Archive for the ‘F1’ Category

lotus spa

(unattributed)

Team Lotus in the Spa pitlane, Saturday June 12 1965: the 33’s of #17 Jim Clark, Mike Spence and the teams spare chassis…

Sunday was wet, Jimmy ran away with the race from grid #2, Mike was 7th from grid 12. Graham Hill started from pole in his BRM P261 but finished 4th, Jackie Stewart was 2nd in the other BRM and Bruce McLaren 3rd in a Cooper T77 Climax.

spa start

Lap 1 and Graham Hill’s BRM P261 leads into Eau Rouge from pole. Stewart’s sister BRM then Ginther’s white Honda RA272, Siffert’s Rob Walker Brabham BT11 Climax, Surtees Ferrari 158 on the outside, Gurney’s Brabham BT11 Climax, McLarens Cooper T77 Climax and the rest…(unattributed)

spa clark

Daunting in the dry positively frightening in the wet. Spa. Clark speeds to victory, he took the ’65 drivers title in his Lotus 33 Climax (unattributed)

Tailpiece: Alone in the Ardennes Forest, Jack Brabham…

brabham spa

Brabham, La Source hairpin, Spa 1965- 4th in his Brabham BT11 Climax (unattributed)

 

 

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Rene Vincents Peugeot GP car poster of 1919 is one of the illustrators most famous artworks…

Born in 1879, Rene studied at the famous Ercole des Beaux Arts in Rue Bonaparte, Paris initially studying architecture but later switching to graphic art and ceramics courses. He later contributed fashion illustrations to some of the best known magazines of the day and designed a swag of advertisements and posters for Bugatti, Peugeot, Michelin and Shell. Most of his work was in the art deco style for which he was noted.

By 1919 the war was over and the achievements of Peugeot’s epochal double overhead cam cars of 1913 were well in the past, but the influence of which we still feel now. Vincent chose this series of cars to make an amazingly impactful statement about Peugeot’s future. I wrote an article about these seminal racers a while back, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/12/11/191213-peugeot-gp-car-especially-its-engines/

Rene was a keen automobilist and said to be one of the first Parisians to have both a drivers license and a garage to house his car, clearly his graphic design endeavours were lucrative, he died in 1936.

Credit…

Rene Vincent

Tailpiece: 1913 3 Litre DOHC 4 Cylinder Peugeot Engine…

engine blue

(Automobile Year #10)

amon 1963 agp cooper

(David Mist)

Chris Amon, 19 years of age, awaits the start of the 1963 Australian Grand Prix, Warwick Farm, Sydney. Cooper T53 Climax…

Amon didn’t finish in his ‘Scuderia Veloce’ entered Cooper, the cars fuel pump failed after 24 laps. Jack Brabham won the race in his Brabham BT4 Climax, Amon’s team-leader and ‘SV’ owner David McKay finished 4th in another Brabham BT4 Climax.

I wrote an article about McKay a while back; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

These were the early days of a very successful collaboration between Amon and McKay which resulted in the pair winning the 1969 Tasman Series in the fabulous Ferrari Dino 246T. Chris was the first of many drivers the racer/writer/team owner nurtured over the years.

In Amon’s case it was at a stage of his life when McKay was about to vacate the driving seat and evolve into a new stage of his career as owner/entrant of cars driven by others. Amon, then racing a Maserati 250F in NZ tested McKay’s Cooper T51 at Warwick Farm in August 1962 and contested Australian Gold Star rounds later in the season at Mallala and Sandown, non-starting in both but taking a strong 3rd place at Warwick Farm in the Hordern Trophy behind Bib Stillwell and John Youl in October.

This was all valuable experience before the NZ and Australian Internationals with McKay entering the Kiwi in a later model T53 Cooper.

He was 7th from grid 6 in the NZ GP at the brand new Pukekohe circuit on 5 January, and had DNF’s with ignition and gearbox dramas at Levin, Wigram and Teretonga. He qualified 4th, 6th and 7th. In Australia he had slightly more luck.

