GLOBETROTTER

A bit of fun...

Start, Malaysian GP 2002

Start, Malaysian GP 2002 

 © The Cahier Archive

A little over five years ago I was asked to predict what would happen in Formula 1 in 1997. Being contrary by nature I decided that instead I would see if I could predict what Formula 1 would be like in December 2006 - and some of the things that would have happened on the way - and a few silly ideas.

We are now halfway there and having stumbled across the old column, called "A glimpse of the future", I thought I would take a look and see how I am doing with those predictions.

The news is mixed. There were some startling successes and some pretty miserable failures. I was right about Formula 1 being awash with money but the TV revenues have not grown sufficiently to make the teams self-funding. To date, also, none of the teams have floated on the Stock Exchange although there is still a five-year period in which that could happen. And sadly (for me rather than for him) one of the team managers has not been shot in the buttocks by Giancarlo Minardi as I suggested might happen. More of that later.

I am proud to say that I was right about Alain Prost starting his own team. I was right that he would do a deal to work with John Barnard. Sadly I failed to predict that the whole operation would go into liquidation. I guess I over-estimated Alain Prost. I definitely over-estimated Tom Walkinshaw. He has not been knighted, nor has he bought Ilmor Engineering, nor has he taken the Mercedes-Benz deal off McLaren so that means he is not running a team called Silver Arrows Mercedes. Arrows went orange rather than silver and is still kicking around in the midfield.

I have to admit that my ability to predict the British system of honors was rather less than impressive. Sir Bernie Ecclestone is still plain old Mr. E because I failed to predict the one million Pound donation to the Labour Party and the resulting political scandal of 1997. Nor has Bernie retired to his own personal island in the Caribbean although those who have seen his new boat say that one does not need an island when you have a vessel that big.

The British honors system failed me again over Max Mosley although I am still interested to see whether as I predicted he will be moving to become President of the International Olympic Committee after the Olympic Games of 2004. I also got it wrong about Jackie Stewart as he is only Sir Jackie rather than the Lord Stewart of Dumbarton. I have to say that I am very proud of the fact that I suggested that Peter Phillips, the Princess Royal's son, would end up working for Stewart in F1 although I will admit that I did miss the fact that the team would be swallowed up by Jaguar. Phillips is, however, a Jaguar Racing employee. I am rather sad to report that his cousins, the Princes William and Harry, have not yet appeared in racing as drivers Billy Mountbatten and Harry Wales.

I did get it almost right with one driver: Girogio Pantano - unheard of in 1996 but the winner of the final race of last year's Formula 3000 season. Maybe he will end up as the World Champion of 2006.

The biggest failure so far is that I overestimated how much would be achieved by the sport (although as this is still only halfway I may be proved right in the end). Teams have not yet been floated and so lots of my suggestions about what would happen to the former owners have not happened. They are still running their teams: Ron Dennis has not lost control of McLaren and so has not started Project Five; nor is Peter Windsor running Williams. I was right when I suggested that Benetton would sell out but Sandro Nannini was not the buyer. It was flogged to Renault.

Minardi was also taken over (several times) but it did not end up in the hands of someone who wanted to move it to England which explains why no-one was shot in the buttocks by Giancarlo Minardi as I thought might happen when they announced the news to Giancarlo Minardi. Eddie Jordan has not sold up and retired to Tanzania as I thought would happen.

I was right about Prodrive coming into F1 although the organization has yet to get a team of that name.

My prediction that there would be a Team Ayrton Senna did not come true but the man who was behind the idea did eventually become a founder of British American Racing. Since then however Julian Jakobi has gone his own way and built up CSS Stellar into a very successful promotions agency which has been floated on the London Stock Exchange. It does not look like Jakobi will ever end up running F1 as he now spends as much of his time signing up film stars as he does dealing in the sport.

I may still be right about the flotation of the Formula 1 business, in fact I am quietly confident.

I was wrong too about the scale of merchandising success in F1 - which is really very depressing and a sign that the sport still has no idea where it is going in this respect - but I was right that there would be progress in America and I successfully named Indianapolis as the venue for the United States Grand Prix . A good effort. The other US races I predicted for Las Vegas and Disneyland have not yet happened.

The expansion of the sport outside Europe has also been a lot less than expected and there is no sign that there will ever be 24 races in a season. Nor will teams have to have bases in Asia as well as in Europe. I guess in five years from now they might be doing that but I am not holding up much hope.

And I think I am going to be wrong about horsepower figures. I predicted that by 2006 the best engines would be kicking out 900. It is already got to 875 and there are another five years to go...

And without the global expansion of the sport that I predicted it is hard to see Prince Hassan of Jordan following Mosley as FIA President.

Besides he is now the King of Jordan and so he has other things to do...

Let's look again in five years from now and see how it all turns out!

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