In the Crisis Meeting

The Crisis Meeting was in full swing. "But it says in the press release that "discussions are taking place with Geoff Willis, regarding his future role with the team," said Annabel, the new girl, proving once again that she has a lot to learn about the ways of Formula 1. Even Miss Pringle-Featherby (of the Berkshire Pringle-Featherbys), famed for not being the sharpest knife in the drawer at the Motor Racing and Trade Development Department of the Secret Intelligence Service, rolled her eyes at that one.

"No, my dear," said The Mole patiently. "In Formula 1 language that means that Geoffrey is being escorted to the nearest dustbin and is being asked by the Japanese to climb into it."

"Oh," said Annabel. "Well, why don't they just say it?"

"That is a very good point," said The Mole, trying to encourage the youngster.

"Well, I think that is synonymous with the whole way of thinking at Honda," said Penelope (Roedean). "It is more about image than about results. They needed a change."

"Perhaps," said The Mole, "but is Willis the right man to be walking to the guillotine?"

"Yes," fired back Penelope, "The car is not winning races."

"Nor is the McLaren," said Penelope (Wycombe Abbey) from beneath the fringe of her honey-coloured bob. "But are they firing people? Nor the Williams, come to that. And last year the Ferrari was a mess and the same people are back doing it this year."

The Mole nodded.

"Big companies always need sacrificial lambs," said Penelope (Roedean). "Look at Mike Gascoyne!"

"Hardly a lamb," said The Mole. "More like a wolf-murdering piece of mutton."

There was some giggling at the thought of the man they call "The Rottweiler" dressed up in sheep's clothing but then it was back to business.

"But why Willis?" said Penelope (Wycombe Abbey).

"Does the speed of the car not come into the thinking these days?" said The Mole.

"No," said Penelope. "You are missing the point. The car is not much good. That's an aerodynamic thing. You may recall that their chief aerodynamicist disappeared a few months ago. The Dutch-Australian guy. Toet. Now what did we hear at the time? We heard he was upset that his bosses told him off. In other words there was some reason for him to be told off. And what was that? The car!"

"But Willis was his boss," said Penelope (Roedean), "and he should have recognised that things were not going in the right direction."

"Last year was a bit different," said The Mole. "Honda got into trouble over the fuel tanks thing and we all know that others were doing the same thing. At least three teams. So the Honda people were not quite sure about the performance of the car. This year there was the question of flexi-wings. Honda could not use them. It was too big a risk. But was that the reason the car was slow? In the end the answer is obviously 'No'. So it is goodbye Mr Willis."

"Well that's not really fair," said Penelope (Wycombe Abbey). "As I hear it, there was a fair amount of operational trouble and finger-trouble as well. There have been a lot of blow-ups which were not the engine. There was that screw up a while back with the lollipop. And, where was it? The car was a disaster because the team changed the wing settings going in the wrong direction. So the driver asked for 'Two Up' and got 'Two Down' and that meant the settings were four slots from where they should have been and the car was undriveable. And then there was that qualifying mess at Silverstone, although to be fair that is a thing that has happened to several teams this year when they thought they were safe in the first qualiftying and end up getting a nasty surprise because people went faster than expected."

"It happens," said The Mole.

"The thing is that as far as I am concerned 'why' is not really the important issue," said Penelope (Roedean). "Obviously the Japanese wanted somewhat out. The thing that is extraordinary is why they think that one can have a revolution and that no-one will find out. It's obvious, you just cannot do it. If heads have to roll, they have to roll publicly. Formula 1 is a public business. The spotlight is on the top people and so when one gets taken out you cannot hide that fact. Why bother with all this crap about his future role in the team. And why appoint a Senior Technical Director. That's pure hogwash. Creating a title above the top title. That is like saying. 'The King is not as good as we hoped, let's appoint a Mega-King'."

And? said The Mole.

"The whole place seems to be running on PR and not on what is really important," Penelope went on. "They need to shake things up and make sure that the screw-tighteners tighten their screws and the aerodynamicists deliver to targets. They spend too much time polishing the car and saying that it is all bad luck."

"No such thing as bad luck," said The Mole.

"Geoff Willis might disagree with that!" said Annabel,

June 21 2006

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