Archive for August, 2017

Maybe they will hasten the demise of F1 as we currently know it and therefore they would be a wonderful thing…

 ‘What the f@ck have they done!?’ my middle son asked as we stood atop ‘Brocky’s Hill’ as the new, whispering V6 hybrid F1 cars did their first laps of Albert Park during the 2014 Australian Grand Prix weekend. He is a fringe fan but his reaction was spot on. When you can comfortably take your girlfriend to a Formula One race the whole point of it is lost. When most of the support event cars are more spectacular than Gee Pee cars, something is terribly wrong.

There is of course plenty amiss but the problem is not easily fixed as the ‘sport’ has been in the wrong hands since BC Ecclestone acquired the commercial rights from the FIA in 1992.

Hopefully Halos will drive TV and on circuit numbers down even lower so F1 implodes. What does implosion mean?

.Someone(s) steps in with deep enough pockets to start a rival series with all of the complexity that would involve

.Earnings of its asset plunge so low that current F1 owners Liberty Media offload it- and the FIA, that is us, we enthusiasts, get back what was acquired by Ecclestone for five-eigths of fuck-all 30 years ago.

Purpose of this article…

Like many enthusiasts I am frustrated by the progressive emasculation and corporatisation of Grand Prix racing which has limited its appeal compared to the good ‘ole days. Its always dangerous when old fokkers talk like this I know. But Grand Prix racing as we know it seems in a progressive decline which the existing paradigm of regulators hand in glove with the sports commercial owners seem unable to arrest.

This article explores a few things;

.That F1 is in the wrong hands and needs to be re-acquired by the FIA (with its governance processes being overhauled before doing so to ensure that body has the skills to run it- a big assumption that this is possible)

.In the absence of the above taking place that someone(s) with deep enough pockets starts a rival series

.Explains that the commercial needs of the arms length owners of F1 are are at odds with those of enthusiasts

.Proposes, for debate, some changes to F1, ‘Renaissance GP’ to return its appeal and excitement

My basic contention is that F1 has diminished since the involvement of third party owners such as Venture Capital firms and now Liberty Media they are simply the wrong owners of the asset, for us, the enthusiasts at least.

I’ve no issue with VC’s generally, I was a partner and CEO of Grant Thornton Sydney, a global mid-tier Chartered Accounting firm and saw many clients benefit from the injection of working capital and management expertise the clients would not otherwise have been able to obtain via traditional sources of investment. So, I geddit, what they do and bring.

Fundamentally though they acquire a business, cut costs, build, expand and ramp up earnings to flog to the next guy, typically with a window of around 4/5 years. They don’t tend to play a long game. We enthusiasts are around for the duration, we understand all the nuances of the evolution of the sport from the city to city GP’s of the Edwardian days to the 2 hour sprints of the last fifty years. We are not concerned with a quick buck but the longevity of the sport and the excitement it has usually provided down the decades. We love it for its own sake rather than extraction of financial returns.

So, all the crap seen in the last 20 years or so; deals with countries none of us had even heard of to host GP’s at the expense of established circuits in countries with motor racing cultures and heritage, control tyres made to degrade, KERS, double points races, DRS and all the rest of it is short-term stuff to spice up the show to increase earning. The flim-flam, tricky-dicky gimmicks can’t hide the fact that the core product needs change.

Businesses like F1 are valued and sold on a ‘multiple of earnings’. The more stable and dependable the earnings, the higher the multiple. And the higher the earnings year on year, ‘future maintainable profits’, the cunning linguists in the accounting profession call it, the higher the value. The value of what is being sold, in simple terms, is the figure arrived at by multiplying the future maintainable profit number by the multiple. That is, if the FMP of F1 were $B1.6, and the multiple is 5 times, the value of F1 commercial rights is $B8 being 5 times $B1.6. It just so happens that Liberty Media paid $US8 billion for the rights recently. (announced by them on 23 January 2017)

The point here, the accounting lesson, is that if you understand what their game is, that is to ramp up the earnings in the short term and then flog them, what the VC’s do makes sense to them. But that’s not necessarily good for us.

We are custodians of F1 for now and into the future for generations of enthusiasts like us. If the owners of the business are us (the FIA) then the returns the business makes are up to the FIA to determine, they would not be driven by the needs of corporate owners. It is the statutory mandate of company directors to act in the best interests of their shareholders, which is to maximise the value of the company within the law. If the FIA were happy with a lower return than a corporate owner for example, circuit owners do not need to be screwed so much for race fees to such an extent that only government funded GP’s, in countries of dubious motor racing merit, make the annual fixture of events.

So, as a VC firm you fatten and flog an asset to the next schlepper. Who tries to do it again. Liberty Media’s declared schtick is to do a better job with the ‘digital experience’ than Bernie did and ramp up earnings that way as well as do all the other stuff which has worked in the last 20 years. So expect more tricks particularly aimed at millennials who are turning off, or not turning on much at all to current F1. In my view that makes ‘em discerning sods.

