overestimate their value. Replacing them would be a PR win. The math seems obvious to me.

    1. The reason they don’t appear on tv is that the cameras are being used for other things at that time.

      1. Joe, there is a burning topic indeed: where FOM cameras are pointed at any one particular time. Did I say topic? more like a whole month of topics…..

      2. “but selling sex-appeal to (mostly) men does implicitly suggest the organisers of F1 are less interested in their female viewers’ interests. ”
        Well shirley most of the F1 audience is male, so yes it makes sense.

        1. And why is most of the audience male? Have you considered that the sheer tackiness of this element of F1, and the presence of the many ageing perves who defend it, could be extremely off-putting to the very audiences F1 should be trying to attract in order to survive? Younger audiences aren’t going to put up with that sexist crap; they’ll either be disgusted or will simply mock the kind of older men who think what was acceptable in the 70’s is acceptable these days (think Rolf Harris, etc). Women have huge spending power and don’t take kindly to being sexualised in this way, or being seen as having a purely decorative function. And it’s hardly family-friendly; it would be a very abnormal parent who’d want their children to think this is normal.

          Anyone who defends this is clinging desperately to the past. It’s part of a bygone era, like cigarette advertising. Give it up and move on. If you need to look at young lightly dressed girls, to remind yourselves of your younger years or whatever other purpose this serves, there are plenty of websites that cater for your needs.

          1. I had a very interesting conversation with a couple of my female teenage students some months back. (Teenagers are, of course, the defenders of modern political correctness in all its forms.) They were pouring over a picture of a current boy band “hero” – all muscle and hairless chest – with fairly lusty comments about what they’d like to do to/with him.

            When I asked them how they’d feel if they found their male peers lusting over a young female figure they said “That’s different” – apparently it was disgusting, childish, typical boys etc etc. They had not quite realised the inconsistency of their argument! It was fine for the girls to lust for a member of the opposite sex, but disgusting for boys to do it.

            My advice to all would be… if you don’t want to see them, don’t look. When (if!) people stop looking, sponsors would realise that [implied] sex doesn’t sell and will move on.

            A few years back I worked some car launches with a bunch of girl models, one of whom ran the agency which “fixed” the girls for events. They’d all been grid girls, and one was also a racing fan since childhood, and was then dating a well-known BTCC racer. All very normal people, fun to work with, just did a slightly different job on the tour compared to me and my fellow car nerds. None of them even mentioned feeling exploited – they all seemed pretty down to earth to me. I believe we all earnt pretty much the same pay for the tour.

    2. I always assumed that those that think selling skin-tight sexy women on tarmac is glamorous are also the ones that think that Hooters’ classy waitresses serve excellent ribs…

      1. You miss the point of my post and you obviously don’t pay much attention to the grid girls of today. Most (not all) are sensibly dressed. I agree that Hooters waitresses are not the right role models for modern F1. But they are a tradition and I see nothing wrong with it, if they are treated with respect.

    3. Perhaps it’s me because I watch F1 for the cars and drivers, I don’t even notice the grid girls, although I do remember Monaco a few years back when the grid girls were boys mainly as wondered why some bloke was dressed like a prat.

      On the VSC stop, its a complete no brainer as long as your tyre strategy works with it. If Seb had stopped on the same lap or even a lap before Hamilton I think the finish positions would have been reversed as Hamilton would have closed the 8 se one gap over time but by then the best days of the tyres would have been over. Perhaps. The “too scared to make a decision” was at play where even here it was thinking outside the box.

  17. Please stop knocking Brexit, its happening . I thoroughly enjoy and respect your articles they allow us all to enjoy your insights into F1 and that’s political enough. Thank you for your continued excellent insights and commentary

    1. I will knock Brexit if I wish to knock it and I will not be cowed by people who have made this massive mistake. I’m not allowed to vote in the U.K despite being a U.K. Citizen so this is how I cast my vote.

      1. It’s been the case, for many years, that prolonged absence from the UK negates one’s right to vote in elections, so I’m surprised at your stance Joe. I assume you weren’t bothered in the past at not being to vote in UK general elections – leaving behind some entitlements is surely part and parcel of forging a new life in another country? English friends of mine have recently become French citizens to enable them, principally, to avoid potential problems with such items as health care in the future.

