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Nicholas Frankl: F1 Thoughts and Reports



Nicholas Frankl
Senior Editor
The Auto Channel
Formula 1 Racing Desk

Malaysia proved a couple of things to us.

The local audiences and “fans” in general and especially at the “new races” aren't really of any interest and play little if any significance to F1 racing today except “getting in the way” and interfering with Bernie's egress after the race. Secondly it was also demonstrated just how extraordinary the race engineers and engine boffins are.

The rules this year are so complex and the challenges so great that it's a miracle that any of the cars are able to run full race distances.

What I find hypocritical is the FIA’s stated claim of reducing costs and barriers to entry for F1 teams whilst at the same time introducing changes that have cost the teams and engine manufactures over a billion dollars to implement.

I appreciate that in today's PC world that F1 has to be seen to be “green” and certainly it is and the technology is impressive, but does anyone remember when the FIA proudly announced it had planted a forest in some distant land that would offset all emissions associated with F1 for the next 100 years including the transportation of the circles around the world? Planting trees and or reducing deforestation seems to me to be a way easier, cheaper and possibly even more effective policy than the current policy.

Formula E is obviously a concern, but as Bernie stated we already have a global “green” series so why do we need another one?

The real shame is that the racing hasn't improved and “the show” isn't anymore exciting then any previous year when one team got an early start on the field and continued to dominate for the year. This year it's Mercedes time to harvest both championships and even with the points meddling at Abu Dhabi I doubt anyone will stop them.

It might be good news for the Germans and their sponsors and I was happy for Petronas to win their home GP as they have been a steady long term and financially significant sponsor of F1 for over ten years.

The little internal spat at Williams was the only interesting event at Malaysia. Maybe I'm missing something but does any else remember the Ferrari team “ordergate” a few years back, when Schumacher (who I'm very happy to hear appears to making some improvements this week) and teammate Barichello played around at the end of the Austrian Gp and all hell broke loose.

Team orders were officially banned. So then we had the hilarious coded radio messages to various driving to basically “move over”. Now it seems orders are back and thankfully being ignored by the more mature and better established drivers like my pal Massa. As Sterling Moss said, the only driver he ever let past (they didn't have radios in their helmets of course) was FANGIO out of sheer respect. “You race your teammate as hard as any other driver” he was quoted last week and he's right. I can appreciate playing around and having an agreement as the season and championship gets tight, but in race two??

I'm sure Bahrain will provide us with little insight as to how the teams are improving and we won't see anything other than Lewis / Rosberg fighting for pole and the win. RedBull are certainly coming back and Ferrari are also showing promise, but closing a 1 second gap is a big issue and closing a 1 tenth gap is an even bigger (and more expensive) task.

Keep an eye out for Hulkenberg in Force India, he's a very talented driver and the team seems to be quick and reliable this year. I expect some excellent battles with McLaren & Williams throughout the year for spots 4-8.

About Nicholas Frankl

Nicholas Frankl has attended more than 250 F1 Grand Prix in the past 30+ years (1st race age six weeks). He has been writing for The Auto Channel since it started in 1995/6. He managed the Asprey/Ferrari partnership from 1996-99 working closely with Todt, Irvine, Schumacher and Stefano Dominicalli. Visiting the Ferrari factory annually he has a deep insight into the inner workings of the team. He is also an three time Olympic sportsman, having qualified and driven a two-man & four-man bobsleigh in Lillehammer 1994, Nagano 1998 and Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympic Games. He has raced cars in the UK and USA, competed in the Cannonball, Gumball and Bullrun rallies, is a certified private pilot and member of both The Royal Automobile Club and Automobile Club of Monaco. Throughout his life he has visited the majority of F1 tracks and shared drinks and many fun times with many of yesterday’s legends and todays hero’s.

A Word from Nicholas:

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

So where does bobsleigh fit into this mix?

Well, that's me. Gilles Villeneuve I may never (unfortunately) be, but the next best thing (I'm told - and in fact can vouch for) is Formula One on ice. 1994 saw me competing as driver of the first Hungarian bob team in the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, and then onto two more Olympic Winter games. Why am I telling you this? Well, if for no other reason than that you'll at least understand how I gain some insight into the sport we love. Strangely enough, the F1 boys have a real respect for their ice cousins; the speed, G' forces and exhilaration are quite similar. This, however, is only my "off season" hobby. The reason for this intro is to allow me to say HI, From here on I hope we’ll become firm friends, as I follow the F1 circus around the world and you get to pick up all the details. Not just the results, but the gossip too and the first-hand natter you just don't get from the usual sources.

Thanks to my father, whose stories you'll also be reading, I've grown up in the world of motor sport and cars - in fact instead of a birth certificate, I think I was born with a pit pass. It's the sort of life that if you enjoy our sport is tough to beat, so I thought this would be a good way of sharing the fun.