So, are the financial returns really that much? What is all the fuss about?…

 Absolute shedloads my friends is the answer. The return on investment for Ecclestone and some other investors along the way has been truly staggering. Mind you, so have the losses for some who borrowed too heavily and could not stay aboard the F1 gravy train as other issues in their businesses forced them to sell.

Mark Hughes in an article on the future of F1 in MotorSport in 2014 wrote of the earnings of Grand Prix racing.

Formula One generates about $B1.5 in annual revenues of which 40% is paid as dividends to the owners, then Delta Topco, now Liberty Media. Despite such large sums of money being generated by the show, many of the teams remain under great financial stress. It is a statement of the bleeding obvious, that without competitors there is no show.

CVC Capital’s investment in F1 is an example of a reasonably successful financial play for its investors. They paid $2B for a majority share of F1 (Delta Topco) in 2005. Since then they took out over $B5 in dividends, and sold 30% of their stake to other investors for $B2.1. Liberty Media paid $B8 to Atlas Topco for 100% ownership of F1 in January 2017. On that basis CVC Capital’s total return on an initial investment of $B2 is in excess of $B9.9- not bad going in 12 years!

In the 1990’s the commercial F1 rights were leased from the FIA (then owners) to FOCA (the Formula One Constructors Association- the teams). The lease expired in 1992. With longtime Ecclestone associate Maxwell Rufus Mosley installed as FIA President, by vote, replacing Jean-Marie Balestre, Ecclestone reapplied for the rights for himself, rather than as head of FOCA. Hughes writes that it was the teams fault they lost the lease- they assumed Bernie would continue to lease the rights as their representative, but he was not duty bound to do so and you have to get up early in the mornin’ to match the wily Brit.

The rights were then extended in 1998 to 2010 and then, in the deal of the century, only two years later, Ecclestone secured the rights for 100 years (from 2010-2110) for the princely sum of $US360 million. This amount, Hughes states was about the same paid at the time for NASCAR’s commercial rights- for one year!

Whilst its amusing to think of ‘Bern and ‘Mose doin’ the deal before lunch and then retiring early to ‘knock the top off it’ at one of Maxxies favourite ‘Hanky Schpanky’ clubs in Mayfair, the FIA’s corporate governance processes do make you wonder a tad. Still, it would be legally imprudent of me to suggest such fine gentlemen, and the FIA’s board acted in anything other than the best interests of their members, that is, all of us in doing the deal. No doubt an independent valuation by a corporate banking or accounting firm of international repute of said rights was obtained to ensure BCE’s offer was at or above market. As I say, no doubt it was all kosher.

Later the rights were owned by other entities as BCE sold on, some becoming insolvent in the process with eventually CVC Capital becoming the majority shareholder.

The interesting thing, Hughes writes, is ‘That at the time CVC was seen as taking a big risk- because no major law firm could be found to state categorically that the commercial rights definitely belonged to Bernie to sell. That risk has paid off bigtime for CVC, but there still remains ambiguity about a 100 year deal because of its length. Its validity has not been legally challenged, but there might be grounds for doing so.’ Clearly Liberty were confident enough of what they were purchasing to stump up $US8 billion, mind you. So, it’s a forlorn hope for enthusiasts that the deals can be knocked over or declared null and void. It would be a very brave soul who took such vested interests on.

So, to be clear, the rivers of cash are wide and deep. I, for one, am staggered by BCE’s rise and rise, as a business person his capabilities are once in a century stuff. From nuthin to untold wealth in 20 years, let alone what he did in the next 40 defies belief.

The Halo thing proves Liberty just don’t geddit. Danger is part of what we are attracted to in motor racing, whether we are competitors or spectators.

We want to see dudes wrestling their steed, mano et mano, against the forces of physics and one another with an element of danger. The accidents of Webber, Kubica even the high-speed attempted homicides upon their colleagues inflicted by the likes of Ayrton Senna and Herman The German, ole Schumi, will happen from time to time when ‘shit happens’. Who knows, maybe in its new incarnation the FIA can grow some testicles to deal with the driving transgressions of its stars without fear or favour? A side issue I guess.

Racing is safer than in Tazio’s day and so it should be. My first year of interest in F1 was 1970. Long before I ever saw a car ‘in the aluminium’ I remember thinking ‘what kind of sport is this’ which seems to kill a participant every month or so (Courage, McLaren testing a Can Am McLaren M8D, Rindt all died in 1970), eighteen F1 drivers were killed between 1966 and 1970.