        1. Exactly. People who have lived outside the UK for many years, paying taxes in their country of residence, have clearly rejected the UK. Fair enough. However, this is exactly the reason they should not be allowed to vote in UK elections and referendums. It’s as absurd as Scottish MPs in Westminster being allowed to vote on issues that only affect England and Wales.
          My sister and her husband have applied for French citizenship: they love living in France and have absolutely no interest in living in the UK, so why not? They weren’t allowed to vote in the referendum and were devastated by the result (as was I) but it made them realise it was time to show some respect to the country they have made their home and become French citizens.

      2. And I´m with you, Joe. I enjoy your willingness to take a position on other subjects, your historian´s perspective and business knowledge. I don´t agree with everything, but your intelligence is clear.

        I also left UK many years ago to work in the wider world. I still have family, property and interests in the UK, always voted there whilst I qualified, without (other than voting to join the EU in the 70s) ever casting a winning vote because of the rubbish and unfair first past the post system .

        As a UK citizen living and working in the EU for many years, I am incandescent with rage to find myself a pawn/bargaining chip for Theresa May and her tabloid mandate.

        My love of motor racing pre-dates any of the above, hence posting here.

        1. Frankly Martin, I don’t see your beef here. I understand your frustration over Brexit, but I’m optimistic concerning the rights of UK citizens in Europe and Europeans in the UK – logically it’s in everyone’s interest to maintain the status quo providing existing rights are more or less maintained. The wider issues are open to debate but as you have maintained a presence in the UK you must feel more assured than someone who has sold up and committed to a new life elsewhere.

      3. The joys of Europe, where an UK citizen cannot vote in Britain and Turkish citizens can vote both in the Netherlands for the Dutch parliament (for a Diyanet sponsored party) and for Erdohan in a “referendum”.

    2. There are few things economists agree on, one being trade is always beneficial. Any increase in trade barriers will leave both parties worse off. It is a step back for Europe, and a jump over the cliff for Britain, sadly…

    1. Since to date we’ve only had one F1 driver known to be gay (that I’m aware of), and no female drivers for a couple of decades, that wouldn’t really change anything at all, would it.

        1. Oh I’m sure there are a fair few statistically (including at least one very high profile driver, allegedly) but I thought (correct me if I’m mistaken) that just one driver was “out”, albeit posthumously. Anyway, I was just pointing out that it wouldn’t really change the grid girl ratio – issues of sexuality, race and whatnot are really not of any importance or interest unless it is in a positive sense that helps others with their own acceptance or personal struggle, IMHO. Didn’t mean to go off-topic!

  18. “If these activists are so keen on equality, how come they are not complaining about the Guards outside Buckingham Palace.”

    Joe, there’s been a huge debate over the last couple of decades over women serving in combat regiments with many advocating for it. This is a debate that has taken place basically across the entire developed world and you can’t have been watching motorsport for 20 years straight without a break.

    If you google “why don’t women guard Buckingham palace” then [no links allowed]’s FAQ is the first two results explaining that they’re combat roles when they’re not wearing the fuzzy hats if you weren’t aware of that.

    It honestly wouldn’t have cost you more than 90 seconds to check if what you were saying was true (another google would tell you that the law changed in the UK in 2016 and women are being phased into close-combat roles, as a result of, as you put it, “complaining”)

      1. Why have paid grid personnel at all? Why not use it as a means of engaging further with fans or local in-country charities? Let them take on the responsibility and have F1 gain the admiration of those outside of traditional motoring circles.

        1. Maybe like the ball boys/girls at Wimbledon, have local kids or from charities as you suggest. Although there might be some over 18 years old rule to being on the track.

          Or Liberty could have a competition to find a “superfan” for each driver in each country, whose prize is to be that driver’s grid-person for the race.

          1. If you use children, it is only a matter of time before someone accuses the sport of something else…

            1. Utter tosh – no one accuses Wimbledon or football clubs of anything with their use of ball boys/girls, nor is football accused of anything when the teams enter the field of play accompanied by minors as team mascots. I was fortunate enough to be a volunteer during the cricket T20 World Cup at the Oval a few years back – we organized a match for local school children during the change of innings in the outfield of the match pitch. There was nothing but praise for what was done and the crowds loved it. F1 has lived in a culture of paranoia too long if those in its ‘bubble’ genuinely think such a shift would lead to further accusations from outside quarters.

