When people get older they tend to say whatever comes to mind without passing it through the common sense filters that most of us have.
Take the Duke of Edinburgh, for example. Here’s a man who asked a native Kenyan woman who presented him with a gift: “You are a woman, aren’t you?”
HRH may have a long and distinguished history of gaffes but Bernie Ecclestone is rapidly catching him up. The trouble with Bernie is that while the Duke’s comments are frequently hilarious “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?” (in 1994, to an islander in the Cayman Islands), Bernie’s are usually in poor taste and not in a funny way.
The latest glimpse into the bizarre world that Bernie inhabits is his comment that the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994 was “good for F1.” This was given in an interview with Brazilian paper Folha de S.Paulo:
It was unfortunate. But the publicity generated was so much… It was good for F1. It’s a shame we lost Ayrton. He was popular, but many people became interested in F1 because of the publicity generated by his death.
Putting aside the wisdom of declaring this in a Brazilian paper, I can’t believe Bernie could say such a thing.
If anything positive came from Senna’s tragic death it was that safety has now been improved so much that Felipe Massa can be hit in the face with a piece of suspension and be back in a car a few of months later but to declare it a good thing?
Maybe something was lost in translation but Bernie has sunk to a new low with this one.
Image: Williams F1
It looks like Rubens Barichello, the most experienced driver in Formula One, will be back with the soon to be renamed Honda F1 team in 2009.
There had been speculation that Bruno Senna, nephew of the great Ayrton Senna, would replace Barrichello this year. Now it seems that with only a few weeks to go until the first Grand Prix in Melbourne, and the team yet to turn a wheel on the new car in testing, Ross Brawn is keen to take advantage of Barrichello’s vast F1 experience.
Last year’s Turkish Grand Prix saw Barrichello make his 257th Grand Prix start beating the previous record number of starts held by Riccardo Patrese and 2009 will be the Brazillian’s 16th year in Formula One.
As with every post about Honda recently, I have to add the disclaimer that nothing has been officially announced, but I’m glad it looks like Rubens will be on the grid this year. While it would be nice to see the Senna name in Formula One again, it makes sense to have an experienced pair of hands for what will be a difficult year for the team. Rubens clearly thinks he still has what it takes to race in Formula One, saying at the end of last year:
I have unfinished business in F1. I am sure I can finish higher up, if not winning the championship. I really believe that is what I deserve.
While winning the Championship is unlikely for Rubens this year, it would be a shame if he didn’t return to Formula One for at least another year. As the most experienced F1 driver ever he deserves a proper send off when he finally does retire.
The BBC is reporting that Honda is planning to test in Spain in the next fortnight. Although there has been no official announcement, the BBC’s source said that team members have been told the deal is done and they should prepare to go to Melbourne. There is still no new information on who the buyer might be but despite Sir Richard Branson nosing around last week it still seems a management buyout is the most likely outcome. It is understood the new car will be fitted with a Mercedes-Benz engine which, if true, would seem to confirm the sale will go ahead. Mercedes-Benz wanted assurances that Honda could compete seriously throughout the season before committing to supplying engines for the team.
But even if Honda are saved, can they possibly be competitive this season? Last year Ross Brawn was talking about getting podium finishes in 2009. While it’s true they have missed the first two group tests, so have Force India and Toro Rosso’s new car hasn’t been seen yet (although it will be based on the Red Bull RB5.) So as long as the team have been developing the car I don’t think they are necessarily doomed to spend 2009 at the back of the grid.
Another question is who will be driving? Jenson Button is assured a seat but will we see the young Bruno Senna or will Rubens Barrichello get another drive? While Senna was producing good lap times in testing last year, with their late start to 2009 Honda might be wise to have the experienced Barrichello in the second seat.
Like a lot of F1 fans I was sorry to see Suzuka dropped from the Formula One calendar in 2007 in favour of Toyota’s Fuji Speedway. With its unique figure 8 layout and demanding corners, Suzuka is one of the great circuits of the world. It’s right up there with Spa as one of the fans’ and drivers’ favourite tracks.
