For the return to the Finnish fan’s favourite Grand Prix, Hungary, F1’s silly season is gathering snail’s pace. First up (and last to cover), fresh from the transfer market rumour mill, is the possibility that Jenson Button may well be headed back to Williams for 2016 (and denied as quickly as it was concocted). This time it’s presumably without contractual hokey-kokey of “left leg in, left leg out” as per 2004/2005.
Despite the smokescreen, Button may well be interested in joining a team with an engine, rather than an asthmatic sewing machine on a random time fused explosion cycle. On the downside, Williams don’t have exclusive access to their engine like McLaren. The Woking outfit decided to forsake for the first year the benefit of another team providing valuable running time data (i.e. lap counts into double figures) to improve reliability, performance, etc, in order to keep the performance of the Honda units to themselves, which is of course paying dividends.
Meanwhile, F1 shareholder representatives were thrilled with the response to the successful Hungarian GP, and how many casual channel surfers they believe they picked up. Said Chuck “Show me the money” Burgerburglar Jr; “We now just need those folks David Coulthenhard and Marvin Bramble on the tv box to be much more sympathetic to new F1 fans as they flick through 9 million other channels to hopefully stop on a spectacular wreck or 5 different cars side by side in F1”.
Broadcasters have been told to ramp up the amount of time (to around 3 times a minute) that they use the phrase “If you’re new to F1….”, before explaining the concept of what a tyre does, what it looks like, and how many are attached to a car at any given time (usually – not accounting for the now prevalent “Maldonado factor”).
The secretive F1 financial working group is also pleased with the weekend, but insists more needs to be done to satisfy investors, who will in turn be very disappointed if their profit margin stops increasing. To that end, all 21 races of the revised 2016 calendar will comprise solely of the Hungarian GP. This will continue until the race isn’t as interesting, which will prompt another crisis meeting, badgering the drivers to survey fans and investigate why F1 is broken yet again.
Presumably, F1 has not recovered since the early 2000’s Schumacher dominance, and there have been absolutely no interesting seasons ever since, hence the constant need for rule fiddling to bring desperately needed fans and more importantly revenue to the sport.
However, since we started to write this piece, another set of rule changes have been introduced for next year, and even more interesting, the previously thought defunct F1 working group has decided that F1 isn’t broken – it’s fans are. Teams have been busying their PR and lobbying machines already.
Ferrari want more of whatever fans are allocated than anyone else, as it’s been in the sport the longest. Mercedes smugly couldn’t care less, as usual, as they already have the most effective and most militant fanbase of any sport – the provisional wing of the Lewis Hamilton Republican Army. Red Bull believe it’s unfair that Mercedes’ have the most efficient and honest fan support machine of the field, and some of those should be bused over to Milton Keynes to be kitted out with naff skateboard t-shirts, backwards flat peak caps and fed fizzy pop until their teeth liquify. Torro Rosso were on lunch, and told us to ask Red Bull. Meanwhile McLaren were still gobsmacked they still had any fans at all.
And finally, taking off our spinning bow tie and putting on the serious anorak, we put all silliness and humour aside for a moment.
This column pays tribute to another sad loss to the Formula One world. Tragic events and motorsport are never far apart, especially further afield from F1, but condolences to the family and friends of Jules Bianchi all the same. And as we pay our respects to one of our own lost, we look to the future and may I offer two small crumbs of comfort. Firstly, that F1 and motorsport in general has worked relentlessly in recent decades, and will keep working towards, reducing the risks of serious injury or worse. And secondly, Jules was doing something – as a motorsport participant myself – that we all utterly love to do, doing so knowing the inherent risks to indulge in our addictive passion. And to me, a fitting mark of his talent was to drag a woeful Marussia into the points at Monaco last year, which in doing so ensured the team’s survival – something I know the outfit are deeply grateful for. The team, a true racing team, not simply a brand with an engine – especially after the loss of Maria De Villota in 2013, which also warrant our respect and thoughts.
Thank you for the memories and rest in peace, Jules.