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Roebuck on Bellof


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#1 WGD706

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 20:48

For those of you unable or unwilling to get into Autosport online, Nigel Roebuck answers a question about Stefan Bellof.........
What are your memories of Bellof and do you think this spectacular racer could have gone on to be a grand prix winner?

Years ago I was asked to write a story for some magazine about the great lost talents of motor racing, in terms of drivers who had died before achieving what they should have done, and I put Stefan Bellof at the top of the list.
Wolfgang von Trips, who was killed at Monza in 1961 when on the verge of becoming World Champion, was long before my time as a journalist, of course, but from speaking to people who knew him well, von Trips sounds to have been remarkably similar to Bellof, both as driver and man. Fiercely quick, dedicated to racing, yet fun-loving away from the track, and wonderful company.
Stefan really was a delightful fellow, with a character very different from the 'next' great German driver. Nothing fazed him. In the appalling traffic on the way into the Dijon circuit, for the 1984 French Grand Prix, he – like everyone else – got badly delayed, but where the rest of us just sat there and swore, the insouciant Bellof simply drove his Porsche 911 through a farm gate, and proceeded to the circuit across ploughed fields!
Very pleased with that, he was, and it taught him a lesson, too. For ever after, it became his practice to arrive at a track very early in the morning, then sit down to breakfast with the Tyrrell mechanics. Gilles Villeneuve was very similar in that respect; no wonder that both men were so loved by their teams.
Martin Brundle, Bellof's Tyrrell team mate, once described him as "the fastest driver since Villeneuve", which was a hell of a compliment, honestly paid. In a racing car, Stefan was very much of that school, incredibly fast, with freakish reactions. Like Gilles, too, he was also apparently without a sense of fear.
Had the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix not been stopped, would he have won it? Yes, possibly – so long, that is, as he managed to keep it on the road for the duration, and the same goes for Ayrton Senna. As it was, the race, in truly dreadful conditions, was stopped after 31 of the scheduled 78 laps.
At that point, Senna's Toleman was on the point of passing Alain Prost's McLaren for the lead, and Bellof was running third, 13 seconds behind. Significantly, though, when the rain became really atrocious (ultimately leading to the stopping of the race), Bellof was catching Senna at a greater rate than Senna was catching Prost.
There were 27 drivers at Monaco that year, attempting to qualify for 20 positions on the grid, and Bellof was the last man to get in. At that time, Tyrrell continued to run the venerable Cosworth V8 engine, whereas every other team had turbo motors. While it may be said that, at Monaco, the throttle response of a normally-aspirated was preferable to that of a turbo, still the fact remains that the Cosworth was massively out-powered – and at Monte Carlo, with its multitude of short squirts between corners, that was a significant disadvantage, even in the wet.
Of course we'll never know whether Stefan would have beaten Ayrton that day, had the race run its full distance. With 47 laps to go, it's quite possible that he would have caught him, but getting by might have been a rather different matter – particularly when Senna was heading for what have been his first Grand Prix victory...
Interestingly, there are those who reckon that ultimately Senna or Bellof – or both – would have overdone it, as Nigel Mansell did earlier in the race, and that Prost would have gone on to win. Had that happened, of course – indeed, had Alain even been second – he would have been World Champion in 1984. As the race was stopped before half-distance, only half-points were awarded – and in those days you got only nine for a win. Thus, Prost got 4.5, and in the end he lost the title to Niki Lauda by only half a point. Even finishing second in a 'full' race would have given him six.
Would Bellof have gone on to win Grands Prix? I have no doubt at all – indeed, I believe he might well have been Germany's World Champion. Unquestionably he had the ability, and, although it has never been officially confirmed by Ferrari, there is little doubt that he would have partnered Michele Alboreto in the team in 1986. His death, in the '85 Spa 1000 Kms, was a dreadful loss to the sport, and even more of one to those who knew him.

