Letters

Tyre stop ruined nail-biter

Sir,
I can’t help but reflect on what a stunning race to the flag we might have witnessed at Monza if not for the mandatory tyre stop rule. We had a classic situation of a driver with a faster car riding the tail of a driver making not a hint of a mistake under pressure. Yet any chance of watching this nail-biter play out to the end was ruined by the arbitrary, artificially imposed rule requiring a tyre stop.

Drivers and teams should be free to employ more divergent strategies and decide on their own whether they will run a faster race with two sets of tyres and a pitstop, or one set and no stop. This would add to the arsenal of a thinking driver who can care for his tyres over a race distance, which was one of the aims of ending fuel stops so that the races were no longer just flat-out sprints.

The more different ways in which drivers and teams can choose to run a race is what will add to the spectacle. An enthralling race was ruined by this silly rule. Get rid of it, and let the drivers and teams decide when and if to employ tyre stops. As for whether Button would have been able to hold off Alonso to the end or not, sadly we’ll never know. And we’re all the poorer because of it.
Peter Dick, Toronto, Canada

Technology to the fore

Sir,
Modern Formula 1 has ceased to be the pinnacle of technical progress as it has become compromised by the needs of vested business interests. Every year advancement is stifled further. It is hard to think of a technical advancement that has not been banned or restricted since the introduction of carbon fibre in the 1980s.

F1 is dominated by major manufacturers with vested interest in conventional technology. Why would they want revolutionary change? No company with a vested interest in established technology ever does.

There is scope for progress. Modern engines turn approximately one third of their combusted energy into mechanical energy. Approximately two-thirds goes out as heat through the cooling system and exhaust. Major energy re-capture is possible and should be encouraged. At last we have the glimmer of hope in a fuel consumption formula, but key to this we must get rid of the other unnecessary restrictions such as engine capacity limits. Engineers must have a clean sheet of paper upon which to design their most efficient engine.

The time has come for a premier formula, regulated by engineers and run by sportsmen for the advancement of technology on a sporting platform. Such a formula could complement modern environmental directions and alternative technology enterprise as well as motor sport businesses.
Patrick Irwin, Port Melbourne, Australia

It’s out of order!

Sir,
Long ago I lost the concept that Formula 1 was a sport – man and machine against man and machine. But the idea that the FIA and the World Motor Sport Council could treat me and millions of fans like mushrooms is beyond the pale.

I and those millions who watched and listened to coverage of the German Grand Prix, witnessed a regulation being broken by Ferrari, and to use the mitigation that most teams employ team orders is also breaking the rules. But in this case Ferrari was caught out. The rants of Bernie Ecclestone and ‘Ferrari International Assistance’ that the rules need to be looked at again only provide more evidence that the regulation was flouted (a regulation made after the Ferrari team orders controversy of 2002, involving none other than Jean Todt).

In Germany a fine was issued on the spot and the offence was determined by track officials to require a more severe penance than they could give. Are we then to believe that us fans, the track officials, Eddie Jordan and the regulations were wrong? I for one feel let down, and will not be viewing F1 again for a long time.

I wonder what horse racing fans would do if a trainer with two horses and riders in one race was to have one slow down to allow the other to score more points in the Jockeys Championship? Team orders or illegal race fixing – whichever, Ladbrokes would not be pleased.
John Holden, York

Time well spent with Moss

Sir,
I have just returned from the Oulton Park Gold Cup where I watched Sir Stirling Moss competing in his own Trophy race. Afterwards he had to be helped from his OSCA, and no doubt he is still feeling the effects of his recent accident. But once he had left his car he presented trophies to the race winners. He was then mobbed as he walked back to his motor home, signing autographs and posing with fans for photos.

Once there he then sat down and proceeded to sign more autographs. I watched for about 20 minutes and was amazed at the age range of fans presenting him with programmes, drawings etc. Despite his years and the fact that he had just completed an obviously tiring race Stirling gave each and every person a moment to remember.

It was a pleasure to watch him race, but it was a bigger pleasure to see the high esteem in which he is held by the public.
Ron Wood, Dodleston, Cheshire

More on BRM please, Doug

Sir,
I realise it is not in your interest, but could you stop Doug Nye writing articles for you as it seems to be slowing down production of volume four of BRM – the H16 and maybe early V12 years – which I am hugely keen to see. I would happily devil for him if he needs a researcher or sub-editor, and it would help bring this oeuvre to the light of day…
Nigel Urwin, Camberwell, London

Don’t stop me now…

Sir,
I thought Andrew Frankel’s comments on performance/supercars’ small fuel tanks long overdue (Road Cars, August issue), and it will be good to see whether any manufacturer responds by offering a larger long-range tank as an option.

