The new Williams

The chase to get as much coverage as possible has led Williams to leak some pictures of its new car, before the official launch next week.  In terms of sponsorship and livery there seems to be very little change.

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Fascinating F1 Fact:72

Espionage has been part of motorsport since the sport began, with teams and manufacturers stealing one another’s secrets. It was, of course, a sport in which many car dealers were involved, and that profession has always had a rather poor reputation for its dodgy dealings.

Joseph Michael Kelly, known as Joe, did little to change that image – but he was certainly a colourful character…

As the name suggests, Kelly was born in Ireland in 1913, before the country won its independence from Britain. He left school at 13 and learned a few tricks working in the street markets of Dublin, before training as a railway fitter and then becoming a tram driver. He moved on to drive buses, although he ran into trouble in the late 1930s, when he crashed while racing a fellow bus driver through the streets of Dublin. He departed, rather hurriedly, so they say, to England and settled in South London, doing a bit of this and a bit of that.

He worked with road haulage firms, got married and started a family. Looking to make more money, he moved into the car trade. With Ireland being neutral, he was not in the forces.

There was a lot of money to be made from cars at the end of the war. Purchase tax was payable on all new cars, with double purchase tax on cars that cost more than £1,000. The goal of this policy was to encourage the UK manufacturers to favour exports. Domestic buyers had to sign covenants with the British Motor Trade Association committing them to not sell their cars for 12 months or longer. This meant that demand far exceeded supply and big profits could be made on covenant-free cars, particularly high-end sports cars, such as MGs, Rileys and Alvises. In order to dodge the rules, some dealers paid for new cars, but arranged for others to sign the covenants. They then sold the cars at a substantial profit. A young Roy Salvadori fell foul of such behaviour in 1949, in a legal action which stopped such activity. By then, however, a few car dealers had made small fortunes, which paid for them to go racing.

Kelly was friends with Salvadori (and others) and was soon sufficiently wealthy to buy 70 acres of land on the main Dublin to Naas highway. He established a garage called the Red Cow Service Station and still had sufficient money to buy a Maserati 6CM voiturette. He began taking part in major racing events, notably the 1949 BRDC Trophy at the new Silverstone circuit. Keen to move up the ladder he bought an Alta GP3, the first British-built Grand Prix car after the war, and in the summer of 1950 this led to an invitation to race in the British GP – the very first round of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

Kelly enjoyed success in Ireland, where the opposition was not as strong,  notably at the Curragh, with a Jaguar C-Type. He soon modified the Alta to such an extent that he decided to rename it as the IRA (Irish Racing Automobile). The initials of the car were, of course, the same as those of the terrorist group known as the Irish Republican Army, although in that period the IRA was not as active as it would become later in the decade. The cars appeared in 1952 and 1953.

Early in 1954 Kelly had a new idea. With the help of a local restaurant owner who spoke Italian, he sent a telegram to Enzo Ferrari requesting an audience. When the reply came back, Kelly was so keen to know what it said that he went to his friend’s house in the middle of the night and threw a brick through a window to wake up the poor translator. The message welcomed a visit and Kelly and his translator set off to Italy. They met Ferrari and a deal was struck for him to become the Ferrari dealer for Ireland – and to buy a 750 Monza Spyder Scaglietti. It was the first such car to be sold to a privateer, but the relationship did not develop well. The car arrived unassembled, which did not please Kelly, and he was also upset that he had been sold a car with a five-speed racing gearbox, but it arrived with a production four-speed unit.

Ferrari sent the right gearbox after Kelly complained, but was unimpressed when the car raced in a green livery. Kelly beat his own lap record at The Curragh and shared the car with Desmond Titterington in the Tourist Trophy at Dundrod. They then won the Leinster Trophy at Wicklow and the car was then driven by Mike Hawthorn in the Goodwood Trophy.

Titterington was offered a factory Jaguar drive at that point and soon afterwards, despite promising Ferrari he would not reveal the technical details of the car, Kelly handed over the 750 Monza to Jaguar, which stripped it down and analysed how it was superior to the Jaguar D-Types it raced against. The D-Types were then modified and in 1955 Jaguar won Le Mans with Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb, followed in 1956 by Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson and in 1957 by Flockhart and Bueb. Ferrari did not win again until 1958. One might argue that Kelly was responsible for these successes… In any case, he soon sold the Ferrari to Peter Whitehead.

In April 1955 Kelly crashed his Jaguar C-Type heavily at Oulton Park, in a heat for the British Empire Trophy. He went into the commentary box and suffered serious leg injuries. While recovering he met Phyllis Purcell, who would become his second wife. They settled permanently in England after that and Kelly built up a series of car dealerships in the course of the next 14 years, often trading cars and motorcycles with another dealer called Bernie Ecclestone. In 1969 Kelly sold everything and moved back to Ireland where he built up an impressive property portfolio in the 1970s and 1980s – not to mention a car collection. He competed from time to time in races and hillclimbs until he was in his sixties.

Kelly would lose most of his fortune in a property crash in the 1980s and he returned to England to settle in Neston in Cheshire. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and died late in 1993 at the age of 80.