He contested the AGP at Warwick Farm, for grid 5 and DNF fuel pump. At the Lakeside International he was 4th from grid 6, his best result. In Tasmania, at the South Pacific Championship at Longford he was 7th from grid 8 and at the Sandown International, the Australian Grand Prix, he finished 6th from grid 12 in the last meeting of his tour on 10 March.

It was a critical period in Amon’s progression as a driver. Chris raced his ex-Owen Racing Organisation Maserati 250F in the first of the Kiwi Internationals at Renwick in November 1962. He then graduated to McKay’s Cooper and so impressed Reg Parnell (who ran Lola Mk4A’s for John Surtees and Tony Maggs in Australasia) that summer in a car that was not the latest bit of kit, and 2.5 Coventry Climax FPF powered rather than the 2.7 variant used by much of the opposition, that he was off to Europe for the rest of 1963. 7th place in the British and French Grands Prix were his best results in the Parnell Racing Lola Mk4A Climax V8 that season.

His climb went all the way to the top echelon of Grand Prix Racing of course, championship Grand Prix win or not, he was undisputably a ‘Top 5 In The World’ pilot in several seasons during the 1967-72 period…

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Chris Amon, Cooper T53 Climax Lakeside 1963. 4th in the race won by John Surtees’ Lola Mk4A Climax (Bruce Thomas)

Cooper T53 Climax ‘F2-8-60’…

The car was built by the CT ‘Tommy’ Atkins team for Bruce McLaren to drive but using the identity of one of the 1960 works F1 cars. (Jacks 1960 chassis)

The chassis was either built late in 1960 for McLaren to race in 1961 UK Intercontinental races or at the end of the season for his use in the 1962 New Zealand and Australian Internationals, depending upon the account you reference.

It was then sold to David McKay for the 1962 Australian Gold Star Series, raced by Amon in the ’63 Kiwi/Australian Internationals and then passed into the hands of a succession of Kiwi owners; Bill Thomason in 1963, Feo Stanton and Ian Rorison 1964 or 1965 and rebuilt as the Rorstan Sports with 2.7-litre Climax engine, then to D Lupp in 1970. Ted Giles bought it in 1978, it’s still in the families ownership in 2012.

Credits…

David Mist, Powerhouse Museum, Bruce Thomas, Hammo

Bibliography…

oldracingcars.com for the chassis history and race results, sergent.com

Tailpiece: Amon’s Scuderia Veloce Cooper T53 Climax 2.5 prowling the Longford paddock, he was 7th in the ‘South Pacific Championship’ race won by Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T62 Climax 2.7…

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(Hammo)

 

 

hawt hill

I don’t think of Mike Hawthorn as a Lotus driver but here he is with Graham Hill, rather similar in age, they were both born in 1929…

Amazing really, grafter Hill worked hard to get into motor racing, his GP career started not long before Hawthorn’s finished and went well into the 1970’s, not to forget Graham’s Le Mans and Indy wins of course. Mike’s racing entree was smoothed by his fathers wealth, it’s intriguing to guess what he may have achieved had he raced on into the 1960’s and applied his considerable skills to Chapman’s works of Lotus art.

Both Hill and Hawthorn are English to the core albeit completely different charcters. And personalities they certainly were. It’s a wonderful shot.

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Hawthorn, Lotus 11 Climax, Oulton Park, Cheshire April 1955 (Popperfoto)

The event or reason for the Hill/Hawthorn shot is unrecorded but dated 12 April 1956 as is the photo of Hawthorn with Stirling Moss below. Its dated 11 May 1953, i am interested if anybody can assist with the places and occasions…

hawt moss

Credits…

Getty/Manchester Daily Express, Popperfoto

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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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

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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)

 

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Emerson Fittipaldi lost in thoughts of set-up changes during Jarama practice, McLaren M23 Ford 27 April 1974…

This is a ‘signature’ Rainer Schlegelmilch shot, Emerson had an ok weekend, 3rd behind the Ferrari 312B3’s of Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni, valuable points in his successful quest to win his second drivers title.

