Max Looks At The Forhcoming Season In His Own Unique Way.

IF IS F1 SPELT BACKWARDS! (YES, MURRAY…)
MAX AND JAKE’ S SIDEWAYS GLANCE AT THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE 2017 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS MOTORSPORT

LEWIS HAMILTON: Britain’s most universally loved sportsman can put his put his foot on the throttle again, after trying to rob James May of his title “Captain Slow” in Abu Dhabi. Can he regain his title now that Roscoe has retired?

VALTTERI BOTTAS: How will he compare being thrust into the limelight against the slowest driver on earth? Will the dynamic between these two make the wolffe howl like it did with Lewis and Roscoe?

RED BULL RACING

DANIEL RICCIARDO: The man in the team with the Colgate “gleam” could, just could, fulfil his dream this year and win the world title. Well, there is a fly in the ointment, in the name of Max Verstappen, the precocious 12 – year – old Dutch nipper. Jug, straight glass, or shoe, Daniel?

MAX “VROOM” VERSTAPPEN: If you think this lad’s fast now, just wait until he reaches his teens! Some older drivers, such as Massa, have been known to scream “Get this kid out of here!”. But Massa has retired now, right? “The best thing to happen to F1 since sliced bread”, as Stirling Moss once said about Lewis Hamilton.

SCUDERIA FERRARI

SEBASTIAN VETTEL: “What is he doing, the fool, he hit me not once, but twice”…Seb describing the assault by Daniil Kvyat ‘s Red Bull in Russia? No, it’s his reaction to Maurizio Arrivabene’s reaction to the German quadruple world champ for letting his emotions get the better of him to not only let it affect his on-track form, but force the Ferrari team to buy a swear box so large that there was no longer room for the cars. Needs to remember just how good a driver he is this year to get on top of it all, emotionally at least. Ferrari just MAY have the car to let him rise to the top again, but then we thought that this time last year…

KIMI RAIKKONEN

I didn’t think it possible for “The Ice Man” to appear any less frozen when interviewed, but last year it happened. In fact, I don’t even know why anyone bothers to interview him these days. “Go away, I’m not interested” looks to be his attitude to just about everything these days. How I would love an interviewer to say to him “You are being paid a bloody fortune to never win while in the car, and be as miserable as sin out of it, , so answer my ******* questions you stroppy git!!!” File that under “unlikely event”.

WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING

FELIPE MASSA: But didn’t I just see him retire? He’s back! His front! In fact, all of him that we never thought we’d see again will be on the grid in Melbourne, making this the shortest retirement in F1 since “Our Nige” threw his red Ferrari gloves into the Silverstone crowd in 1990, only to re-appear with – funnily enough – Williams the following year. Who will believe him next time he says he’s finished with F1? Fake News?

LANCE “OUT FOR A” STROLL: It may well be true that Willy had to find a driver with a rich Dad so as to pay for all the money spent on Felipe Massa’s retirement party, but hang on one moment – this driver proved to be the dominant force in Euro F3 last year, so this is no “pay – driver” scandal, any more than Max Verstappen only got into F1 because of his father being an ex-F1 driver. If Willy can give him a good enough car, expect Lance to become the most exciting thing since “pulled pork”.

FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM

SERGIO PEREZ: Perhaps the first person to prove that McLaren were falling from grace, considering his year with the team proved to be his worst in F1. “Speedy Gonzalez”, as he is affectionately known by nobody except this writer, now has as many GP podiums as his great predecessor, Pedro Rodriguez – seven. Mind you, times have changed a bit since Pedro’s days, and two of Rodriguez’s podiums were wins. But the true measure of Checo’s performances is just how well he performed against The Incredible Hulkenberg.

ESTEBAN OCON: Esteban Gutierrez sneaks back into F1 via a false surname. “Oh con them into thinking you are somebody else”, somebody said…and the new name was born! I have a sneaking suspicion that he will perform better this year…

SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO

CARLOS “BEANS MEANS” SAINZ: The fastest Spaniard in F1 last year (sorry Fernando, blame Honda…oh, you did!) finds himself paired with Red Bull demotee Kvyat again this year (much to the shock of Pierre Gasly) and has clearly proved he has the talent to oust one of the “Old Wild Men” in a top team, but question is, which one? There is a bit of a log jam up there at the moment. Yet another person I would have rather seen at Ferrari this year than “Curt Kimi”.

