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Filtering by Tag: Monaco GP

The 100th running of the Indy 500, the dramatic Monaco Grand Prix & #F1TOP3

Stefan Johansson

JT – The 100th running of the Indy 500 was equal parts, competitive, historic and surprising. Racing before a sold-out Indianapolis Motor Speedway crowd, Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi pulled off an improbable win by gambling, stretching his fuel mileage for the final 90 miles of the race as other competitors peeled off to pit. He became just the ninth rookie to win the race.

You were on hand for the Hundredth, what did you think of the race in general and Rossi’s performance?

SJ – You could really feel the energy this year. There was the same buzz you used to feel before the split (CART/IRL) in the mid 90’s. The whole city was just buzzing all month. It was great and I hope it will continue like this.

The race, as often happens at Indy, was a bit of an anti-climax at the end. The last five laps completely changed the whole picture of the race. But that’s Indy in a nutshell. Nearly every year the scenario changes completely depending on strategy and who’s really got it together when it matters in those last few laps.

This year’s race ended up being a typical, IndyCar race that was won on strategy rather than sheer speed. We saw [Graham] Rahal do it many times last season where he wasn’t in the picture until the races came to him strategically towards the end. That’s not to take anything away from Rossi. I think he did a phenomenal job all month, really. He was always there or thereabouts through practice and qualifying. For a rookie I think he did a tremendous job.

But he was never in the hunt to win at any point during the race on pace alone. The team made the right call and that’s what matters at Indy. They gambled and in the situation they were in it wasn’t a difficult choice to make. If you’re not running you can sometimes afford to roll the dice and hope the race will come to you, and it certainly did in this case.

Scott [Dixon] was kind of in the same boat frankly. All the guys at the front went full rich for the first ten laps after the last stop, and found themselves having to pit eight to six laps before the end. But his car was never really there all day. Scott was never really able to attack. He was just kind of hanging in there the whole time. He had slight contact as well which put the car just a little out of alignment. That’s a big loss at Indy because if the car is not dialed in there’s nothing you can do as a driver to make it go any faster.

It was just one of those days and he wasn’t the only one. Montoya had a bad day, Pagenaud had a pretty bad one as well, and so did others. It was a surprise in one way but not so surprising in another that an Andretti car won.

They were very strong all month. You knew that out of their five cars at least one was going to have a good chance of winning. They were right at the front from the first day of practice forward. The lap times were coming very easy to them. They were always in the hunt.

JT – Andretti Autosport was undeniably strong. However, it was a tale of two races for them. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Townsend Bell dominated the first half of the race but it was Rossi and Carlos Munoz who claimed the first two spots on the podium for the team. The contact between Bell and Helio Castroneves as they exited their pits led to a collision between Bell and Hunter-Reay which effectively ended the race for the teammates.

SJ – Yes, had that not happened I don’t think there’s any doubt that Hunter-Reay or Bell would have been right there at the end to shoot it out for the win. They were really strong most of the day.

JT – No one predicted Rossi’s win. Even from simply observing the TV broadcast you could sense the frustration of the drivers who had run at the front all day long and had nothing to show for it while Rossi’s gamble paid off.

Similarly, no one was more surprised by Rossi’s win than Alexander himself. In victory lane you could see that he hadn’t mentally processed what had just happened. Formula One had been the focus of his career up until this season and it’s hard to say if he really understands what winning the Indy 500 means. Undoubtedly, that will change.

SJ – That’s not the first time that has happened and that’s the irony of Indy. It always comes down to a combination of circumstances at the end.

I don’t think Rossi has any idea of the magnitude of his win just yet. His life will never be the same again. An American winning Indy is huge. Look at Danny [Sullivan]. He won 31 years ago and it’s still an accolade that travels with him everywhere he goes.

JT – You said that Honda looked very strong for Indy in our last blog, adding that you didn’t think they had been that far behind Chevrolet this season. That observation proved to be exactly right. Honda engines looked very strong throughout practice and qualifying and of course a Honda-powered car won. It looks like their development program as well as their lobbying of IndyCar paid off.

SJ – There’s no question. As I said, I think it’s more that Chevy has had better teams and drivers overall this season and the past and that’s why they’ve had better results. But in terms of performance, I think there’s very little between Honda and Chevy now. Clearly Honda had an advantage at Indy.