Credit…

Rainer Schlegelmilch

James Hunt and Brendan McInerney looking confident before the start of the 1973 British F3 season with a brand new March 723, Bicester 1 March…

They were not newcomers to March having driven works 713M’s in 1971- Hunt’s was a paid drive, Brendan was paying his way, under the banner of ‘Rose Bearings-Team Baty Group’. In Autosport journalist Ian Phillips 1971 F3 season review, his pantheon of drivers of the season had Hunt at #5. Phillips wrote that he had been ‘ one of the disappointments of the year. The season started well enough but suddenly a run of accidents and mechanical problems struck. It seemed he was a victim of his own enthusiasm but he really suffered at the hands of those less experienced than himself who by the nature of F3 were able to mix it with the quicker drivers. When he was able to get clear he proved that he was capable of showing everybody the way round and hopefully things will turn out better next season.’

Phillips Top 3 for ’71 were David Walker, Jody Scheckter and Roger Williamson- all future F1 drivers of course. In fact Walker made his F1 debut in 1971, his potential victory aboard the 4WD, gas turbine powered Lotus 56B, in the wet at Zandvoort one of thousands of motor racing mighta-beens! McInerney finished 6th in the BRSCC / MCD North Central Lombard F3 Championship with Hunt 8th  and also 10th in the more prestigious BRSCC / MCD F3 Championship with Brendan 20th. So, the sad news for James was another year in F3- the good news was he still had his works drive…

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This very famous shot of young James Hunt and a gorgeous leggy lady was taken at Brands on 17 August 1969. Despite the obvious distraction Hunt drove his Brabham BT23B to 3rd place in the Lombard F3 Championship round, Emerson Fittipaldi won it in a Jim Russell Lotus 59 Ford (unattributed)

1972 was to be rather a difficult season for them, despite high expectations, especially on Hunt’s part. The duos first race as members of the STP March Racing Team was at Brands on March 5, their last at Monaco on 13 May. In the ten meetings they raced the works 723, the best result was Hunt’s 3rd at Mallory Park amongst a swag of DNQ’s and DNF’s due to accidents.

A year later, on June 3 1973 Hunt ran as high as 6th in the main race at Monaco on the Sunday, the F1 Monaco Grand Prix that is, before the engine in his Hesketh Racing March 731 Ford failed. The stuff of movies really! Hunt was out of a job at March after Monaco ’72 and a front-runner upon his Championship Grand Prix debut at Monaco in a customer March 12 months later.

Its interesting to look at that year, ‘Monaco to Monaco’ as context and background to the charismatic, driven champions subsequent achievements. Only a ‘Hunt true believer’ would have thought it possible to get into F1, let alone win a World Championship in those difficult months of mid-1972 when motor racing oblivion seemed the most likely outcome for James.

The 1972 March F3 efforts of Hunt and McInerney need to be put into perspective, ‘The mechanical shortcomings, political manoeuvring, dissent and strife within the team caused Autosport to describe the 1972 works STP March effort as ‘shambolic’…The…723 cars were plagued by inconsistent handling characteristics and a shortage of straight line speed’ Gerard Donaldson’s James Hunt biography says.

March were in big trouble with their F1 program in 1972, Ronnie Peterson had been a consistent front-runner in 1971 in the wonderful, unconventional 711 Ford, much was expected of March in 1972.

The 721X Ford low polar moment, Alfa Romeo gearbox’d (Alfa gears and diff in a March case) design was a dismal failure, even Ronnie Peterson could not drive around its shortcomings. Designer, Robin Herd later put the problems of the car down to issues with the gearbox- its gearchange, lack of ratios, differential problems. Robin also acknowledged his failure to design the car around the needs of the customer Goodyear tyres. In essence too much load was on the front of the car which overheated the tyres and caused excessive understeer.

A quick fix, it took only 9 days to build the first one for Mike Beuttler!, was the March 721G, essentially a 722 F2 car to which was attached a Ford DFV, Hewland FG400 ‘box and additional fuel tankage. In fact, Herd points out, from then on that philosophy of the F2 car design of each year forming the basis of March’ simple and often competitive Grand Prix cars for the period of the original founders ownership of the company served them quite well given the budgetary constraints they always had.

