Daly Dose: Notes from Spa…pay drivers rule!

When driving into the paddock in Spa during FP1, I felt a throw back pulse to the late 70’s when I first attended a Grand Prix at Silverstone. Back then the cars were screaming during the practice session as we parked the car followed by a run to the spectator embankment. The first Formula One car I actually saw live was John Watson’s Hexagon Brabham entering Woodcote. The Cosworth DFV had that great exhaust blow back/fuel misfire sound and of course then the glorious sound of the Ferraris and Matra arrived.

Spa gave me a similar smile as we drove to the car park with the screaming engines reverberating through the forest. We felt as if the cars were just feet from us through the trees. It was a glorious, old fashioned and pleasant warming. I dread to think (or hear) what next years turbos will sound like. I promise you, you will be disappointed. Other than a 90’s Champ Car, when have you ever heard a good sounding turbo race engine?

I have never seen the F1 paddock so chocker full of world headline stories. F1 right now has the sports world covered both on and off the track. I’ve never seen so many journos ask each other about Bernie Ecclestone. Everyone is speculating as to what might happen? Will he go to jail? Will there be a German government plea agreement that will cost a fortune but will keep him out of jail? Will he still lead Formula One next year?

I have never seen a dictator be so ruthless and so respected. He has almost singlehandedly built Formula One to what it is today – the largest spectator sport in the world. He was a one time London car dealer, sometime race car driver, business manager of Jochen Rindt, one time owner of the Brabham Formula One Team, but one of his biggest accomplishments was making just about every significant F1 team owner a multi millionaire. If Bernie is to be replaced, no one man can do the job. There is no one yet identified with a cold-hearted ruthless business streak that can count, dance and deal at the speed of a Bernie.

The KImi factor was also dominant at Spa. Red Bull shunned him but their interest certainly created high demand and increased his equity. Lotus delayed his payments and that created leverage and discourse all at the same time. A Ferrari interest was somehow fabricated and KImi appeared to have multiple options for next year.

Ultimatums about his delayed salary payments were given and in typical Kimi fashion he shunned the planned Thursday press conference. His PR girl said he was sick; when what he actually said was that he was pi**ed off. He again demonstrated that he always stays in control of his environment and doesn’t force any issue. If the Lotus delayed payments played out as some journos think—what if the Lotus team was unable to pay its bills and went out of business? Suddenly one of the hottest drivers in the world might be out of work?

People smirked at the thought of Red Bull delaying their announcement until Monza that Daniel Riccardo will be Webber’s replacement next year. The smirks were because, in typical blunt Aussie brash and controlled style, Webber told a TV station the news that the team wanted kept under wraps. Webber did a Kimi and gave the one-finger salute to Red Bull again—no doubt mindful of what he thought of his treatment within the team. Oh what a family Bernie created.

Another thread was that turbo engines for next year might cost $25M. Therefore some teams will/might/could go out of business? Sahara Force India is committed to Mercedes; Lotus is not committed nor is Caterham or Sauber. If there is a $25M engine bill, might customer car teams be far behind?

What about a 17-year-old Russian signing a contract to race F1 next year? Daddy wrote the check so the son gets the call. F1 is fast becoming a pay driver series – not what Bernie intended but it is what Bernie has created.

Sergey Sirotkin will be, by far, the youngest F1 driver ever. His chances of failure are high but Sauber needs the money more than the talent at this time (possibly because of the looming $25M engine bill?).

At 18 years of age, someone somewhere thinks he is better than Vettel – even Vettel was not thrown into F1 at such a young age. Hamilton was 22 before he was deemed ready – someone somewhere thinks Sirotkin is better than Hamilton at 18. Michael Schumacher was 23 before he raced F1. Someone somewhere thinks Sirotkin is better than Schumi at 18. Expect a train wreck—Daddy knows best but Daddy’s should not be forming F1 grids.

Maldonado crashed into DiResta during the race. Please look at the video replay. At the stewards discussion afterwards he actually said to driver steward, Derek Warwick, that in his opinion the crash was caused by Sutil – who had just passed him. What did this guy have for breakfast? Have a look at the video and then ponder about him blaming Sutil. DiResta was minding his own business and was not impressed. Pay drivers rule.

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