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#2 Bladrian

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 21:01

Good piece - but you should read what Martin Brundle has to say about driving the 1955 W196 Mercedes at Spa ...... evocative. (29 Jan '03)

Edit: My apologies - of course you've read it ... it's in the same section! :blush:
Still, I found the W196 piece most enjoyable. And I like the idea of Brundle outspeeding the modern safety car Merc, even though the W196 scared him. :clap:

#3 Ray Bell

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 21:45

Any chance of getting the Spa piece on here too?

#4 Lemans

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 22:07

here is the Spa comments from Brundle.




This came home strongly to Martin Brundle, who had a demonstration run in a 1955 Mercedes W196 at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1998. I talked to him about it afterwards, and this is what he had to say.

"What's never changed about Grand Prix racing is that the limit is the limit is the limit: go and find it. In other respects, though, I'm starting to understand there are huge differences in the job of the driver from one era to another.

"It was the first time I'd even sat in something like that, and I really didn't know what to expect. You knew the driving position was going to be odd, mind you, because there's a huge gearbox bell-housing between your knees, so the distance between the brake pedal and the clutch must be about two feet!

"It was a bit like Dr Who's 'phone box – bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside. Probably that's because your legs are splayed out, and the steering-wheel's big, and the bonnet seemed very long, almost like looking down the nose of a speedboat that you're trying to steer.

"You felt, too, as though you were sitting on the car, rather than in it, and the mirrors were like on a motorcycle - all you could see was your own shoulders. Clearly they didn't pay too much attention to what was going on behind them, but later on I began to understand why – you had to concentrate so bloody hard on what was going on in front of you! Physically, I found the car easy to drive, but mentally it was incredibly hard."

Inevitably, given his familiarity with the power-to-weight ratio of a contemporary F1 car, Martin's first impression of the W196 was that it was pretty gutless. "Mind you, that was a bit unfair, because it is a slog up from Eau Rouge to Les Combes. I didn't wear earplugs the first time, which was a mistake, because it was unbelievably noisy – I could hear it echoing off the grandstands, and it sounded fantastic."

Changing gear, too, was a little different. "On the last F1 car I'd driven, it was a matter of 20 milliseconds, flicking an index finger, but on this car it was a very conscious thing: you blip, you place the lever, you push it, all very deliberately. I really had to concentrate – it would have been quite easy, for example, to go from fifth to second...

"As far as handling was concerned, the car turned in quite nicely, and the basic balance was good, although suddenly there'd be some curious loads coming through the steering-wheel. In medium-speed corners, like Les Combes, you could place the car more or less where you wanted it."

And the brakes? Brundle laughed. "Well, because I always braked quite early for Les Combes, anyway, at first I didn't grasp that it didn't slow down very well, although, funnily enough, it seemed to depend on which corner you're in, and how fast you were going. Coming into the Bus Stop, for example, it didn't seem to want to slow at all..."

More and more, though, Martin began to appreciate the performance of this Mercedes. "I was supposed to be keeping pace with the Safety Car – and that was a special 5.5-litre Merc CLK, with Mass driving it. A very quick car, and Jochen was pushing quite hard, apparently, but he couldn't keep up with me. To be honest, I didn't think I was going that fast, but then I began to realise that this car must be quite slippery through the air. I gather they used to do over 180, and I was doing 150 or so through the kinks before Blanchimont."

It was at that point, Martin said, that he began to think about absence of seat-belts, roll-over bars, and the like. "I began to look around, and think, 'If you were going to hit something, what would you do?' In a modern car, if you're going to crash, you make sure you do certain things beforehand, but with this one I really had no idea what I'd do.

"When I was four, I blagged my way on to some bumper cars at Butlin's, and I'll never forget this old guy waving a finger at me, warning me I was going to hit the side. Eventually I did, and hit my head on the nut in the centre of the steering-wheel - got carried off to hospital, blood pouring from my face. When I got in the Merc, I thought, 'Jeez, if you hit something, there's going to be a nice imprint of a W196 steering-wheel on your chest...'

