Green Notebook from La Dynamite

La Dynamite is such a great name for a village. I’ve always been a fan of eccentric place-names and La Dynamite is certainly up there with Little Snoring, Middle Wallop, Écoute-s’il-pleut (Listen-if-it’s-raining), Droop, La Roue-Qui-Tourne (The-Wheel-that-Turns), Bachelor’s Bump or plain old boring La Machine.

La Dynamite is so-named because in addition to being a good place to have a picnic and watch butterflies doing their thing, it is also the site of a very large explosives factory. This is why there are not many houses in proximity as the “blast wave overpressure” in the event of an accident would probably knock down reinforced concrete buildings and blow human being well into next week. From what I can gather this has never happened at La Dyamite, although its sister works at the daftly-named Billy-Berclau, near Lille, suffered such an event in 2003, which led to its closure and the transfer of operations (by normal transportation methods, rather than by explosive wave) to an obscure part of Poland.

Anyway, La Dynamite is a good place to stop if you are driving the 400 miles from Barcelona to Monaco, as you do in F1 these days. It’s about 250 miles into the trip. You could stop at the wonderful walled medieval city called Aigues-Mortes, which is slightly more off the route. This was once a port from which Crusaders departed to the Levant, but is now miles inland from the sea, because of the Rhône river deposits vast amounts of silt at its mouth, or rather its mouths, – as there are two of them.

Between the Petit Rhône to the west and the Grand Rhône in the east, is the Camargue, land that is as flat as a board with briney lagoons and reed-infested marshes. It is a weird and wonderful place with rice paddies and salt lakes, flamingos and cowboys. The latter, known as gardians, spend their lives corralling the famous black bulls and white horses of the Camargue.

La Dynamite is where it is because 120 years ago the area was empty of people but the PLM railway (Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée) passed through, hauling visitors to the Cote d’Azur. This could bring in the components of dynamite and carry away the finished product to the mines of the Cevennes. Railways used to be useful and they are becoming so again as everyone sees them as being more sustainable than a squillion road cars, all puffing out nasty smells and ruining the planet.

History is always useful (despite what some politicians will tell you) and back in the days before everyone had two cars, racing took place on the roads in many countries. Britain, being eccentric, insisted before 1903 that any rival to the horse-drawn carriage should require a person carrying a red flag to walk ahead of the vehicle.  This handed leadership in road transport technology to the French, who allowed racing to take place on their public roads. In Britain things were liberalised after the Motor Car Act of 1903, but the 20mph speed limit on all public roads meant that racers had to go abroad, until someone with a lot of money decided to build Brooklands. The French raced everywhere and they often picked triangular circuits between towns with stations, which meant that the spectators could get close to the action.

Once more people had cars circuits moved to places where only cars can go, which is exactly NOT what is required in the modern day and age. Huge traffic jams are no longer considered cool and even that most green of competitions – Le Tour de France – has a problem because while the riders produce little pollution, the 14 million car-borne spectators out-do all other sporting events in the world in terms of pollution.

The tragedy of this is that the racing circuits which we now consider to be classic venues are largely beyond the reach of railways and putting in new ones is vastly expensive. Le Mans twigged this years ago when the city built a tramway to take thousands of spectators from the city’s railway station to the middle of the celebrated racing circuit.

Access is a problem for a number of famous F1 tracks, although Monaco and Monza are both served by railways, which makes life easier from them. But when it comes to places like Silverstone, Spa and Paul Ricard, it is a problem.  The tragedy of Spa-Francorchamps is that it once had a railway station in the village and the path of the railway is still there, although the tracks were torn up in the 1970s and the path left was turned into a cycling track. A station would be invaluable today.

I mention all this because both the French and Belgian GPs are at the end of their current F1 contracts and the signs are that neither event will be renewed. Paul Ricard is struggling to meet the fee demands from the Formula 1 group, but Spa is in trouble because despite support from the Walloon provincial government – which understands the value of the event for the region – the venue has serious problems with access. Spa has undergone a massive rebuild in recent months, in order to make it safer and to allow the track to run motorcycle races again, but the access problems will not go away. Last year’s Belgian GP washout created horrendous snarl-ups after the usual car parks turned to mud – and fans parked wherever they could. And then didn’t see a race… Obviously the weather does not help and although the hard core fans still love Spa – and so they should – it is not what Formula 1 is looking for these days. It is a long circuit but has a small crowd capacity of 75,000, which means that even when full (which it is thanks largely to the Orange Army that marches south each year from Verstappenland) it cannot produce the kind of numbers that F1 wants to see.

