Thursday, 8 October 2015

Back in the USSR, Crimea a river.

Hello you lovely people.

So the days are getting shorter as the warm summer breeze starts to turn damp and just a bit chilly. It’s the time of year for long walks in the woods, kicking up the leaves, collecting conkers and big roast dinners with the family, then falling asleep in front of the TV and thankfully the F1 circus rocks up to the interminably dull Sochi circuit.  

Russia has many fantastic cities; Moscow with its Red Square, St Petersburg  with the Hermitage and Sochi with its errrr .. with that thing the .. errrum. Oh yeah the industrial truck park round the back. No wait .. there’s that big round international flag thing, yeah that was interesting. A big long corner with no overtaking on it .. yeah. That corner was … well it looked nice, the one between that Aldi super store and Ikea outlet depot. Its supposed to be a the track winding its way through what is apparently the 2014 winter Olympic village, but it just looks like a brutalist theme park to me.
Yet another track shoehorned around an out of town shopping centre to promote a country by showing a really dull 2.4 miles of its car parks.  I mean Russia is a pretty big place, there is an awful lot of it and not an awful lot of people living on vast chunks of it. So why slap a street circuit around one of the least visually appealing ones?

[insert pictures of Dollars here]

Monaco  works because it has the weight of history behind it. Its slap bang in the middle of the city and it uses the landmarks to promote the city. It looks exciting, it looks dangerous and you can see the drivers having to work for their money.
Singapore works because it’s in the middle of the night, its brash bright neon lit, loud, fast, dangerous and exciting. You can’t really see the actual city but you can imagine it behind the floodlights and grandstands as an exciting place to visit. It has mystery and the lure of the orient about it.

Sochi meanwhile, looks like you can get a good two for one offer on cabbages soup, if the highly visible, highly armed and very mean looking troops don’t turn you away first. Oh it looks bright and sparkly new … but would you actually want to go there?

No this weekend has far more interesting things happening than a stodgy old race in Russia, trust me. But I’m afraid you’re going to need satellite TV to catch it, starting at midnight on Saturday we have the Australian V8 from Bathurst. One of the truly great race tracks in the world. An absolutely amazing ribbon of tarmac carved up the side of Mount Panorama in New South Wales. This is a real circuit for real proper drivers with grit and determination. Go and look for it on YouTube, type in Bathurst 1000 and marvel at what a car can do when its driven on the edge of reason round a mountain.

I have a bucket list of races I’m going to attend before the red wine catches up with my liver. Bathurst is front and centre top 3, behind a Le mans hospitality suite and grandstand seats over the start finish line at the Indy 500. As events go, the V8’s round Bathurst has to be seen to be believed. The fans drink enough booze to sink the titanic, they even had to limit the amount of beer being brought onto the circuit to 24 cans per person.

Next up and following right behind the Ozzy V8’s,  round 6 of the WEC from the Fuji international circuit in Japan. Yes I know it’s turning into a bit of a Porsche benefit year, but trust me, it’ll be worth getting up for, Fuji is a beautiful circuit.

Okay, watch those two if you can, then when the F1 start you won’t mind if it’s as dull as an English Rugby second half performance.

Other news … Bernie reckons the whole shebang will be sold off to the highest bidder before the end of the year ! Yes, odd news this, it might just be Bernie dangling a line during a slow news week to the more naïve elements of the press pack. But who knows with Bernie! Maybe CVC have had enough of teams asking for more money, they’re currently loading the cars with all the loot they can carry, Kevin has been sent back to check under the sofas in the staff canteen to look for any loose change they may have missed. The Big boss is sitting in the driver’s seat nervously checking his watch, the EU could be round any minute asking difficult questions  and he’s not the one who’s going down for this blag.
If CVC were to sell the right to F1 to some other shadowy group of faceless money men, Bernie would get a whole new shed full of dirty cash and no doubt be left in charge, despite being one hundred and eleventy stupid.  oooh sure Its’s all probably just more Bernie smoke and mirrors .. time as ever, will tell.

Good news for the Lotus peeps. Renault have said they’ll buy the gig and have signed something that keeps her Majesties customs and excise from the door until the end of the season. There is still no actual official announcement on what’s actually been bought and whose paying for what.  There are apparently several creditors with noses out of shape, you’d think they’d be used to that, having bank rolled Maldonado these past two years. One theory is, Renault will withdraw the team for 2016 so there are no Renault engines on the grid, which means they can redesign the whole thing and restart the team in 2017 with a brand new engine thus avoiding the whole tokens/points/money FIA mess thing.

Because they have told Redbull and by extension Torro Rosso what it can do with its engine contract. Tired of being blamed for the teams problems and passed over when  the glory is being handed out, Renault will not be supplying engines to either team in 2016. Now as I’m sure you’re all aware a car without an engine isn’t much of a race car. It’s not really a car at all is it? it’s a sled, and that’s about it. So Redbull have been flouncing around and waving their hands in the air and threatening to hold their breath and generally acting like spoilt children. See they treated Renault appallingly badly for years, and when they went knocking on the doors of other engine manufactures “demanding” no less, that they “give them an engine and it better be damn good mind you”  No company appears to be ready to deal with this petulant team.
They told Audi it had better give them an engine and stop with all the WEC nonsense right away, Audi mumbled something about being busy and winning and not needing the grief. Then VW who sort of own Audi got caught cheating on their road car emission tests and suddenly F1 with a team not known for hushing up engine problems, was not the place for a toxic brand.
So they went to Ferrari who said they had a couple of old units knocking around they could have at cost. Redbull said no Ferrari were to give them the best newest engines for free or they’d tell Bernie Ferrari was being mean. Ferrari laughed and told them to get lost.  
So Redbull knocked on Mercedes door demanding the same engines as the works team and this time they brought Bernie along. But Mercedes are winning and they don’t need the grief either. Bernie wasn’t happy about this and so in Japan, quite unrelated of course you understand, Mercedes who won the race at a canter were strangely absent from our television screens. Mercedes just shrugged and said “No, Redbull are not getting our engines in 2016”.

There’s always Honda I suppose ……. Hahahahahahahahaahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

Ok, Sochi then, Merc and Ferrari, chased by Redbull and Williams .. Lotus now it’s got some money and Force India with something to prove. Verstappen will be the only thing worth watching if Mercedes don’t get any air time again.

Good luck

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