My old M635 CSi only has a range of around 250 miles and it is a bore to have to stop when enjoying a good long-distance drive, especially during the wee hours when many non-motorway road stations are just not open. I always carry an extra 10 litres just in case…
Richard Fiennes, Tetchill, Shropshire

Riders who hit double top

Sir,
‘Fast’ Freddie Spencer’s 500cc-250cc double may well have been unique (On Two Wheels, September issue), but his fame probably owes more to his persona. Motorcycle ‘doubles’ per se have been far from rare, with several riders winning 125/250, 250/350 or 500/350 titles. This depended primarily on what classes their works machines were entered for, since it was not at all uncommon for riders to race in several classes. Indeed, it should be remembered that in 1966, the peerless SMB Hailwood nearly won a unique triple of 500, 350 and 250 classes.

Today’s riders and drivers are ‘class specialists’ rather than ‘racers’ – and see themselves as ‘athletes’. Expanding on that idea, it would be good to have a wheeled heptathlon or decathlon to really sort out who can race – and who can’t!
Paul Samways, Methwold, Norfolk

Eric Oliver, driving instructor

Sir,
I’ve just seen your article on Jenks and Oliver’s home on wheels (Doug Nye, September issue). I won a World Championship with Eric in 1953 and drove the Austin ‘Three-way’ van all over Europe, including a trip to Casablanca.

Eric and I had a minor crash at the Nürburging and he sustained injuries that made it impossible for him to drive to the next meeting in France. I had never driven a car before but drove the Austin, complete with caravan, over the Alps to Berne and on to Italy, with Eric giving me lessons en route. I ended up doing all the driving the rest of that season, and Jenks was a good friend of mine. I took a driving test in Birmingham in 1954 and passed in such a way that the examiner wanted to know where I had learnt to drive. He was surprised when I told him the full story…

My compliments on your magazine.
Stan Dibben, Lechlade, Glos

JYS the peacemaker

Sir,
Last month I was at St Pancras train station, going through the security procedure of getting scanned and X-rayed before boarding the Eurostar to Paris, when I had the pleasure of meeting the biggest idiot alive. This chap, dressed as if he were travelling to Africa to oversee the construction of a new railway, was remonstrating with the security staff for emptying his suitcase because they didn’t like what they could see on the x-ray monitor.

Sentences such as “this is ridiculous” and “you haven’t heard the last of this” were pouring from the mouth of this fruitcake, who clearly thought Britannia still ruled the waves and that English gentlemen should never be subjected to any sort of scrutiny.

When the French security officer pulled from this man’s bag a florally-decorated dressmaking gift set, containing a large Stanley knife and a giant pair of scissors, he immediately remarked: “Good god man, they’ve got flowers on! These items are clearly for my wife’s dressmaking. How can you say they are dangerous?!”

And the reason I am telling you this? Well, such a big queue had formed behind this little logjam that people were starting to lose their patience. But just before civil unrest could ensue a man who was the spitting image of (but wasn’t) Sir Jackie Stewart stepped forward and said to the troublemaker, “Excuse me sir, how about giving up this little battle for the sake of the rest of us?” The angry gentlemen was immediately pacified. He smiled and said “yes Jackie, of course” and then told the station security to confiscate “whatever they needed to”.

Most people watching this drama unfold were perplexed by the whole thing, but a few of us in the queue realised what had happened and began to laugh. I heard one man say to the lookalike, “I think he thought you were someone else?” to which the lookalike replied, “yes, I get that a lot”. A younger man in the queue then asked his wife, “Did we just see a Jedi mind trick?”

Ladies and gentleman, I give you ‘the power of – just the image of – Jackie Stewart’!

What a strange day that was…
Jacob Hanerman, Thaxted, Essex

Letter of the Month
Dangers of the pitlane

Sir,
Congratulations to Nigel Roebuck on his excellent Reflections in the October issue, particularly on the dangers of life in the pitlane during the 1980s. As the owner of a private archive of racing films shot in the ’50s, I’m tempted to go back further to when the pits was perhaps an even more hazardous place. These 16mm films were made by the late David Clarke, an F3 and international sports car driver. Among his collection is the 1957 Reims GP, won by Luigi Musso. The highlight of this non-championship race was the battle between Mike Hawthorn and Juan Manuel Fangio.

The magnificent Reims circuit had a long flat-out straight before and beyond the pits, so drivers were at maximum speed there. Cars thundered by just inches away from mechanics, officials and drivers. Remember, this was two years after the Le Mans disaster. If Hawthorn and Fangio had touched, they would surely have killed themselves and dozens of others. As a cameraman in those ‘innocent’ days I stood next to the track to get close-ups of the action in what, looking back, were suicidal positions. But we didn’t know any different.

For an upcoming programme on Stirling Moss the BBC filmed us talking about David’s archive, as both men were friends and sporting rivals. The programme, due to be screened in November, will feature David’s film of the 1955 Monaco GP, which Stirling dominated until his W196 unexpectedly retired.
Paul Foxall, Collingbourne Ducis, Marlborough, Wilts