…chance doesn't exist; there's always a cause and a reason for everything – Elahi

Archive for the tag “Ferrari”

Mexican Memories (2)

And so we say goodbye to Mexico City – to one of the most enjoyable F1 races of recent times. Here are my post-race thoughts and (below) some close-ups of as many of  Cesar Galindo’s paintings as I could find in the various paddock offices. Cesar has recently published a magnificent art book, details of which I shall be giving to my wife to ensure an early Christmas arrival…


Five Good Men and True

On the eve of this year’s US Grand Prix in Austin, I thought it might be nice to have a look at some video cameos of the five American drivers who have to date won World Championship Grand Prix races (or a race).  Thanks to Pathe and AP Movietone, I’ve put together a YouTube playlist of video content that to date has had very little airing; and, wherever possible, I’ve tried to steer clear of the obvious. Phil Hill, for example, is encapsulated by a charming (and I think very funny) video-documentary shot around his first GP win (at Monza, 1960).  It features such advanced techniques as “sound recordings”; Phil reading a script, post-race; and the transfer of images, from Monza to Fleet Street, via “photo-electric cell”.  Watch for the dispatch rider delivering said photos to the studios at Teddington – today’s home of F1 Racing, Autosport and Motor Sport News…  For Mario Andretti, I’ve chosen some nice colour footage of the Lotus Cavalcade staged in Norwich in late 1978.

Where possible, I’ve left the original audio. The silent videos have been re-voiced.

So here they are (in the order in which they won their first race): Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Richie Ginther, Peter Revson and Mario Andretti


Notes from the Singapore paddock

  • The Romain Grosjean-Felipe Nasr first-lap shunt at Monza (Romain’s right-front hit Felipe’s left-rear) was indeed a “racing accident”.  It turns out that when Grosjean’s Lotus was hit from behind by Nasr’s team-mate, Marcus Ericsson, the resultant impact/deceleration was enough to activate the anti-stall on the Grosjean car.  That’s why he then had no control and collected Nasr. I asked Romain if this anti-stall-kicking-in-mid-corner thing was something he’d experienced before and he said he had: it’s become an integral part of this current era of technology and I’m not sure if it’s a good thing.  I can see why the cars need anti-stall but Romain agreed with me that in the pre-anti-stall days the incident at Monza would have resulted in all three cars continuing relatively undamaged.  As it was, we had a “racing accident” – 2015-style.
  • Speaking of Nasr, he’s been having a lot of trouble with his Brembo brakes recently – specifically with managing the temperature windows.  With Ericsson racing Carbon Industries on the other Sauber, Felipe is also switching to CI for Singapore. Daniil Kvyat, meanwhile, was surprised to hear this, bearing in mind how quick he has been on the Brembos. More than anything, I think, it shows how difficult it is for a team to run two different  brake types within the same garage. Nick Chester of Lotus was saying that “finding brake temperature windows” is primarily all about brake ducts  – “which sounds simple until you remember that ducts not only play a massive role in aerodynamics but are also very expensive and time-consuming to make, given all the aero research that goes into them.”  Is this a good thing, I ask?  I  don’t mind getting excited about a new wing or something but  brakes to my  mind should be about stopping power. Ducts? Difficult to get massively excited about their inner workings but it explains why low-budget teams like Sauber find it so hard to get the cars to stop.
  • It’s official: Ferrari have confirmed that Kimi’s poor start in Monza was indeed “finger trouble”.  Having said that, Kimi replicated the start sequence a hundred times in the simulator a few days later – and was perfect every time. He would have hated that, too, because he likes working in a simulator about as much as he does wearing a tie. He’s still unsure of what happened but it all points to him not releasing the first clutch paddle…and initiating the anti-stall. Sergio Perez owned up to having made the same mistake in practice – and Romain Grosjean said that he still spends a lot of time thinking through the start procedure the night before a race. It’s still that complicated.
  • I said on video after the Italian GP ( that Kimi’s re-booting process seemed to be pretty quick but the word from the Singapore paddock is that it was actually surprisingly slow: all that’s required is a quick flick of the clutch lever and you’re away. I guess in Kimi’s case he also spent a few seconds wondering whether the nightmare could really be true…
  • Valtteri Bottas has confirmed that he “just happened” to leave the garage ahead of Felipe Massa in that final qualifying run at Monza. Bottas gave the tow to his team-mate – and the rest is history.  My bet is that Valtteri will be a bit more selective about who he has running five seconds behind him come Monza, 2016, but this is really something he should have thought about before the race week. No honest race engineer is ever going to prevent one of the team cars helping the other (in qualifying) but the driver has a different set of priorities – ie, he wants to beat his team-mate more than any other driver on the grid.  Most of today’s F1 drivers have managers for their contractual and financial affairs but, to me, this sort of issue should also fall under the remit of “management”.  If a personal manager isn’t going to remind the driver about something like this, who is?
  • Daniel Ricciardo told me that “getting the brakes to work at the correct temperature” has been a major factor in the recent, improved  performance at Red Bull-Renault. I say this because so much of the chat these days is about the Renault engine and very little of it is about Brembo. Singapore is going to be a big test for the brakes – but then Monza was, too, and they worked well there on the RB11. Daniel has been preparing for Singapore by cycling in a controlled-temperature environment (stationary bike!) and is of course looking forward to the weekend: “I sweat so much here it’s ridiculous.  When I got out of the car a couple of years ago there was so much fluid in the seat that boys thought I’d had an unfortunate accident or something.  I wouldn’t resort to Nico Rosberg’s extremes but I need to make sure that the front of the balaclava acts as a sweat-soak..”  Nico’s extremes?  Apparently he’s tried sanitary pads on his forehead…
  • Sergio Perez reports that the Mexican GP is a sell-out and that the temperature is definitely rising.  (A lot of the tickets were bought by touts, but then it was forever thus in Mexico City.)  No pressure on him, then? “I love it,” he chortled.  “The place has gone crazy. I never imagined that F1 could be so big in my country.”

