On Marx, Mosley, Melbourne and Murray...

Start, Australian GP 2002

Start, Australian GP 2002 

 © The Cahier Archive

The other day I accidentally got mixed up in one of the many anti-war demonstrations which have been taking place in so many places around the world. The protesters were a colorful lot, a bizarre coalition of strangely-clad individuals ranging from opposition politicians, to environmentalists, little old ladies, professional demonstrators and celebrities. My particular favorite at the rally I was trying to avoid was a young man who was wandering around wearing a Che Guevara teeshirt and sagely reading a treatise on Karl Marx.

I have nothing against Karl Marx, apart from the fact that his theories were very tedious reading when I was studying for my history degree but I solved this problem by buying an amazing book called Marx for Beginners, which explains the whole thing in simple terms, using cartoons. At the time Marx was still seen as an important social philosopher and lampooning him in this way was almost as bad as a cartoon Shakespeare.

But you know I did not mind. I have always felt that it is better to have people reading the books in a dumbed-down form than not reading the books at all. It is getting people to develop a taste for the original work which is important.

When I was about 19, I went through the normal phase of having socialist views. The world is never a complicated place when you are 19. The answers seem to be there in black and white and it takes a couple of years of actual life to develop more practical philosophies. Marxism is all well and good but it has failed because people always look after themselves first and foremost. George Orwell summed up the attitude well in Animal Farm with his marvellous annotation to the rules of the farm which changed "All animals are equal" to "Animals are equal but some are more equal than others".

Anyway, the thing I was wondering as I looked at Che Guevara's fan club was whether he actually realized that Marxism and all its variation have been defeated by basic capitalism and to go on trumpeting the antiquated views makes one seem like someone stuck in a time warp, unaware of what is happening in the real world.

And in many ways I feel the same way about those who are opposed to change in Formula 1 at the moment. They say that they are not against change in principle and I believe that but they are only in favor of change that suits them.

I think in principle that the angry team bosses are right about the way in which Max Mosley made the changes. Perhaps he should have offered them cucumber sandwiches and tea before shoving a whole bunch of new rules down their throats but having for a number of years now watched the way decision-making is done in F1 (or not, as the case may be) it is very clear to me that no major changes ever happens unless someone forces the others to change. The complaining teams say that they were willing to change and had come up with proposals which were ignored by the FIA but that simply reminded me of the marvellous old BBC comedy show called "Yes Minister" in which a government minister was kept under control by the members of the civil service who were there to turn his ideas into realities. If Jim Hacker the minister suggested anything the urbane mandarin Sir Humphrey Appleby would simply suggest that a committee be set up to consider the idea, in the knowledge that any committee would slow the whole process completely and nothing would ever be done.

The big question in F1 circles is whether change was actually needed. This is a matter of opinion but I feel that with only 10 teams in business and two looking decidedly uncertain it was necessary to do something. I do not believe that a small Formula 1 team should be funded by the others but, on the other hand, if the teams cannot produce 20 cars they are in breach of the Concorde Agreement with Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA and so they would then either have to run more cars (and this is not practical) or renegotiate the Concorde Agreement. Bernie has agreements which mean that he does not have to produce more than 16 cars so he is in the strong position. If the teams had to go to Ecclestone for a renegotiation they would come away with less money than they get now and so, by a twisted logic, it is in their interest to help Minardi and Jordan to survive.

Helping out a team is not the same thing as not hindering a team and I completely fail to understand why Ron Dennis feels the need to attack Minardi so publicly, which is probably the second most popular team in the sport after Ferrari because of its underdog status. If Dennis does not like Minardi boss Paul Stoddart that is one thing but to say things which will cause serious destabilization to Minardi is just not constructive for anyone. It is venting frustration on a personal level.

I have to admit that I also think that this is one of the problems in the current clash between McLaren and Williams and the FIA. Max Mosley and Ron Dennis do not get on. I do however believe that Mosley thinks that changes must be made and I believe he is right.

What I had failed to appreciate until I spent a bit of time with some of my colleagues in London (having the annual pre-season media lunch with Mosley) was how much they all seem delighted that the rules have been shaken up. Everyone seems to think that F1 needed to change. Max, himself, did not seem to have developed any totalitarian traits which were not previously visible. He seemed on very fine form and the mood that day was jolly. He answered difficult questions and everyone seemed satisfied by the responses.

The important thing now is to see how it all works when the cars get to Melbourne. I have decided that I will spend a large part of the plane journey to Australia reading and re-reading the various clarifications so that I know exactly what is going to happen for the World Championship will be only vaguely recognizable when the cars head out one by one for qualifying in Melbourne.

Come what may Formula 1 will be more exciting this year than it was in 2002. The new qualifying is likely to create a slightly jumbled grid and so the early laps of each race should be much more interesting.

The feeling is that the complexity of possible tactics through a weekend may be such that even experienced observers will have difficulty spotting what is going on. I spoke to a couple of TV commentators on this subject and they expressed fears that they would probably end up getting it wrong.

"So what? I replied. "Murray Walker was hugely popular BECAUSE of the mistakes he made. That was why he was as famous as he was... so it could be a blessing in disguise."

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