Monday, 28 September 2009

Singapore GP Report

Perhaps "lighten our darkness" was an apposite phrase for Button and Barrichello for the Singapore GP....

A disastrous start to the weekend for Brawn GP with Barrichello in the wall in qualifying and Button in a lowly 13th place among the mid-field runners was turned (using a mix of luck and strategy) into a championship saving haul of points that looked very unlikely on Saturday night.

In the other championship challenging camp, Red Bull started the weekend well with what looked likely to be a championship rescuing night under the lights. However this soon turned to utter disaster with Mark Webber the victim of a very nasty 180 mph rearward shunt caused by brake failure.

But the ill fortune was not over with possible brake failure also hanging over Sebastien Vettel as his probable second place, and possibly even first place, was taken away by a drive through penalty for pit lane speeding which he served immediately after a car damaging beaching on the huge new humps of the Singaporean track.

Vettel's double Asian adventure has probably cost him the championship and has certainly made Button's first world championship much more likely as he increases his lead over his team mate - and anyone else - to 15 points with 3 races to go, at least 2 of which seem likely to suit the characteristics of the Brawn car. It is still a bit early to celebrate but the odds are now hugely in his favour!

But for all the rivalry between the two teams none of their drivers got onto the podium after 61 incident filled laps. It was Lewis Hamilton who stood on the top step following a faultless pole to flag victory demonstrating that McLaren are back. He was followed by Timo Glock in the Toyota and Alonso in the Renault. A podium of surprises!

Onwards to Suzuka next week.

Graham Benge

Friday, 25 September 2009

So long and thanks for all the exposure..

So the fallout from the recent 'Crashgate' continues to settle as we learn that two of Renault's principal sponsors have jumped ship in the light of the recent murky goings-on.

ING, the Dutch bank which has been the team's title sponsor since the beginning of the 2007 season has effectively torn up its contract with the Oxfordshire-based outfit, citing its disappointment in their actions at the 2008 Singapore race.

Whilst this is obviously a blow to Renault, it should be remembered that ING along with fellow banking giant and Williams F1 backer RBS were to cease their sponsorship at the end of this season anyway in the light of the recent banking crisis.

There had been much debate regarding the legitimacy of these corporations 'frittering away' huge sums of money to have their names emblazoned on what might be seen as the playthings of the rich and famous when only a few short months ago the taxpayer was bailing them out to prevent their demise..

The other aggrieved party in this sponsorship retreat is the Spanish insurance company, Mutua Madrilena, who whilst continuing to back driver Fernando Alonso following his absolvement from having any part in the matter, has also shredded its agreement with the team demanding that their branding be removed from the car with immediate effect.

This will undoubtedly be a humiliating experience for the team as they head into the closing stages of the year, their car and uniforms denuded of the arguably somewhat gaudy livery (in ING's case at least) of their former backers and troubled by the knowledge that they are, for all the hand-wringing and penitence, damaged goods.

Their task of enticing a new title sponsor to put their name over the door will not be made any easier either by the fact that a whole new gaggle of teams are heading to the grid next year - all of whom will be presenting squeaky-clean and untarnished (as yet) 200mph billboards for potential suitors to adorn with their product names.

Couple this to the fact that number one driver Fernando Alonso is almost certainly going to be wearing red overalls next year and it looks like the Anglo-French operation are going to be experiencing a couple of lean years - assuming of course that the French board don't decide that enough's enough and it's time to throw their considerable weight behind a World Rally Team again..

These withdrawals by the two backers at such a late stage in the year could be seen as slightly cynical opportunism on the part of the two financial institutions, given that Renault aren't going to be clinching either Driver's or Constructor's title this year & earning them some much needed brownie points in a climate where banks in particular are seen as publicly-funded bonus-generating machines, but whatever the reasoning, it's a sad day for Formula One & the Renault F1 Team in particular when much needed revenue is cut off under such controversial circumstances.

Formula One relies on patronage from big business whether we like it or not and long gone are the days of visually-uncluttered cars circulating in their national colours with maybe just a small sticker exhorting the public to buy Bloggs Oil or Meldrums Patent Mechanical Widgets adorning their flanks.