Jackie Stewart’s brave campaign from 1966 for greater safety in cars, circuits and circuit organisation- read marshalling, fire control and adequate on-circuit medical facilities gathered momentum to the extent that motor racing fatalities are now a rarity. But they still occasionally happen and will as there is risk in sports like motor racing as there is in sky diving, scuba diving, rock climbing etc. You cannot race 800 plus bhp open-wheeled cars wheel to wheel safely. Full stop. People will occasionally be killed when the planets are unfavourably aligned. If one doesn’t like that don’t race em. If one doesn’t want to see an accident don’t go along.

Branding practitioners talk about the essentials of a product or service as its ‘Brand Essence’.

This is the guiding light stuff, a filter you apply within a business to decide if what you do or want to change fits- in this case Halos. The Brand Essence of GP racing should include descriptors like speed, danger, excitement, noise, passion, cutting edge, ultimate open-wheel single-seat road-racing cars, sex, extrovert, random, surprising, unpredictable and innovative. There yer go, $50K of consultancy in the 45 seconds it took to type. The point is that if any proposed changes don’t fit with an organisations carefully developed Brand Essence yer don’t do it. So Halos are out as they simply don’t fit within F1’s Brand Essence as defined above.

The Halo is just a step too far. Visually it doesn’t work, we will see even less of the driver than we do now. Halos are another reason for fans to turn off the Teev and not come to the races. And that’s good as Liberty’s earnings will decline and the FIA can buy them back. Or the existing F1 vested interests say ‘f@ck this’ and create a new F1. Sorry that name is taken.

To move on. We don’t own F1- the asset was sold to Bernie who has since made more out of it than the Gross Domestic Product of some small countries. Those who do own the commercial rights have short term interests which history suggests does not improve F1 from an enthusiasts perspective. Sure, every now and again a good decision might be made.

The only way the ‘good guys’ can regain control is buy the rights back or an alternative category be created.

So, lets assume we (the FIA) have bought the rights back, whadda we do then. What is the plan- its easy to criticise, what are we going to do better than the current schmucks in control of the show?

So, what are the new elements of Renaissance Grand Prix (RGP)?…

 Earnings and Ownership..

 The sport will be owned by the FIA- if it acquired the commercial rights even at ‘bargain basement’ the interest on borrowings will be a significant burden for the first decade or so. But that’s ok as we are in it for the long haul- not 4 years or even the 12 years of CVC Capital. The bulk of the revenues, say 40 or 50% of RGP Net Profits should be split up amongst the competing teams on a basis that needs careful thought! Its an important detail mind you, but the principal is the important one, the contestants share most of the spoils. Like any business, the teams need to be profitable and be able to survive year to year. Receiving profits means the ‘renta driver’, a scourge really, would be sidelined. Drivers should be there on merit not because daddy owns an IT Company or because some shitty country buys them the ride.

The balance of F1 revenues becomes part of the FIA ‘consolidated revenue’ but to be specifically allocated to other motor racing initiatives or budgets, not road car stuff. The ‘dividend’ to the FIA for running the show is, say 10% of the earnings. So to be clear. After deduction of funding costs 40-50% goes to the teams, up to 40% for ‘other motor racing categories’ and 10% to the FIA as a return on capital.

So, instead of half F1’s earnings leaving the sport and ending up in the pockets of investors, most of the profits stay within the sport. This bit is the critical aspect as it is the financial foundation upon which the ideas and changes below sit.

The conceptual good sense and equity of this is hopefully readily apparent.

The Cars..

 Where we all get a bit lost, me included,is to suggest F1 cars should be at the cutting edge of new technology. Whilst GP cars have in any era looked like the cutting edge of automotive technology Grand Prix racing has tended to be an ‘early adopter’ of innovations from elsewhere rather than said innovations being first fitted to a GP car.

There may have been an exception or two, in Edwardian times, Ernest Henry’s DOHC engine in the 1912 Peugeot is good example. Why then and not now? Because the major manufacturers were in Grand Prix racing at the time and GP cars were not too far divorced from their road going brethren.

Lets look at just how innovative or cutting edge GP racing has not been.

Remember, in the context of this argument ‘at the cutting edge’ are innovations being developed in F1.

The aircraft industry gave us fuel injection, which was in use at Indy long before F1. Planes also gave us monocoque chassis and disc brakes, the latter appeared on the C Type Jag several years before F1. Turbo-charging was developed in trucks, in the air and pioneered on the road before it got anywhere near a sports-racer or single-seater Renault. Wings appeared on Chapparral’s well before Ferrari/Brabham GP cars in 1968, mind you Michael May played with them on his Porsche in the late 1950’s before Jim Hall embraced them.  Spaceframes were first used in the building industry. Seat belts were in road cars and in Indycars well before F1 where they were mandated in 1968. Modern electronics developments, maybe? Automatic transmissions, nope- in road cars and used in racing by Porsche in the 962 before F1. How about fuel chemistry- maybe but not really, the cocktails the Silver Arrows used pre-war were largely aviation brews. Tyres, well yep, I think so, polymer chemistry advanced as it relates to tyres partially thru motor racing- but not just F1. Racing cars aerodynamics have advanced massively since 1970 but little filters thru to road cars as they are not single seaters and need clearance so ‘ground effects’ are hard to harness  in the average family 4WD. I doubt the ‘F Duct’, an F1 innovation will increase the speed of my Lotus Elise either.

