Two for the Road is a hangout for mystery writers Tammy Kaehler and Simon Wood to chat, reminisce, gossip, speculate and argue about all things motorsport.

Friday, September 28, 2012


SIMON: There's an interesting piece in Autosport this week about the lesser teams in F1 and their lack of progress.  Specifically, after millions of dollars, thousands of miles and hundreds of races, some teams have yet to register a championship point or show an inkling of improvement.  The point of the article was that if these teams aren’t improving, shouldn’t they cut their losses and stop and leave the racing to the competitive teams.

Having attended some Grand Prix where teams’ cars and engines are so off the pace it wasn’t funny, I understood the sentiment, but I thought the point was a little harsh.  I’m sure the teams at the back of the grid are trying just as hard as those at the front and you never know if one of these teams will come up with the next big design development.  Also no team stays at the top forever.  Look at Tyrell, Lotus (and I mean original Lotus and not rebadged Lotus) and even Ferrari.  These guys have seen their star rise then fall and rise again in Ferrari’s case.  Williams is a good case, a contender for twenty years and now a pack runner.  But there's the reverse also.  Braun (now Mercedes) and Red Bull didn’t exist a decade ago and now look at them.  So you never know when an also-ran could become the team to beat.

I suppose the two main issues I have with the article’s point are: I don’t like anyone pissing on someone’s dreams and aspirations irrespective of their chances and the idea of a grid limited to the top 5 best teams would make the sport very dull.

I know this point can be aimed at all motorsport.  There are teams in Indy, Nascar, etc. that just don’t seem to have it, so should they give up. What's your feeling, Tammy? 

TAMMY: I disagree with that article entirely, for a number of reasons. 

First, I agree with you, Simon, that any series with only "the competitive teams" racing would be dull. To begin with, there might be only six cars on the grid, instead of 30. Who wants to watch that?

Second, who's to say where "competitive" starts and ends? Just the podium? Just in the points? Certainly you can look at F1 and say Ferrari is competitive and Marussia is not, but where do you draw the line? Pastor Maldonado has only scored points in two races for Williams (I think), but one of those was a win. Otherwise, in the other 15 races or so, he's been lower than 10th. Is he uncompetitive?

Third, any team and driver that can make it to the F1 grid and run whatever percent of ultimate race-pace, as well as not completely screw things up for the other drivers on the road ... well, I think they deserve to be there. Make no mistake, they wouldn't be there if the drivers weren't at least baseline capable and the cars couldn't go fast and stick together for the required duration. Once you've reached that summit of racing (I also mean Indy, NASCAR, ALMS, etc.), it's nitpicking to call some competitive and some not.

Fourth, part of racing is dealing with the rest of the field, coping with the slower car that you have to get around, and overcoming--or losing with grace to--the perennial backmarker that has the race of his life. Racing isn't a car against the clock. It's against a field of different abilities (drivers) and capabilities (cars/engineering). Sure, sometimes I want the BMWs or Ferraris to get out of the Corvettes' way in the ALMS, so my favorites can win. But that wouldn't be racing.

What do the rest of you think? Should the "uncompetitive" ones not be in the race?

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