Ann Bradshaw: View from the Paddock

By Ann Bradshaw, England
Atlas F1 Special Columnist

Immediately after the Canadian Grand Prix most of the teams headed towards Silverstone for a three day test that is crucial in the run up to the British Grand Prix. I popped in at the end of the first day to see my young lad, Antonio Pizzonia, so we could do some preview work for the forthcoming races. As I arrived I could not help think about the comments being made by Bernie Ecclestone about the circuit. He had claimed it was everything a Grand Prix track should not be. He had blasted the organisers for building new roads and a car park rather than a new pits complex. For once he seemed worried that the press had no new home and had uttered the unthinkable - we don't need to have a race in Britain.

As I came off the Silverstone bypass that ensures traffic wishing to go from the M1 to the M40 could do so without long delays or lengthy detours I could not understand why he was slamming them for building new roads. As I went into the paddock and saw the 'old' pits and 'old' press office, I really could not understand why these were so bad. Ten days before I had been in the Nurburgring and the paddock and pits in Silverstone were wonderful compared to what we had endured in the Eifel mountains. Okay, the new press office at the Nurburgring was spacious but it didn't mean my job at the 24-hour race was any easier than it would have been at Silverstone.

On the way out of the track that day I bumped - well very nearly did so as he parked his car across the exit - into an old mate; Tim Bampton. Tim had worked at Brands Hatch before joining Williams Touring Cars and then moving to WilliamsF1. Since then he had worked for Honda in F1 and I was delighted to hear that Jardine PR, who were doing PR for the race, had employed him to help out. Tim knows the game well, and quickly assured me of how they meant to counter Bernie's attack and put on one of the best races of the season.

While Silverstone has always been a nightmare for me - ask any team about how difficult it is working at the home race - I really want it to survive and cannot understand how the country that is home to six of the ten teams in the sport could be left out. However, I think this shows how naive I am. Formula One is a business and not a sport, and if the likes of Turkey, Bahrain and China offer a better deal then that is where Bernie will take the teams.

My only wish is that before slagging off the facilities Bernie will look at the likes of Sao Paulo and just come out and admit he has been offered better deals. I might be in the minority but I would accept this, and if in this way he can assure the sport survives then good on him. I am aware it is a bit of a PR battle and just hope that the new FOM Press Officer, former McLaren man Norman Howell, will point Bernie in the right direction and help him sugar what would be a bitter pill to many real Formula One fans if they could not watch their teams on the track but could only see them on TV.

Most things in F1 are down to money, so I was interested to see who the News of the World said were the top 50 earners in the sport. For those of you who don't know the News of the World then I had better explain it is the top gossip paper in the UK. It comes out on a Sunday and is full of the most amazing kiss and tell stories. Last Sunday its Sports Editor, Cliff Hayes, had compiled a list that was unsurprisingly headed by Bernie, who he reckoned at 2.9bn was worth more than the earnings of the next seven men put together. When the next seven include such people as Mansour Ojjeh, Luca di Montezemolo and Michael Schumacher it is obvious he is worth a fair bit! One fact I observed from all this is that being a racing driver is not the best way to make money in the sport. Michael was only sixth in the list while Eddie Irvine, who is not someone you would expect to be among the top ten earners, was seventh with an estimated fortune of 170m. The article said this was thanks to playing the property market at the right time and making wise investments, rather than for driving for the Jordan, Ferrari and Jaguar teams. It was interesting to see just what Mr Hayes had unearthed. At four was the man who controls the on-track advertising and the Paddock Club hospitality area, Paddy McNally, with 450m. The article noted he 'was sacked from jobs in cigarette marketing and journalism' before Bernie gave him the opportunity to sell advertising space. Only 11 of the 50 were current racing drivers, and it was obvious those former drivers who were in the list had made most of their money from managing other drivers or getting involved in team management.

*   *   *

We will never know how accurate such lists are, but they are fun. Looking at number three on the list also reminded me of the adage 'how do you make a small fortune in motorsport? Start with a large one'. The man in question is Dietrich Mateschitz, the owner of the Red Bull energy drink company. The figure next to his name is 600m. Latest reports are he is still desperate to spend a large proportion of this on setting up an F1 team in order to find an American world champion. The latest rumour is he is going to buy the Minardi shares from Bernie, edge Paul Stoddart out and get his team this way. If this is true perhaps I was a bit premature in my last column praising Bernie for helping Mr Stoddart's team to stay alive just because he wanted to keep him in the sport.

*   *   *

Sorry I have taken this long to get to the subject of last weekend's race at the Nurburgring. Regular readers of this column will know I was bound to be delighted with the result. Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head must be sitting back at their Grove base with very large smiles on their faces. While a one-two is a good enough reason for celebrations, for me the more important reason for them to be patting themselves on the backs is because of the news that came out on the Friday of the race - they have signed another five year deal with BMW to supply them with engines. A lot has been written over the past year about the future in F1 for BMW - they were going to build their own team, they were going to buy an existing team, they were going to leave the sport were just some of the reports. Staying with WilliamsF1 was never a story that made the headlines, as this was not really news in the eyes of the journalists. I suppose to them an extension of the partnership that began in 2000 is not earth shattering. In my view they had justification for this as they were all thinking that BMW may stay for a couple of years or three at most. The bombshell that the German manufacturer dropped was that this was a five-year deal. I am certain I am right in saying the team has never had such a long term contract from any new or existing engine supplier. This not only shows commitment to the team, but also to the sport. By the end of the new deal at the end of 2009 WilliamsF1 and BMW will have been together for ten years. In Formula One terms this is the equivalent of a show business couple celebrating their golden wedding anniversary.