In reality, putting the spin and bullshit to one side F1 is a follower and, sometimes but not always, an early adopter of technology developed elsewhere. F1 is usually not an originator of technology. Which brings us to Hybrids, which F1 adopted well after its application in road cars. Depending upon the reference source the first hybrid was built in 1886 or 1888.

If you accept F1 has rarely been right at the absolute cutting edge of automotive technology, we don’t need to be zealots about that. Lets look as though F1 is at the cutting edge but focus on the spectacle, the sporting contest is what most of us want to see- the whole lot underpinned by engineering excellence.

We don’t need the nexus to technology the rule-makers have sought to do with Hybrids, most of us recall Toyota as the ‘pioneer’ with the Prius in the nineties for goodness sake. That was before some of the current drivers were born.

In changing the rules to make the cars use aspects of current technology the sport may have ‘become more relevant’ but in the process has lost the ‘feel of the earth moving under your feet as the racer is driven on the razors edge of physics’- who gives a rats toss about how much power the hybdrid engine is giving to the front wheels. These current cars, I don’t doubt they are difficult to drive, are shit boring to spectators, knowledgeable and otherwise.

The current rules are way too prescriptive, most say the sport has been at its best when there has been diversity in both the look of the cars and the mechanical packages which are chosen by different marques. So we need less prescriptive rules to allow designers the latitude to explore all kinds of engineering solutions. This great restriction effectively dictates the mechanical and aero approaches used, and forces, as a consequence of such a tightly specified package, the creation of something as incredibly arcane as McLarens 2010 ‘F-Duct’ to obtain a small, but significant performance advantage.

So, to be clear and without wanting to belabour the point- F1 cars have always looked at the cutting edge of automotive technology but in fact have rarely been at its forefront. So, why not focus on cars which;

.look cutting edge and ‘other worldly’

.look different from one another

.make very loud, primeval, socially unacceptable, thrilling sounds which make the hair on the back of your neck stand up

.are demonstrably difficult to drive- the step up from more junior categories should not be easy for anyone other than ‘the gods’

.in every respect have that WOW! factor as they blast past at insane speeds with the driver clearly struggling to maintain control. Senna at Suzuka in a 3.5 litre McLaren Honda is the image in my head

.change the balance of the equation back to the ‘gladitorial’ contest between drivers whilst still having as a foundation stunning engineering.

.eliminate the insanely significant role played by engineers and race strategy during every race

Lets look at some aims, some principles, if not precise rules, those with vastly greater engineering knowledge than mine will need to do the detail of rule drafting.

The cars should be hard to drive and to be seen as such- we all say there needs to be a surfeit of power over mechanical and aerodynamic grip. I’m thinking between 750-850 bhp.

Some invest all of the earths sins in wings which is a tad harsh.

But the wing and underbody aero packages need to be massively restricted and changed to eliminate the role they have played since 1968 and especially since Chapman’s Lotus 78/79 ‘ground effects car’ of 1977/8- all GP cars since are related to these babies. Mind you, because the mechanical package will be ‘free’ in time, there will be far less spent on arcane aerodynamic advances as same will not be the only way to competitiveness in packages which have been hitherto very tightly defined.

The intent is to vastly reduce aerodynamic grip, the wake the cars create is mainly created by wings, and we want cars to able to stay close without losing grip as a result of being in the wake. So the wings are small, tightly controlled ‘trim tabs’ with the cars underbodies providing most of the grip. This solution does not create the bad air behind the car which discourages close racing for the reasons stated.

We need to reduce cornering power and lengthen braking distances, carbon brakes are still allowed. Lets have an excess of power over both mechanical and aerodynamic grip though. The cars are to be very difficult to drive, the emphasis is a total lack of electronic aids, a refocus on core driver skills and technique with mistakes punished by the drivers ability to break things as a consequence of errors. Clutches and gearboxes for example.

‘One make’ anything has been poor for motor-racing including having one provider of tyres. Three tyre contracts will be available, these manufacturers will pay for the pleasure of being involved in F1, and the promotional benefits of victories will return as their will be winners and losers amongst the three said suppliers. For the teams, some will be with the right supplier, some the wrong one in any particular year- this will create desirable performance outcomes by mixing it up.

Engines

 I reckon the first 5 years of RF1 should be a simple engine formula, we need to win back the faithful in that period, knock their socks off and then do something edgy. So, 3 litres or so with a turbo-charged smaller engine option, equivalence factor to be decided and a desired output of circa 850bhp.

