Green Notebook from Avallon

In a world without electronic boxes that show pictures and appropriate sounds, people had quieter lives. There were no soap operas to be addicted to, no football crises, no Formula 1 crashes and so they had to find other ways to amuse themselves. They didn’t flop on to the couch to look at the wall, instead they made tapestries, played music and sang songs, and they made up or read fantastic tales of mystical knights, wizards, monsters and grails. It was popular then and if you look at the success of Star Wars or Harry Potter in the modern era, it is still popular today.

One of the most enduring and popular legends is that of King Arthur, which is a story one finds not only in England and Wales but also in France as well. It is regurgitated from time to time on television and in the cinema and each time there are new twists and new suppositions, while historiographers battle over new theories about who Arthur was and where Camelot and Avalon might have been. Avalon is the mystical island where crops flourished and people lived for hundreds of years. It was where King Arthur was taken after he was wounded in his final battle at Camlann, and where he was looked after by Morgan le Fay, the ruler of the island, along with her eight sisters: Moronoe, Mazoe, Gliten, Glitonea, Gliton, Tyronoe, Thiten and Thiton. It is also where the celebrated sword Excaliber is supposed to have come from. Some think that it was Glastonbury, which was an island in a marsh. I have no idea, but it struck me that it might also be at Avallon, in Burgundy. So I decided to stop there on the way home from Imola, if only because I was pretty tired by then and I arrived with five minutes to go before France went under curfew at 7pm on Monday night, as it does every night at the moment.

Going to Imola and back by car is a 1,700 mile round trip, which involves driving about halfway across France and halfway across Italy. The only other country one sees on the way is on the outskirts of Geneva, where one gets within 100 metres of Swiss territory near a village called Troinex (on the Swiss side), beneath a large rock called the Salève, sometimes known as le balcon de Genève (Geneva’s balcony) as one can ride a téléphérique to the top and get great views of the city and its environs. If you’re so inclined you can also jump off the cliff and paraglide around.

Anyway, once I was in Avallon, eating dinner in my hotel room, as one must in France these days, I decided to look into Avalon and Avallon to discover if perhaps King Arthur has stayed in the same hotel. In old Breton, I learned, the word aball meant apple tree, and the word avallen meant fruit tree and thus the chances are the towns, real and mystical, were named because they had apple trees. This was all rather dull but I am sure that like most good myths it serves a purpose, legends tend to attract tourists and smart people who don’t have any good tales make them up. I think, specifically, in this respect of the town of Bergerac in the south west of France which stuck up a statue with a long nose to make tourists happy, even though Cyrano de Bergerac had no obvious link with the neighbourhood. If truth be told the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola was a bit the same as the town named the track after Dino Ferrari first, in the hope that Enzo Ferrari would support the circuit.

Going to Imola is always a pleasure, even under lockdown, as it is a part of the world where motor racing is alive every day and people don’t say “It’s race week” because the sport is part of their lives. This is all due to Mr Ferrari, of course.

Stefano Domenicali, the CEO of Formula 1, is a man who likes Imola, not least because it is his home town, where he grew up, working at the circuit as a car park attendant and pit marshal in his teenage years. I’m sure that Stefano would love to have a race each year in Imola but that might not be possible, as he says “we cannot have 52 races each year”.

The big news of the Imola weekend was the announcement that the Miami GP will go ahead in 2022 (unless disappointed trouble-causers start to throw more lawsuits about, as can happen in the litigious world of the US). To be honest, the whole opposition thing is more to do with ego than logic now the city of Miami Gardens has been given a $5 million a year payment (I won’t say pay-off) to make them like the race more. There are always people who object to races, but often they have trouble accepting defeat or even evidence that the race has been good for their community. The local politician Betty Ferguson (76) seems like one of these people. She has been battling non-stop to block the race for the last few years, but has now been blind-sided by her own community. She’s not got the power she once had because of term limits and so she’s upset that the city has voted for the race. I think the best solution to the problem is to be nice to Ms Ferguson and to name a chicane after her, in recognition of her efforts to slow F1 down… The big question is whether she’d appreciate the joke…

The continued lack of access for the written media to the paddock remains a problem, which is becoming increasingly annoying when one sees some of the people being allowed in. Still, there is some progress with a “mixed zone” where people can talk to journalists over a two metre gap if they want to go there for a chat. Some do and in fact a couple I spoke to did say that they want the media back because there is no gossip these days and F1 is all about people and thus gossip, while being annoying, is key to maintaining interest.