JT – Penske, the winning-est team at Indy, didn’t fare too well this year. Castroneves was competitive but his teammates were nowhere to be seen for most of the race. Montoya crashed out, Pagenaud fell further and further back from the green flag and Power was mired in the middle of the pack all day.

SJ – I think both Penske and Ganassi missed the mark this year. It was hard work for both teams to get up to speed. They did manage to get the lap times but it wasn’t coming easy. TK (Tony Kanaan) was running strong obviously but being on the pace wasn’t as easy as it has been in the past. It was a strange Indy 500 in that respect.

JT – The 100th running of the race did attract a lot of attention. Most notably from other racers and I think that’s positive. Do you agree?

SJ – Yes, definitely. There were a ton of NASCAR drivers there. There was big interest from all areas of racing. I think even the Formula One guys are sort of curious about Indy Cars again. That’s what’s exciting. It’s starting to get the kind of buzz it used to have when at least a few F1 guys wanted to transition and have a look at it.

Nigel Mansell - Indycar 1994

Nigel Mansell - Indycar 1994

Fernando Alonso has made some noises about it. I think it would be just awesome if we could get one or two of the stars to come over and race – like when Nigel [Mansell] came over, that just blew it up.

When he came over, it elevated IndyCar to almost to a position where it became a threat to Formula One. I think the same thing could happen again if one or two guys would transition and take it really seriously. I still maintain that currently Indycar has the best racing in the world, if only more people knew about it they would have a huge following.

JT – Following the Indy 500 we had the Detroit double header this past weekend. As usual, both races threw out a lot of curveballs and the results were somewhat unexpected, certainly in race 1 at least.

Yes, again it ended up two races we have grown used to at Detroit with both the weather and fuel strategy playing their part in the final outcome. It was a mixed weekend for a lot of the front runners and in race 1 the race came to the guys who rolled the dice on strategy, exactly same scenario as last year. Scott had a rough two races, it looked like he was lined up to win the first one despite being held up for a very long time in one of the pitstops by some problems with the fuel rig. In the second one it was almost over before it started with Helio (Castro Neves) giving him a heavy hit right as it went green. I’m not sure exactly what he was thinking and both he and Scott were lucky they didn’t crash properly. As it were, Scott’s car sustained some suspension damage, which meant he was never in a position to attack the rest of the race. As usual though, the track produced some great racing.

JT – The Monaco Grand Prix had its moments - due in part to the changing weather conditions that overtook the race. A Mercedes won again but this time the result wasn’t a forgone conclusion.

SJ – It certainly was an interesting race in the first half at least. I think every single compound of tire was on track at some stage of the race. Everybody was trying something different. Once it all settled down it was kind of a typical Monaco where no one could pass and everyone was running in the same place.

JT – The difficulty of passing on-track at Monaco made Red Bull Racing’s disastrous pit stop for Daniel Ricciardo all the more frustrating for the driver and the team. Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes capitalized on their mistake.

SJ – That’s Monaco. I always used to say when we were racing there that you need a 30-second lead to be absolutely sure of winning if you’re leading. Crazy things happen at Monaco that don’t happen at any other track - whether it’s a candy wrapper getting into a radiator inlet because the public sits right at the track edge or a screw up in the pits like this because you’re not operating from a normal garage where things are organized the way they normally are.

That’s difficult to achieve in today’s racing but 30 seconds is still just about what you need for a comfortable margin. What happened with Red Bull is unforgivable but that’s typical Formula One today. They have all these boffins that sit there behind their computer screens and look at the best theoretical strategies but no one seems to be thinking on their feet. When you have adverse conditions like this time, sometimes you just have to make a decision in a split-second and roll the dice.

Hamilton experienced a similar scenario last year. Mercedes just screwed up because the guys that sit behind the computers have never been in a race. They don’t know what it’s like to be on track. All they look at are theoretical scenarios. Monaco is actually quite simple compared to most other tracks as there’s really only thing you need to be concerned with, and that’s track position as it’s virtually impossible to pass even if you’re 5 seconds a lap faster.

That’s why Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher were always so strong. They were both genuine hard-core racers. They both came up through the sports car scene where you have to make decisions on pit strategy in almost every stint. Often you have to wing it, not looking at what ultimately may be the best solution but making a decision about what to do in the next three seconds.