I do like the current engine longevity rules and the penalties which go with them- lets hang onto those, its in everyones interests the engines last longer than for shorter times and it puts constraints on the development of expensive ‘hand grenade’ moteurs. The rules I propose above encourages the chasing of very high revs- the need for the engine to last multiple meetings mitigates against that.

All ‘large manufacturers’ will make available ‘engine/transmission assemblies’ to at least one other constructor at prices to be capped. In that manner we are ensuring the ‘small fry’ can get hold of a competitive mechanical package. Remember too, all teams get a share of F1’s income, so, apart from sponsorship the teams will all get a bigger share of the sports income. The income distribution will be biased in favour of the back of the grid teams, which is sort of a tax on the successful who will probably be better sponsored in any event.

From year six, having regained the faithful, we need to get more adventurous though.

Some type of fuel or energy flow formula is the go which should encourage all alternatives to be ‘on the table’.

Conventional normally aspirated engines, turbo-charged ones, hybrids, two and four wheel drive. The lot. Consistent with our Brand Essence the cars need to be loud, fast, edgy, (in look if not in fact) and aesthetically pleasing.

The golden years of F1 diversity have to be the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Can Am of 1966-1970 was rolled gold as well, mainly due to its lack of rules. A bit of free formula thinking on the motive packages- engines and transmissions will, as night follows day produce cars which look different to one another if only for reasons of packaging. So, lets embrace change secure in the knowledge that the big manufacturers have to supply at least one other team with their engine/transmission package.

Again, the flow of F1 earnings remains within the sport so the teams have the incomes to able, maybe in commercial partnership with others, develop innovative ideas

Aerodynamics

The size of both wings and underbodies will be much smaller than now with the objects of stability, not losing grip whilst travelling close to another car, lengthen braking distances and fundamentally have an excess of power over grip in medium fast corners.

It should not be easy for drivers to progress from the more junior formulae to RF1, as stated above

Gearboxes

 Four wheel drive is allowed, as above from year 6 but not years 1 to 5, where conventional rear, two wheel drive is mandated.

With the focus on core driver skills old-school H-pattern changes are compulsory together with driver operated clutches. The notion is to be able to break a gearbox, clutch and over-rev an engine. Yep, its old school but consistent with a focus on core driver skills- those skills include ‘shiftin gears yourself. Maybe sequential boxes if I have to compromise but I’d rather not.

Weight

 Same weight for all cars years 1-5, perhaps differentials in weight after year 6 as part of the equivalence rules between the different combinations contemplated above

Aids

No DRS, ABS, KERS, active suspension, push-button passing or any of that absolute crap. The difficulty with this stuff is to me is that its all or nothing. We either allow the lot- active suspension was far from a gadget, it had applicability to road cars, its impact on performance of the Williams was immense but the decision to ban it was in essence around cost. The sport could not afford it. So, if it is all or nothing, I’m for nothing.

Sporting Regulations..

Test days of only a nominated amount seems a wise cost saving ideas but the number of test days to be reviewed and increased. The teams have greater income and will be able to afford test. Three tyre suppliers means the need for more testing- as does making the cars harder to drive. Blooding drivers needs more test days

Communication

No radio communication, pit boards only. We are back to the gladiatorial contest with the driver having a tank of fuel, a set of tyres and then his brain to do the best he can rather than the current rubbish of team strategy determining the race result. This gradual shift is some of the nonsense to attempt to spice up the show and is totally out of keeping with our F1 Brand Essence.

The driver should be able to win or lose a race, the driver should not lose the race because his team manager belches at the wrong moment and so botches the call on a pitstop. Its bollocks this nonsense.

Racing and Practice Sessions at GP’s

 Have been rationed down it seems to me in recent years.

There will be two untimed sessions on Thursday with all sessions on Friday and Saturday morning timed for grid positions. Pole scores a championship point

The final event on Saturday is a 50 mile preliminary race (Petite Prix!) with championship points awarded from first to sixth place (9/6/4/3/2/1 points) with an additional point for fastest lap

Sunday Grand Prix

One 30 minute warm up / test session on Sunday morning

The GP to be a race of 150 miles on Sunday afternoon with points awarded first to sixth as above but double points including fastest lap. No refuelling for pitstops allowed. The same type of tyres (compound) for the GP to be used as during the shorter race

As stated above the emphasis is back on the driver to manage the races himself, look after the tyres, make the onboard adjustments he can, not on sparkling up the show by making pitstops and potentially losing the race because of them. A consequence will be to make the races easier to follow for spectators at the circuit and on TV.

The emphasis of a GP weekend is getting greater value for the punter, more laps for the price of an entry ticket- which will reduce because our business model won’t be as greedy. We want more on more on track time and a second race, it gives the spectators a reason to buy at least a two day ticket.

Telemetry

One way- from car to pit

Public Relations

No flunkies at the circuit looking after and monitoring drivers every utterance and movement.