Something I think is very important for F1 is news that is coming out of the European Union about  something terminally dull called ecological taxonomy. When you strip out the jargon this means that the EU is making a list of what is environmentally-sustainable economic activity and what is not. The EU believes in electric vehicles (don’t we all) but it does so without really having the charging stations that will be required and even if that is the case, where the electricity is going to come from. Electric vehicles are only as green as the electricity they use and so making judgements on vehicle emissions is only part of the picture. They cannot have diesel generators hidden around the corner at recharge stops… Actually, when it comes to politicians they probably can as most of them seem quite willing to lie and cheat as required to get what they want for whichever lobby they are representing. 

Anyway, the EU is discussing whether to reclassify vehicles differently starting from January 2026. One suggestion is that one will not be allowed to use the “sustainable” tag unless the vehicle has zero tailpipe emissions. The aim of this is to drive investment towards fully electric vehicles. As Formula 1 discusses what the engines in the future should be, beginning in 2025, one needs to consider the impact of this on the desire for better hybrid technology. Most car companies agree that hybrid cars are a transition technology with the long-term future being either fully electric machines or hydrogen-fueled cars that would use electric motors. If all the investment is going to fully electric cars there will be less interest and less demand for hybrid vehicles. At the moment sales of both types of car are increasing but they still make up only a small percentage of the whole market, and the EU wants to increase that. Up to now the EU has treated hybrids in the same way as all-electric cars but if this change goes through, F1 could be charging up a blind alley. The obvious way forward, albeit a bit late in terms of technical development would be to go straight to hydrogen, which is probably better than battery power.

It has always been a bit odd that a drinks company like Red Bull has decided to get itself into building racing engines and spending a lot of money to have IP that cannot be sold to other car companies. Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin and McLaren might all get more credible F1 programmes if they had their own engines, as using Ferrari and Mercedes respectively means that their cars are only factory teams in name alone and thus, one can argue, might not be as efficient promotional units as they could be. However, the word is that Red Bull cannot just flog the technology elsewhere as Honda might have learned from giving its F1 team to Ross Brawn, who then sold it to Mercedes for a vast profit, was perhaps not the smartest move it ever made. Having said that the firm has a history of almost getting things right and then leaving F1, which dates back to the 1960s. The Red Bull engines will continue to be Honda-based in 2022, 2023 and 2024 but by the time the new F1 rules arrive in 2025 Red Bull will be a position to design, manufacture and build its own engines, independent of Honda. And at that point it may then want to do deals to sell the whole thing – teams and all to companies with the money and the desire to be in the car business. And who knows what kind of companies that might include. A few years ago you wouldn’t think Amazon or Apple would be buying sports rights, but they are, so who knows who will be building cars in five years from now.

In the meantime, F1 has more pressing problems, notably getting as many races done as is possible with all the restrictions that the COVID-19 pandemic is creating. This year, even with the vaccination programmes, life is much more complicated for F1 and which races will or won’t happen. These things change week by week, country by country and border by border.

That doesn’t mean that F1 bosses haven’t got time to chatter about their future driver line-ups, but this is not really a priority at the moment, even if the driver managers are back in the paddock, trying to keep track on who is doing what. Much of the focus is on what happens at Mercedes where Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are both on one-year deals and are out of contract next year. Mercedes youngster George Russell is also going to be out of contract after three years at Williams and he is keen to move on. Thus the crash between Russell and Bottas was an interesting moment because it made people ask too things: why was Bottas being overtaken by a Williams? And is George too impetuous for a top drive? One can feel for George because he is clearly frustrated and was on his way to what could have been his best result, while Bottas generally does a decent job but was having a bad weekend.

We’re not expecting changes at Ferrari or Red Bull, although Perez will need to have his one-year deal renewed. There has been talk of Yuki Tsunoda moving up to Red Bull, but his performance at Imola shows that he really isn’t ready for that and Red Bull is trying to avoid throwing another of its drivers on to a pretty impressive scrapheap. The big question is what happens with Pierre Gasly, who is out of contract, and looking to move on. The whisper is that Alex Albon could be drafted back to AlphaTauri in his place. But where would Gasly go? Some say Alpine is the obvious choice but while the team wants one Frenchman, does it really want two? Getting rid of Esteban Ocon would not be sensible if he goes on beating Fernando Alonso. One can ask if Fernando will be happy putting up with that situation. He has a two-year deal but has been known to blow his top when things don’t go his way…

McLaren has both drivers under contract next year while Aston Martin is hardly going to change Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel has a three-year deal but needs to produce some better results if Aston is going to get value for money. And money is important at Aston Martin as life is not easy when you are running a loss-making car company as well as an F1 team. For now, let’s say that Lawrence Stroll selling off things like car collections and his racing circuit in Canada is because he is too busy to enjoy them, but cynics might say that it is an odd coincidence given the Aston Martin story. Hopefully the DBX SUV will sell well and the whole thing will get to be more stable.