"I didn't slow down, because I was enjoying it so much, but I did begin to feel nervous in the high-speed corners, because occasionally the car seemed to have a mind of its own. It was rather like flying a helicopter, that sense that if you ever let anything develop, you'd have a hell of a job getting it back again.

"OK, in the back of a current F1 driver's mind is the acceptance that he might get hurt doing this, but back then it must have been right at the front of your mind, and very much part of your decision-making process. It isn't – at all – for the current drivers.

"Look at that Spa weekend: Jacques (Villeneuve) went there on a mission that he was going to get through Eau Rouge flat – but he knew that he wasn't going to die if he got it wrong! The guys who raced these cars...they didn't have that security. No soft landings for them.

"I'm sure their focus wasn't so much on a fraction of understeer or oversteer as on keeping the machinery together, not missing a gear, not hitting a wall; today's guys haven't got a clue about all that. I would think that at least half of them haven't the vaguest clue about what's going on underneath them - they just leave the engineers and the computers to do all that."

"I didn't know what to expect from this car. It wasn't as fast as I anticipated, in terms of power, but I had to remind myself that it was 44 years old - and only 2.5 litres. In every other way, though, I came out of it with even higher respect for the drivers of those days. I've been round the old Spa, and it's incredible to think they raced F1 cars round there. When you try and put together what you've felt in the car with a place like that...Jesus!"

#5 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 22:14

Roebuck seems to be stuck on redial. same questions and answers every time.

and you lazy tossers need to register if you want to read it :kiss:

#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 22:29

I've tried to register for it Ross, but it didn't happen for some reason.

And I'm away from my own computer for a while, so I stand no chance... hence I thank Lemans for his assistance.

Great article, great insights.

#7 Vrba

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 22:42

Originally posted by Ross Stonefeld
Roebuck seems to be stuck on redial. same questions and answers every time.

and you lazy tossers need to register if you want to read it :kiss:


Exactly. His topics: Villeneuve, Williams, Bellof, loathing of driver aids, Amon.....and maybe a few more. You may be sure some will be present in each issue.
And each time with exactly the same words pasted from who-knows-how-old articles.

It's at least 2nd and probably the 3rd time he published Brundle's impressions of driving the W196. He probably has a variety of topics for which his generic answers (in fact old stories) are applicable, he writes the first two sentences of the answer (or just the name of the person he "answers" to) and then adds (pastes) a story he published many times before.
It's very easy to play journalist like that.

Hrvoje

#8 WGD706

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 23:25

In re-reading about Bellof, I have to wonder if his decision to try a pass of Ickx's car at the questionable point of Eau Rouge( trying to wrest the race lead from Jacky Ickx's similar car) was one of just trying to pass a car for the lead or was he trying to make a point to the man who red-flagged the 1984 Monaco GP when he was catching both Prost and Senna.
We can only speculate........

#9 Gary Davies

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 23:55

Cynicism is so easy, isn't it. May I say that I appreciate being able, every Thursday morning, at no cost, to read Roebuck's insights into various aspects of our sport ... even though, here and there, he repeats himself.

It may be unwise to look a gift-horse in the mouth, but what seems a bit unfair is to then whinge about what you find.

Vanwall.

#10 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 00:37

Ive never understood Roebuck's current relevance to Autosport. He seems to detest everything that has to do with F1. Shouldnt he be writing history books or contributing to Vintage Motorsport?

#11 Lemans

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 06:16

Ray Bell,

hi you are welcome. I am registered and will gladly send what articles the TNF seeks there. As a new poster, I enjoy the info I get here. BTW, I watched Motor Racing 1960's included a nice section on Maston Gregory and Ferrari's last win at Le Mans. I dont know alot about him.

thanks

#12 Paul Newby

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 07:02

Originally posted by Ross Stonefeld
Ive never understood Roebuck's current relevance to Autosport. He seems to detest everything that has to do with F1. Shouldnt he be writing history books or contributing to Vintage Motorsport?