It will be interesting to see who will be driving the blue and white cars at this point. Will Ralf still be there and will Juan Pablo have won the world championship that everyone reckoned he would before he even drove his first Grand Prix? If they keep up the sort of performances from Sunday then they may still be around. Ralf took the bull by the horns at the start and got by his big brother. Juan Pablo showed Michael that he is not frightened of taking him on, and if one of them ends up in the gravel then so be it. On Sunday it was Michael in the gravel and I was fascinated to hear the difference of opinion about the manoeuvre from two knowledgeable people. Former Grand Prix driver and ITV commentator, Martin Brundle, was quite clear in what he thought about it. "Fine" was the word he used on air. He then continued with the words: "Juan Pablo squeezed him a bit but left him enough space. It was quite acceptable". I didn't think the Ferrari team would agree with Martin so was not surprised when Technical Director, Ross Brawn, described the Colombian's driving skills as 'crude' and 'lacking class'. I was a bit disappointed to hear Ross being so opening critical when this was no different to stunts pulled in the past by his 'star' driver. In this case I think the old saying ''people in glass houses should not throw stones' is very appropriate.

*   *   *

While this was going on in Germany I was at Donington for a European Touring Car Championship race. It is difficult to go to this track and not look back ten years to the amazing Grand Prix of Europe there on a very cold and wet Easter weekend in 1993. In those days we had Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost making the headlines, and they certainly did so that weekend. The weather changed from wet to dry with such regularity during the race that the Williams team of Alain Prost and Damon Hill pitted 13 times between them to change tyres. However, it was the overtaking manoeuvre by Ayrton on Alain that was the talk of the weekend. On a treacherously slippery track the Brazilian in his McLaren powered round the outside of Alain's Williams in the Melbourne loop - it was not possible, but it happened. I wonder what Michael's reaction would be if Juan Pablo did this to him.

*   *   *

Our ETCC races lived up to their reputations of being exciting and controversial. Cars were destroyed, pride was dented and fines were paid. However, for me the highlight of the weekend was the way the Schnitzer team rebuilt a car destroyed in the first free practice on Friday, which then went on to win the final race of the day. Jorg Muller was the driver, and after a coming together with Tom Coronel after just ten laps on the track found his BMW 320i rushing across the wet grass at unabated speed and head on into a wall. Most teams would have surveyed the wreckage and withdrawn the car from the race, but not Schnitzer. Team Manager Charly Lamm is legendary, and the way he dealt with the situation shows why he is one of the best TMs in the business.

A few hours after the 9.15am accident the car was on its way to the premises of Sytner BMW in Nottingham where the mechanics literally rebuilt it. A new engine and gearbox were fitted, a man sent to BMW GB in Bracknell to collect spare parts, new bodywork was fitted and all the decals of the sponsors were reapplied. Just 24 hours and a sleepless night later the team saw Jorg drive out in the warm up and set the fastest time. He had to start race one from the back but powered his way up from 20th to 4th. In race two he was away like a bullet out of a gun, got by the three drivers in front and was never headed again. No one would have criticised the team for taking the easy option of not competing. But this is not the way of Charly and his boys and I personally want to congratulate them.

About the author:
Ann Bradshaw - Annie - began her motor racing career as a teenager, helping out her brother in local rally races in England, where she grew up. In the 1970s she organised motor racing events in England, and was later the press officer for the RAC MSA - the motorsport governing body in Britain. In mid 1980s, she became press officer to team Lotus, where she worked with Ayrton Senna. Shortly after, she moved to the Williams team and was working there for several years, when once again she found herself working with Senna. She worked with Damon Hill after the Brazilian's death, and moved with the British Champion to Arrows. She also worked with the Panoz team in the United States, before becoming a freelance press officer, now working with Compaq and BAR among others. Annie joined Atlas F1 as a regular columnist in April 2002.

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Volume 9, Issue 27
July 2nd 2003

Atlas F1 Special

David Coulthard: Never too Late
by Timothy Collings

Jordan vs. Vodafone: The Transcripts
by Pablo Elizalde

Tifosi IPO
by Thomas O'Keefe

European GP Review

2003 European GP Review
by Pablo Elizalde

Racing Between the Lines
by Karl Ludvigsen

Out of Whack
by Richard Barnes

Ann Bradshaw: View from the Paddock
by Ann Bradshaw

French GP Preview

2003 French GP Preview
by Craig Scarborough

Stats Center

Qualifying Differentials
by Marcel Borsboom

by David Wright

Charts Center
by Michele Lostia


Season Strokes
by Bruce Thomson

On the Road
by Garry Martin

Elsewhere in Racing
by David Wright & Mark Alan Jones

The Weekly Grapevine
by Tom Keeble

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