Haas has both drivers contracted for 2022 while Williams has both drivers without contracts for 2022. Nicholas Latifi brings a lot of money to the team and is doing better this year than last, while Russell clearly wants to move up. China’s Guanyu Zhou is tipped as the likely successor to one or the other. Being Chinese, well-supported and clearly quite talented should help him get him a seat in F1.

And then we have Alfa Romeo and this is a puzzle. Both drivers are out of contract and the Alfa Romeo sponsorship of Sauber is up for renewal again. It is even suggested that the team boss Fred Vasseur is currently out of contract after his three-year deal signed in July 2017 has not been renewed. It is a little odd but there hasn’t been any announcement… Who drives for Alfa Romeo next year depends on who pays what and that really depends on what Alfa Romeo’s parent company Stellantis wants to do in the future. In recent days the firm’s new CEO, Frenchman Jean-Philippe Imparato, decided to delay the introduction of the new plug-in hybrid version of Alfa Romeo Tonale SUV because the car does not have sufficient performance. That is a setback. Imparato’s boss is Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares, once a big banana at Renault in the days of Carlos Ghosn. In fact, he left Renault because at that point Ghosn was in his way and he wanted to be the boss of a big car manufacturer. He has made that happen with Stellantis. And now he needs to figure out what to do with Alfa Romeo and Formula 1. There are two basic choices: he can stop the current activity and promote Alfa in other ways; or he can take over the whole thing and do the job more effectively. It is hard to know which way that decision will go, but floating along not doing much has never been Tavares’s way… So expect action now that the Stellantis deal is done. Last year it was still to be completed.

I am sure that Cyril Abiteboul, the former boss of Renault F1, visited to Hinwil in the wake of his departure from his role a Enstone and it should be noted that he was close to Tavares, when the latter was COO at Renault. And, if you remember back a few years, Alpine was a Tavares project (in league with Caterham) and Abiteboul ended up as team principal of Caterham for a while, as a result of that relationship.

Still, you never know what car manufacturers will do when they come into the sport. They are often pretty arrogant and think they know far more than the people who run the teams and they do daft things like bring in new leadership with no clue about the sport and so on… Let’s not go into names but the list is long and not very distinguished.

One man who passed through F1 about 20 years ago was Richard Parry-Jones and it was sad to hear of his death over the weekend in a tractor accident at his home in Wales. Richard was a proper racer at heart and there is a great story about how he decided that Ford was the company for him when he wrote asking for advice about a career in automotive engineering and receiving signed photographs of Jim Clark and Graham Hill as part of the response. When he was chief technical officer of Ford he had to sort out the mess that was Jaguar Racing, which had been a political bloodbath before his arrival. He conducted a major review of the F1 operations and changed the management (again) but he also cut costs significantly and this led to his proposal for F1 to have a budget cap, arguing that costs were unsustainable and that there was no reason that F1 could not follow other sports and limit its spending. He was 15 years ahead of his time…

After a night in Avallon, pondering King Arthur, I set off for home on Tuesday morning deciding to take it easy and get off the motorways for a while and travel for a while on the old Routes Nationales, with their avenues of plane trees, dilapidated chateaux, cafes with fading Dubonnet signs painted large on the walls, their Notre Dames and their disused railways, their grottes and rivers called the Cure, the Cousin and Serein.

It takes twice as long to get anywhere, but it was an hour well-wasted.

67 thoughts on “Green Notebook from Avallon

  1. Could Formula 1 actually develop a hydrogen-based formula for the 2025 rules years? Or would it be the rules generation after that? It seems if they want to be leading edge they might have to go there rather than electric.