Half they time the drivers look and sound as much like corporate accountants as racing drivers. David Coulthard was so polished he could have been the press spokesman for a US President (not the current nutbag mind you) We need drivers, some at least to be Innes Ireland, Eddie Irvine and James Hunt in style- brash, unpredictable, independent of thought word and deed, perhaps a bit uncouth sometimes and preferably rampant rooters like the days of old. At 15 I absolutely wanted to be James Hunt in 1973- he had it all. Pick one of the current pericks you would want to be like?!

In all seriousness the whole show is way too controlled, a GP weekend is like a big, carefully orchestrated corporate event, some of the ‘random’ is necessary to mix it up. The standard prize giving ceremony with the crappy music and insipid, anodyne interviews afterwards are a waste of time. Getting rid of all the naughty boy ‘bringing the sport into disrepute’ rules will encourage people to say what they think and occasionally act like young males do juiced with adrenalin- with impetuousness.

So there you have it my friends, its all pretty easy to change the show when you control it and you don’t have shareholder interests to worry about.

I spose the sport just splutters on really, spitting off heaps of cash to owners with no interest in the sport, make that business, other than financial ones. All of the above is just a pipedream, still its been cleansing to think about what I would do should I have control! Don’t get too hung up on my RGP rule ideas, I am interested in getting others thoughts, the main game is to regain control of the commercial rights and the rivers of cash which need to be kept within the sport to feed it. The sport is then self-sustaining to a large extent.

It goes without saying that the dangers ye olde Halos are trying to prevent are minor compared with the inherent terrors of open-wheel, very high powered cars racing so closely together. Lets hope Liberty jump aboard that one, to turn F1 into a closed wheel category toot-sweet thereby hastening the demise of F1 as we know it even faster then I could have hoped! The more the owners of the current paradigm shag Grand Prix racing over the better. Lets all help hasten its demise by not going to GP’s and not watching the boring coverage.

‘The King is Dead. Long Live The King’; Renaissance GP can take its place rightfully owned by the FIA who should never have sold it in the first place- where was the much-maligned whacko, Jean-Marie Balestre just when we needed him most?…

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Denny Hulme stands with ‘his’ two Chev ZL1 aluminium-blocked cars at the Riverside Times Grand Prix in 1968…

Both mighty fine cars, an M8A McLaren would be far rarer than an ‘ally-block Corvette but i bet the factory didn’t sell too many of them. You could option the engine in a Camaro for a while as well, here in Australia Bob Jane won an Australian Touring Car Championship with one so equipped in 1971.

The M8A’s were dominant in Bruce and Denny’s hands in 1968…

Credit…

The Enthusiast Network

Tailpiece…

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monza bros

Siffert, Pedro chillin’, Redman and Kinnunen- JW squad 1970 (Schlegelmilch)

The JW Gulf boys relax before the off, the winning duo were Pedro Rodriguez and Leo Kinnunen…

There was only one Porsche 917 amongst the first nine cars home at the duration of the Monza endurance classic on 25 April but the German flat-12 was first, Pedro Rodriguez and Leo Kinnunen were happy winners.

Three Ferrari 512S followed them home, the Ignazio Giunti/Nino Vaccarella/Chris Amon Spyder 1.5 minutes adrift of the John Wyer Porsche.

It wasn’t a happy season for Ferrari in sportscars. Supremely competitive in F1 with the first of its flat-12 engined cars, the 312B, the 5 litre V12 512S really didn’t receive the development it needed to knock off the Porsches.

The German cars mainly raced at 4.5 litres in capacity that year but it was still more than enough. A win at Sebring in the second round of the Manufacturers Championship was Ferrari’s best result, and the flat-8 3 litre, nimble, light Porsche 908/3 mopped up on the tight, twisty circuits unsuited to the 917. The dudes from Stuttgart had the game well covered.

seppi

Seppi in conversation, and for the horologists he is sporting a nice Heuer Autavia chronograph  (Schlegelmilch)

The speed of Ferrari’s evolved 512S, the 512M was clear at the Osterreichring 1000 Km in October, so 1971 looked to be a great battle of two amazing 5 litre cars but effectively the Scuderia waved a white surrender flag before the seasons commencement.

They chose to race a new 3 litre flat-12 engined prototype, the 312P in 1971 with an eye to the rule change to cars of that capacity in 1972, rather than the factory race the 512M.

The Ferrari privateers did their best against the Panzers but it was ineffective, the speed of the beautifully prepared and superbly Mark Donohue driven Penske 512M duly noted. The 1971 endurance season could have been the greatest ever had Scuderia Ferrari raced those cars!

monza car

Pedro drives, Leo and the boys ride

Back to Monza 1970. The other ‘works’ Porsches were well back- the JW 917K of Jo Siffert and Brian Redman finished 12th, the Porsche Salzburg 917K’s of Vic Elford/Kurt Ahrens DNF with puncture damage after 92 laps and the 1970 Le Mans winning combo of Hans Hermann and Richard Attwood were out with engine failure on lap 63.