The point is that Robin Herd’s and others time was sucked up in the F1 effort which meant the 723 F3 and 722 F2 cars did not get the development attention they needed. Both inherently were not as good cars as the 1971 F3/F2 713M and 712M were. In addition, in F3, the GRD 723 and Ensign LMN3 were very quick little cars, drivers like Roger Williamson, who could afford to do so, backed by Tom Wheatcroft as he was, decamped from their March cars to GRD’s. The running of the March F3 team had also been contracted out and the preparation of the cars was not up to snuff.

Hunts first race at Mallory yielded 3rd but he was excluded when his engine restrictor did not hold the required air pressure. His best efforts at Brands, the next meeting were a distant 4th and 5th. At Snetterton the car wandered alarmingly all over the road- he was 8th. He tangled with 2 other cars at Oulton Park but bounced back to 3rd at Mallory Park and thrilled the crowd , his duel with Roger Williamson the races highlight. The two following races at Silverstone yielded 7th and an accident when a spinning car punted his March hard off the circuit into an earth bank. Before he could drive it again he was fired by March.

The back story to this is that the two 723’s failed to front at Zandvoort in early May, ostensibly because new bodywork was being developed to give the car more straight line speed. But Hunt, at the circuit as a spectator, given his car had not arrived heard rumours that March, chronically short of funds, had been approached by Ford Germany with an offer to run their protégé, Jochen Mass. This was not good for James as Brendan was paying March whilst in James’ case March were paying him…

Brands BRSCC F3 C’ship R1 19 March 1972. Hunt’s works March from Colin Vandervell Ensign LNF3 Ford and Ian Ashley Royale RP11 Ford. Hunt was 5th in the race won by Tom Pryce Royale RP11 Ford (Getty)

Roll on Monaco.

Hunt had tried to contact the chiefs at Bicester but could not get hold of anybody to find out what was going on. Then the F3 cars did not arrive in time for Monaco first practice, critical on this tight demanding circuit for the most important F3 race of the year. Late that night the transporter arrived with two cars which had not been adequately prepared- the mechanic, tired from the trip driving the truck went to bed. Furious, Hunt consulted his former team manager Chris Marshall- who happened to have a spare car as one of his drivers had his licence suspended. They decided that if James’ works car was not ready in the morning James would drive the Marshall car- this is what occurred, Hunt then qualified it.

Whilst Hunt was aboard the Marshall 713M awaiting his heat a missive arrived from March Director, Max Mosely to the effect that Hunt drive the works car or leave the team. By that stage James was certain he was being manoeuvred out of the team or would be sacked anyway so he decided to race the 713M which he promptly stuffed into a barrier- partially at least given the lead up to the race none of which put the driver in the best frame of mind to excel!

Several days later March announced Hunt’s dismissal and Mass’ appointment with McInerney also departing given that he thought the car horrendous and the team terrible! Mosely, Donaldson writes, ‘admitted the fault at Monaco, the delay in preparing the car and the failure to communicate with Hunt, lay with the factory, but the March directors felt it was wrong for their sponsors that Hunt should race for another team. This, and the recent lack of results had brought about the firing. Besides Mosely offered, Hunt would probably go much better without the pressures of being in a works team’, no doubt said with all of the sincerity lawyers possess…

In reality, putting contractual obligations and morality to one side!, the decision was an easy one for Max Mosely to make as he had Ford Germany keen to pay him to put Jochen Mass into James car. March needed the cash desperately so it was a ‘no brainer’ for Max to tip James out of the ride. Russell Wood drove the other works car, with both drivers failing to impress much during the rest of the year.

The long and the short of it was that the ‘bright eyed and bushy tailed lads’ were out of a drive mid-season.

In the interim James raced a Chris Marshall ‘Equipe La Vie Claire International’ F3 March 713M  to 5th place at Chimay on 21 May, it was during that meeting the world changed for Hunt.

James popped the year old 713M 2nd on the grid with Hunt running 2nd with 3 laps to go when a tyre started to deflate but he still finished 5th. Amongst those who noticed the performance that weekend was ‘Bubbles’ Horsley.