    1. The idea of hydrogen fueled F1 pops up constantly, but running some (basic) numbers suggests the idea is a pipe dream. The energy density of liquid hydrogen is about 10 MJ/L while the energy density of gasoline is about 34 MJ/L. An F1 car is fueled with (approximately) 135L of petrol at the start of the race. To provide the same amount of energy (assuming equally efficient engines) would require about 455L of hydrogen; that’s about the volume of two wine barrels. A further difficulty is that liquid hydrogen is a cryogenic fluid with a boiling point of -252°C (about 20° K) and must be heated to gas before it can be used; the storage tank must also be a pressure vessel. Compressed hydrogen gas, with an energy density of about 5 MJ/L at 690 bar (about 10,000 psi) pressure is right out for various obvious reasons including weight, safety, and volume of the tank, which would be about 900L. Hydrogen may be of use in vehicles such as trucks and buses and, possibly, small cars with low power requirements but not in 1000 hp Formula One race cars…..

      Hydrogen fuel cells suffer the same problems as well as others I’ll not get into here.

      1. Technology moves ever onwards

        This would be timely for red bull if significant engine changes are due in 2025

        F1 is of course a step up but where there’s a will there is most often a way to be found. Electric cars are not a long term.solution, they’re not environmentally friendly to build or to dispose of or ‘recycle’ plus the West is heading for a large energy crisis in the next 20 years having put all.of its eggs in the renewables basket. The worlds largest supplies of cobalt, lithium and nickel are not in friendly countries eirher. After the last 20 years of disastrous western foreign policy (related to oil theft and not ‘freedom and democracy’) I don’t see the appetite for another set of wars, regime changes and coups in order to build a billion electric cats when you can’t find the constant energy supplies to run your domestic or business needs first.

  2. I’m curius how F1 will reinvent itself to fit in the upcoming world. Hopefully the big money corporations will decide not to take a risk and unload the sport to enthusiast type of people.
    Joe, I sincerely think that Vettel will retire this year. Is there gossip on that topic? What’s Your opinion on this matter?

      1. Yet another good read. Thanks. “It’s too early” by that I hope you mean he’ll be around for a few more seasons.

        There appears to be a persistent core of F1 enthusiasts expecting Vettel to retire this year, next year, or previous years when in the “fastest car” which is never the same as the best car. I suspect wishful thinking.

        If that is the case and they get their wish, so he no longer participates, the F1 scene will be a tad poorer. I believe he is still younger than the more aged drivers like Hamilton, Alonso and Raikkonen. Will add much needed interest if Aston Martin shapes up. That will be welcome. Meantime, those who repeated stated “Money Rich Daddies Boy” Stroll has no right to be in F1 no longer do so. Strange that. There again maybe not. There is clearly a massive difference between Motor Racing enthusiasts and fan-boy reasoning. No doubt in my mind, just about any half-decent F1 jockey will do well in any F1 car and very well in the right car. Witness GR when deputising for CV-19 stricken #1 M-B driver last year.

        Yet again there were a few myths busted on Sunday about so called rain masters. Not for the first time either in the “sanitised” cars and circuits era of F1 creating false gods. Sunday’s race was eventful and interesting. It looks likely that now the same old, same old likely outcomes could well be a thing of the past. Both MV and SP in the HONDA Red Bulls appear more than a tad competitive and are a real deal cause for Team Mercedes to be concerned. Most welcome refreshing change. I do hope the current form of the leading contenders is a reliable indicator of what we shall see during the rest of the season and not some flash in the pan and speedy return to the old order. If so I will not find other things to do soon after the race starts on Sundays.

        1. If you could be paid $5 million or $10 million to do something badly, would you retire or would you continue to do something badly?

          1. How much is Kimi paid these days?

            Of course it’s entirely possible Vettel was never as good as Adrian Newey made him seem.

      2. Joe, would it be fair to say that some people in the paddock owe Lance Stroll an apology? Of course, he had help getting there, but the money doesn’t have to navigate track limits!

  3. The chance of Canada happening in June seems pretty slim with the third wave of COVID in full steam across the country, significant opposition from local public health officials, no possibility of a crowd, governments being asked to come up with money to support the event with no tourism income offsetting it and the need for governments to agree to waive quarantine rules for people coming into the country. Meanwhile fans from last year’s cancelled race are still waiting for their ticket refunds.