  19. I’m surprised in a way Nurburgring doesn’t want anything to do with F1. It always seemed sold out. Singapore I don’t see staying after next contract(is there is one), Brazil is in a market that F1 needs to keep, a bit like in 09 when Canada gone, if Brazil goes then maybe best option is Argentina but is their track even FIA Grade 1 anymore? Plus could they even afford it

    1. No it’s not sold out. German F1 fans are largely working class and ticket prices are too high.

  20. Wow Joe, another very good piece.
    Your Norisring idea is bang on. The start/finish straight could be easily extended by nearly a kilometer, and that extension would double as the guys would need to go the same lenght in reverse to join back to the usual layout.

    A bit off topic question:
    I’ve seen previously, that in the heydays, around ’90, at the Canadian GP, there were friendly raft/boat competitions between the teams on Thursday when there was no on track action. When did it came to an end, and do you think it would be a good idea to do sg similar friendly competition between the teams to let off steam and start a tradition around it? As Liberty said, they want to energize the whole weeks of the GP’s, not only the weekends…

    1. No, Norisring is not bang on.

      And this is me as a regular of the track – I’ve been there to almost every race since the late ’60s, even proposing to my (now) wife there ten minutes before Pedro Rodríguez had his fatal crash.

      I doubt that the city council (or the Nurembergians-at-large) would allow the finest bit of parkland near the city centre be demolished to have more racing track, let alone the necessary infrastructure Formula 1 needs. The whole idea sounds as farcical as having a permanent F1 circuit in Hyde Park – certainly the idea wouldn’t go without its supporters, but the political/local reaction would most likely be negative.

      Plus – and I witness the pilgrimages of the misguided far too often – Nuremberg really wouldn’t like to be reminded every year by Martin Brundle that “Hey, folks, we’re driving on the Nazi rally grounds here!”

      1. It wouldn’t be demolished. If you had been to Melbourne or Montreal you would understand.

  21. As much as we love the racing there, why does the Brazilian GP have to be at Interlagos?
    Rio was the mainstay for many years, sadly impossible today, but there are other venues that would work with a few quid thrown at them?
    What was the venue the WTCC went to recently? Lovely wide, sweeping turns (ripe for being royally f***** up by Tilke and co!)

    Re Germany, why not have the event on an ex forces airfield or have a street race in Stuttgart or Berlinen?

  22. Well Liberty media sure have lots of rich and powerful contacts. Maybe they can stick a few million in each and let the public watch the orgy of wealth for free.

  23. Joe,not to beat a dead horse, but ditto to what Dennis had alluded to. We were brought back from another lengthy commercial break, pass done, race basically decided. Speed was not the greatest, but NBC Sports leaves much to be desired. Their in it for ad revenue, (I know,who isn’t) and often bounce the races or qualifying off to one of their sister stations. How is it that the Spanish speaking station can go full races without interruption? They’re doing a less than stellar job. And if you saw my cable bill, you’d cry. This is all we’ve got in the states.

    1. Yep. It’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham; impossible to watch. I confess to watching the Sky broadcast illegally. But without Sky I wouldn’t watch it at all …

    2. Simply because the NBC financial model when bidding for the rights probably only worked for them with the ad revenue based on the number of breaks they are running, and the Spanish stations model allows a different model to be economically viable for them.

      Have you tried watching the Spanish channel with the sound turned off, and either feed the audio from another TV, or from a streaming device such as an iPad or Roku for the NBC live commentary (or even better, BBC Radio’s live commentary which should be easy enough to fenagle even in the USA). That way you get your HD picture, and some good commentary.

  24. Joe

    Seeing the comment on Ross Brawn and Adam Parr’s book.made me wonder and I hope you will give a view.

    1 – If Honda did not withdraw, would Seb be 2009 Drivers Champion? Or would a Honda powered Honda, which was clearly a great chassis still have prevailed?
    2 – Would McLaren either still be Mercedes powered as the quasi factory entry where perhaps Ron Dennis would still be at the team with MB having bought a stake in that team as Brawn would no longer have been for sale.