The FIA have long wanted to see a drastic reduction in costs and, perhaps, if more big-name corporations decide that they don't want to be associated with what they see as a 'tricky' sport they might just get their way as funding becomes harder to come by.

I think that the best we can hope for is that this unpalatable incident is put behind us as soon as possible and that any potential sponsors thinking of entering the fray see what has taken place as a bizarre aberration rather than the norm.

Otherwise we could soon be watching a grid full of cars that all look like a Brawn..

Dave Wakefield

Monday, 21 September 2009

Renault vs FIA

So the FIA deliberated and, in possibly one of his last acts of vengeance, Max got exactly the result he wanted.

A non-penalty for Renault - in my book a two year suspended sentence does not count as a penalty, there is not even a fine - Renault saved themselves by throwing Flav and Pat to the wolves, in the one case possibly deserved but now we shall never know, in the other case a man of undoubted integrity took " took a hit for the team " as a well known US racer described it to me at Goodwood using American football parlance.

Relations between Max and Flav could not have got worse than they were, Flav was far too voluble in his support for FOTA and now Max has completely isolated Flav, effectively for ever, the sentence being non-involvement in FIA sanctioned events for "an unspecified time".

Pat Symonds is possibly one of the most genuine men in F1. Whether he knew or acquiesced to the Picquet jr crash we shall never know now but banning him from F1 for 5 years probably exiles him to Indy cars.

For Renault, struggling as are all other European car makers, the verdict makes their possible decision to quit F1 less likely in the short term, exactly the result Max and Bernie wanted, they were not keen on another major desertion, but did they dispense with corporate morality with just a gallic shrug or was their prime concern to protect the jobs of over 500 Renault F1 employees.

And what of Alonso, we shall never know how much if any he knew, how much he was involved in the decision, he will simply go off to the FIA's preferred team - the red one - with a clean license but will his conscience be as spotless?

But, if one is to believe the rumours, the bloodletting is not yet over, other very highly placed F1 personnel will yet be required to "fall on their swords" to appease Max's desire for vengeance over the rise of FOTA, be afraid, be very afraid, no-one is safe.

Graham Benge - 21st September 2009

Spitfires and Vulcan above Goodwood

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Race results..

Amid all the nostalgic revelry, it's sometimes easy to forget that there are races taking place here.

Well, those taking place in the races wouldn't thank us if we didn't acknowledge their participation in the weekend's on-track events so here is a potted list of the final placings for Sunday:

Richmond Trophy for Mid 1950s Grand Prix cars;

1st: Richard Attwood, Ferrari 246 Dino

2nd: Frank Stippler, Maserati 250F

3rd: Jochen Mass, Lancia-Ferrari D50A



Barry Sheene Memorial Race;

1st: Pemberton/Gardner, Matchless G50

2nd: Rutter/Russell, Manx Norton

3rd: Witham/Parrett, Matchless G50



St. Mary's Trophy - Saloon Cars;

1st: Gavin/Swift, Mini Cooper S

2nd: Aaltonen/Stanley, Mini Cooper S

3rd: Baldwin/Churchill, Mini Cooper S



RAC TT for 1960s Le Mans-style cars;

1st: Newey/Rahal, Jaguar Lightweight E-type

2nd: Verdon-Roe/Pirro, Ferrari 330 LMB

3rd: Hall, AC Cobra




Brooklands Trophy for Pre-War, Brooklands-era cars;

1st: Nick Mason (yes, THAT Nick Mason), Aston Martin Ulster

2nd: Blakeney Edwards, Frazer-Nash

3rd: Wills, BMW 328

From the Earth to the Moon to Sussex!


Guest of honour this year at Goodwood is none other than astronaut Buzz Aldrin who forty years ago joined Neil Armstrong in a giant leap for mankind.

On a slightly more 'down to Earth' mission today (pun intended), he thrilled the crowds here as Lord March's special guest.

After arriving in a very American Vietnam-era 'Huey', he proceeded to take part in the judging for the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation concours event - a kind of Cartier Style et Luxe for the finest airborne machinery - but not before he'd told the rapt audience how he saw the space programme progressing and informing them that they could thank him for bringing the sunshine with him from the 'States..!

Sunday at the Revival - This is the big one..


Sunday is always seen as The Big Day at The Revival.