Monza Magic…well, almost

The Italian Grand Prix at Monza is upon us.  Enjoy it, for there may not be a million more, given the state of the F1 economy right now.  As AJ Foyt memorably said to Nigel Roebuck recently, “Is that Monza place still going?”

I hope it survives; I love circuits that touch the past.  We need them – just as we need the past in order to create the future.

That subject, though, is for another day. It’s time to celebrate Monza, 2015, and to start us on the path, courtesy of Movietone News, we’ve put together a collection of Monza Moments – well, almost Monza moments, because I couldn’t resist a bit of Tazio Nuvolari in Tunis or that amazing Ferrari dead-heat at Syracuse in 1967. Finally, the spirit of Monza is I think encapsulated by the enthusiasm of the starter in the last video (1968 1000km).  By the time the back of the grid reaches him they’re travelling at well over 100mph…  Avanti!



Your German GP fix

As if it’s not enough to live without a French GP we’ve also had to survive this year minus a race in Germany. I suppose you could argue that France isn’t exactly a strong force in F1 at the moment – but no-one can deny the global allure of Mercedes, Sebastian Vettel and the Nicos Rosberg and Hulkenberg.True, Hockenheim is back on the calendar for 2016, but, in this of all (Mercedes) years, it does seem odd (to say the least) that we haven’t had the chance to see F1’s German stars performing in front of their home crowds…doing something, in the context of the history of our sport, that they’ve been doing since the 1920s.

In the absence of a 2015 German GP, therefore, and courtesy of AP, here are some brief reminders of what it used to like when F1 came to Germany…


Homage to a Hero

S2830034Fifty years ago today – October 25, 1964, in Mexico City – John Surtees clinched the F1 World Championship in his North American Race Team (NART)-liveried factory Ferrari. The finale had been a three-way fight between John, Jim Clark and Graham Hill. Jim looked to have the title won before he was forced to stop his Lotus 33-Climax with a seized engine on the penultimate lap; Graham Hill was flicked out of contention by Lorenzo Bandini, John’s team-mate; and so, with Lorenzo dutifully slowing on the final lap, John finished second to Dan Gurney to secure the title by one point. Lucky? Of course not. John had won that year at both the Nurburgring and Monza; as in life, there were causes and effects for everything that happened both to him and to his rivals.

And so the flowers, and the champagne, were well-earned. Look closely at some of the photos in books and magazines, and on the net, from the Mexican GP celebrations and there in the background can be seen the Duke of Edinburgh. Amazingly, Prince Philip took time from a trade visit that week to attend the Mexican GP. There, amidst the vast crowds, he saw history in the making, for John became – and will no doubt remain – the only man ever to have won World Championships on both two wheels and four. He would go on to win further races for Ferrari, for Cooper-Maserati and for Honda and – in non-championship F1 guise – with his own, brilliant Surtees cars; nothing, though, would compare with that achievement of October 25, 1964.

I was fortunate enough to see John race in F1, Tasman (2.5 litre Lola-Climax) F5000 and F2. He was always a detailed artist and an engineer in the mould of Black Jack, Dan and Bruce – always immaculate with his car management, always prepared to work the all-nighter if circumstances so required. He’d drive – and then he’d invariably retire to the garage, there to fiddle with the engine or suspension bits, hustle the mechanics, get his hands dirty. Yes, he was demanding. No, he was not an autocrat. He just knew what he wanted and wouldn’t waste time with those who couldn’t deliver.

His departure from Ferrari early in 1966 said it all: he probably would have breezed the championship that year if he hadn’t stuck to his principles. He didn’t like the way the team was being run, however, and so that was that.  He just upped and left, jumping into an uncompetitive, overweight Cooper-Maserati. How quick was John? Remember only this: in the Cooper he immediately matched, and then exceeded, the pace of his team-mate, the very brave and very reflex Jochen Rindt. By season’s end he had transformed the Cooper into a race-winner. Mexico – again.

John survived it all, too. In recent years he has become a tireless campaigner for the charity named after his late son, Henry. He is an icon of our sport and an example to all – particularly in the way he has confronted his personal tragedy with so much dignity and with so much courage. Yet in the big picture he remains largely unheralded. He has been awarded the Office of the Order of the British Empire but we have campaigned endlessly on these pages, and on our YouTube Channel, for John also to be given a knighthood. Many others have done likewise. Yet, to date, nothing has happened. The omission is embarrassing.

I saw John yesterday, at the Memorial Service for Sir Jack Brabham at Silverstone.  He was as bubbly as ever, a passionate car and motor-cycle racer who couldn’t talk enough about the sports he loves. I asked him how he was going to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his win.

“With a nice bottle of champagne,” he said, eyes glistening.  “And I’ll be drinking it – not spraying it!”

The photograph above of John was taken yesterday at the Memorial – and the one below comes from the Henry Ford Archives.  It was taken at Watkins Glen, 1964, three weeks before Mexico, but it gives a true rendition of how the Ferrari looked in those gorgeous NART colours.

So: congratulations John Surtees. You are unique. You are a treasure. And may the sport do its utmost to ensure you are given the recognition you have so diligently earned.JS Glen 64 3


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