Adding more spectator areas might be possible, although ecologists would probably chain themselves to trees, but then access would become more of a problem because there are only so many ways in and out of the circuit… It does not help that the local police force has a reputation for imposing traffic management measures which seem to makes things more difficult, but some fellow with pips on his shoulder thinks he knows what he is doing and who are we to argue.

Spa’s Commercial Director Stijn de Boever was in Barcelona for discussions with F1, but the word is that the series promoter isn’t too keen on doing another deal, even if the provincial government ups the money, which it is willing to do. It may be considered a crime against humanity by hard core F1 fans not to have a race at Spa, but the sport wants to appeal to fans of all kinds – and Spa does not fit in this respect.

After the calendar disruptions caused by the pandemic, it is hoped that things will get back together more in 2023, but there remain question marks about China and how all the races will fit together next year. I bumped into Circuit of the Americas boss Bobby Epstein in Barcelona (he’s often there) and he said it was news to him that his race might move to the spring. It sounds more like there might be an Austin-Mexico-Vegas swing, but F1 teams don’t want more triple-headers if they can be avoided (as they were only supposed to happen during the pandemic).

The team bosses met with Stefano Domenicali in Barcelona and he explained that he would try to create a more regionalised calendar in order for things to be more efficient, more cost-effective and more sustainable (that word again). There are also the problems for the next few years with Ramadan, mentioned in the last Green Notebook, and so it could be that Australia will pop up at the start of the year again for a year or two to ensure that Bahrain and Saudi Arabia don’t upset local sensitivities… There could be a test in Bahrain and then a two-week gap to Australia and then the Middle Eastern races after that (before it gets too hot).

It would be nice to report that South Africa will be back in 2023 but it is going to be tough to achieve given the political instability in the country and the constant bickering that seems to exist within the ruling African National Congress party. These fights have become so bad that former President Kgalema Motlanthe recently said that the rule of the ANC, which has run the country since 1994, is coming to an end because it is steadily losing the support of the people. Against that background it may be hard to get a race up and running any time soon.

The basic concept of regionalisation is to have a calendar that groups the races so that logistical problems are less complicated. Thus the season would begin in the Middle East in the early spring, with Australia and another Asia-Pacific race (normally China) following on. There would then be a swift double-header in the Americas before the European season in the summer. With some of the European races being weeded out, that opens the way for Eurasia as well. After the summer break (which no-one wants to lose) it would be a second Asian trip (logically Singapore and Japan) although there is also the desire for a race in Korea, although there seems to be little interest in reviving either Malaysia or the Grand Prix that never was in Vietnam. After that the focus would switch to the Americas again in the autumn months, with the likes of Mexico, Austin, Brazil, Vegas and perhaps something in the Caribbean, and then the season would finish off with a pair of evening races in the Middle East, to maximise global TV audiences for the finale. This would mean that Asia and the Americas would each get two hits of F1 per year, which will help build interest.

The problem with all this is that Montreal in June gets in the way. In a perfect world Montreal would be twinned with Miami and held in May, when temperatures in Canada are a little lower. But that would move it off the traditional start-of-summer weekend, which makes it a big party for thousands of Canadians who don’t actually attend the race. The event is coupled with graduation ceremonies and proms and it is huge earning weekend for the city. Miami cannot go any later because of the heat in Florida in June. And Miami cannot have the Grand Prix in the autumn because of the NFL season that runs from September – January, which is the prime purpose of the Hard Rock Stadium. The Canadians have a contract that guarantees the current date and so to get them to change will be difficult, although the race promoter is now owned by Bell Media, which is also the F1 TV rights holder in Canada and so the date of the race may be negotiable given the other interests involved.

Monaco is still to be fixed as F1 wants more concessions and more money from the Principality and, if possible, a race track that allows for racing. Still, the race is no longer tied to the Ascension Day holiday and does not have an extra day, which makes it possible to be back-to-back with Spain, although it is a logistical struggle getting everything into and out of the pokey little paddock in Monaco, which is not VIP-friendly unless you have a yacht.

