It’s amazing to see how Tavo’s recent announcement of the Austin circuit has galvanised the US. Everybody over there seems to look forward to seeing some real motor racing. Even the President himself traveled especially to Austin to hold a big speech, and he was in quite the automotive mood. Talked quite a bit about getting cars out of ditches and knowing how to drive.
There was one particular moment when he shared some deep thoughts that I will not keep from you. He said: “I want you guys to think about this. If you have a car and you want to go forward, what do you do? You put it in “D.” When you want to go backwards, what do you do? You put it in “R.” I’m just saying.”
Some people, especially American politicians, assign some superficial political meaning to this. Think he’s joking. “D” would stand for Democrat, and “R” for Republican or something. Which isn’t funny of course. No gearbox was ever designed with names of political parties in mind. Can you imagine, driving a car with “T” for Tories and “L” for Labour?
No, I know better. There’s some profound wisdom here. I’m going to have this framed and hang it on my office wall.
Many people in the Hungaroring paddock ask me what I think about the latest aborted attempt to get a US team into F1. I have only one answer to that: what attempt?
This Cypher Group or whatever they’re called not being able to rustle up the necessary capital tells me that there’s still a shred of common sense among US investors. Who in his right mind would dump countless millions into an outfit that sits thousands of miles away from the necessary technology and know how to get a proper F1 racer on the track?
But Bernie, I hear you say. The United States are a technologically advanced country. Surely they have all that’s needed to build race cars?
Well, they may have it but they’re bloody well not using it. Their main series still races with carburettor cars. Carburettors! Outside the US, Africa and some parts of Southeast Asia nobody under 35 has ever seen one. OK, I’m forgetting Russia. It’s an engine technology that dates from the 19th century, which makes it even older than me. Nobody, or nothing in F1 should be older than me.
And why do NASCAR prefer carburettors? Because it’s easier to regulate. Thing is, some of their biggest races are on ovals, where you don’t need to actually drive a car. You just need to propel it with great speed along a pre-determined trajectory, so all that matters is engine power. Try to imagine, outdated race cars with Vietnamese suspension hurtling along a giant oval with speeds of up to 200 miles an hour. NASCAR’s answer to this is restrictor plates. It’s a metal plate with holes that you stick in the middle of a carburettor. Who needs high-tech when you can get away with power tools?
But the thing they fear most is Continue reading