Come on folks…

It is now nearly six weeks since the death at 51 of my sister Jill Saward, who suffered a brain
haemorrhage in the first week of the new year. Jill was an extraordinary person, who was the victim of an awful rape, back in the 1980s and made it her life’s mission to change attitudes towards rape, to campaign for better treatment for rape victims and to try to ensure that people who are victims of sex crimes receive proper justice. My sister’s work changed the the law in Britain and inspired tens of thousands of people to work towards stopping rape happening. The work is far from finished and even today only a small percentage of rape victims go to the police. They are frightened and ashamed. As a family, we have decided that we will do whatever we can to continue Jill’s work and to try to educate people about rape and to help those who are victims of it. It is not easy to do, advocacy and support staff cost huge amounts of money. However, education can make a big difference and so we aim to find ways to educate people to try to reduce rape. If we can do that and build up sufficient funding, we can then help to look after the victims. The goal is to create sustainable funding by generating revenue from educational publications. We hope some good ideas about how to achieve this goal and we want help from the motor racing community, where there is plenty fo money flowing around. Sacrifice a set of tyres or some brake discs and you can make a difference in the real world.

I am not a religious man, but I come from a family that is and I respect the view of others. At my sister’s funeral my friend the Reverend Gary Piper, one of the greatest human being I have ever met, who knew us all from a very young age, said the following about her: “She was human. I don’t want you to think of her as a plaster saint. To achieve some of her targets she needed to be stubborn, this was a quality which could be observed in her from quite a young age. Strong-minded people are not always the easiest to deal with.”

We want her work to continue and we are raising money to create a charitable trust of some sort to honour her memory and to continue her work to change attitudes. I have been in the F1 world for nearly three decades, and in my experience the F1 community is one in which everyone is treated equally, if they prove they have the ability to do the job properly. It is an open-minded world and thus I hope that many of you will donate to this cause. Thus far, 482 of you, have been very generous, but There are tens of thousands of readers – including many racing millionaires. The biggest donation thus far has been £1,000. A lot of you could do better than that… if you wanted to.

Want to! It is an amazing cause.

Don’t just think about it, do it. All you need to do is click here.


Sydney is not going to launch a bid for the Australian GP. The same story comes up every year to attract attention to the event in Melbourne. Sydney is not even considering an F1 bid. Next question.

Williams Martini Racing has confirmed that Dirk de Beer is to be its new head of aerodynamics, joining the company on March 1. Stories of this happening have been circulating since last summer when he disappeared from Ferrari, in the days after James Allison disappeared. De Beer arrives at Williams after a long motosport career, beginning at Imperial College in London where he was trained. His first job in the business was with Swift Engineering in San Clemente, California, where he worked on the design of IndyCars until the company quit the series in 2000. He then joined Sauber in Switzerland where the team was working a vast wind tunnel that was opened in 2003. De Beer became principal aerodynamicist with the Swiss team until it was taken over by BMW and he decided to move to Renault in 2008, where he worked under Dino Toso until the latter was forced to stand down because of illness and  de Beer took over the role, working with technical directors Bob Bell and then James Allison. De Beer followed Allison to Ferrari, but now heads to Williams where he will work with Dave Wheater, a former Enstone colleague, who has been the Williams head of aerodynamic performance since the end of 2014.

De Beer will take over the role that has been held since June 2011 by Jason Somerville, who had a record in F1 with Lotus, Toyota, Williams (a first time) and prior to that TWR and MIRA, following  his studies at Loughborough University of Technology in the late 1980s.

In recent days, Renault has also announced a new head of aerodynamics with Pete Machin joining the team from Red Bull Racing in July. Machin has been at Milton Keynes since 2002 when the team was still Jaguar Racing but he was previously a CFD Engineer at Arrows from October 1997 to April 2002, after starting his career in aerodynamics with Bombardier Aerospace. The team’s current head of aerodynamics Jon Tomlinson will (in theory) become Machin’s deputy.


A question about Wehrlein

The are reports from the Swiss media, specifically the newspaper Blick, which is usually rather antagonistic towards Sauber, which suggests that Pascal Wehrlein may not be able to test in the next few weeks because of neck injuries suffered when he rolled one of the cars in the Race of Champions event in Miami last month. Blick revealed that Italy’s Antonio Giovinazzi is having a seat fitting at Sauber and may stand in for the Mercedes driver. Giovinazzi may also be used in some Friday sessions in 2017, because of the team’s links with Ferrari. If the Italian team is willing to knock some money off its engine bills, Sauber will no doubt agree.

A lot of F1 teams do not allow their drivers to be engaged in dangerous activities in the offseason, because of the problems that can result, such as Robert Kubica’s career-ending crash in a rally in 2011. However, it is not clear whether Wehrlein has a Sauber contract or a Mercedes contract, or both. It may be that he is employed by Mercedes and is being loaned to Sauber, in exchange for payments that allow the young German to get experience in F1.

Ekrem Sami, the Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Marketing, is leaving the company after 35 years. Sami was one of Ron Dennis’s closest allies throughout his tenure at McLaren, having started out with Dennis in the Project 4 days. His departure has been expected for some time.

“I don’t mind admitting that it feels a bit strange to be announcing that I’m moving on from McLaren, the company to which I’ve devoted almost all my professional life. But now is the right time,” he says. “However, I’ll continue to work on the projects with which I’m already engaged, and I expect to formalise my departure some time in late March. Over the past 35 years I’ve worked with some truly brilliant people, and I want to say thank you to them all. Our successes were a team effort in the most fundamental way. As for my own plans, I’m looking forward to broadening my professional outlook into the wider sports and entertainment sector, after being so immersed in the weird and wonderful world of Formula 1.”

Mansour Ojjeh, the Executive Committee Principal of the McLaren Technology Group paid tribute to Sami, saying thanks for “his truly gigantic contribution and to wish him continued success in the future.”