    I think the Honda withdrawal and Martin Twitmarshes decision to allow Brawn a MB engine has created one of the biggest shifts in F1 history as.McLaren were forced to look elsewhere for power and found it at the team Brawn was, lost Hamilton to MB and saw a MB super team a bit like the Moss and Fangio pairing.

    1. I thought it was a matter of record, that pre-Brawn Mercedes had been trying unsuccessfully for some time to buy into McLaren? I also thought they were unable due to so, via the characteristic intransigence of Ron Dennis?

        1. My understanding (which may be wrong) was they sought to acquire more, to bring McLaren more in line with a works team.

          Also my understanding (which again may be wrong) was that Ron Dennis and perhaps one or both of the other two main shareholders, were opposed to Mercedes gaining the amount of ownership the Germans wanted to fulfil their F1 ambitions, prior to the Brawn situation in 2009.

          I’ve noticed that over the last couple of races, the World Feed has given some prominence to Mansour Ojjeh on the grid and the McLaren pitwall. Does that indicate his health has recovered to a significant degree, following his major organ replacement surgery?

          I’ve had two distant family members undergo organ replacement, one heart and one lung – but neither made it out of their hospital bed. Both died pretty soon after the surgery, which may just have been bad luck – but after the second time it struck me that both operations were wasteful, as I’m sure there was no shortage of needy patients waiting to take better advantage.

          We were told they were lucky to get the transplant donations, though close family subsequently didn’t seem surprised when they died so quickly afterwards. I’m no medical expert, that’s my only experience of such modern medical magic – but given his reported previous health problems, Mansour Ojjeh looked remarkably healthy on TV. I was surprised neither Sky nor C4 commented on his apparently successful recovery.

          1. You forget that RD had less of a role after the debacle in 2007. And health (quite rightly) is not deemed public information.

    1. As of 2016 the “European Metropolitan Area Nuremberg” had approximately 3.5 million inhabitants

  25. Brazilian viewers make up 20% of the global tv audience? When most of the races will be in the morning. That’s incredible. What are they doing different to European and Japanese broadcasters? No paywall for starters

    1. Morning races allow you to spend time with your family in the afternoon. 1400 is an inconvenient time for most families.

  26. Having grid boys as well as grid girls presumes that women like looking at grid boys as much as men like looking at grid girls. It’s probably not the case though, given that the grid boys are..grid boys, not high-powered businessmen, not billionaires, not cheeky jerkboys who would never do such a demeaning job.

    1. Well, in the words of my long-deceased grandmother, watching some show on TV: “All those poor little skinny bare girls. Why don’t they ever show some proper nekkid men-folk” (only sorry that her very special take on the Danish language doesn’t translate well into neither writing nor another language).

    2. Good job Robert didn’t say “not cheeky jerkGIRLS who would never do such a demeaning job” … wouldn’t ever hear the end of the (rightful) accusations of extremely sexist and derogatory language about people doing a paid job of work.

    3. “presumes that women like looking at grid boys as much as men like looking at grid girls”

      …or perhaps there are *some* men who like looking at grid boys…! 😮

  27. Is there a growing consensus on Stroll? Will he grow into the job or is he going to be in F1 only as long as a team needs a huge cash infusion? Maldonado was maddening, but he was fast (I think he wasted his speed through a refusal to learn). I’ve seen nothing from Stroll to make me think he has real F1 speed in him, but I don’t want to dismiss someone so undeveloped.

      1. I do have genuine concerns for Stroll given Monaco is the narrowest and bumpiest track, and he has no experience on it.

        Something has got to give. Massa is taking on Renault and Toro Rosso by himself in the WCC.

    1. Far from being a fan of anyone or Maldonado for the matter, when he got his chance to win he won far and square. Remember in Barcelona? It even seemed easy. So, yes, he was a little bit of a crazy dude, but he got it done that time. More heralded drivers had way worse results than el Loco Pastor.