JT – Daniel Ricciardo is clearly not pleased with Red Bull Racing after their pit strategy calls at both Monaco and the Spanish GP. He handled himself pretty well on track at Monaco in the aftermath however, doing his best to push Lewis Hamilton into a mistake. Hamilton made that mistake at the chicane, missing the corner and subsequently squeezing Ricciardo as he tried to pass. Race stewards chose not to penalize Hamilton.  How do you see the incident?

SJ – Again, it has to do with the runoff areas. Thirty years ago there was an Armco barrier there. Hamilton would have been buried in that if the same thing had happened. If all four wheels are across the track line to the outside of it then there should be a penalty for that in my opinion as it effectively means he’s blown the corner.

It’s even money whether Lewis gained any time by overshooting the chicane but the fact is he made a mistake and went too deep into the corner so theoretically I think that should be grounds for at least giving up the position, or a punishment of some sort – maybe not a stop-and-go penalty - but at least concede the position. Under previous circumstances he would have been in the fence.

I thought Ricciardo was absolutely superb all weekend. He was fantastic in both qualifying and the race. He was really hustling the car behind Lewis. It was quite impressive. I think it’s going to be very interesting to follow him and Red Bull from now on. They’ve made a lot of progress and they clearly have a good car. Ricciardo’s got the bit between his teeth and really should have won in Spain too under normal circumstances.

JT – Ricciardo’s teammate Max Verstappen came into Monaco riding the high of winning the Spanish GP but had a pretty bad weekend.

SJ – He’s not a rookie anymore. He’s had a year in F1 and he raced last year at Monaco. But the track is extremely difficult and one small mistake can cost you big time. Still, that’s how all of the tracks used to be. Monaco is almost the only place like that left now. Montreal is similar, there isn’t a lot of runoff or margin for error but most of the other tracks offer no penalty for screwing up.

Ricciardo was clearly on it at Monaco and I think Verstappen felt that. I think it’ll be interesting going forward because the dynamic inside the team will change dramatically. I think there will be a lot more pressure on Verstappen from Ricciardo to deliver in every area.

JT – Once again, Ferrari wasn’t really a factor at Monaco. Sebastian Vettel finished a distant fourth and Raikkonen crashed out. The pressure on the team must be even higher.

SJ – In the earlier races this year, it just seemed that they couldn’t quite put together a top finish. The potential to win was there but circumstances prevented it one way or the other. But they’ve clearly fallen a little bit behind now.

Monaco is unique though so we’ll see what happens when we get to Canada. Certainly everyone is working hard trying to get the performance they need.

JT – McLaren scored their best finish of the season with Fernando Alonso taking the checkers in fifth. The team took advantage of the misfortunes of others but they seemed to perform better at Monaco. Meanwhile Williams F1 didn’t perform well yet again.

SJ – McLaren is definitely making strides toward the front of the grid. Little by little they’re getting closer and they are now to the point where their engine is running reliably. That gives them the opportunity to work on many other things. I think it will only be a matter of time before they’re fighting for wins again.

Williams was sort of in between the front runners in the last few years but now I think the other engine makers have caught up. The advantage they had in the past two years running the Mercedes engine has mostly gone away. Both Ferrari and Renault are definitely closer on the engine front now.

That puts more emphasis on the chassis and the way F1 is today, you need cubic dollars to get more performance from the chassis. You have to spend more and more money and hone and hone to get the last half percent from every area of performance. That’s what it comes down to. It’s not about being innovative or clever anymore.

So when you’re in the middle of the pack either you get it right or someone else does from year to year. If you don’t have the resources the top teams do you have to sort of gamble on which direction to go in your development and you’re not always sure whether you’ve gone out on the right limb or not. They’ve obviously missed the boat somewhere this year.

JT – Yes, and another Mercedes team in the mid-pack, Force India, got things right for Monaco with Sergio Perez finishing on the podium.

SJ – I must say, I’ve been critical of him in the past but I think he’s doing a phenomenal job now. He’s comfortable and not taking stupid risks like he used to. He’s well dialed in and he’s actually outperforming Hulkenberg at the moment which is quite impressive.

JT – Sauber teammates Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr are not on the best of terms. They collided at Rascasse when Ericsson tried to overtake Nasr. He claimed that Nasr had been told to move over and let him through by the team. After several laps behind, he went for the pass. Nasr claims the team hadn’t ordered him to move and blames Ericsson for the crash.

