Posts from the ‘F1’ Category

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo

Image via Wikipedia

There will be two Aussies in F1 from next week’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Perth’s Daniel Ricciardo has been announced as having been signed to drive the Hispania Racing Team’s car. Ricciardo is a Red Bull junior driver and a Toro Rosso reserve driver and the inference is that Red Bull have given HRT some financial support in return for them giving Ricciardo some race experience. There has been some noise that Toro Rosso’s race drivers Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi have been under the pump and this may be a way of giving Ricciardo experience before he joins STR. The other rumour is that next year Mark Webber will move onto Ferrari or Renault and that Ricciardo will join Vettel at Red Bull Racing. If this turns out to be the case it will be interesting how Red Bull handle having two young hotshots from the Red Bull junior program in the team.

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Crashed and Byrned – by Tommy Byrne with Mark Hughes

Crashed and Byrned – The Greatest Racing Driver You Never Saw by Tommy Byrne with Mark Hughes

I just finished reading this great autobiography by former Irish racing driver Tommy Byrne. He is someone who I had heard a little bit about, mostly through reading about his incredible Formula Ford and Formula 3 results in the early 80s, but I never had any idea of who he was. I remember telling myself quite often when I flicked through my tome of Motor Racing Results, whatever happened to that Tommy Byrne guy and why didn’t he ever make it in Formula 1. The answer to that question is in this book.

Upon reading the first half of the book I came to the conclusion that Byrne was one of the most arrogant pricks on the planet. Racing drivers are supposed to be self-confident and even quite narcissistic, yet Byrne seemed to take this to another level. He would talk about how he thought that at the time he was the best racing driver in the world and whilst I agree that he probably had more natural talent and ability than any other Formula 1 driver at that time, ultimately it all ended up as wasted potential. Hearing him talk about getting angry when Jackie Stewart came up to give him some advice, when he was started out in F1 with the Theodore team. In the early 80s Jackie was still the F1 wins record holder and someone who had a reputation as being one of the best communicators on the art of driving a racing car ever, yet Byrne fobbed him off with an attitude that he didn’t need anyone to tell him how to drive. This is the ultimate in arrogance.

Byrne also seemed to have a giant-sized chip on his shoulders. He always seemed to bring up his working class, poverty-stricken, Irish background as a reason why he did not make it in F1, yet I believe that his arrogance and ultimate lack of desire (I suppose) to be a F1 driver at all costs, is what did him in. After just one test with McLaren, where he blew away Thierry Boutsen, Byrne gave up his F1 quest, believing that because Ron Dennis did not like him he would never have a chance in F1. (He put all of his eggs in the one McLaren basket!)

The second half of the book, where Tommy realises that his F1 dream has vanished, he is transformed into a different guy. He still has some arrogance about him, yet seems much more humble. It is in the second half of the book where he talks about his time in America and Mexico, where he becomes a lot more likable. Some of the stories here he tells are quite amusing. He also gives little insights into the personalities of other racing drivers such as Gerhard Berger, Raul Boesel, Roberto Moreno, Ayrton Senna and Giovanna Amati.

Overall it is a great book that gives a bit of insight into the world of F1 in the early 80s, as motor racing in general, especially the American scene. Byrne’s transformation is interesting but one wonders what would have happened if he ever got behind the wheel of a competitive F1 car.

Mark Webber

Mark Webber driving for Red Bull Racing at the...

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Just looking back at a few old posts that I have made I have realised that I am a genius. Back in 2006 I said…

 “Next year Mark should finish grands prix, which is something he hasn’t been able to do this year. The Red Bull’s should easily be running in the points and should take a few podiums. With luck Mark can take a win or two, but I wouldn’t really expect that until 2008. Ferrari, Renault and McLaren will once again be the best teams in 2007, but I expect Red Bull to be fighting with Honda and BMW for 4th place in the Constructors’ Championship in 2007, while by 2008 Newey should have been able to produce a car capable of taking an occasional victory. Who knows, in a couple of years Mark may be fighting for the world championship.”

This was in reply to all the knockers in the Australian media who criticised Mark for not living up to their expectations. I was correct in my assertion that in 2007 the Red Bull would be a regular points scorer and that Mark would end up being a championship contender. So far Mark has taken 6 F1 victories and even though he has had a slow start to this year, he should take a few more. I expect he will be especially strong in Spain and Monaco.

Ayrton Senna

Ayrton Senna, Monaco GP 1991

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Today is the 17th anniversary of the death of Ayrton Senna, after an accident during the early laps of the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. I remember watching the race that evening on Channel 9, and upon seeing the crash hoping that everything would be fine. I remember Murray Walker trying to reassure us that Senna would be OK, but he has admitted since that he knew that Senna was dead. It must have been difficult for Murray to continue with his broadcasting that day, knowing that one of the greatest ever drivers had died.

Senna was not my favourite F1 driver when I was young. I was unashamedly a Prost fan and to me Senna was the enemy. Of course I admired his speed and skill, especially in qualifying or when the weather was wet, but I did not appreciate his ruthlessness which overstepped the line of fair play. However looking back I would say that Senna was undoubtedly the best driver of his era and perhaps of all time. He drove in an era of great drivers such as Prost, Piquet and Mansell and some very good drivers such as Berger, Alboreto and Alesi. If you compare Senna to Michael Schumacher, the man who statistically is seen as the greatest F1 driver by virtue of having the most wins, to me there is no comparison. Schumacher only had one rival who would qualify as a great in Mika Hakkinen and did not have the aura of Senna. Schumacher took Senna’s professionalism and ruthlessness to the next level, but one wonders whether Ayrton would ruin his reputation by making an ill-founded comeback the way Michael has. Senna also was not scared of having the best drivers as team mates as Michael has been. Senna wanted the challenge of taking on Prost in Prost’s team (McLaren), whilst Schumacher has always been able to choose team mates whom he knows would not be able to challenge his dominance within the team.

When I think of Schumacher there are perhaps three memories that come to mind. The first is the incredible pole-position lap from Monaco in 1988, when he was 1.5 seconds in front of second placed Prost. Senna was always stunning in qualifying but on this day he was on another planet. Unfortunately during the race he pushed himself much too hard and put the car into the armco barrier.

The second memory is of the incredible first lap of the wet European Grand Prix in 1993 at Donington Park. Ayrton started fifth and briefly dropped to seventh at the first corner, but by the end of lap one he was first. He was again untouchable as he often was in the wet.

My final memory is of the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix where in wet conditions Senna finished 2nd in the underpowered Toleman Hart. The race, which Prost won, was stopped at the half way point due to the wet conditions which had already sent Mansell and others into the barriers. Many people believe that if the race was allowed to go the full distance that Senna would have won.

I never saw drivers like Fangio, Moss, Clark or Stewart and I only saw highlights of Gilles Villeneuve and the final couple of seasons of Lauda’s career, so I can’t judge them. Senna is the most talented driver that I have seen.

Mika Hakkinen Overtakes Michael Schumacher At Spa 2000

One of the best passes ever seen.

Senna – Donington 1993

This is the lap that many believe is the greatest in modern F1. From the 1993 European Grand Prix, Senna overtook five cars in the one lap, and then went on to dominate the very wet race.

Please also note that the Williams and Benetton cars had traction control, an aid that the McLaren of Senna did not have.

Shell and Ferrari

This commercial from a couple of years back for Shell is one of my all-time favourites.

The makers of this ad wanted to use Sydney as one of the locations, but were turned down by the city council.