New races are adding to the prize money, but they also add to the costs and the human wear-and-tear. However at the moment this is not the primary worry in the minds of F1 team bosses. On Saturday in Spain, just after qualifying, there was a very low-key meeting in the McLaren hospitality unit, involving FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the FIA’s head of F1 Peter Bayer, Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto, Red Bull’s Christian Horner, Mercedes’s Toto Wolff and McLaren’s Zak Brown. Those involved entered and departed individually so it was not obvious – and the “smaller” teams were not part of the discussion. This was all about the impact of inflation on the F1 budget cap. Inflation was rising in many countries before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, because the global pandemic had created serious supply-demand imbalances. The war added new supply shocks to the global economy which we are now feeling with dramatic hikes in the price of many items and disruption in the supply chains. The big teams are arguing that $140 million is not enough (although, of course, they spend a lot more when all the exclusions are included). They have had to make serious reductions to adapt to the limits and now want to use the global situation to puff up the budget again. The FIA seems to be smiling and nodding and letting them have their say, but there are no signs that the federation’s cap will be doffed for anyone. This has led Christian Horner to suggest that the teams might not be able to afford the last few races and so will not appear, which is headline-grabbing but not realistic if Christian wants to keep his job. Still, given the amount of time he spends on Sky TV, he probably has a future in broadcasting if his days as a team principal ever come to an end (assuming, of course, that Sky is still around).

At the moment, the FIA seems to be more fixated an the question of jewellery, which seems to be a fight that is not really required, but must be viewed as arm-wrestling between the sport and the federation over who is the boss when it comes to the rules. Clearly, the boss of F1 is not Lewis Hamilton and so he may have to divest himself of his bling if he wants to race on in F1. This is sensible and logical – and safer – but Lewis seems to think it is against him, while others feel that it is a fight that F1 really does not need right now.

It is a time of change at the FIA and it is clear that we have not seen all the changes yet. More are expected in the weeks ahead as the new leadership cleans up the messes and structures left by the ancien regime. In the finest French traditions, some heads will roll.

As part of this process there is a new chief of staff at the FIA, with the appointment of 54-year-old British-born Anglo-Indian Shaila-Ann Rao. No-one seems to know what the difference is between a chief of staff and a CEO, but perhaps the President will explain that at some point once he has put out all the fires he has been fighting.  Rao is a lawyer who spent years in TV rights negotiation with TF1 and Lagardere before joining the FIA as Legal Director in 2016. She moved on two years later to join Mercedes AMG Petronas… but is now going back to the federation, presumably because it has a new president.

The FIA was much in the news in Barcelona thanks to Aston Martin turning up with cars that looked like green Red Bulls. The team has “previous” with regard to copycatism and so the feds had to go through the process of finding out how this had been done without anyone nicking any designs or using photographs and scans (which are no longer allowed). This was a lengthy process which has been going on for a while under the radar and the FIA boffins say that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing. Red Bull says that some of its IP has been downloaded by staff who left the team but while that can be proved, it is hard to prove that it was used elsewhere. However there is still the possibility of Red Bull taking action against individuals if they have breached their contracts, but showing that Aston Martin used the data is impossible. Cyber-security in F1 is well-advanced these days and there are almost certainly security markers hidden away in software to stop “cutting-and-pasting” of data. The fact that Red Bull knows about downloads says it all: there are elaborate systems that know exactly where all confidential information is, and who has accessed it. Everything is logged and there are multiple firewalls and multi-stage authentication techniques. Even if someone gets through all of this, the team will still know what data has been moved, which apparently it does… Espionage is thus a dangerous business.

Horner and his crew are good at technology and the word is that in order to stay atop the rigging in F1, the team is now aiming to build a new windtunnel on its campus in Milton Keynes, because it fears that others may catch up.  Windtunnels are huge, expensive, not sustainable and much work can be done these days with computational fluid dynamics (CFD), which simulates what windtunnels do. In a perfect world windtunnels would be gone but Red Bull still sees the value in them and has the money to spend on them… even if there are restrictions on how much they can be used. It would be better, perhaps, to ban them but then at least three teams would oppose this… because they are building new ones.