Thankfully, the Japanese Grand Prix returns to Suzuka this year. In a statement outlining its 2009 automobile motor sports activities Honda, who own Suzuka, said:
Full-scale renovation work will soon be completed. As the opening event on April 12, the Circuit will be hosting the Start Suzuka Opening Thanks Day – F1 Kick-off Party. And after a break of two years, the Grand Prix of Japan, Round 15 of the Formula One World Championship, will be held, October 2-4.
“The Start Suzuka Opening Thanks Day – F1 Kick-off Party”. What a great piece of Engrish! It sounded like so much fun I went to the Suzuka website to see what I could find out. There wasn’t anything there about the F1 Kick-Off Party but it sure made interesting reading.
In June 2006 Suzuka Circuitland Co. Ltd. merged with Twin Ring Motegi Co. Ltd to form Mobilityland Corporation. According to the website:
Uniting the two enterprises of Suzuka Circuit, which has contributed to the spread of motorsports in Japan, and Twin Ring Motegi, which introduced to Japan the new mobility of American motorsports. By concentrating the power and know-how these two companies have accumulated, we hope to be a business providing joy, fun and excitement to the community through an ever richer mobility culture.
So it’s all about mobility, then. Whatever that is. Luckily the site has a definition:
People move because they have goals. Community begins when people move to another place and run into other people. Through these moves, they meet different kinds of people and learn about each other; it is there that new cultures and new values are born. We call such movement-related areas mobility. Pursue convenience, fun, and the value of mobility; have them take root in the lives of many people. This is what we call mobility culture. One of Mobilitylands main missions is to promote a richer and safer mobility culture in society.
Right, well that clears that up, then.
I’ll leave you with a little old-skool Suzuka action and as you watch Ayrton Senna’s pole position lap of Suzuka in 1989 remember the Three Joys of the Basic Principles as described in the Mobilityland Philosophy:
- The Joy of Buying
- The Joy of Selling
- The Joy of Creating
With all the rumours about his possible signing for Honda we’ve been seeing a lot of pictures of the young Senna and I’m often struck by how much he looks like his uncle, especially when he’s wearing his helmet. Not only does he have the most famous surname in Formula One but when he puts on that familiar yellow lid he looks like him too!
There are a few young drivers at the moment following in their fathers’ footsteps.
Nico Rosberg is the son of Finnish 1982 World Champion Keke Rosberg. He impressed by winning the first GP2 Championship in 2005 and moved to the Williams F1 team in 2006. Apparently he achieved the highest ever score on the the Engineering Aptitude Test, administered to all new Williams drivers. 2006 started well for the young Rosberg; he scored points in his first Grand Prix at Bahrain and became the youngest driver in F1 history to set a fastest lap. The rest of the season didn’t go quite so well and he had to wait until 2008 to get his first podium finish; 3rd in Australia.
The son of another Brazilian triple World Champion, Nelson Piquet Junior raced against Nico Rosberg in the 2005 GP2 series and finished second to Lewis Hamilton in the 2006 GP2 Championship. Piquet made the move to Formula One in 2007 as test driver for Renault, gaining a full race seat the following year. 2008 was a difficult rookie season for Piquet with seven retirements, but he scored his first points with a 7th place finish at the French Grand Prix and claimed his first podium with second at the German Grand Prix. This was enough for Renault to sign him for another year in 2009 alongside Fernando Alonso.
Outside of Formula One, Martin Brundle’s son, Alex, finished fifth in last year’s Formula Palmer Audi series, Damon Hills son, Josh, won the 2008 Ginetta Junior Winter Championship and four-time World Champion Alain Prost’s son, Nicolas, won the 2008 Euroseries 3000 championship. In America, Marco Andretti is carrying on the Andretti tradition in A1GP and Bobby Rahal’s son Graham is racing in IndyCar.
In 1993 Ayrton Senna famously said:
If you think I’m good, just wait until you see my nephew.
If the Honda rumours are true, maybe we will.