SJ – That’s been brewing for quite a while, all the way back to GP2 where they already had a rivalry. It obviously doesn’t help anyone, particularly the team. You’ve just got to put your ego aside. If you’re fighting over 15th place well, you have to keep it in perspective.

I understand that they both had the red mist and got carried away in their battle but whether Nasr had orders to let Ericsson by or not, passing at Rascasse is nearly impossible – even if you’re five seconds a lap quicker. You come up on the apex of the corner and it’s always wide open when you go in because you have to give yourself enough room to get the lock to get around the corner.

But that doesn’t mean the corner is open. By the time you get to the apex you know there’s going to be a car in the middle. It was more than a low percentage chance to make a passing move stick there.

In the end, all this does is lowering their chances of impressing another team to consider them for the future.

JT – That offers a good contrast between Mercedes and Sauber. Rosberg was told to move over for Hamilton after not getting his tires to work and he complied.

SJ – At the end of the day F1 is a team sport and you work for the team. Rosberg’s mature enough to look at the bigger picture and that’s the difference. Less impressive however was the fact he lost a position to Hulkenberg on the last lap; I really don’t understand what he was thinking on that one. If he ends up loosing the championship by a point he will rue that moment for the rest of his life.

Stefan Johansson (1) & Alain Prost (2) / McLaren F1 - Detroit 1987

Stefan Johansson (1) & Alain Prost (2) / McLaren F1 - Detroit 1987

To make F1 a bit more fun and engaging, we've implemented a fun game named #F1TOP3, where Formula One fans around the world have the opportunity to win prizes, including brand new limited edition Stefan Johansson Växjö Watch (valued at $7,500)! It's relatively easy: click on the black button above and submit the #F1TOP3 competition form - we give away prizes every Grand Prix!

A quicker alternative is to post on Twitter & Instagram with the following:

  1. Twit/Post a photo and list your top 3 drivers in the correct order along with the hashtag #F1TOP3
  2. TAG:

SJ chats with Jan Tegler: Indy 500, Monaco GP & the FIA Formula 3 European Championship

Stefan Johansson

Jan Tegler – IndyCar followed up an exciting Indy 500 with the “Chevrolet Dual in Detroit” last weekend. Both Honda and Chevy claimed wins during the doubleheader. The racing was curtailed by rain on Saturday and heavily influenced by it on Sunday. Carlos Munoz took his maiden win for Andretti Autosport on Saturday while Sebastian Bourdais won for KVSH Racing on Sunday.

It was a mixed weekend for Scott Dixon with a 5th place finish on Saturday and 20th place finish Sunday after contact with his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Charlie Kimball. You were on hand, what did you think of the racing and the weekend for Scott?

Stefan Johansson – Overall, the weather really put a damper on the whole weekend, especially on Sunday it was just miserable. The weekend wasn’t great for Scott but not a total loss. The way the strategy played out on Saturday turned out to be alright but not great. They were the first car to roll the dice and go to wets but they were about five to six minutes too early once it went green.

They lost about 15 seconds per lap before the rest decided to come in and go to wets. This meant the others had enough time to stop under green, rejoin and still be ahead of Scott. After that there wasn’t enough time left to make an impact on the people in front. Finishing in 5th place wasn’t bad considering the incidents on track and the fact that the race didn’t go the full distance.

On Sunday, things were going well near the end of the race. Scott and Will Power were the only two cars that would have made it to the end on fuel. Running in the top ten, I think Scott had a good chance of winning at that point. But then he was taken out in the accident and that caution basically saved everybody else.

Sebastian Bourdais did a great job and his KVSH Team got him out in front of everybody else on their last pit stop so in the circumstances they deserved the win.  Sebastian is a terrific driver. He didn’t win four Champ Car titles for nothing. He did everything he needed to do given the opportunity on Sunday. It was great to see my old buddy and sparring partner Jimmy Vasser win another race.

Overall though, it was a typical Detroit race, where strategy is more important than speed a lot of the time. Again, the show was great and both races ended up being exciting to watch.

JT – Looking back to the previous week and the Indy 500, Scott seemed to do everything he could have done, driving a perfect race, leading the most laps until the car experienced problems in the final stint. The race was a good one otherwise with a pretty impressive battle between Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power for the win in the last five laps with Montoya prevailing. 