The budget cap has put value into the teams and the cost of buying a team has now risen dramatically, making life hard for those who want to break into the sport. At the same time, there is more demand as sports investors see the potential of F1 growth. Thus to get hold of a team today will cost about $700 million.  This basically means that a buyer needs to have a billon or so to spare in order to buy and run a team. Obviously some of this would be offset with sponsorship (which is getting better) and prize money (which is also rising), but it does mean that Grand Prix racing is an expensive business. Every now and then one hears from financial circles that a team is looking for investors (or buyers) but most of these rumours seem to relate to “fishing trips” with the owners dipping their toes in the water to see if anyone bites at a big valuation. The most recent rumour is that Alpine has been sniffing around for a valuation, although it is unlikely that the team would be sold. However, bringing in partners to share the burden (as Mercedes, McLaren and others have done) is not impossible. Renault is still very keen on electric vehicles, although the bosses believe that ultimately the future lies in hydrogen, and it is worth noting that in rcent weeks the Nissan Formula E programme has been moved from the DAMS headquarters near Le Mans to the Renault motorsport engine facility in Viry-Chatillon. Elsewhere the Mercedes Formula E operation is being moved out of Brackley now that the team has been taken over by McLaren. This rather sums up the state of the car industry at the moment. Some folk running one way, others doing the opposite…

There is little chatter on the driver front yet although Williams sources say that the team is not going to kick out Nicholas Latifi and replace him with Nyck de Vries before the end of the year. There is no guarantee that the Dutchman will sign for 2023 because he’s not a youngster willing to grab an F1 chance at any opportunity, but rather at 27 wants to make decent money from his career and can live without F1 if there is a high-paying job in sports car racing which would mean winning races, allied to a drive in Formula E. If one looks at Sebastien Buemi one can see that there are lots of options. The Swiss used to be a Red Bull-sponsored F1 driver. Today he still works with Red Bull in the simulator, but also has a factory drive in WEC with Toyota and a Nissan works drive in Formula E. Quite how he has managed to represent two rival Japanese manufacturers at the same time is not clear, but he’s probably pulling in a truckload of greenbacks as a result… and good for him.

45 thoughts on “Green Notebook from La Dynamite

  1. This calendar shake-up is quite typical for management that needs to show itself to be doing something.

    Let’s act as if the current calendar just materialized out of thin air and wasn’t actually the result of several decades worth of work on the part of their predecessors, taking into account the realities of the places holding a Grand Prix, why they pay for the race in the first place, and how for Formula 1 travel arrangements are largely irrelevant beyond the obvious distinction between truck races and fly-aways.

  2. I for one wouldn’t miss Paul Ricard because those huge painted run-off areas hurt my eyes. My e-chum T, who used to have a day job driving an Airbus, noted last year:

    “Not only is it the ugliest track on the calendar, it stands out from 40,000ft like a scrap motor in a nice garden.”

    Spa, on the other hand, is a different kettle of chips’n’mayo.

  3. Hey Joe, how could you miss the silliest village names of all? Fucking in Austria famous for its “Fucking Hell” beer and of course Shitterton in Dorset. Anyway thanks for the insights.

    1. Back in those distant times when Holidays were still A Thing I managed to visit both Twatt (Orkney) and Boring (Oregon) in the space of a couple of months. The church in the former was up for sale but I didn’t have a spare £195k about my person so had to pass it up.

      1. If you’d bought the church in Twatt, would that have made you the ‘Bishop of Twatt’ ?

        Sorry Joe, it is an important question that needs to be asked 😉

        1. Might have ended up as the Moderator of Twatt, which would be an interesting thing to put on your business card. Which in my case I have not got.

  4. As always an interesting article. F1 really needs to look beyond showboating engine efficiencies and “sustainable fuel at weekends” because this is a tiny fraction of its overall footprint.
    It needs to over ride the sensitivities of individual races and come up with a calendar structure which minimises global freight and travel but also takes into account the health and wellbeing of the people who actually spend the hours – not the drivers and team principles who arrive in their private jets for a few hours then disappear.
    Wouldn’t it be fun to run most of the operations remotely from the factories via on line communications and just have a minimal team actually in the garages and on the pit wall. I appreciate some of this happens at present, but expanding it would be a real technological step forward. And yes, banning wind tunnels but perhaps allowing a couple more test days to individual teams when events are close to their HQ in exchange would make sense

  5. I wonder just how much logistical gain there is to be had from regionalisation? After all a fly away race is a fly away race. How much difference does it make if the flight is 4 hours rather than 12 hours? There might be some benefit if the transfers between the 3 US races and perhaps Canada and/or Mexico could be done by road but that would require the availability of a second fleet of lorries and motorhomes. No small thing.