  4. Presumably Aston Martin are mostly running to form using somebody else’s engine as a base for their own products? Wasn’t the straight six from the 60s a reworked Jag engine, ironically the AM V8 from the Ford era was a Jag V8 and now they are using Merc engines in the road cars and now also in the F1 car. Their older V8 was bespoke (I think…) and the V12 was a bespoke unit but based on the modular Ford Duratec-SE which as irony would strike yet again also made an appearance as the Jag AJ-V6.

    I’m sure it probably more involved than a different looking plenum and cam covers, bespoke exhaust and engine mapping so as to exhibit the true nature of each manufacturer.

    1. The 6-cylinder in the 1960s was not Jaguar based. David Brown bought Lagonda in order to obtain their new 6-cylinder twin cam designed by W O Bentley.

      1. Thanks Frank, not sure why I thought there was a Jag link for that engine, the grey cells are getting old. I see Tadek Marek is mentioned as the designer of the V8 and the straight six on the Interweb so I assume he worked for Lagonda prior to acquisition.

      2. The six used from the DB4 on wasn’t the WO six but was designed by Tadek Marek, who also designed the V8.

  5. What’s the contractual relationship (if any) between Ocon and Mercedes and/or Wolff these days, Joe?

    1. I believe that Ocon is still a Mercedes driver with an underlying contract, but is a Renault driver at the moment.

      1. An Ocon-Russell line up would be interesting, and whilst inexperienced, I’d say preferable to Bottas in there if Lewis decides to head off.

        As Max went past him at Imola, it did feel like a slight changing of the guard, and I can’t see him doing a Rossi in MotoGP and hanging around if not winning.

  6. As always, thanks for letting us read your diary, Joe. I hoped to read your view about Mr Toto’s “Clio Cup driver” comment, and the particular caution a driver should pay when dealing with a MB car, according to him..

    1. Wolff was referring specifically to his expectations of Russell as a Mercedes driver not F1 racers generally.

      1. true, but he drives for a competitor team, so if – leveraging his power – Toto asks him not to race hard against his (MB’s) cars, well I don’t see this as sportsmanlike

  7. This article was like a tapestry, brilliantly woven together to tell a spell binding story and ended with a full stop, not a comma.

    Loved reading it.

  8. It would appear George Russell has been hung, drawn and quartered by the Court of Social Media. How dreadful that he dare to attempt to race like that other young chap Verstappen. I’m sniffing a strong whiff of inverted snobbery because George has a ‘posh’ accent.

    Is there any truth that the cost of replacing/repairing Bottas’ car will have an effect on the Mercedes budget in the coming year?

    1. I was very disappointed by Toto’s remarks; how can he expect Russell, a contracted Williams driver, not to try a pass a Mercedes because it’s being driven by a driver who’s massively underachieving in the race (for whatever reason). I realise he could hardly hang Bottas out to dry in the media, but he should maybe have said less; George might have profited from saying less, too.

      1. Last weekend Bottas was suffering by not being able to bring his tyres up to temperature on a damp track. The fact that Lewis seems to be able to do it merely confirms his status as a 7-times World Champion. The low rake cars have been been hobbled for a reason.

        Valteri is a very handy driver who is 100% committed to his team. Toto needs to plan for the future and it seems certain that George will eventually take his place. But George did himself far more harm, than good. The stewards were very clear, Valteri did nothing other than keep to the dry line. It was George who misjudged and then went off the rails.

  9. What I wouldn’t to give to waste a few hours trundling along a RN with “avenues of plane trees, dilapidated chateaux, cafes with fading Dubonnet signs painted large on the walls, their Notre Dames and their disused railways, their grottes and rivers”. Can’t wait to get back.

  10. I struggle to believe hydrogen will ever be a serious contender. Hydrogen isn’t a power source, it’s a power storage mechanism – like a battery. However, it’s super inefficient, taking much more energy to create the hydrogen than it generates as it turns back into water.

    1. to paraphrase someone’s lyrics, perhaps ACDC …work on the water, running on alcohol…everything natural and available everywhere. put in water, split, burn H and waste O2 – job done. add a ‘high octane’ booze for racing. 🙂

  11. Just wanted to say that was a wonderfully crafted post. Both informative and evocative. Thank you.

    Several years ago I was in Europe on work and passed through the Mont Blanc tunnel on my way to Milan. Beautiful…

  12. liked this Green Book as much as others, the Arthur’s bit specifically – that’s kind of thing i was always interested in to figure if there was one and who was he if yes. On the racing theme – Bottas is done and gone. It was evident to me he was no top flyer years ago when Danny Ric did him in China ever so cheekily-elegantly. It will be surprise to me if he – Bottas hangs around after this season.