SJ – What happened right at the end was that the radiator got clogged with debris and the engine temperature shot through the roof. He basically had to back off completely. He was running 223 mph laps earlier in the race and could do that all day long on his own. But with the engine temperature so high all he could manage was 217 mph with a tow. He just had no power left and he had to go to safety settings on the steering wheel to preserve the engine.

It was a good race no doubt but personally, I think Scott would have walked it and won if he hadn’t had the overheating. The car was so fast and he was really just cruising all day. He was completely in control of the race. I think he had enough to stay out in front of Montoya and Power.

Unfortunately, if not for all of the “ifs” and “buts” we’d all win lots of races but racing is heartbreaking a lot of the time.

JT – The Indy 500 again proved to be the best racing of the big three on Memorial Day weekend, eclipsing the Charlotte 600 and absolutely burying the parade that is the Monaco Grand Prix.

SJ – It just goes back to what I’ve been saying for a couple years now. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that IndyCar is the best racing in the world right now week-in, week-out. I really believe that. Every race is exciting and there’s action all the time – passing, incidents and good hard competition throughout the field.

It’s just a shame IndyCar can’t relay that to more fans. The Indy 500 had great TV ratings but apart from that race, there is nowhere near enough attention attracted by the series. Instead of spending all the money Chevy and Honda have spent on the new aerokits – millions of dollars for sure – if that would have been allocated to good marketing I think it would have benefitted IndyCar significantly more than these aerokits that no one but die-hard fans sees a difference in.

It’s always easy to be smart in hindsight but I don’t think you can say these aerokits have improved the racing, and I don’t think there were a lot of people who really understood the reason to do it to begin with. As I’ve said many times now, the one thing there was nothing wrong with in IndyCar was the cars themselves and the racing.  They produced great racing and they were affordable to run. All this did was add extra cost for the teams, something many of them could certainly do without. I don’t even want to think what Chevy and Honda spent between them developing these kits.

JT – The Monaco Grand Prix paled in comparison to the Indy 500 to put it politely – a dull race up to the point where Mercedes’ gaffe in pitting Lewis Hamilton from the lead led to his losing the race and gifting the win to teammate Nico Rosberg. It really was simply an embarrassing outing both for Mercedes and Formula One. What’s your view?

SJ – Well, there have been so many comments and arguments there isn’t much to add. It was just a gigantic screw-up on every level. In a way, that kind of sums up the way F1 is at the moment.

Toto Wolff’s (Mercedes team boss) comment - “Data doesn’t lie. We had to go with what the data told us to do in that situation” - it’s simply ridiculous to say that. You’ve got 12 laps remaining. Unless the car has some sort of failure, you just don’t stop in Monaco, end of story. You could be five seconds a lap quicker than the car in front of you and you literally can’t get past. Anyone with the slightest amount of race craft knows that.

I think what triggered the panic at Mercedes was that Lewis was complaining that his tire temperatures were dropping. In fairness, it’s always toughest for the leader to make a call when a caution or a safety car comes out. Whatever he does, the others have the opportunity to do the same or the opposite.

In this case, the general rule of thumb is always – “if in doubt, stay out”. With less than 15 laps to go at Monaco you should never stop unless you have a limping car.

One thing is clear. If Ross Brawn had still been with Mercedes calling the races you know that would never have happened. Ross has the race craft; he and Michael [Schumacher] during their heyday were terrific with race strategy. One reason they were so good and why they snookered everybody so many times on strategy is because they were both trained in sports car racing.

It’s the best form of racing to hone your race craft. You have to make strategic decisions all the time - in every race – for six hours, 12 hours, 24 hours. You can make a season’s worth of open-wheel decisions in one 24 hour sports car race. There’s so much more to consider in every regard – tire wear, fuel consumption, weather conditions, track position.

I think Mercedes’ mistake sums up the mindset in F1 right now. Race craft is a thing of the past, certainly from a driver’s point of view. You don’t need it as a driver. You just listen to your engineers. They tell you to speed up a bit or to slow down, or change a setting on the steering wheel and drivers just drive to whatever commands they get.