Still there was strength in numbers, Pedro and Leo were there at the end, in front…

Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmich

Tailpiece: Tifosi @ Monza, not as many as if a 512S won…

monza

(Schlegelmilch)

 

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There is no such thing as too many shots of the great Brit in a Maserati 250F, and I have posted a few…

According to the photo caption the meeting is on 7 June 1954 at Goodwood. The meeting’s F1 race was the ‘BARC Trophy’, Reg Parnell won it in a Scuderia Ambrosiana Ferrari 625, but Moss wasn’t entered, so, a bit of a mystery.

Perhaps it’s the ‘Goodwood Trophy’ on 25 September 1954, he won that event in 250F #2508 and carried his #7 personal preference race number.

Credit…

Universal Images Group

senna spa

Slightly surreal shot of Ayrton Senna in his Lotus 97T Renault during pre-season testing at Spa in early 1985, the line clearly marked through light snow…

Not a good idea to get off line! These slippery test conditions were of great use come 15 September when the race itself was run in wet conditions, the Brazilian demonstrated his mastery and deft touch by winning the race from Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost, Williams FW10 Honda and McLaren MP42B TAG Porsche respectively.

Credit…

The Cahier Archive

What is he on about this time you may well ask? Rear ends my friends are one of my favourite parts…

Location of same is one of the most critical bits of their effectiveness. When I spotted this cutaway of a 1958 Grand Prix Vanwall, I thought what a wonderful pot-pourri of all of the bibs and bobs which makes a front-engined cars rear end provide grip, stability and control as le pilot applies the motive forces via the throttle to the road.

One of my current obsessions is the brilliant work of ‘cutaway artists’ like Vic Berris, Theo Page, Paolo D’Alessio, Claude La Tourette, Brian Hatton, Bill Bennett, Tony Matthews, Bruno Betti, Giuseppe Cavara, Yosihiro Inomoto and others. I post their work regularly on my primotipo Facebook page, which is always well received. An ‘eyeful is better than an earful’ in terms of understanding what makes something tick. My simple little brain cannot conceive just how they conceptualise their work let alone create it.

So, to my reaction- ‘Wow, that IS a textbook illustration of the way to locate, brilliantly, a live rear axle. Or in this case, a de Dion axle. Vanwall’s Colin Chapman chassis design was the state of the art in that immediate pre mid-engine era, whilst noting Cooper’s first F1 championship victory was also in 1958. That was Moss’ win aboard a T43 in Argentina. Vanwall won the Manufacturers Championship that year whilst Mike Hawthorn took the drivers title aboard a Ferrari Dino 246, in 1958 trim the Italian car also utilised a de Dion rear end.

Chapman’s spaceframe designs, the art he was honing on his Lotus sportscars was first applied to a single-seater for someone else- Tony Vandervell.

The de Dion axle is clear in the cutaway, as are the inboard disc brakes. The de Dion tubes upwards and downwards movement is controlled by a Watts Linkage, the springing medium is a coil spring/damper or Chapman Strut. Lateral movement is controlled by a Panhard Rod. Fore and aft movement of the de Dion tube is controlled by two Radius Rods extending forward of the de Dion tube to the cars chassis on each side of the racer.

The engineering of these cars was first class, the execution of tool-room quality, check out the article I wrote on Vanwall a while back which explores the cars in more detail by following the link at the articles end.

Art Credit…

The irony, in naming all of the talented cutaway dudes above is that the drawing, published on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ is not credited! If any reader knows the artist please advise me and I will update the caption accordingly. The chap is a skilful one whoever he is.

Vanwall chassis ‘VW4’, as per the fuel tank tag- said aluminium tank beautifully fabricated and simply located to the spaceframe chassis by rubber bungee straps. de Dion axle, inboard discs and Chapman Strut- it looks like a simple co-axial coil spring/damper unit to me! Two forward facing radius rods also clear at lower right (Ludvigsen)

Nomenclature…

James Watt patented his mechanical linkage in 1784 when it was described in the patent specifications of his steam engine. The Panhard Rod was invented by the French automobile manufacturer at the dawn of the twentieth century. Whilst named after Jules-Albert de Dion, the co-founder of De Dion-Bouton, ‘the tube’ was invented by one of his partners, Charles Trepardoux for use on the company’s steam tricycles. ‘Chunky’ Chapman’s strut was first used on his 1957 Lotus 12 Climax F2 and later F1 car but the design’s origin rests in the near vertical coil spring struts on William Stout’s 1932 Stout Scarab. Alexander Graham Bell developed spaceframes based on tetrahedral geometry (triangular pyramid) for nautical and aeronautical engineering purposes between 1898 and 1908. There aint nothin’ new under the sun my friends, rarely anyway…

Superb detail of fabrication and finish down to ‘Vanwall’ spinner cap. Disc brakes are Goodyear designs made by Vanwall. Otherwise description as above (Ludvigsen)

1958 Belgian GP, Spa, 15 June…

The photos in support of the drawing were taken in the Spa pits by historian/author Karl Ludvigsen.

