By Peter M. De Lorenzo
Detroit. No, I'm not talking about the piercing shriek that used to define an F1 car at speed before the onset of the latest turbocharged era, that discussion will continue indefinitely as the new cars leave a lot to be desired when it comes to visceral appeal. I'm talking about the whining embodied in Niki Lauda's outrage over Bernie Ecclestone's criticism of the new turbocharged engines in F1, in a recent interview in AUTOSPORT magazine. Lauda was also upset with Ferrari's Luca di Montezmelo, who is campaigning for a change in regulations to allow more fuel in races.
Whatever you say, Niki. I will grant that whining is one of the key ingredients of F1, however, and Lauda was just adding his own specific aria to the ongoing cacophony that defines F1 in the modern era.
That Lauda is a non-executive chairman of Mercedes-Benz and the Mercedes-Benz F1 team is off to a fabulous start this season is beside the point, as he took great pains to point out. "I do not care who wins, but it is extremely unfair now if everyone moans and bitches because the first races were won by Mercedes," Lauda said. "Red Bull and [Sebastian] Vettel bored everybody over the last half of the season by winning nine races, and nobody said anything. That is unfair."
Lauda believes that the one good race in Bahrain should silence all of F1's critics for good - including Ecclestone and di Montezemelo - and that we should all move on and F1 will be just fine if everybody stops whining, especially those directly involved in the sport. He might have a point there - in an honor among thieves kind of way - but it's hard to muster much sympathy for that roving band of carpetbaggers in F1 who suck up the landscape - and the cash - everywhere they go and expect us all to be enthralled by the privilege of just being allowed to witness the spectacle. Thankfully, more and more people are seeing through that ruse.
Was Bahrain "a proper motor race" as our Brit fans love to say? Yes, it was. But does it really change anything about F1? No. F1 exists in a vacuum unto itself: A sanitized, orchestrated, pasteurized notion of what racing should be in a perfect world. A perfect world where everyone has unlimited budgets, and even the "have not" teams tour the world like visiting potentates.
That a cracking good motor race emerges once in a while is a testament to the True Believers within the sport who still care about the actual racing, but they continually get drowned out by the noise generated by the politicians and the players all jockeying for superiority in the F1 fiefdom. Everyone involved in F1 wants a level playing field, but then again who's kidding whom? They don't really want that, like all racers they want the Next Big Thing, something that no one else has or can get their hands on anytime soon. And everyone in F1 complains when one team is dominant - unless it happens to be their own team - then, everything is just glorious. And so it goes.
F1 is so far removed from what racing should be about at this juncture that it has become almost silly to do any hand-wringing about it at all. It just is what it is.
And the whining will likely continue on indefinitely.
Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD
(Photo courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)
Jackie Stewart and Ken Tyrrell and the Tyrrell 001 F1 car - the first machine to bear Tyrrell's name - at its unveiling in England in 1970.
Publisher's Note: Like these Ford racing photos? Check out www.fordimages.com. Be forewarned, however, because you won't be able to go there and not order something. - PMD