Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Mad World

The other day, I was perusing the logs for Motorsports Ramblings when something caught my eye. Someone had been led to this site after entering the search term "What would happen to the plants in the world if it rained Red Bull?" I'm afraid that's a question I am not in any position to answer. If he or she wanted to know what happens to Red Bulls when it rains, on the other hand, the answer is that the improve dramatically. And it doesn't seem to hurt them when they're called Toro Rossos either. I've heard it said that there are no stupid questions, but I must confess I have my doubts.

Still, that was not the only moment of madness I encountered this week. I read on Monday at Grandprix that the Malaysian Government is involved in efforts to secure an F1 ride for Fairuz Fauzy. This would be the Fairuz Fauzy who looked utterly lost in GP2 in his two seasons in the category, and who blended into the midfield in the Renault World Series this year. Why on earth the Malaysian Government could possibly think that the country has anything to gain from placing the hapless Fauzy in Formula 1 I do not know. Fauzy was talked of as Malaysia's most promising young driver back in his British F3 days, but nothing he has done since suggests he would belong on the F1 grid. I can't help feeling that he would probably be even more out of his depth than Alex Yoong, who usually outpaced him when they drove together in A1GP. I can only surmise that he is being considered as a possible Number 2 driver at Spyker, or Force India, or whatever they are called this week. I can't help feeling that even they, however, figure that they can probably do better than Fauzy in what would appear to be something of a seller's market.

If that wasn't strange enough, the report that Roldan Rodriguez has backers prepared to put up nearly £8m to get him into F1 defies rational explanation. Rodriguez, who was probably previously best known for driving into Timo Glock on the warming up lap for the Belgian round of the GP2 series this year has done absolutely nothing to stand out until now, finishing 17th in the year's GP2 championship and being outpaced by previously unfancied scion of the Medley pharmaceuticals corporation, Xandi Negrao. Who thinks Rodriguez's potential represents a worthwhile investment at £8m, and why, is frankly beyond me. Still, the man has a testing contract with Force India, and therefore cannot be ruled out as a potential candidate for the drive next year. His pedigree is probably a good deal more promising than a number of the clowns who have had drives for tail-end teams in the past.

It wasn't all nonsense this week. I was pleased to see Andy Priaulx take his fourth consecutive FIA Touring Car title at Macau on Sunday, despite a rulebook which had seemingly been designed to guarantee we got a different winner this year. Priaulx, unlike many of his rivals, rarely, if ever, engages in dubious on-track moves, and suffered more than his fair share of bad luck. On top of this, the penalty given to rear wheel drive cars in the latter part of the season was such that it shouldn't have been possible for a BMW driver to walk away with the title. That he did is testimony to the Guernseyman's considerable ability behind the wheel of a tintop. As the only man to score a win with Honda's problematic Civic Type-R touring car, he excelled in the category pretty much from the moment he switched over from F3. One wonders whether he might now be winning F1 races had he not been older than most of the current F1 grid by the time he got himself into a decent F3 car.

The F3 race wasn't a classic, but in Oliver Jarvis, it had a very worthy winner. Jarvis was the man who won races for Carlin with a Mugen engine in F3 at a time when it was assumed that a HWA Mercedes was a basic requirement for success. In A1GP, he broke the GB team's duck after Robbie Kerr had spent nearly two years trying, and he has subsequently shined in Japanese F3, where he is currently marooned on account of not having the money to go racing in GP2. Marko Asmer's fine showing, qualifying second and setting fastest lap in the bargain - before eventually finishing 4th when a down on power engine left him struggling on the long main straight - showed that the British F3 champion remains a force to be reckoned with. If Force India were prepared to take a bit of a chance, and wasn't relying on a driver armed with pots of cash, it might do well to take a chance on either of these promising youngsters over such questionable prospects as Rodriguez and Fauzy.

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