Letters

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An opportunity taken

Sir,

I am disappointed at the amount of correspondence you have received criticising Lewis Hamilton and ITV’s Grand Prix coverage. Lewis was given an opportunity many years ago by Ron Dennis and he and his father, through hard work and determination, have made the best of that opportunity. There have been many other youngsters over the years who have had support from an early age, only to disappear. Lewis could have easily let it all go to his head and wasted that opportunity.

I agree that ITV have been hyping up Lewis – what else would you expect? TV coverage has to appeal to all sections of the audience, not just us petrol heads. How many times have we watched a Grand Prix under the control of a local director only to see the local ‘star’ plod around on his own? As for Christine Potts’ comments [Hype pressure, January], I do not recall ITV covering GP racing when Moss and Fangio were driving.

Let us celebrate Lewis for what he is – a young, level-headed, gifted British racing driver. OK, so he was in the best car, but he still had to use it to his advantage; witness some of the overtaking manoeuvres he pulled off. As for the situation behind the safety car in Japan, surely the leader is the one controlling the pace, and it is up to the other drivers to control their pace to suit? You don’t get to be World Champion by holding the door open and being polite.

As for Christine Potts saying that McLaren were found guilty – guilty of what precisely? As far as I recall, all the hearing found was a lot of ‘likely’ scenarios. I hope she is as damning of Ferrari, who won the Australian Grand Prix with a car later to be declared illegal. All this has been perpetrated by Messrs Coughlan, Stepney and now Phil Mackereth. They have brought our sport into public disrepute; they should be banned for life by the FIA and put in the stocks on the inside of Copse at this year’s British Grand Prix.

Ben Dickens, Ryhall, Stamford, Lincs

A legend to be celebrated

Sir,

I am writing in response to letters in your December issue about Lewis Hamilton. Having also read less than complimentary comments about Lewis in the national and sporting press, it is apparent that those criticising him have very little understanding of his natural talent.

It appears we have a legend in the making of the same calibre as Jim Clark and Stirling Moss. I feel that it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all of us. Is it possible that he appears to be more than perfect, because he has a balanced personality and very good manners?

Columnists, reporters and members of the public should remember that Lewis has served a very lengthy apprenticeship with Ron Dennis and McLaren, who obviously could see the potential. Had they been true motor sport fans, or enthusiasts, they would have watched his very lengthy and successful rise through the formulae culminating in GP2 in 2006, and realised this hidden talent was waiting to be shown to a wider audience through Formula 1.

Andre C Wells, Lewes, East Sussex

True or false?

Sir,

Your January letters pages raised that age-old question: are these letters real or are they written by the editors? The idea that ‘true’ enthusiasts should be happy that that ‘big-head’ Lewis Hamilton lost and the FIA showed him favouritism is truly a celebration of the diversity of mankind. Presumably he is one of the ‘boys’ who will suffer without traction control. Your correspondents are in for a miserable few years, I think.

Ian Mann, Divonne les Bains, France
[Those were the opinions of readers – Ed]

Just desserts

Sir,

Mr Bondoni (Letters, January) may be correct in saying that he speaks for the majority of F1 enthusiasts in stating that “the team and driver who deserved to win actually won”, but this is a total misconception. There is no such thing as any driver deserving to win, there is only the driver who has won. Saying that a driver deserves to win is an opinion, not fact; the fact is Kimi Räikkönen won the championship. Tribunals aside, I wonder if we would be saying that Lewis deserved to win if the stewards had disqualified Williams on the fuel temperature issue, which could have happened if the FIA had its checking criteria/procedure up to speed.

As for national chauvinism, I am all for it, whether it be Michael Schumacher’s fervent German support or the tifosi backing anyone who drives a Ferrari. This is great for the sport – it is passion, it is a national differentiator. National pride is an essential ingredient in motor sport and every other sport. I love Le Mans every year because it has all the fans showing their national pride on everything they wear or carry to the event. Long may it continue, and long may the Finnish come to motor sport and show us all what national pride is about.