Hesketh Racing was formed to run Anthony ‘Bubbles’ Horsley in F3, they had been running a Dastle Mk9 and were looking for another driver for the 2nd car. In addition ‘Bubbles’ was not really up to it- Steve Thomson was engaged to race the car at Monaco as Horsley was unlikely to qualify for this elite race. Hunt needed a drive, Hesketh wanted a driver, the Hesketh team, funded by the young English aristocrat, Lord Alexander Hesketh, at the time were regarded as a bit of a joke, it was not necessarily the opportunity which other drivers may have sought- but there was a happy alignment of the planets between the circumstances of Hunt, Horsley and Hesketh.

Hunt raced Marshall’s 713M at Mallory Park the following week on 29 May to 10th place- in 2nd place was Alan Jones in James’ STP March 723- the best result the Australian had for quite some while! The Melburnian was clearly sussing alternative chassis to the Brabham BT38 he had been running, he purchased a GRD 372 shortly thereafter mind you! An astute choice, it was with a GRD 373 that he did so well in F3 in 1973.

Team Hesketh Dastle Mk9 Ford’s, Hunt on the inside, Bubbles on the outside, Druids Hill, Brands Hatch, British GP meeting, July 1972. It’s early in qualifying, Horsley has not yet damaged his car, an even bigger accident awaits Hunt in the race- collision with Keele’s Lotus 69. Roger Williamson took the win in a GRD 372 Ford. Dastle were built by Geoff Rumble- orthodox monocoque, outboard suspension, Mk9 Hewland box- cars held back by budgets, insufficient testing and ordinary engines (Dent)

Hunt first raced a Hesketh Dastle at Silverstone on 11 June, it was memorable as Hesketh recounts in Donaldson’s book. ‘The first race I saw him drive for me was in the wet at Silverstone. He actually took the lead, which we had never done before, indeed we’d never even been near the front of the grid. But when he was leading it was backwards- because he’d spun. He must have travelled about 40 yards in this way- then crashed into the pitwall right in front of me, which I wasn’t impressed by’.

James raced the car at Thruxton on 18 June to 10th  and then had an even worse accident than at Silverstone which destroyed his car during the British GP support event at Brands Hatch on 14/15 July. Bubbles car was damaged in a qualifying prang with another racer and then Hunt had an accident which could have killed him. He was closely following another car which spun as a result of a suddenly deflating tyre, Hunt spun his car to avoid it, made contact with it and the Dastle was launched skywards, completing some mid-air aerobatics then landed, upside down astride the barrier on one side of the circuit- the engine and gearbox on the other side of the track.

Hunt was uninjured in the accident, the situation worsened when the Mini he was driving had a head on collision with a Volvo which was being driven on the wrong side of the road, on the way home from the circuit. ‘…bloodied but unbowed, James, who treated himself with emergency first aid in the form of a pint of beer from a nearby pub, was carted off to hospital…In an effort to cheer him up, some of his F3 mates procured a female ‘specialist’ to administer to the needs of the wounded driver in his hospital bed. When a shocked matron entered the room and discovered James, again with a pint of beer in his hand, and the lady engaged in a private therapy session he was sent packing for his flagrant misuse of visiting hour privileges’- I had forgotten just how amusing the Donaldson book is.

It was effectively the end of Hesketh’s F3 team. Hunt was 35th in his final race in a cobbled together Dastle at Mallory Park on 25 July.

Hunt, March 712M Ford ahead of Lauda, works March 722 Ford at Oulton Park in the final round of the British F2 Championship on 16 September 1972. Hunt finished a splendid 3rd behind Peterson and Lauda in the works March 722’s- and having diced with Ronnie in the latter stages of the race. Impressive run in the Brian Hart tweaked 1790cc BDA engined year old March  (unattributed)

The year looks fairly shitful at this point does it not!? The ‘Hunt The Shunt’ epithet seemed an apt one.

Then Hunt and Hesketh doubled their bets, with a couple of damaged Dastles in his garage. Hunt had had enough of four years in F3, he decided it was time to go F2, but to do so there was the small matter of a car, engine and all the other bits and pieces necessary.