  6. Near us in France is a village called Le Cabaret D’Ane, which I hope is all about dancing donkeys.

  7. Joe, a leading US daily has blown the lid off wild F1 parties during the Miami GP.
    Some top DJ has been telling them of shocking excess way beyond even American expectations. All nighters with booze, nosh, hookers by the dozen. He mentions one highly respected F1 journalist who partied till past 6am with four young blondes and a crate of champagne. I wonder who can it be?

  8. As long as there is no risk to others, surely the driver signing some sort of waiver is the solution to the “jewelry problem”?

  9. My thoughts:

    Canada and Miami – makes sense
    Spa – I get it. But SPA is like Monaco and Monza. It needs to stay in place for heritage sake.

  10. Regarding Horner moaning about the budget cap – as I tell my mangers:

    “If you cannot deliver to the budget I set you, I will find someone else who can.”

  11. Thanks Joe.

    As a Canadian fan I would be a little leery about buying May race tickets in Montreal. You might have glorious weather but it could also be a mixture of every kind of cold, wet, windy slop Mother Nature can come up with. As you know Montreal is a wonderful city but, the race weekend costs a small fortune. I can’t see making the expenditure to end up chilled to the bone and wanting to be at home watching on TV.

  12. Formula1 without Spa is unthinkable. Like Paris without street cafes or NY without skyscrapers. I would also add Monza and Suzuka to Spa.
    Changing Eau Rouge to add more run-off and what not was sacrilegious enough. Absolute safety can only be achieved by going virtual. God forbid.

    1. So the driver who died and the others who were badly hurt at Eau Rouge were just unfortunate casualties for your entertainment?

  13. I am starting to really dislike where Liberty is taking F1. Ditching Spa for crappy places like Miami where they can rape the fans with astronomical ticket prices and Saudi Arabia with its bottomless wells of corrupt bloody oil money vastly changes the landscape of the sport I have been following for 35+ years. Not to mention that the racing sucks at said tracks and others that now have places on the calendar in comparison Spa. I prefer races to “events” but what do I know? I do know that the hunt for the mighty dollars is more important than the racing and history of the sport.

    1. Agreed. If Spa, with the Verstappen army, can’t survive, then something is wrong with the business model and expectations of F1. I always loved that Liberty said “We’re going to keep the historic races”, but it seems they are just as weak-willed on the accounts as CVC.

      Strangely I’ve never had any issues getting in and out of Spa when camping, but getting in and out of Le Mans is a nightmare. Took the bike one year with a Porsche and Lotus. Got held up in traffic so went to the supermache to get the BBQ and Beer for the weekend. Still got to the campsite first in front of the cars with four people envious as hell to see the cold beers go past having been sat for 2 hours stationery.

  14. Losing Spa would be a shame, but oh well, not the world’s end if this circuit got axed alongside Paul Ricard rather than only one of them.
    AusGP on March 5 or February 26 preceding a Bahrain-Saudi double could work, although going to Bahrain separately for testing with the season beginning elsewhere would be quite pointless.
    The news from the last weekend about the more regionalized-schedule plan is something I like, but we’ll see how easily this plan works eventually.
    Unfortunately, climate aspects are the issue for Montreal, making a pairing with any other NA location challenging.
    Before mid-May can already be decently warm, but temp fluctuation risk still exists.
    For Miami, the issue with shifting towards Montreal would more so be the hurricane season (the same in autumn) than temps as they’re relatively stable in FL all year round a la SE Asia.
    A challenging concept, so a COTA-Miami double-header in spring mightn’t be bad, even if this meant Canadian GP remaining a solitary NA event.
    If teams have to compromise their car development to stay within the budget cap, so be that.
    Compromising development would be better than, for instance, something done for safety.

  15. > Le Tour de France – has a problem because while the riders produce little pollution, the 14 million car-borne spectators out-do all other sporting events in the world in terms of pollution.

    Thank you for this, Joe.

    I still remember the time fifteen years ago when I failed to get this idea across on behalf of Honda, that the biggest environmental impact of F1 was *spectators travelling to races*, the second biggest was the big factories burning power and their staff commuting to and from work, and that the actual cars racing round a circuit every week or two were a pimple on a gnat’s backside compared with either.

