Formula 1 and Sky – how dumb does Ecclestone think we are?

I do wonder at Bernie Ecclestone’s ability count and to reason, if it comes to that. Or maybe he simply holds us all in utter contempt and thinks he can get away with the most egregious bullshit – that would be more likely, I think.

Threatening to end the rump of Fi coverage that is still available on the BBC (Guardian), he says:- Continue reading

Formula 1 noodlings…

Well, if this F1 season has shown anything, it’s shown that Frank Williams royally screwed Button when he dumped him in favour of the brilliant but problematic Montoya, forcing Button’s career into the doldrums for 8 years.

It’s looking, this year – diffuser hassles aside – that with a competitive car under him, Button has the potential to be the equal of anyone currently out there, including Hamilton (who is displaying a remarkable lack of loyalty to the team that made him a world champion and, OK, screwed up his first-season campaign, though he, too wasn’t without Continue reading

Vendetta at the FIA…

That McLaren have been summoned to the FIA world motor sport council over the Australian GP lying affair, charging them, under article 151C with “fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally,” should, perhaps, surprise nobody. That the FIA will go to any lengths to fuck with McLaren has been obvious for quite a while. I mean, does anyone really think those dodgy diffusers would have got the nod if McLaren had had them?

The instigator of this whole sorry affair, Dave Ryan, has been fired by McLaren, Hamilton has made a grovelling apology – and needs a kick up the ass for going along with Ryan – and both he and the team lost all their points from Oz. And that should have been the end of it.What more does the FIA want?

This is not a quest for justice, it is a blatant with-hunt – a continuation of the vendetta against McLaren that seems to be hard-wired into the FIA in general and Max Mosley in particular. After the Ferrari affair he continued  bad-mouthing McLaren at every opportunity, long past the point where it was relevant or reasonable. As far as I’m concerned, this is simply more of the same.

There is, at rhe FIA, an institutionally-vindictive, antiMcLaren stance that is obvious to all but the most wilfully blind, and they will not be happy until they have driven McLaren from the sport. Whether that will change when Mosley everntually retires – and FFS, go soon, for the good of the sport, you tedious old fuck – remains to be seen. Whatever happens, the FIA cannot continue to operate in the way it does currently – they are, effectively, a law unto themselves, and that is fundamentally wrong. Change has to come, but that won’t happen until Mosley leaves or is tossed out. Like that’s gonna happen…

Update:- April 29 – Well, as we now know, McL has been hit with a 3-race ban, suspended for 12 months.

For once a sensible decision from the FIA. Let’s hope this signals an end to their anti-McLaren culture. Or was it anti Ron Dennis? However, they really should have drawn a line under the Oz affair, and not left it hanging like that. Make the ban dependent on future behaviour, not the past.

Sadly, though, I think,  if it comes down to a shoot-out between McLaren and Ferrari at the end of the season, “new” Oz information may well come to light. Cynical? Fuck, yeah!

Formula 1 – the farce continues…

So, one race into the new season, and Lewis Hamilton and McLaren have been royally screwed by the FIA. Hamilton and McLaren have been stripped of all points from Sunday’s Australian GP.

The statement from the FIA says:-

“The stewards having considered the new elements presented to them from the 2009 Australian formula one grand prix, consider that driver No 1 Lewis Hamilton and the competitor Vodafone McLaren Mercedes acted in a manner Continue reading

The hatred of Lewis Hamilton…

Udate, November 3. Well, as everyone knows by now, Hamilton is World Champion. That, for reasons I’ve covered elsewhere here, was the only race I’ve watched this season and, really, there’s only one thing to be said – Hamilton was bloody lucky. Right up until the closing seconds, we were on course for a repeat of last year, and only Glock, suddenly  (and mysteriously?), losing momentum, saved the day.

Already, though, the conspiracy theorists are suggesting that Toyota were somehow persuaded to get Glock to lift off at the last second. Any truth in it? Who knows? Personally, I don’t care – even if it’s true it’s no more than payback for the Ferrari/FIA fuck-uppery that went before, at Spa. The boy done good.

I do feel sorry for Masa, though – arguably he deserved the championship, all things considered, at least as much as Hamilton – though had Hamilton not been robbed at Spa, Massa wouldn’t have been anywhere near as close in the points.

Next season, though, I’ll be back watching F1 – there are just so many young drivers coming good right now that it promises – if someone can rein in FIArrari – to be a hell of a season.