Hunt and Chris Marshall obtained the loan of an F2 March 712M for the rest of the year after threatening legal action against March for breach of Hunt’s contract. Max Mosely conceded the potential liability and was quick to offer a car Hunt knew was sitting in March’s Bicester factory. From Max’ perspective to give them a car for the balance of the season to mollify the pair of vexatious litigants was smart. And who knows, they may do well! The Ford BDA engine fitted to the car was Hesketh’s. Wisely, or luckily it was a 1790cc unit, those who ran the BDA at close to 2 litres that year had plenty of engine problems, their simply was not enough meat in Fords cast iron ‘711M’ block to run the bore size needed to get to the F2 class capacity limit. The plan was to contest the remaining rounds of the European F2 Championship, that year won by Mike Hailwood in a Surtees TS10 Ford BDA.

At that point Hunt showed what he could do- and in races of longer duration. It is almost as though James knew ‘It Was Now Or Never’- his reputation was shot and the chances of another Alexander Hesketh coming his way were Zero.

The first event contested was close to home, the ‘Rothmans 50000’ Formula Libre race at Brands Hatch. He was 5th , having qualified his March as the second quickest F2 car, in a great drive in his year old, down on power March amongst F1, F2 and F5000 cars. Emerson Fittipaldi won in a Lotus 72D Ford, the 2500 pounds of prize money was a valuable addition to the teams kitty.

Team Hesketh then headed off to the Salzburgring where he was 19th and non-classified, the team returned to the UK for a John Player round, the final of the British F2 Championship at Oulton Park where he was 3rd, from grid 2, the race won by Ronnie Peterson’s works March 722 with Niki Lauda’s similar car in 2nd. Again, a great performance.in a stellar field that included Hill, Surtees, Scheckter, Schenken, Roger Williamson all in works or very professional teams. Amongst the first to congratulate James were his erstwhile March teammates Peterson and Lauda who ‘…were not surprised at the gritty performance of their former F3 rival…’ Hunt having a great dice with Ronnie in the races final stages.

At the end of the season the team took the March to Brazil to contest the 3 races at Interlagos in October and November with Hunt again finishing strongly in 5th and 4th places, missing the second race having crashed in the pre-event warmup. The races were won by Emerson Fittipald’s Lotus 69 Ford BDF and Mike Hailwood’s Surtees TS10 Ford BDA.

For Hunt, the season started and ended with promise. The bit in the middle was rather ugly! He was lucky to meet Hesketh but did brilliantly, with Hesketh, Horsley when he adopted the team management role and the mechanics in knuckling down and delivering well in a good, albeit year old car. His ability to deliver consistent speed in the company of very talented racers, some of them ‘graded drivers’ over distances longer than 10 lap screamers was demonstrated between August and November 1972. One of the things great drivers have in common is towering self-belief. What Hunt achieved in that short space of time was wonderful mind management. He simply put all of the dramas of the year behind him and delivered. Not once, but continuously.

Donaldson wrote of Hunt’s determination ‘…he was so accustomed to setbacks he used them as inspiration. Indeed he thrived on adversarial situations to the point that if they didn’t exist it sometimes seemed he went out of his way to create them, then employed the Hunt theory of reverse psychology to turn negatives into positives’. Hunt responded ‘I’m a great fatalist. Whenever I think I’m going to achieve something, it turns out that I don’t. I always have to “negative think” to get the best out of myself.’ Sportsman’s mind management is all important. However he did it, Hunt’s ability to mentally apply himself in positions of extraordinary adversity and stress was exceptional.

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Euro F2 Championship round 1 at Mallory Park on 11 March 1973. The Hesketh Surtees TS15 Ford at rest. Hunt 15th in the race won by Jarier, March 732 BMW (unattributed)

Given Hunt’s performances it was easy for Hesketh to decide to continue with him. Off the strength of the Surtees marque’s showing in 1972 Hesketh ordered a new F2 TS15 to mount a serious European F2 Championship campaign for 1973. It was a good car but the March 732 BMW M12 combination started a period of domination that year. As to Hunt’s early season performances; he raced the Surtees at Mallory, Hockenheim, Thruxton, the Nurburgring and the Pau GP for 15th, DNS with fuel metering unit problems, 10th, DNF tyres and wrote off the TS15 at Pau! All of the sudden its ‘hell in a hand basket’ again.