The biggest crowds watching the biggest names in the biggest races.

For example, just one hour from now, the TT Celebration - a one hour, two driver race similar to the Le Mans format with two drivers per car will be waved off at 2 o'clock.

This grid of GTs features cars that raced at Le Mans in the early 1960s and are now reputedly worth in excess of £50 million pounds collectively.

Yes, FIFTY million.

And this year is expected to be once more a recreation of those Ferrari versus Aston Martin battles that took place at the beginning of the '60s, featuring a hand-picked retinue of drivers, some from that very era, others plucked from the current Formula One grid.

This might best be illustrated by five-time Le Mans winner, Derek Bell lining up alongside Ferrari F1 test driver Marc Gene (pictured) in a Jaguar vs Ferrari Battle of The Titans.



The TT is the absolute highlight of the weekend for very many of the thousands of spectators who crowd the fences to see some awesome wheel-to wheel action.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Stirling Moss 80 car tribute

Expert opinion on the current Formula One controversy


With privileged access to the Drivers' Club here at Goodwood, Graham has been collaring the great and the good for some expert opinion on the Singapore 'Crashgate' incident which is currently troubling the motorsport community.

Sirs Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart are both vocal in their disappointment with the current state of motorsport's premier category - both speaking their minds as racing's elder statesmen.

Predictably-enough, Red Bull Racing's head honcho, Christian Horner is somewhat more reticent when it comes to the industry in which he is such a major player but even he is perturbed by the incident which took place at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

BBC Radio in the South were keen to hear just what Sir Jackie and Christian had to say about the matter and took the interviews via ISDN line for playout in their Saturday afternoon sports show .
Hear what Sir Jackie had to say about the matter.


Saturday at Goodwood September 19 2009



Well, the sun is shining and the crowds are already thronging the circuit for what promises to be another day of high octane historic action, both on track and in the sky.

It's been said many times in the past but it bears repeating - coming to the Revival is like walking onto a huge film set as one is picked up up from the 21st century and deposited firmly in the immediate post war era, just seeing so many military uniforms worn in the crowd sets the scene, sets the period perfectly.

Even as I write this, US motorcycle despatch riders ride past our studio window - a vista of the very early '40s when the world was a very different place indeed..

Friday, 18 September 2009

Oh, the glamour..


Some slightly less exotic machinery located in "our" back garden.

(observe the sewage pipe in the background(!))

Out and about at the circuit



Queueing up for their turn on the circuit this Friday morning, a Lotus-Climax 15, Porsche 718 & Elva-Climax Mark 4, whilst Sir Stirling waits patiently in his beloved OSCA in the paddock.

UKMT at Goodwood

UKMotorTalk's Graham Benge introduces us to what promises to be an exciting weekend's entertainment at Goodwood.



Qualifying




Friday at the Revival is traditionally practice and qualifying day where drivers vie for their places on the various grids.

Look carefully at the names on these timing sheets and you'll see some quite illustrious faces are here to take part in the races held over the weekend.
(c) Goodwood!


Don't Panic!




Traditionally our neighbours at the Revival have been the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard platoon (or at least some very convincing look-alikes) and we are regularly treated to Captain Mainwaring parading his motley band up and down past the studio window.

Here they are in their full glory playing to an appreciative audience of Revival attendees..


Well, we're finally in..


Yes, the nice techies from Goodwood have not only installed our ISDN line but they have also come prepared with the front door key to the studio (otherwise known as the Hampshire Aeroplane Club).

So, now we're in, the kettle's on and we can get out there and start looking at some cars..

Watch this space..

In the meantime - here's a view from the back door of the studio.



This paddock often contains many millions of pounds worth of irreplaceable metal and is a real assault on the senses with the sound of thoroughbred engines revving accompanied by the heady tang of Castrol R..

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Looking forward to the Goodwood Revival 2009

Yet again, UKMotorTalk will be at the Goodwood Revival producing radio content for a wide variety of clients.... But the best thing is, the largest selection of interviews, photographs and videos will be available on the UKMotorTalk website (www.ukmotortalk.co.uk if it helps!) as they are prepared throughout the weekend...

Keep checking here for progress... Follow us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/ukmotortalk)... And, of course, check out the website www.ukmotortalk.co.uk