  13. now – we got some global news – our sources are indicating an interesting ongoings between World’s major oil companies – they reportedly are staging secret zoom meetings for a while with the aim to how to divide all Ocean’s international waters between them. The reason is – there is some many good things to extract from water such as good bit of gold(widely used in electronics), more ever hydrogen, and above all that a lot of plastic waste floating in Oceans. Especially plastic waste – they are developing technologies which could turn plastic waste back to crude which would consequently provide cheep second hand fuel to power remote places such as settlements on the Moon and Mars which, as known, have nothing else to burn rather than plain dead rock

  14. I had hoped that William and Kate would name their son Arthur just so that when he ascended the throne it would have to be decided whether to call him Arthur the 2nd.

    1. Woman: And who are you?
      King Arthur: I am Arthur, King of the Britons.
      Woman: King of the who?
      King Arthur: King of the Britons.
      Woman: Who are the Britons?
      King Arthur: We all are. We are all Britons. And I am your king.
      Woman: I didn’t know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective.

      The Monty Python crew spoiled the Arthurian legends for an entire generation…

      1. I’ve often thought the description of how the anarcho-syndicalist commune village is run in that sketch was a pretty good analogy for the concord agreement.

  15. Excellent piece, thank you.

    It seems science is being ignored once again, with the rush to electric cars. I have read that the power unit with the least environmental impact right now is a small turbocharged internal combustion engine. This makes some sense considering the long development it has undergone. I also have read that the EU considers the Tesla a “gross polluter” because of the impact of electricity generation, the losses during long-line transmission, and the burden of battery creation/disposal. Certainly science can change these equations in future but don’t we need to be realistic now?

  16. Another great piece as usual.

    You are the only writer I know who could segue from King Arthur and Avalon to Imola and the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari so effortlessly!!

  17. Another treat Joe, thank you.
    We lived on land and water in Burgundy for a number of years where we were adopted by a large local family. Never heard of Good King Art locally, but good to know he died with an exhausted grin on his face ! I was, however, accused several times of being personally involved in the demise of Joan of Arc, also a localish lass ! This was rich coming from the Burgundians who were intimately involved in her capture and handover, where her “case” was contrived by the Church. Possibly the English were involved in making the bonfire and are a convenient scapegoat. There is a Burgundian myth that she acquired an aristo and occupied a local chateau where they bred 4 children and she lived out her days.
    We moved from Burgundy to South Normandy (the cheaper bit) and tooed and froed quite regularly. I was far too mean to pay to use the autoroutes except for a short section around Auxerre which saved a lot of aggro. The GPS always wanted to take us up to Paris. The journey across the plains is a bit boring but quite quick. After Chartres you would turn North to where I believe you live, we went Southish into William the Bastard country which is attractive.
    To the race ! A masterclass by young Norris, who unlike all of the others, never put a foot wrong, just a few inches in Q3, and rather showed up his exalted teammate. These cars do seem to require a lot of getting used to, especially in tricky conditions. I think Marc Surer has a valid point in suggesting that the limited pre-season practice is having significant disadvantages most especially for the new boys.
    My tuppence worth re the Russell/Bottas crash which could so easily have had disastrous consequences and not just bruised egos. The 2 clear images I have were that Bottas was hugging the LH verge and that Russell had a significant speed advantage. Brawn then said the Bottas moved which Bottas more or less admitted. At those speeds, in those conditions and on that narrow track any movement was likely to have consequences and so it proved.
    What concerned me much more was Wolff’s intervention. Too many hats ! Russell’s apology was appropriate, his immediate actions were understandable but OTT, but he appeared to have been lent on. Veiled threats and to be told he should know his place have no place in motor racing. Bottas should never have been back there and every point is worth a fortune to Williams. As it was the subsequent red flag saved Hamilton’s day and never mind the letter of the law once he started reversing there should probably have been a red flag. The FIA need to have much more immediacy and consistency in their actions and sanctions, not currently performing at all well.

    1. There is no ‘letter of the law’ issue with Hamilton’s reversing onto the track – it was legal, end of story!
      Nowhere in the Sporting Regulations does it state that a car cannot reverse except for the specific rule that refers to the pits.
      If it’s not mentioned, it’s can’t be against the rules and must therefore be legal.