Martin Cotton, Letchworth Garden City, Herts

It takes two

Sir,

The ludicrous farce of the recent spying rows has all the air of a High Court decision and totally blames and unfairly penalizes McLaren for the Byzantine power plays which Ferrari has long been known for.

Of course Mr Coughlin was wrong to take the Ferrari documents but he had them at his home, something McLaren was not in a position to do anything about. Getting text messages from

Mr Stepney about classified aspects of Ferrari procedure should not switch the verdict from a suspended sentence to an eye-watering fine. If anything, Coughlin and Stepney should face life bans from the sport and the $100 million fine should have been shared between Ferrari and McLaren – it takes two to tango.

How Max Mosley, who once said he would not stand more than twice for FIA president (I guess because it was too easy to become like J M Balestre), can switch from being president to head judge in this matter is beyond me, especially as I am led to believe Ron Dennis and Mosley are not great pals. However, I suspect as soon as

Ron had called him regarding Alonso’s demands, Max saw an opportunity to fund some of his own pet projects.

The episode of name-calling and threatening libel action between Max and Jackie Stewart offered some comic relief to the situation. Unfortunately this has faded as the idea of both parties bringing episodes of sharp practice to court would not do either any good.

But this is a poor example for the future, and now Renault has been up for the same offence. If the FIA had extracted the same penalty from them as McLaren (and not doing so has surely totally discredited them) it would make Carlos Ghosn, already lukewarm on the idea of F1, wonder why he continues to lose millions on it.

Incidentally, I wonder what kind of car the clerk working at the copy shop where Trisha Coughlin put the Ferrari documents onto disks is driving now?

Heath Newland, Lombard, Illinois, USA

Legal thieving

Sir,

This is getting absurd! At what point is ‘spying’ actually ‘spying’? Is looking at, photographing, or studying published photos of rival teams’ cars technically not spying?

This has been going on since the beginning of F1 – why start this regulation now? All it’s doing is making it look as though the sport is run by petty-minded bureaucrats.

Is it really sensible to believe that when Colin Chapman introduced ground effects, the rest of the teams independently ‘discovered’ the same principles? Rubbish! They copied them after looking at the car itself and at public-domain pictures – in other words, ‘spying’.

This is going to destroy the sport: every team will sue or be sued over some such trivialities on a weekly basis. I have a suggestion for the FIA – allow the teams to go at it as they always have, pinching ideas left, right and centre, but make each team keep a log of what they have ‘liberated’ from competitors. Then, at the end of each year, publish a compendium of all the logs for the sporting public – it’d make fascinating reading! And, when read in conjunction with a team’s performance, it’d give a pretty direct insight into what the major improvements were.

John Lillicrap, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, USA

Compensation culture

Sir,

In reference to your Renault factory visit, don’t forget that Super Aguri and Force India are also within “an easy drive from the dreaming spires of Oxford”. I frequently speak to all the local teams as part of my job plus some of the outside sub-contractors – I would have thought that the forgotten two teams will be most upset for not receiving a mention!

Like I say, I won’t be the only reader to notice this, so I think an apology is due or maybe a few million pounds compensation would go down better. If you talk nicely to Max, I’m sure he may have some of the McLaren fine still available – but you’ll have to be quick.

I would like to say that Andrew Frankel appears to have had a good stint. It may not be all down to the editor, but collectively Motor Sport is much easier on the eye. I have only just received my copy, but I’m sure that by the time I’ve finished with it, it will be in a pretty poor state like all the others I’ve read.

On an unrelated matter, I have to agree with your letter ‘Special K’, from January’s edition, regarding the Goodwood Revival meetings. I am glad to hear that I am not the only one who has noticed something other than the original engine is powering many of these cars.

Matthew Aust, Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire

An even larger margin

Sir,

I take exception to your claim that Jackie Stewart’s 1968 German Grand Prix win was the “biggest-ever margin in Grand Prix history”.