    “But they’re just driving round in circles!” Yes, and they make millions of people happy. In fairness, some activation would have helped, too, but the car was a dog and the budget got pulled. Sigh.

    Just out of curiosity, which are the other teams besides RBR building new wind tunnels? Mclaren and Aston?

    1. When you think that an Augusta 109’s fuel burn is about 200kg an hour, and the flight from London to Silverstone is half an hour, each return flight is the same as an F1 car for the whole weekend.

      Given that sport is entertainment, you wonder how entertainments stack up. Top Gun II for example must have a huge footprint, from both the making of it, and the promotion, but then the people seeing it at the cinema for 2 hours must be low. Ship it over Netflix/Amazon prime, it would be zero effectively.

    2. Back around the time of the 1973-4 Oil Crisis the Badminton Horse Trials was pulling in more punters over its three days than the British GP weekend, but it was motor sport that got it in the neck from the armchair critics.

      Last year’s Tour de France coverage on ITV4 paid a fair bit of attention to the environmental impact of the race, and pro cycling in general, and concluded it was Not Good. They’re making more use of drones rather than helicopters for the TV pictures and, er… Use your Famous Web Search Engine-fu to find the features on the ITV Cycling web site.

  16. Thank you, Joe, more humour and valuable insights. What very depressing news about Spa. So ‘it cannot produce the kind of numbers that F1 wants to see’? I seem to recall circuits in other countries where you could count the spectators in any shot simply by taking your socks off. Given that the sport these days is primarily for the TV audience, such an attitude to a circuit that produces great racing (rain permitting) is truly appalling.

    As for sustainability and environmental concerns, might I suggest that three good moves for the image of the sport would be: 1. Invest in permanent circuits, not the short term pop-up street tracks that waste huge amounts of money (and generally produce bad racing). 2. Do away with night races where the power required for lighting the entire circuit is a clear mis-use of resources. The world has different time zones – live with it. 3. Ban the smoke bombs and confetti cannons which are pure environmental vandalism. The hugely impressive work being done to improve the efficient use of energy in the cars is being overshadowed by the high-visibility waste elsewhere.

  17. Joe, I note you did not mention the trips into the gravel in Spain for Carlos and Max, when a tail wind stalled the ground effect on the cars as they entered a turn. Seems like everyone is ignoring this dangerous trait of these cars, that if the same occurs when pointing at a barrier or in a street race, the result could be a whole lot worse. Wet race, blustery winds. The fact it caught out good experienced drivers even more so if a concern. Not simply a rookie mistake.

    If the gust of a tail wind is about the same as the cars forward velocity under breaking, all the downforce disappears in an instant. As down force is proportional to airspeed over a wing it is not hard to understand how a gust into a diffuser can unstick a car. It is why aircraft don’t land with tail winds. Or this happens…

    Sure smart engineers may find ways to mitigate over time, but in the meantime wet and windy races could be very ugly for the drivers.

    The desire to press on in the event of rain could be an additional complication. Remember no skirts to seal the wing to the floor now. Down force is created by vortices attaching to the floor. Blow them out with a gust of wind and the invisible seal simply disappears. These vortices are no more robust than a candle flame in a wind. They have a tendency to “flicker” and dissipate or unattach in yaw conditions. Potential for a wet race this weekend.

  18. Silverstone is between 15 and 20 miles from the nearest railway stations; Northampton (N) and Milton Keynes (S). The sustainable transport solution would be to have zero emission buses shuttle back and forth. Access not really a problem if the willingness is there.

  19. Given that Liberty likes to think outside the box – is there any contemplation at all of changing the track layout at Monaco to make it a better race circuit? I’ve no idea if there are better options or not, but a feasibility study would seem worth the while.

  20. With much mention of the FIA, it made me wonder if it is still officially French or now Swiss, or does it have two passports? Is it in the EU, or like us in the UK a would be escapee, still hamstrung by hundreds of undreamed bureaucracies, punishments for the escape attempt.

    It is worth mentioning that Netflix has apparently lost a lot of subscribers as the cost of living in the UK bites. I mention this in connection with the selling off of the UK’s Channel4 and its several bits (to put it technically) Why because Netflix and Amazon prime are repeatedly quoted as the future direction, versus live tv, by the parliamentarians pushing the sale. This is obviously wrong at this time. There is also the deliberate impression being given that Channel4 costs the government money, whereas it is fully self supporting and just needs to be left alone. Why all this? Channel 4 is the broadcast home of all the UK F1 FTA coverage via Mr Coulthard’s Whisper group (Hampered by the official feed’s camera direction, which at times is unbelievable!)

