Ingram's Flat Spot On
by Jonathan Ingram
US F1 Will Be Ready
This just in from Europe: America's new Formula One team may not make it to the grid in Bahrain next March to open the 2010 season.
There never seems to be enough of the usual scandal, Machiavellian machinations, Flavio factoids and Bernie bits to fulfill the demands for the latest word in F1. Schumacher officially returns one day, the US and Spain won't send cars to Bahrain the next. It's all on the same scale of ultra-drama according to the news mavens and havens of F1.
Even one Bernard Charles Ecclestone has gotten into what has been a long-playing act. Like any run-of-the-mill politician, the man in charge of commercial rights for F1 is hedging the bet on new blood arriving in F1. Some will make it, he says, some may not.
The flatfoots down the street from Fleet, who are also in the business of hedging bets from time to time when it comes to future events, have smoked out the details. The US F1 and Campos teams are the ones Ecclestone is worried about, they say.
Should any of the four new teams not make it -- which is anybody's guess at this moment -- then Ecclestone will have defused the story of F1's new era falling on its face, at least in Round 1 at Bahrain. (Following the departure of former FIA president Max Mosley, the concept of cost-effective F1 racing now belongs to Ecclestone.)
All this time, I thought the realm of F1 was so sophisticated. Instead, the upper crust and the insiders are falling all over one another to ply the prejudices of the proles and everyday punters who buy the majority of tickets and are the largest category of TV viewers around the world. The Yanks and the Spaniards may not show up after all. Funny how the new British-built entries like Virgin F1 and Lotus are left out of the speculations, eh?
Sorry. These are reliable news reports, not speculations. There have been hordes of paparazzi, snoops, mountebanks, soldiers of fortune and second story men secretly flying into the airport on Billy Graham Parkway in Charlotte to scope out the facilities and operations at the headquarters of US F1. After combing through the trash bins outside the team's facility for shards of carbon fiber evidence and finding none, they've gone on to discover that the technology of NASCAR Valley is all a big hoax. It's still a bunch of lintheads putting cars together with tube frames and tobacco juice while running a little 'shine on the side.
Meanwhile, back in Italy, the current sophistry concerns Michael Schumacher's twin. To keep the tifosi, i.e. the Italian proles and punters, from turning angry rage upon the national team at Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo has declared Schumacher to be of two minds about competing in F1 or staying with Ferrari as a figurehead. The seven-time champion (including five straight at Ferrari) may drive for Mercedes, said Montezemolo, but Ferrari will be in his heart.
Now that's some serious hedging. (There seems to be a theme here: don't blame me, says the domo, I'm merely in charge.)
At least there's been some seriously funny stuff, too, on the Internet recently when it comes to the next American F1 entry being produced in Charlotte. Take, for example, the cartoon of a Sprint Cup car with an F1 machine drawn on the doors and quarterpanels, representing the first known sighting of US F1's new car.
Speaking only for myself, I'm not sure I would swear on the soul of Billy Graham that everybody signed up for the grid in Bahrain will be on the grid in Bahrain. My twin, on the other hand, has seen the new video at US F1.com and he says... .
E-mail of the week: My friend Tom Schultz dropped off this missive on the subject of Jimmie Johnson's four straight NASCAR championships being the story of the year -- and of the decade.
"Come on now, you have to be kidding? Jimmy Johnson winning four straight the top story of the decade? Good grief. Have you forgotten Michael Schumacher winning five straight World Championships, and at a much higher level? Not to mention that under a more legitimate scoring system, not the contrived, show biz 'chase' system, Johnson would have won but two.
"Many other stories would qualify for best of the decade (even though the decade has one year to go). Castroneves winning Indy three times, the long decline and eventual folding of CART/Champ Car as Tony George wins a war far more protracted than he imagined, the sudden revolt in the Hulman-George family with Tony being thrown out, the peaking and start of the decline of NASCAR, and so on.
"As far as the story of the year, I have no doubts in my mind. The totally unprecedented and unexpected triumph of Brawn GP in the World Championship. Couple that to the fact that of the 17 World Championship Grand Prixs, only three were won by teams that have won before, while an astounding eight were taken by Brawn and six by Red Bull. Totally unexpected, unprecedented, and astonishing. That dwarfs by far any activity in the WWF on wheels here in the U.S."
Thanks man -- and next time let me know how you really see it. From the perspective here, Schumacher usually only had to beat his teammates during his championship skein at Ferrari and, well, words escape me on that subject.
As for Brawn GP, I'd put Ferrari and McLaren running the entire season with KERS -- and winning -- ahead of that story.
As for the decade, yes, more to come. I still think Johnson will win a fifth straight title and that the Chase format is more difficult to win, not easier.
See yaw! ...At the races.
Jonathan Ingram can be reached at email@example.com