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Lewis Hamilton is the most unpopular man in F1, apparently, and based on personal experience, I’m not at all surprised – he’s too good, too soon, in the eyes of many people, and that’s just not acceptable. I know, I’ve been there.

In 2000, I took up archery, a sport so bound up in tradition, natural talent is often stultified. Once you’ve completed your beginners’ course, you’re supposed to buy a beginners’ outfit. Clubs will say that this costs about £50 – but they’ve been saying that for many years and it’s a figure, even in 2000, that was way out of date. £200-£300 was more like it, if you wanted to stand any chance of becoming competitive (and if you don’t want to, what’s the point?).

My club – and I suspect all clubs are the same – insisted that I buy my kit from their preferred archery shop (because they got a commission, though they don’t tell newbies that). Having thoroughly researched archery before even taking my beginners’ course, something I do with any new project, I had a good idea what I wanted, and bought everything online for about a third less than it would have cost me in the archery shop. I bought a decent bow, too, a Hoyt Gold Medallist – cutting edge in its day, and still perfectly competitive in the hands of a good archer. Beginners are expected to buy cheap aluminium arrows (heavy), on the premise that newbies break a lot of arrows – I bought carbon arrows, not too expensive, but nice and light, and decided that I would do my best to avoid breaking them (most arrows get broken ricocheting off the wooden target stands).

Archery clubs are terribly conservative, and the club that shared our shooting ground restricted its novices to shooting at 30 yards – the logic being that when they were proficient at 30 yards, they could graduate to 60 – god knows how long you had to wait to shoot at 100 yards, the maximum. I was having none of that, and rather than join the other novices shooting boringly at 30 yards all afternoon, I shot competitively right from the outset – my logic being that the constant challenge of shooting against people far better than me would help me raise my game, and so it proved and I made tremendous strides, though in my first summer I was terribly inconsistent with the recurve bow, and I was frequently creamed. By then, not toeing the line when I bought my kit, and refusing to be circumscribed in my shooting, I was already a little unpopular.

I also broke ranks by setting up my compound bow (see below), at home, leaving just a final tweak for shooting day – I don’t know anyone else who did that, and I would get very impatient with people keeping us all hanging around while they fettled their bows. It has to be said that compound users were the worst offenders (the opportunities for fiddling with a recurve bow being far fewer). Archers have the chance, usually, to shoot 2 or 3 times a week, apart from the Sunday competition, so why they bugger about with their bows on Sunday, every sodding week, is beyond me. I set my bow up at the start of the season and hardly ever touched it again. If it was windy, I wouldn’t use the windage adjustment on the sight, I’d simply adjust my aim, instead (called aiming off), that way I could compensate for the vagaries of the wind instantaneously.

I couldn’t do much with the normal recurve bow, as I said (that’s the type of bow you may have seen in the Olympics), and the only tournament I entered I came very close to last, so I switched to a compound bow (the one with the cables and pulleys) in the winter of 2000-2001, during the indoor season. The immediate advantage of a compound bow is ease of use – vital for a disabled archer like me. The power of a bow is called the draw weight – the amount of effort, in pounds, it takes to draw the bow. With, say, a 40lb recurve, at full draw the entire 40lbs is held on your fingertips, not to mention the effort of drawing the thing in the first place (archers on the Mary Rose were equipped with bows up to 100lb, which I don’t even want to think about, except to say, pass the truss). The pulleys and cables of a compound effectively gear down the draw weight so that you only experience a fraction of it – in the case of my own bow, that’s 60% of the full 38lb draw weight (it’s slightly more complicated than that, but it’ll suffice for our purposes).

Compound bows also a have a precision sight, with a front and rear sight, very like a gun sight (the rear sight is inserted into the bowstring), unlike the semi-instinctive sights of a recurve (a bit like a shotgun, with just a front sight) – and I liked that precision. I also upgraded my arrows, to those made from a very thin and light alloy tube, wrapped in carbon fibre, expensive at £12 each, with at least a dozen needed – an archer needs at least two sets of six arrows – even the best archer breaks one now and again. A friend, who shot recurve pretty well, liked my arrows and bought a couple of sets – and was reduced to tears one day, shooting in a gale, when arrow after expensive arrow rattled off the woodwork and shattered, or missed entirely and vanished (if you missed the target, they went a hell of a long way).

My compound outfit cost around £1,000 (and that was pretty cheap, I could, if I’d had the money, have paid 2 or 3 times that), and armed with it I made a happy discovery; I was a natural. I went from nowhere to second class in three weeks at the start of the season – something that takes some archers years, and by the season’s end, I had the joint lowest handicap in the club. I also took a gold medal at club level, indoors.

