No medals for rule meddling

Doug Nye is remarkably prescient in this month’s Motor Sport. When he filed his story about Formule Libre and mused how ‘run what you brung’ could find itself back in fashion in these straitened times, we had no idea that within a matter of days the FIA would announce an unfettered (at-a-price) Formula 1 rules package for 2010. Spooky. It was almost as if they knew…

It’s not quite Formule Libre, of course, but it certainly isn’t Formula 1. It’s F1a and F1b, which really is very daft. But don’t forget, little of what went on in the run-up to Australia had anything to do with actual motor racing.

Rather than getting excited about what could be the most open F1 season in years, we had the wins-over-points decision, followed by the subsequent u-turn (Stefano Domenicali was quite right to call it “embarrassing”), the much more important £30m budget cap announcement for 2010 (how many jobs are going to be lost in the wake of this decision?) and the potentially explosive row over the diffusers on the cars of Toyota, Williams and Brawn (yawn).

It didn’t have to be this way, of course. But Max Mosley does like to exercise that giant intellect of his by toying with this pastime that’s kept him amused for 40 years now. Those silly F1 teams have been getting above themselves, forming a ghastly union. So let’s give them a gentle reminder of who’s in charge. Well done, Max. Beautifully done.
Oh well, it could be worse. Jean Todt could be running the sport…

You might be surprised to find Flavio Briatore gracing our cover this month. I admit, it’s a bit of a departure. Briatore is not a ‘racing man’, his passion is cold, hard business. But he is also, in our opinion, the best ‘manager’ in modern F1 and understands instinctively what it takes to be a winner.

When you meet Briatore you very quickly understand why he has had so much luck with all those supermodels over the years. The guy has genuine charisma, something in short supply these days in F1, and despite his lack of racing background in many ways he is actually a throwback to earlier times. It took years for Flav to be truly accepted in the paddock, but his record of success at Benetton/Renault has won most people round.

Read Nigel Roebuck’s interview. In almost every respect, Flav talks sense. Which is perhaps more than can be said for Mr Ecclestone, who is also interviewed in this issue. Joe Saward’s piece will leave you gawping.

Whatever happens in the appeal courts, no one can really take away the special achievements of Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Ross Brawn and the whole Brawn team at the Australian GP. Button did exactly what we always knew he could do with the right equipment, while Brawn cemented his place among the engineering – and now team owner – greats. What a wonderful story: many congratulations to all concerned, on a great day for the sport.

As we settle into the season here at Motor Sport, we look ahead safe in the knowledge that the magazine is in rude health. Our readership figures for 2008 confirm that we are the fastest growing car magazine in the country, which is something to be proud of. Our 12.6 per cent rise in readership is down to you. From everyone here, thank you.