Actually, it was Jim Clark at the 1963 Belgian GP who holds this honour. Clark was almost five minutes ahead of Bruce McLaren, who finished in a total time of 2hr 32min 41.6sec compared to Clark’s 2hr 27min 47.6sec. All drivers used the same Dunlop tyres and Clark managed to take the lead at the first turn from the third row on the grid! Near the end of the race Clark allowed McLaren to unlap himself.

In the 1968 German GP, Jackie Stewart finished in 2hr 19min 3.2sec compared to the 2hr 23min 6.4sec of second-placed Graham Hill.

It must be noted that Stewart used wet-weather Dunlops with custom grooves, which proved a significant advantage in pouring rain. Hill used wet-weather Firestones, which were definitely not competitive in the wet during the 1968 season. Hill spun at one point but was able to get out of the car, push it back in the right direction and get it restarted to finish in second place. This spin contributed greatly to Stewart’s winning margin.

Jim Kinder, via e-mail

Off again, on again

Sir,

Having been an ‘on-off’ reader of Motor Sport for some 55 years I found the January issue particularly interesting. The reason for my ‘on-off’ purchases of the magazine, to which I now subscribe, are related mostly to the equally ‘on-off’ approach of the magazine to contemporary Grand Prix racing, wonderful in the days of DSJ but tending to be less well reported since his time until recently when there seems to have been a resurgence, fuelled, no doubt, by such circumstances as the Hamilton phenomenon.

Nonetheless, the magazine’s concentration on the historical side of motor racing has got its appeal for me – not surprisingly, I suppose, as I now approach 80! My attention was caught by the article about Froilán Gonzalez and his first GP win for Ferrari over the previously dominant Alfa Romeos in 1951. I was there, having just been demobbed following my National Service.

I had no car of my own so my girlfriend and I journeyed to Silverstone by coach.

But the meeting was historic, in my view, for more than Gonzalez’s win in the GP. Two of the original BRMs competed, driven by Whitehead and Walker. They didn’t shine, coming in fifth and seventh as I recall. I think it was the first GP, if not the first significant race of any sort, that they had entered. But it was probably their most successful race ever, bearing in mind the competition they were facing.

The other reason to remember the meeting arose with the 500cc F3 supporting race. A new car to challenge the dominant Coopers appeared. It was a Kieft and it was driven by a young up-and-coming driver, Stirling Moss. He won convincingly and went on to greater things!

James Dallaway, Sydenham Hill, London

Terrier bloodline

Sir,

In your January issue, in the footnote on page 60 to Doug Nye’s “Mechanics Tales” article, it is stated that “Len Terry started out with his own 750 special, the JVT”. The JVT was a Ford-engined Austin Seven special built by John V Teychenne (hence the name of the car), the founder of the Progress Chassis company that built all the early Lotus spaceframes, and a close friend of Colin Chapman. It was built at the same time as Colin and the Allen brothers built the

Mk III Lotus, and owed much to that design. He later sold it to Len Terry, who raced it with some success in the 1172 Formula. Then Len used all the components in a new chassis so that it became the Terrier, and was so successful it used to beat the Lotus Sevens!

Peter Ross, Cuckoo Mills, Falmouth, Cornwall

Local hero

Sir,

I recently read the October issue of Motor Sport and being a motor racing and Jaguar enthusiast I enjoyed your tribute to Tony Rolt in your editorial. As you rightly state, the word ‘hero’, like ‘great’, is a much-overused word in the English language today.

I have in my possession a copy of the ‘Official 6d Programme’ for the first Blackpool Rally in June 1936, and among the 222 entrants from six starting points is A P Rolt, who started from Manchester in a Triumph. I think he would have been just 17 at the time and it would have been one of his first events. The event was won by a Fiat 508S Balilla driven by Stanley Tett, my father.

Peter Tett, Brisbane, Australia