F1/F5000 Brands ‘Race of Champions’ 18 March 1973. Hunt in the leased Surtees TS9 Ford, 3rd from Q13. Peter Gethin Chevron B24 Chev F5000 won from Hulme, McLaren M23 Ford (unattributed)

So what does Hesketh do?, doubles up again of course and purchases a new F1 March 731 Ford off the back of Hunts performance in a 2 year old F1 Surtees TS9 Ford in the 18 March 1973 Brands ‘Race of Champions’, and that my friends is where the story really starts.

Just look at what happened between Hunt and McInerney posing out front of the Bicester factory on 1 March 1972, and Hunt finishing in front of most of the works teams in a 2 year old Surtees at Brands on 18 March 1973 only 12 months later.

Incredible, unbelievable. Some fellows peak before F1, Hunt really only took it all seriously, the racing anyway, when he commenced in Grands Prix. What was priceless was how easy the Hesketh boys made it all look in 1973 with their off the peg car being carefully developed by Harvey Postlethwaite and driven within an inch of its life by Hunt J…

The Hesketh, Postlethwaite modified March 731 Ford during the 1973 British GP at Silverstone. Hunt 4th from grid 11- attacked Peterson for 2nd till his tyres faded- the grid was schredded by 10 cars due to Jody Scheckter’s famous end of lap 1 crash. Revson’s McLaren M23 Ford won  (Schlegelmilch)

Postcript: Brendan McInerney

What about Brendan though? Born in Dublin on 30 November 1945, he had his own team, the modestly named!, as he put it ‘Race Cars International’ which ran his, and customer cars. He raced in FF, F3, F2, F5000 and Sportscars where he achieved his best results.

Amidst the tough 1972 F3 season he linked up with good friend Trevor Thwaites racing an Intertech Steering Wheels backed 2 litre Chevron B19/21 to 8th in the Brands 1000Km, 9th at the Osterreichring and Spa 1000 Km events, great results in amongst the 3 litre factory entered missiles of Ferrari, Matra, Lola, Mirage et al. Finally they had a splendid 5th in the Jarama 2 Hours 2 litre championship round and non-qualified at the Nurburgring 1000Km.

Confidence intact, he upped the ante and raced in most of the 1973 European F2 Championship in a ‘GRS International’ GRD 273 Ford BDA. It was a tough year racing in a field of great depth. He DNQ at Hockenheim, Pau, and Mantorp Park and had DNF at Karlskoga and Albi. He was 20th at the Nurburgring, 10th at Rouen, 12th at Monza and 6th at the Norisring in a race of attrition, finally he was non-classified at Nivelles. A March 732 BMW was the car to have in 1973, none of the GRD drivers had strong results in 1973.

In ’73 the Thwaites/McInerney duo again contested some endurance championship events finishing 12th in a Chevron B21/23 at the Vallelunga 6 Hour and had a DNF at the Nurburgring 1000Km. Late in the year Brendan also had a steer of Thwaites Lola T330 Chev F5000 in some European Championship rounds at Brands/Snetterton/Brands without showing great competitiveness.

Into 1974, the last of his racing career,  McInerney contested some late season European F5000 championship rounds, again in the Thwaites T330 and getting more out of the year old car at Thruxton/Brands/Snetterton and Mallory Park for 16/12/11th and 9th placed finishes.

Brendan became a professional backgammon player after motor racing in between stints of helping with his family’s Dublin based contracting business, he also worked in real estate whilst living in England. He now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina

Bibliography…

‘The Story of March: Four Guys and a Telephone’ Mike Lawrence, ‘James Hunt: The Biography’ Gerard Donaldson, GP Encyclopaedia, F2 Index, oldracingcars.com

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, Stuart Dent, Rainer Schlegelmilch, Mirrorpix

Tailpiece: Its not as though the hot and cold running babes started in Hunt’s GP years but no doubt the thru-put went up a couple of gears then. Hunt was livin’ the life of every schoolboys dream in 1973. He was certainly living mine…

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