Editorial, December 1997

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You probably thought Richard Noble’s Thrust SSC project was over. With the record raised and the barrier broken, there would not seem to be a lot left to do. Not so. For Noble and the team there is work to be done that’s as serious as any in the seven years it took for the project’s goals to be realised. The bottom line is this: The team is deep in debt and it needs money now. Your money. If you have already finished reading Richard’s extraordinary account of this venture, then you’ll already be tempted to reach for your cheque-book. If not, then I urge you to turn back to page four, and read his story.

I’d like to offer a little encouragement to anyone who might be wavering. I will give a free one year subscription to the first 20 of you who sends us a cheque for at least £100 made out to ‘SSC Programme Ltd’. Do not worry about your cheque missing the boat; If your cheque arrives after the first 20, we will call and offer its return within three working days. If you already subscribe, we will extend your subscription for another 12 months. If you can’t quite stretch to £100, we cannot offer you a subscription but we can make sure any cheque you write reaches Richard without delay. Similarly, if you feel more disposed towards rather longer numbers, I wouldn’t want your imagination to be limited by any figure suggested by me. Also if you would like to join the Mach One Club, write to: PO Box 77, Hampton, Middx. TVV12 2XN. Web-jockeys among you can also tune in on http://thrustsscdigital.co.uk

* * *

At first there was laughter, then disbelief and, finally, derision. As news of what the FIA considers appropriate punishment for deliberately ramming your rival in an attempt to deny him the world title filtered into this office, we thought it was a spoof. But no, Michael Schumacher has escaped the proper consequences of his action while the FIA sent a message to anyone caring to listen that such behaviour is really not that serious at all.

What depresses me most is the situation the FIA will find itself in when, quite inevitably, this happens again. You’ll not need reminding that there have been four close title fights in the last decade and all bar one has been similarly resolved. Either it shows similar mercy and F1 takes one more step towards organised anarchy, or it comes down on the driver with the force his actions deserve, making its former judgement all the more bizarre and the latter unfair by comparison. The choice between appearing inconsistent and incomprehensible is not one I envy.

* * *

It has been said more than once since Schumacher’s blunder that, because drivers never behaved in such a cavalier fashion in the past, this somehow makes them better human beings. I find it easier to believe the chance of getting killed in such a manoeuvre proved an adequate deterrent. ha Personal integrity, sadly, has often to take a back seat in the awesomely unsentimental business of modem Grand Prix racing and while Collins and Moss considered abandoning the chance of the world title as simply the right thing to do, I’d like to meet the modern F1 driver who dared use this argument to explain to a Williams, Dennis or Todt why he just gifted the title to the opposition.

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