DANIIL KVYAT: Sebastian Vettel’s favourite driver will hope to have the continuity of a full season in the same team this year (Well, other than him being promoted to a top team mid-season, but I think the chances of that are just about the same as the England Football team winning the next World Cup). Go Danny Boy, prove them all wrong! (Just be careful not to hit the back of a red car on the first bend, I don’t think our bruised ears can take any more…)

MCLAREN HONDA FORMULA ONE TEAM

FERNANDO ALONSO: Let’s hope McLaren give the second fastest Spaniard in F1 (blame Honda…haven’t I said that once before?) an F1 car this year rather than a GP2 (whoops, Formula Two now) car. If rumours are true that he may head back to Renault if Merc don’t come knocking on the door towards the end of the year, that would make an incredible sequence: Renault, McLaren, Renault, Ferrari, McLaren, Renault…enough to make one’s head spin even without few glasses of “Johnny Walker”.

STOFFEL VANDORNE: “Stop all that porn” makes his full-time F1 debut this season, after spending a year off working as a milkman in Japan, driving a Honda milk float. Massive talent, but will Fernando be faster than him? (Where have I heard something similar before?) Jenson has kept the seat warm for him, and promises to be lurking not too far away.

HAAS F1 TEAM

ROMAIN GROSJEAN: Massively talented driver who deserves a GP win soon, but I fear that this will not be the team that allows him that opportunity. Yet another driver I would have liked to have seen in a Ferrari (and I still have another – “Now there’s a novelty”, as Eric Morecambe would have said) rather than “Fun Finn”. Time is running out quicker than McLaren’s patience with Honda for this man to land a top drive.

KEVIN MAGNUSSEN
Finished second in his first Grand Prix, and it’s been downhill ever since. That’s a career the wrong way round, Kevin! This has hardly been all the Dane’s fault though; lost a coin-tossing contest with Jenson Button for the McLaren Honda seat alongside Alonso for 2015 (boy was he relieved) and then found himself in an underdeveloped Renault Lotus Enstone last year.

RENAULT SPORT FORMULA ONE TEAM
THE INCREDIBLE HULKENBERG: I would have seen him in the second Ferrari this year, but instead of red he has gone yellow this season (I thought The Hulk was green?) and I can’t say I blame him, given the form of this team last year. Still, this year’s car looks good, and there are signs that Renault have their act together rather more than last year. So, good luck to The Incredible.

JOLYON PALMER
Seems a funny name for Jonathan to have given his talented offspring, since his son is younger than him, but hey-ho. This man, in my eyes at least, showed signs of developing into an excellent F1 driver last year, and fully deserved his place after a first-rate win in the GP2 championship in 2014. Gave “The Great Dane” far more trouble than was expected of him last year, and is proving a credit to his dad, more than he deserves perhaps for giving his son one of the strangest names since “The Incredible”.

SAUBER F1 TEAM

MARCUS ERICSSON: Last and very possibly least if last year was anything to go by, the Sauber team. For Marcus, at least it gave him a chance to show the F1 world what he could do more than with his time driving the Caterham 7 the previous year. Seems to have seen off Felipe “where is he now?” Nasr, which was somewhat of a surprise. Expect no fireworks from this team, other than from Monisha Kaltenborn if her drivers collide with each other as often as they seemed to be doing last year.

PASCAL WEHRLEIN: “That was not meant to happen!”, you could, and quite rightly too, have expected Pascal to have hollered when he found that, when the music stopped, he found that his car would be more likely to be parked at the back of the grid than the front, as he was expecting. Big Bad Wolffe apparently didn’t rate one year’s hard experience racing a Manor, usually very well, last year as “enough experience” to put this clearly gifted some-time Mercedes prodigy in with Lewis this year. Rather different to Red Bull’s attitude regarding young Vroomstappen, eh? Well, I know which kind of thinking I prefer, and I can’t help feel sorry for Pascal. Go out there (again) and show ‘em, lad!