      1. That was what was so maddening. Pastor and Grosjean both had great speed, but Grosjean learned not to crash (now I wish he’d learn not to whine publicly) while Pastor refused to learn from his mistakes. That race showed what he could do if he grew up, but he never did. Sucks for him and Williams.

    2. If you watch any of the in-car footage of Stroll, he seems to be totally over-driving the car, sawing away at the wheel with no finesse. I’ve heard Brundle comment on this a couple of times now that he needs to calm down. The guy is clearly competitive in the right equipment – you don’t luck into winning every feeder formula on the way up the ladder – but he is struggling with the beefier spec cars this year. He would probably have been OK with last years’ spec.

      Presumably the money the team is getting will keep him in the seat for a while (I’m going to guess 2 seasons) and if he’s not regularly within 0.3s of Massa (or whoever his team mate is next year) I think they’ll have to part ways.

      1. I read somewhere (i cant remember where) that due to the funding involved there was always an advantage shall we say in any of the junior formula he competed in, whether that be through superior equipment or submissive team mates. How true this is i do not know.

      2. it seems an odd career move. If one lives in a solid gold house and knows daddy can buy your F1 drive as and when you choose (rather than a sponsor whom you may have for now but who knows how long), surely the rational thing to do is to buy a year in a top F2 car, perhaps via the 3.5 series, so that you enter F1 as prepared as you can be. Like a typical young man he’s skipped the foreplay and it’ll all be over too soon.

        1. Actually his F1 prep was probably the most extensive since Jacques Villeneuve. He did numerous private tests across multiple tracks in old F1 machinery to prepare for this season – had it not been for the significant rule changes for this year, would suggest that would be more useful than a season in F2.

          1. That just makes his appearance of inexperience even more obvious!

            Recent history has shown that F2 / GP2 is far from a certain proving ground, for potential F1 talent. I hope Liberty can address the cost issues, to allow genuine talent into all the top cars, to create a legitimate feeder series with exciting racing supporting F1 weekends.

            I think it’s criminal how little attention Sky pay to the support races they pay and charge to broadcast. They’ve got so much empty space inbetween race weekends, yet seem so reluctant to produce any new additional or added value content. I’d love to learn more about the GP3 and F2 series during the week, to properly put their weekend races into context.

            There have recently been a couple of youngsters enter F1, without properly progressing through all the junior formulas – yet they’ve not suffered from the same type of problems as Stroll.

            By contrast Palmer managed to win more than one title, albeit after a lot of trying – and is struggling to improve on the times (relatively) that he put in for Lotus, during his many FP1 drives. Ocon’s come in and made it look positively easy…

            If Stroll crashing out every race puts Williams back on the front foot financially, once Massa retires (again) I’ve no problem with Stroll Sr’s money helping make the other Williams seat more competitive, as befits their proud history!

  28. I think using the royal family as a benchmark for what is sensible practice in the real world is a bit far fetched, although I do get your argument about the history and traditions in F1. May be time to move on though.

      1. I’d still prefer that to the fancy skirts and pom pom slippers of the Greek ceremonial guard.

        1. Because “tradition” is a powerful and persuasive concept. It’s used to justify the monarchy, fox hunting, bagpipes, tobacco advertising, bigotry, a whole range of -isms and -phobias, the extra payout to Ferrari (and other long term F1 teams), the rejection of video technology in football (although this is changing glacially), corporal punishment, capital punishment, religious practices, smoking in pubs, overfishing, whaling and so on.

  29. Hi Joe,

    Bernie and Force India – do you think he’ll buy them? Martin Brundle interviewed BCE while he was stood next to the cars on the grid….

    1. They were just having a laugh with the silly rumours. Bit surprised quite a few people took that banter seriously.

  30. On the silly season, could Pérez be considered a serious candidate for Kimi’s seat in case he decides to call it quits? Or is he doomed to be a midfield driver?

    1. Excellent question…I wonder the same thing…very good journeyman with very good backing…would love to be a fly on the wall in Maranello

    2. A lot of ‘insider’s seem to think Checo will, yes. Safe pair of hands, quick enough to be a strong no.2, maybe, still good enough to be a no.1… I think he’s sensible enough now to realise he could do very well from that sort of contract rather than thnking he can be a WDC… But has he been overtaken in the pecking order by the likes of Sainz, Werhlein etc?