That’s one of the reasons so many of the drivers are now paying attention to sports car racing. Nico Hulkenberg is the latest to be part of the trend but I think there are a lot of drivers sniffing around wanting to do sports car racing because they’re racers and they want to race. The racing in F1 isn’t satisfying them anymore to the point where they really get a kick out of it.

For any driver worth his salt, you want to drive a car on the limit for as long as you can. When you can’t do that, what’s the point? The excitement is gone.

JT – Speaking of the mindset in F1 currently, what’s your take on the recent meetings of the series’ “Strategy Group” to discuss proposals for making F1 more exciting? Will anything come out of them?

SJ – No. In my opinion, creating this Strategy Group is one of the biggest mistakes they’ve ever made. It’s had different names over the years but it allows the teams and more importantly, the engineers and designers, to be part of the rule-making process. It’s a disaster and the people involved will never want to change things. They’d like to add more complexity if they can, not less.

If the engineers and designers could have eight wind-tunnels instead of two or more simulators, they would. It never ends. There are two governing bodies in F1, the FIA and the FOM (Formula One Management). They are the ones who should make the rules. They need to be mowell thought out, well-formed rules that can be maintained over as long a period of time as possible. Rules stability will always bring the costs down and make the overall grid more competitive as a result.

The bottom line is that you can’t run any racing series as a democracy. That has been proven over and over again, with Champ Car being a recent and perfect example. I sat in on a lot of the meetings the team owners had and I simply couldn’t believe some of the things I was hearing - never mind the shenanigans going on behind closed doors.

There are, or at least were, two consistently strong series in racing, F1 and NASCAR. And they were both run like benevolent dictatorships but with an iron fist. They were both able to see the bigger picture and where things would go in the future. In the case of F1, Max [Mosley] and Bernie [Ecclestone] together ran the sport pretty well. They didn’t always please everyone and occasionally they would throw a grenade into the proceedings to make people wake up a bit. Then everybody would scream and shout for a couple of weeks. A little later, they’d back off twenty percent from their original positions and after the furor died down everybody would just get on with the job. Lo and behold, that actually worked.

Now the people in the sport waste their times in these meetings and the best they can come up with is a return to refueling during pit stops?

Frankly, who cares? Do they think fans are going to stampede to races again because they have fuel stops? As Christian Horner (Red Bull Racing team boss) said, the only decision they’ve made so far is to ban drivers changing their helmet designs during the season. Last year it was allowing drivers to pick their own car number.

Nothing will result from the meetings. It’s hard enough to get them to agree on where and when to have a meeting because they’re all so suspicious of one another and whatever secret agenda they think the other teams might have. As long as the teams are involved in decisions on the rules-making process it will never work.

Worse, from all of the meetings they’ve had over the last few years not one single proposal has touched on really bringing costs down. Refueling was banned because it was too expensive in the past. How on earth do they think it will be less expensive now?

And being F1, refueling couldn’t be done with gravity-feed fueling rigs in 15 seconds or however long it might take. No, they want it to be done in two to three seconds to match the current time it takes to do tire changes. Imagine, they’d need some ridiculous amount of pressure to the push fuel into the cars that quickly. That’s a recipe for disaster to begin with - why add that complication?

And with pit stops that short what’s the point anyway? I would like to see them bring the human element back into it. How about having two guys in total to execute a pit stop like teams in sports car racing do? Those guys are seriously good at what they do and then you have something that could actually make a bit of difference to the outcome of a race.

Strategy would be more in play because pit-deltas would be close to half-a-minute if not more. Deciding whether to pit or not would make a big difference. The small time it takes to stop now is almost pointless and everybody is pretty much on the same strategy most of the time.

Now, there are four guys on each corner of an F1 car during a pit stop now plus a couple more with the front and rear jacks so it’s 18-total. To me it makes no sense.

JT – Another feature of the current rules that you’re puzzled about is the development “tokens” made available to engine constructors for 2015. Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault were given 32 tokens for power-unit development before the season began to “spend” as they saw fit. Honda was given nine tokens (an average of what the other three engine builders had left ahead of the season’s first race).

SJ – Why don’t they do the same thing - allow only so many development tokens - for the chassis, or the other way around where they leave the engine development open the same as it is for the chassis?

Apparently, it’s ok to have 80 different front wing configurations in a season. Ferrari proudly announced that they started the “development arms race” as they call it. They’ve got a new brake duct with 35 pounds more downforce and ten pounds less drag or whatever the numbers are. Who cares about a brake duct? That alone has probably cost them four or five million dollars to develop.