MAX SCOTT

The Arrival of Jenson Button

October 29th, 1998. That was the day I first heard of Jenson Button. It was the day that I received my copy of Motoring News. As usual around this time of year, the annual “Formula Ford Festival” had been held at Brands Hatch. Up until a few years ago this meeting was regarded as a major event, certainly the absolute highlight of the Formula Ford year, and the prestige of winning the event was high. Past winners had included eventual F1 drivers Geoff Lees, Derek Daly, Roberto Moreno, Tommy Byrne, Julian Bailey, Johnny Herbert, Roland Ratzenberger, Eddie Irvine, Vincenzo Sospiri, Jan Magnussen, and Mark Webber. The format of the event was both simple and entertaining, with a series of knock-out heats, two semi- finals, and then the all-important final – back in ’98, victory in this race was still big news on the club scene, and would more often than not lead to something bigger for the winning driver for the following year.

Usually I had heard of the winner beforehand, but this was not one of those occasions. The name “Jenson Button” was, at the same time, curiously different, and memorable. Having been massively successful in karting, this was his first season of racing cars, and the 18-year-old had already sown up the British Formula Ford Championship. He was driving a French Mygale Ford-Zetec, run by Haywood Racing, against a whole fleet of the cars that had been, more often than not, driven by past winners of the event, the Van Diemen.

Having won his heat, Button was beaten in his semi by the Australian driver, Markus Ambrose. But the young Frome lad was not to be outdone. In what was a thrilling final, the battle for the lead was between Button, Ambrose, and Daniel Wheldon – another British driver who would go on to fame as a double winner of the Indianapolis 500, but who was tragically killed in 2011. Having trailed both Ambrose and Wheldon at the start, he nipped past Daniel when he took a wide line at the McLaren Curve early on, then got past the Australian on the following lap. There ensued a thrilling battle for the lead between the three, and as the race drew towards its conclusion it was Ambrose who narrowly led. Then Ambrose left the door wide open at Surtees Bend, Button pounced, the pair touched wheels, and Ambrose was out. Wheldon didn’t give up the chase, but at the flag it was Jenson Button who had won the 1998 Formula Ford Festival. His name was made.

The following year he moved up to the British Formula Three championship. The engine to have in that formula at the time was a Mugen-Honda, whereas Jenson had a Renault engine, therefore was rather the odd-man-out, however, he went on to finish third in the championship.

Well, the rest, as they say, is history. After just two seasons of racing cars, Jenson was a fully-fledged F1 driver. Sir Frank Williams used words like “astounded” and “astonishing” to describe his new young driver after his debut in Melbourne in March 2000. After 300 Grand Prix, the compliments still come thick and fast, but a World Championship, and 15 Grand prix wins, can now be added to that. Perhaps even more precious is the fact that Jenson has become one of the most loved F1 drivers of all time.

Max Scott

Jochen Rindt – The Saddest Crowning of All

September 5th, 1970. Monza, Italy. It is a Saturday, the day of the final practice for the Italian Grand Prix. The great Austrian driver, Jochen Rindt, is on the verge of winning the biggest prize in all of motor sport: The F1 World Championship. Including Monza, there are four rounds to go, the other races being in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. But Jochen has a 20-point lead over Jack Brabham, with just four rounds to go, and none of the other drivers, bar Jacky Ickx in the Ferrari, are on winning form. In his revolutionary Lotus 72, he has won four of the last five races, ironically having to retiring due to mechanical failure in his home race in Austria a couple of weeks before. Although Jackie Stewart is my absolute hero, I am looking forward to Rindt wrapping up the title, as I am a massive fan of this incredibly exiting driver (To give you an example of his driving style, think of blending Ronnie Peterson with Gilles Villeneuve, and you are somewhere near), and a win at Monza, which is expected, will bring him right to the edge of doing so. My Father is also a great fan of the Austrian. I am in the sitting room with the TV on, and it is “World of Sport”. Suddenly I hear the presenter, Dickie Davies, mention the name “Jochen Rindt”, and I fully expect it to be followed by the words “is in pole position”; but I am wrong. “Jochen Rindt dies at Monza.” I immediately rush out into the front garden, where dad is edging the lawn, and tell him the news. With equal suddenness, he throws the shears to one side and comes bolting into the house to hear the rest of the report…

I had seen Jochen race several times; indeed, the very first big race I had been taken to, the Formula Two Guards Trophy on Bank Holiday Monday in 1967, was won by the Austrian. In Formula Two, he had already proved himself to be king. In 1970, I had seen him race three times; at the Brands Race of Champions where he finished second, The Alcoa Britain International Trophy for Formula Two cars, in which he won his heat but retired in the final while well in the lead, and the British grand Prix back at Brands, where he won following a great scrap with Jack Brabham which was resolved when the Australian ran out of petrol on the last lap. In the past he had always been fast but unlucky in F1, but that began to change when he joined Lotus at the beginning of 1969, although often expressing concern about the strength and safety of Colin Chapman’s designs, having had two massive crashes within months of joining the team.