          1. Mirrors a waste of time and radio not adequate at those speeds. Remember Bianchi ! Hamilton was fumbling around for a considerable time. I’m not saying he should have been eliminated just that a red flag would probably have been appropriate.

    1. Yes Damon Hill mentioned them in his pre race piece about his 95 and 96 wins at Imola, of course as he is a genuinely nice person and acknowledges racing’s past. Other than that I can’t recall

  18. Hi Joe,

    I was following Sky UK’s coverage and Stefano talked about the sprint race idea and that it was agreed by everyone except the WMSC and that they need to approve and ratify idea. This got me thinking about the governance structure and processes which compared with other sports and businesses seems rather outdated. Just wondered if you have a view on this to share here or maybe as an article in the next GP+, which leads to my second question, I can’t seem to access the GP+ website through my laptop, phone or ipad. Is there an issue at the moment?

  19. Love your green notebooks! So enjoyable to read! My guilty pleasure sipping my espresso in the AM! Note about the EU moving towards electric vehicles – has anyone in charge checked to see if there are enough rare earth minerals available to build the batteries required for such a drastic move away from internal combustion engines? If yes, who owns the mining rights? Not too long ago, in Paris 2007 we were choking on diesel fumes from the infernal rush hour traffic… most people unaware that hybrid cars existed.. and now it seems we’re accelerating towards “zero emissions”… while the technology exists, do we have sufficient raw ingredients to build at scale? and if we do… how do we create the energy to charge these batteries?

  20. I attended an IMeche seminar recently that suggested we should forget hydrogen as an option because the future fuel for large scale commercial transport (aero, marine, rail, etc.) is looking like AMMONIA (I kid you not!).

    It is more ‘energy dense’ than hydrogen and is easy to liquify (especially when compared to hydrogen). Current generation commercial aeroplane turbine engines can run on it with very minor mods and fuel cells already exist to convert into electrical power (although more work is need improve their efficiency). It can be manufactured on a vast scale by very efficient manufacturing processes (we already routinely do this for agriculture) and can be transported and handled very safely. Hydrogen leaks are very dangerous and difficult to detect – and would be a really big issue with the routine handling of hydrogen as auto and domestic fuel – but even the tiniest ammonia leak can be smelled by the worse nose from a great distance!

    The biggest positive, at least for commercial flights is that the emissions from ‘burning’ ammonia are nitrogen (which is not a GHG and came from the air anyway) and water. Even the tiny amount of NOX that the process can create can be dealt with by injecting a small amount of ammonia into the exhaust which reduces any NOX to N2 and H20! Proper full size commercial aeroplanes have already flown with ammonia power on a test basis and promising trials with marine engines are happening as we speak. Our fuelling infrastructure which also already exists could be converted without too much trouble and potentially the manufacturing process could be plugged into the national grid and create ammonia as a store for all the wind and solar power we currently generate but can’t store.

    An interesting historical point – during WW2, the Dutch converted some of their public transport to run on ammonia (when all their gasoline and diesel was taken by the occupying German forces to fuel their war machine) so it’s not even a new idea.

    Definitely worth a little further investigation if you are interested in this side of things (and while you’re at it check out ‘V2G’ (vehicle to grid) as a potential solution to the electricity storage and grid problem) !

    PS – apologies for this turning into a ‘lecture’ 🙄 …

  21. Its all about next year for Vettel if he can make it that far as he is pretty good in the right car. I think they will keep him around as the moons orbiting the big stroll like success with certificates and silverware.
    Do feel sad about the way the F1 media bit is going as we need people that can write about F1 in interesting ways like Joe on here.
    I think it all started with embedded reporters in war zones snifffing out stories. So they got replaced by cheerleaders.
    At the moment F1 is just showbiz generic snippets . No wonder everyone and their dog is having a go lol.

  22. Whilst I can’t comment on Lawrence Stroll selling his car collection, it’s pretty clear that he’s selling Tremblant because the local residents won a class action lawsuit that ensures no activity over 55db occurs at the site. From the lawyers’ website: “The Circuit may still appeal the judgment. The Association believes, however, that the findings made by Justice Mainville against the Circuit will be very difficult to challenge on appeal.” The entire review is here: [links not allowed]

    Quite simply, Lawrence is likely fed up with the locals and is happy to let them turn the track into a bunch of townhomes. A sad end to a challenging, world-class circuit, but hard to fault Stroll. And that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the investment in Aston, at least from where I sit.

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