Buoyed up by that medal, that summer I entered the Bebington Open Tournament, and to everyone’s surprise, including my own, I came third in the unlimited compound class. A few weeks later, in the Wirral Open, I bagged another third, and over the course of the last few weeks of the season I took at least one club record a week, ending the season with 1 gold medal, 2 bronze, and 6 or 7 club records to my name. Pretty damned good for my first season with the compound (the previous season, with the recurve, had mostly been an exercise in futility, though I did get one indoor gold medal at club level – I just wasn’t progressing as quickly as I felt I should have been).

I shot every time I could – Saturday practice, Sunday competition, and Tuesday and Wednesday evenings during the week, hail, rain or snow. It was at the evening shoots that I fell in with two young guys, from the other club, who were frustrated at being restricted to 30 yards (for some reason I could never fathom, they travelled a fair way when there was an excellent and extremely competitive archery club on their doorstep), so I shot with them and taught them what I knew and, by the end of the summer, they could more than hold their own at the longer distances, even though their club still kept a tight rein on them. I think that’s a terribly restrictive policy – if you don’t constantly challenge yourself, especially in sport, you don’t learn and you improve only slowly. Doing it my way, I went from an absolute beginner who couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn if I was inside it, to, in the space of 18 months, a second-class archer heading swiftly towards first-class, with a handful of medals and many of the club records in my class. Don’t get the idea that any of this came easily, I worked my ass off to achieve as much as I did.

You’d think, then, that a novice who accomplished so much so quickly would receive at least a little approbation from his colleagues – not a bit of it, and this is where the parallels with Hamilton come in. Like him, I knew how good I was, and I didn’t hide that -why should I, I’d worked for it? (I don’t think I had Hamilton’s arrogance, but I was intensely competitive, and very few champions in any sport ever achieved that status by being modest and self-effacing, and the need to psych oneself up is often perceived as arrogance – I don’t have a problem with Hamilton’s arrogance at all – if that’s what it is.)

Anyway, instead of my fellow archers being happy for me, and for the kudos I’d brought the club, of course – they didn’t hesitate to take the credit for training me (but once I was out of the beginners’ course I pretty much trained myself; true, I made some errors, but the results, surely, speak for themselves), all I got was increasing resentment and thinly-disguised hostility. Not from everyone, it’s true, but from the older members of the club who’d been involved in archery for many years, and had no hesitation in saying that what I was doing was improper, that I should know my place, and do what they did and progress in a stately manner over a period of years, not with such unseemly haste. To which I could say only one thing. Bollocks! Eventually, it all became so tiresome I just walked away and, sadly, that winter a shoulder injury put me out of archery permanently. The shoulder of your bow arm has to be strong, not least because, in my case, my bow weighed in at over 8lb; not a lot, you might think, but when shooting you’re holding the thing out at arm’s length for much of the afternoon. Try holding a 2.5kg bag of spuds – about as heavy as a recurve outfit – out at arms length, in front of you, for 2 minutes, then try that with a 5kg bag and you’ll get a feel for my compound outfit. And, of course, as well as the pysical weight of the bow, you have the draw weight – all of it, with a recurve – taken entirely by your shoulder – visualise having to do that 144 times in a competition, and you’ll appreciate why a shoulder injury, to my bow arm, put me out of contention.

It comes as no surprise, then, to see the detestation and hatred of Hamilton becoming so public. Partly it’s an attempt to psych him out, but mostly it’s simply vicious resentment of the fact that, already, he’s accomplished more than they ever will, especially that great white hope, Jenson Button. True, he’s a nice guy, but he never lived up to the hype the way Hamilton has, and is now just another also-ran. Of course, without also-rans there’d be no race, so that’s not derogatory, but it does seem to be the guys who have so publicly failed to fulfil their potential (Webber, for example), that are bad-mouthing Hamilton. Them and the fuckwit, racist, Spaniards.

Sad to say, Hamilton does seem, too often, to flag under pressure, so I just hope that, today, both he and McLaren (who, let’s face it, let him down, big-time, last year), keep it together, and he takes the championship. I’d be happy to see Massa win, though – just don’t quote me on that! He’s a nice guy who has the misfortune to drive for the most despicable and unsporting team in Formula 1. Mind you, he does sound, unfortunately, very like Latka Gravas, from Taxi. . .