At Monza in 1970, that luck was to run out again…for the last time. Approaching the Parabolica curve Jochen’s car swerved to the left under braking and crashed into the barrier, the wedge-shaped nose of the car sliding along under the barrier until it reached a supporting post, hitting it at great speed and sending it into a violent spin, and car and driver finally came to a halt in the sand trap. For reasons best known to himself, Jochen did not like fastening the crotch strap on his safety harness, and, as a result, he had “submarined” down into the cockpit upon impact, receiving terrible chest and throat injuries from the harness buckle. He was pronounced dead soon after.
I write this article not to sadden you, but to remember this great driver on the weekend that Formula One returns to Monza, forty-six years later. Thankfully nobody did go on to beat Jochen’s points score that year, and thus, to this day, he remains the first – and only – posthumous world champion. We salute you, champ.

Max Scott @MaxFalconScott

The Day a Legend Was Made –The Story Of The 1968 German Grand Prix

GP GERMANIA F1/2016 – HOCKENHEIM (GERMANIA) 31/07/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)
GP GERMANIA F1/2016 – HOCKENHEIM (GERMANIA) 30/07/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

There has been much talk recently about the opening laps of this year’s British Grand Prix. A little while before the start of the race, the heavens opened. By the time of the start, conditions had improved somewhat, with the sun trying to break through, but there was still much standing water. So the decision was taken to start the race under the safety car, something that not only the spectators, but also some of the drivers, did not like. Lewis Hamilton pointed out that starting the race without the safety car would have been tricky, “but that’s what racing’s about”. These men are meant to be the best in the world, and there is a lot of opinion that they should have raced from the start, and adjust their speed accordingly…go too fast, and end up spinning off, drive within the limits of the car in those conditions, and truly show the skill that sometimes gets all too masked in modern technology. The safety car staying out for five laps was, for most, the final straw.

Well, let me take you back to a very different time, “In days of old when knights were bold” …and all that.

The scene is the Nurburgring; not the modern day short version, but the full,14.2 mile circuit in the mountains, “The Green Hell”. The German Grand Prix August 4th 1968. Not only is this wonderful circuit the most challenging and dangerous in the world, but low cloud descended on to the Ardenne mountains. Race day bought thick, dense fog, and driving rain, with visibility no more than 100 yards, less in places. No safety car in those days, of course, and the race went ahead, the 20 car grid setting off as the flag dropped, in a ball of spray. That such an event was being held in such conditions was unbelievable even back then, let alone now! If I hadn’t been a fan already that year, and listened in on the radio reports, I may well have thought the whole tale had been made up! But that day, undoubtedly, a legend was born. Just look at this:

At the end of the first lap, Jackie Stewart led from Graham Hill by 8.5s, after the second lap 34.6s, I have no record of the third lap gap but it must have continued at a similar rate because by the end of the fourth lap the gap was 59.7s, 68.5 after the fifth, and, well by now you get the idea! Hill and Amon were battling for second place, leading the rest of the field who were all in a different race altogether. Amon eventually slid off onto the sodden grass, and, unable to restart, was out of the race. Then Hill spun! The car stalled and was broadside across the road, and Hill quite expected Anon to hit it, not realising that he was out. Graham eventually had to get out and push the car down the hill to restart, jump back in, and continue in second place as the next up, Jochen Rindt, had been too far back to capitalise on the situation.

By the end of the race, Stewart took the chequered flag no less than just over four minutes! Jackie had completely mastered the race. I believe that was the day that he became a true great. You had to be somebody very special to win on this most arduous of circuits, and, in these conditions, bordering on superhuman. That day, anyone who took part in the race all became heroes in my book. As for the winner, a certain JYS, he went on to, in effect, save a great many lives through his resolute and unwavering safety campaign over the years that followed. For that, we should all be grateful.

By Max Scott