  21. Joe

    Interesting you saw that comment by former President Kgalema Motlanthe. It was not widely reported in South Africa, the media is still very compliant here. Of course he only kept the seat warm between Thabo Mbeki being fired and Jacob Zuma taking power. The removal of Mbeki was the single most stupid thing the African National Congress did as a lot of the good people left to form Congress of the People.

    Many people now agree Mbeki was the best President South Africa has had and we hoping he can help chase the thieves and charlatans out of the ANC because the alternative is Hugo Chavez, African style. This week he was marching on the French Embassy in Tshwane demanding the French leave the continent, too stupid to understand that french policy in North Africa with a form of currentcy union tire to the Euro is a positive. The French will get something too, but it’s better than throwing in your lot with BRICS where China has taken all our low intensity manufacturing like textile, Russia wanted to build nuclear stations at stupendous amounts of money, India should be a rival in technology but our education system has gone and continues to go backwards and Brazil is a whole different economy.

    The conference in December to chose the next NEC and 6 top officials will go a long way towards seeing if Mothlane is correct or not. The largest sector of the electorate are now the “why must we vote” sector and in many ways this is positive until a party emerges who put the country first. The official opposition will never gain power. We need the left of that party, the United Democratic Movement of Bantu Holonisa, COPE and the right of the ANC to form a grand coalition in a Government of National Unity that will need to rule for 20 years and clean up the mess the National Party and ANC have made over the last 70 years.

    As for a Grand Prix, while it would be fantastic, we simply cannot afford it at present, even with the other benefits. We better off getting fans to other sports like rugby and cricket through the airport’s.

  22. How long before the North Korean Ground Prix in Pyongyang with the little fella who apparently loves cheese getting a guest drive in a 3rd car for $100 million and the start aligned to the fall out of his latest nuclear test.

    Liberty are just a different kind of parasite. And as for the FIA, Michael Massi may have made some strange decisions at times (and I know we never have all the information he has to digest in seconds). In fact the best example of this was when Jules Bianchi crashed at Suzuka (I know it was in the Charlie Whiting days) and you wondered why the race was red flagged because it looked like nothing to worry about. These new two seem to want to play headmaster and chastize their errant children and the decision making looks even more ridiculous. Fernando summer it up so well, but then the majority of us fans will always take what a driver says more seriously than a blazer

  23. This morning I took a drive over to what remains of Prince George Circuit in East London and a bit like Nurburgring the new circuit which utilised the old start finish straight. Other than being widened a bit and some run off added the circuit is exactly the same as it was in the days of Jimmy Clark, John Surtees, Graham Hill et al. Sadly almost no-one in the city knows this is where South Africa’s most successful racing drivers Jody and Ian Scheckter and Wayne Taylor learn their early race craft (Ian on bikes).

    It made me think of my trips to Spa and the Nurburgring. You went there for a race and then to see the history. Imola was the same, we went to the last race there in 2006 to see the Senna memorial. Sadly I had to pull out of the Hockenheimring trip as I was ill. It was the “Fernando is faster than you’ and ‘good boy, sorry” year. I wanted to go to the Jimmy Clark memorial there.

    Formula One may be looking to the future, my son is 14. I tried desperately from when he was old enough to focus to watch motor racing. He was never interested then season 2 of Netflix got him hooked. He follows Formula 1 like I did when I was his age but with technology in real time. By example, at Estoril in 1984 every hour I listened to the news hoping to get the result and in the Afrikaans news at 9pm, so at least 5 hours after the race I was able to whoop as Lauda had won the championship. I asked my son which races he would like to go to see live and they were Spa, Monza, Suzuka and the Indy 500. Liberty are not taking all their young fans with them.

  24. On Buemi, if you count the (virtual) Honda in the back of the Red Bull simulator he’s getting paid by 3 Japanese manufacturers! Good work that man!

  25. So if Willy’s are owned by Peter de Putron, there is a good link in his former employee, and current Sister-in-law is Andrea Leadsom, and she is the MP for South Northamptonshire. She is the MP for: – Silverstone, Aston Martin F1 & Mercedes AMG F1.

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