Clearly, one of the chassis photographed is ‘VW4, raced by Stuart Lewis-Evans that weekend and famous in the pantheon of Vanwalls as the first British car to win a championship grand prix- the ’57 British at Aintree in the hands of both Brooks and Moss. Sadly, this car was destroyed in the October 1958 Casablanca, Moroccan GP accident which befell Stuart Lewis-Evans and from which he later died.

The photos are probably all of ‘VW4’ as it was clearly unclothed at the time. ‘VW5’ was raced by Brooks and ‘VW10’ by Moss that weekend. Interestingly the Vanwall numbered #48 in the background of the front of the car shot (at the end of the article) is not listed in the race results- perhaps the car is a spare or had not yet had its Spa race number applied. Race numbers for the weekend were Brooks #4, Moss #2 and Lewis-Evans #6..

It was a great race for the Acton team with Tony Brooks winning from Q5, Stuart Lewis Evans was 3rd from slot 11 with team leader Moss out on lap 1 after muffing the fourth to fifth shift exiting Stavelot and popping the engine. A mitigating factor was the interminable time spent on the grid which boiled engines and drivers nerves- pole-sitter Mike Hawthorn’s Ferrari Dino 246 was bubbling before the flag was dropped but survived to the end of the race, but only just, as a piston failed heading down the hill to the finish line on the last lap, in 2nd place.

In an amazing finish Brooks gearbox was tightening, some way towards failure, Hawthorn had an engine pop just before the line and Lewis-Evans finished with a broken right front upper wishbone. The first healthy car to complete the distance was the ‘Chapman Strutted’ Lotus 12 of Cliff Allison in 4th place, the little cars Coventry Climax FPF four cylinder engine giving away some capacity to most of the opposition, racing as it was at 2.2 litres. It was a mighty fine performance by Allison and the tiny little Lotus on a supreme power circuit, the ultimate test of high speed precision and testicular size!

This shot shows the attachment of the de Dion axle to the upright or hub, parallel radius rods also clear. Favoured wheel combinations in 1958 were old fashioned wires at the front for greater driver feel and magnesium wheels at rear (Ludvigsen)

In fact the Vanwalls had the speed for most of the weekend in a close contest for pole, Moss was so confident of his time not being bettered that he/the team made the decision to sit out the last session only to have the Ferrari’s of Hawthorn and Musso better his times. In a sign of a different era, Denis Jenkinson in his MotorSport report of the race notes that ‘Having nothing to drive (as his Vanwall was in bits for final race preparation) Maserati lent Moss a new experimental sportscar they had with them, this being a V12 cylinder 3 litre engine in a modified 300S chassis’, imagine that happening today! Still, Stirling was a Maser racer throughout his career.

Bibliography…

The GP Encyclopaedia, MotorSport July 1958

Photo Credits…

Karl Ludvigsen, The Revs Institute

Tailpiece: It seems a lost opportunity not to show the gubbins at the Vanwall’s front in addition to the back, Spa ’58…

Water radiator and behind it the engine oil dry sump, engine itself mounted well behind the front axle line. Aluminium alloy head and Rolls Royce ally block, in 1958 form the Bosch injected, DOHC, 2 valve, 4 cylinder 2.5 litre engine developed circa 280bhp on pump fuel- down from circa 290bhp on alcohol. Wire/Alloy wheels referred to in shot above shown on the two cars in shot (Ludvigsen)

 

hawkes-bathurst-cooper-58

Tom Hawkes, Cooper T23 Holden Repco, AGP Bathurst 1958 (unattributed)

Tom Hawkes racing his way up Mount Panorma towards a giant killing 3rd place during the 1958 Australian Grand Prix at Bathurst…

He finished behind Lex Davison’s winning Ferrari 500/625 and Ern Seeliger’s 4.6 litre fuel injected Chev V8 engined Maybach. Hawkes’ Cooper T23 is the ex-Brabham car chassis # CB/1/53 i wrote about not so long ago. Click here to read the article;

https://primotipo.com/2016/06/24/jacks-altona-grand-prix-and-cooper-t23-bristol/

Tom replaced the cars Bristol engine and fitted a Repco Hi-Power, Phil Irving designed head breathing much life into the standard 6 cylinder, OHV, inline Holden 6 cylinder ‘Grey Motor’. The engine raced at 2.3 litres in capacity.

The interesting thing is exactly where on Mount Panorama the shot is taken. The right hander at the top of Mountain Straight perhaps, ‘Quarry Corner’? All suggestions taken. Its a quintessential Australian country scene, in the absence of a crowd it could be anywhere!

Photo Credit…

Unsure, intrigued to know who took the wonderful shot