      Interestingly, young Wehrlein seems to be mirroring Checo’s innate ability to make a set of tyres last for years and net a strong result out of it….

      Back to Maldonado. He could be searingly quick and was absolutely mega around Monaco which makes him somewhat of an enigma in that he crashed a lot, but not often around there (well, apart from the year he got banned in FR3.5 and the year Hamilton took him out!).

      At the moment based on results, Palmer has no chance of being in F1 next year. Enstone are on an upward curve and they will want 2 strong drivers. The Stroll situation is more tricky. If Lance really doesn’t cut it, the team loses millions!

    3. Perez may be potentially too good. McLaren didn’t pick him at random, he was just unlucky to find their 2013 car worse than that from the previous season!

      I’m surprised more gossip isn’t suggesting Grosjean for that seat – unless his recent form of constantly complaining (usually justifiably) has made him persona non grata? He certainly seems to have the driving chops akin to a Rubens type Ferrari driver…

    4. /could Pérez be considered a serious candidate for Kimi’s seat/

      I’d believe he is considered a serious candidate, but he won’t be at the top of the list if a Red Bull driver is available.

  31. Singapore is the pretty much the most important on the calendar these days and is effectively the Monaco of the east and is/has signed a new deal. One wonders if that was possible had Chairman E (Emeritus or Ecclestone -take your pick) still been at the reins.

    I wonder how those negotiations would’ve gone and how he would’ve spun it when the organisers put it to Bernie that they were of more value to him than he was to them. After all, they had achieved their target of increasing awareness and promoting tourism and investment in themselves and making it the most popular race on the calendar -fans and teams included. But the locals are a little cheesed with the impact of staging it through the streets and under lights now the novelty has worn off a bit. The negotiations are something I certainly would’ve paid to be a fly on the wall to see. But sadly (well, not really) we’ll never see it. (Not that we ever would’ve anyway, but you know what I mean).

    You can probably put that one down to Due diligence in someone’s part.

  32. Ruth Buscombe is proving to be a pretty good race strategist. When she was with Haas they had their best placings and have since fallen away since she left, and she is again proving her worth with Sauber. I only think it’s a matter of time before she’s snapped up by one of the top teams.

  33. I watched the FE Monaco race last weekend and it was nice that for once even they could not disguise the location as thy manage in most other of their races. This with the exception of the road behind the pits that they take to avoid the hill, this looked just like most other FE venues, two walls. They have managed to get a small amount of sound of the tyres now but this can never replace F1 as the major formula, however much of a public enemy the ICE eventually becomes.

    Still the F1 subtitles are over the top of the leader board, can anyone please find out who is responsible?

  34. What chance of joining us at the Norisring this year Joe? It is a wonderful event.
    (unlikely after Baku, but worth a shout)

  35. I have to say that the prospect of a F1 GP in East London is mouth watering. Silverstone is a fine circuit but let down by it’s access. For those that can’t afford a helicopter having what should be a 2 hour journey home after an enjoyable race turn into 7 hours does not make for a great day. A street circuit on streets that were actually designed for that from the start should make for a great race Easy access by public transport from all of Greater London and the Home Counties would attract spectators and synergy with London City Airport and the ExCel centre could only help.

    1. I think the TV audience alone deserves Silverstone.

      I also have London-based friends who frequently drive to and from the circuit each day, over a race weekend – with no complaints.

  36. The whole world has gone PC mad and its gotta stop! Its gone too far!

    Joe – you said not long ago that Australia has gone crazy in PC, well you should try living here!! Bring on the grid girls (women) and if they are dressed classy and maybe a bit sexy but treated with all respect I cant see the issue (Canada seems to do a good job here!!) & if a track like Monaco wants to do grid guys that’s fine, just watch out for Seb 🙂

    1. Australia is not the same plaec I first visited in the 1980s. It’s Nanny Heaven. The Victorian State police should wear aprons, not uniforms

  37. Thank you Joe I always love reading the “notebook” very good of you to take the time to share with us…
    Gridgirls,why not !