That’s the level of ridiculousness F1 has got to now. But there are so many things that would be easy to implement to bring down costs. Crash-testing is one area. Each team is required to do crash-testing on their tub and more importantly to pass it, which is not a very easy task by all accounts. Each team is spending a fortune just to pass this test. Why not just give the teams a standard tub and nose that’s approved by the FIA with all of the crash-testing already done? They could just bolt on their own aerodynamic bodywork on top of it.

That alone would take a huge cost burden away. But the big teams in particular don’t seem to want any changes. That defies logic in my opinion. A more competitive, broader field benefits everyone. Without too much effort, a winning F1 team should be able to run for $100 to $150 million per year. Also-rans should be able to do it for $30 or $40 million a season. And in the end, it’s always the top teams that do the winning no matter what. IndyCar is a perfect example of that where it’s basically Ganassi and Penske and occasionally Andretti who do all the winning, despite the fact that all the teams have the same cars.

Teams wouldn’t even strictly need sponsors because everything would be paid for by Bernie and any money they earned above their costs would be profit. At that point, the value of each franchise would go through the roof because people would find that F1 was a business you could actually make money from.

And let’s face it; F1 is still by far the most glamorous and high profile sport in the world. Anyone with enough money and a big ego will always line up to have a go at being an owner. Now, you’re lucky if you can give a team away and have someone else assume its debt. That’s what it has come to. There’s not a team that would be able to sell their operation at a profit right now.

JT – Apart from F1, the cost and viability of auto racing across the spectrum is questionable now, wouldn’t you agree?

SJ – Yes, it’s a tough time in motor racing in general. We keep talking about the teams and series but the promoters are having the same problems. There’s no coincidence that there’s no German Grand Prix, the Italian Grand Prix is currently in doubt. Spa (the Belgian Grand Prix) is right on the limit every year as is the British Grand Prix. No one can make any money.

JT - We’ve mentioned it previously but as time goes on, the FIA driver ratings system seems more and more pointless as a spectator. Obviously, the system is aimed at attracting more gentlemen drivers to sports car racing and generating business for teams but for fans it’s another level of needless complexity.

SJ – I think it started with good intentions. It was basically a way for “gentlemen” drivers who were also supporting the teams financially to be able to compete on high level. Now, all these teams scout the whole world for fast young Formula 3 kids.

These kids are talented and professionally groomed but haven’t been rated yet. It goes against the whole idea of giving the gentlemen drivers a break with the assumption that they’ll bring money to help fund the teams. The rating system is completely out of whack.

The way it used to be sort of worked itself out organically and the end result was more or less the same as it is now. The teams with ambition always find a way to get the results. Those with less ambition end up running a guy who helps foot the bill. All the ratings system has done is basically kill the careers of a lot of very talented professional drivers who simply can’t get a drive because their rating is wrong and there’s not enough room in the teams for them.

JT – One of the more bizarre features of last weekend’s racing was the cancelation of the third leg of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship race at Monza after nine laps due to poor driving standards. Multiple accidents in race-one led to drivers being warned about driving standards. After more incidents in race-two and crashes early in race-three the competition was abandoned. On a positive note, Felix Rosenqvist won all three rounds.

SJ – Felix certainly did the business in Monza with a hat trick both in qualifying and all three races. It can’t get any better than that. Unfortunately, due to the poor driving and all the safety cars, etc. they only handed out half-points for races two and three.

There used to be a kind of silent code of conduct amongst drivers but sadly it’s a thing of the past. There were no real rules as to what you could or couldn’t do in terms of blocking for example - there was just a quiet understanding of how far you would go. And if there was ever a dispute it would get sorted behind the transporters between the drivers themselves and then it would never happen again.

Unfortunately, I think it all started in the mid to late 1980s with some of the drivers that the current generation still looks up to. The code of conduct was just ripped into shreds and then some of the other big names in the 90s took it to a whole other level after that. Because these guys were the stars of their time, now that’s how young drivers think they should drive.

I also think it’s partly because they don’t think they can get hurt anymore. Years ago you were never sure if you’d walk again if you did stupid things like they do now. There’s a whole different mentality today and until you’ve had a big one or two you tend to feel like you can walk on water.