  38. I really hope we dont lose Interlagos, its one of the best tracks out there. Alot of entertaining races.

    It be a sad day if we lose that track…

  39. Grid girls may help sell Formula 1 — to a stereotypical mid-life crisis audience. If Liberty is making changes, getting rid of this anachronism would be a good start. I think Fomula 1’s reputation is so ruined in Europe, it has to be radically different for anyone to pay attention again.

    1. This is such tosh. Grid girls are barely ever seen on TV. They are on the grid but only the main grandstands can see them from afar. They are not an anachronism. They are a tradition. No-one apart from some intolerant do-gooders care one iota for the situation.

      1. I don’t have a problem with grid girls (or cheerleaders/dance teams for that matter), but if they’re not on TV much and can hardly be seen by any fans at the race, what’s the point of carrying on the tradition? As it is it doesn’t seem to have much usefulness except to say it’s the way it’s always been done.

          1. Very weak argument. If an alternative is even better, to retain status quo demonstrates reactionary resistance to change.

      2. I think grid girls are an absurd anachronism in this day and age. Guess that makes me an ‘intolerant do-gooder’.

  40. I’m a great fan of the race weekend grid girls; they support the feeder series as well, y’know.

    I don’t know how those brave and stoic women felt about it, but I felt F1 did itself no favours when Brazil 2016 had the rainstorm before the start of the race, when literally everyone else on the grid is bundled up like Alpine Search and Rescue, while the grid girls are just in their thin green dresses.

    Whoever organised them, should have a supply of windcheaters to hand out, or even those transparent hooded poncho things.

    Also, when a car breaks down on the warm up lap, is there a necessity for a model to guard his empty space?

    Lastly, if a driver is female, eg. GP3 had one on Sunday, I think they should have the option of a male sign person.

  41. It is a great quote from Ruth Buscombe. Though my “Oh, that’s heartening to hear!” feelings were somewhat dashed when, in the same article she went on to say: “I call it ‘prove it again syndrome’… you have to always prove your worth and value more than if you were a man that didn’t have that bias against you.” So I guess drivers don’t care, but some others do.

    1. There are very few people who cannot accept women but that might also read ‘there are very few who cannot accept youngsters’ or ‘there are very few who cannot accept Frenchmen’. It’s annoying that these people exist but one needs to keep things in proportion and those who bang on about these matters do not have that level of understanding.

  42. I have no idea what the Guards have to do with anything. We’ve had all sorts of “traditions” over the years that we have sensibly decided aren’t appropriate anymore.

    “Grid Girls” are offensive to many and if Formula One wishes to make progress in a modern world it should look at ways to make its presentation of the sport as progressive as the technology it demonstrates.

    Eventually, sponsors will insist on the change I’m sure.

    1. The fact that you have no idea why the Guards are involved in this discussion undermines any point you are trying to make.

  43. Hi Joe – I enjoy your reads, but not when you use your excellent blog for personnel digs. Force India & Rugby seem to be off the menu for now, but now its Bexit. Every prediction about Bexit from the so called “Brexit Experts” has failed to materialise so far. Whether it will be a disaster or not remains to be seen, but please stick to F1.

    1. Allow me to quote from the Blog Rules section: “A lot of people do not understand what the word “blog” means. A blog is not a traditional new source, but rather a personal web log (hence the name) of whatever the author wants to include. Blogs tend to have themes and in this case the theme is the complex world of Formula 1 motor racing, but if I wish to write about wasabi, French taxi drivers or hairstyles in Peru, I am at liberty to do so.

      “I am happy to allow people to air their opinions in comments, as long as this is done in a respectful fashion. A good rule of thumb when writing a comment is to question whether you would say such a thing to someone’s face…”

    2. Um….. not quite. But whatever the case we still have no idea about what the hell is actually happening when we are finally ‘out’.
      I’m not going to go into detail because i’ll get shouted down by the boorish bully boys who seem to know it all.

      1. I meant that Brexit comment as a reply to Kevin, not you Joe in case you wondered!

        Back to now and what a great performance by Alonso in Indy qualy?

  44. [How many times do I have tell people that there are no links allowed in comments. It really is very dull to have to do it over and over and over]
    Women are being allowed to serve as GCC soldiers so its only a matter of time before they serve in the calvary and infantry regiments.

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