Lets be thankful that Autosport still employs an old "has been" like Roebuck and better still giving him his own "ask Nigel" segment on the autosport.com for us to enjoy, gratis. Sure his articles might be recycled from his copious archives, but it seems to me that they are unhindered by the dreaded sub-editor :mad: and they are usually first hand accounts.

Granted he might not be as informed as, say Peter Windsor, but his opinions are of value and at least he cares about the sport and gives us at TNF plenty to think about and discuss here. :)

#13 Bladrian

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 07:33

I second that.

#14 KWSN - DSM

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 08:23

Morning,

[rant on]Well I am often complaining about Roebuck, yet every week when a new column comes up, this is where I go read... :) He does have a lot of F1 and autoracing knowledge, he can relate stories from times past, and he does tak a stance on the qualities of past and current drivers, but in my opinion he is "too" British in his outlook on F1. It is fair that he is, since that is where he is from, and where he works. However writing for the dominant auto-racing magazine in the world, I expect it to be a little less.

I am not part of a get rid of Roebuck campaing, but I feel within my rights to critizise him when he becomes too ""intimate" in his musings. It is in order that he does not rate Michael Schumacher among the greatest drievrs of all times, it is not allright that he seem unable to write anything about Michael Schumacher without mentioning that.[/rant on]

Stefan Bellof - In my mind deffinately one of the great ones, who got away. The sport lost a tremenddous driver in him. And I can only imagine the fights between him, Senna and Prost up through the 80ies.

:cool:

#15 Ray Bell

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 08:25

Of course, you have to present different points of view...

But does he really 'cut and paste' stuff in these replies? I could never live with myself doing that for a magazine that people pay money for...

Re-writing isn't all that hard, and you can change the slant on things according to the needs. Best of all, you can add in new information.

#16 Vrba

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 08:27

Originally posted by Vanwall
Cynicism is so easy, isn't it. May I say that I appreciate being able, every Thursday morning, at no cost, to read Roebuck's insights into various aspects of our sport ... even though, here and there, he repeats himself.

It may be unwise to look a gift-horse in the mouth, but what seems a bit unfair is to then whinge about what you find.

Vanwall.


I don't agree. If one does his job, he has to do it properly. What Roebuck does is simply getting the bother of writing the column off his back.
Besides, what value do his insights have? How warped they are? How objective he is?
I do agree that sometimes there is something interesting in his texts but most of the times it's the same old boring story agsain and again.

Hrvoje

#17 Eric McLoughlin

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 08:49

I think it's good that he makes himself available to questionning from fans - I know of no other journalists who do. Obviously, to deal with the volume of queries he gets I'm sure he's tempted to rehash some old stuff now and then. I wonder does he get paid extra for providing this service.

And to answer Ross' point, he DOES write "history" books from time to time.

#18 Ray Bell

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 09:03

Hang on a minute... doesn't he say he didn't see any races before the sixties, or was that just about writing about it?

That's pretty modern history, anyway.

#19 Eric McLoughlin

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 10:03

True - he only started working as a professional journalist in 1971 - but that is 32 years ago now so I suppose that could be termed "historic". He did attend grand prix and other races from the mid 1950s as an enthusiast.

I have Michael Turner's book "Formula One" for which Roebuck wrote the narrations accompanying each painting and that covers all the world Championship seasons from 1950 to 1982.

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#20 Ray Bell

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 10:35

He's been close to the action in that period then...

How old is he, anyway? I wouldn't have thought he'd have personal recollections of 1950?

#21 TODave2

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 10:43

I quite like his writing style. I have to confess that I really don't like Peter Windsor's too much at all. It's when he writes stuff like 'Schumacher turned into the corner, his right hand flicking up another gear, his eyes watching the apex... am I too tight? Better come out a bit, now where's the next apex...' and so on. I sit and read it and think 'Excuse me, how on earth do you know what Schu is thinking?'

He seems to blur the lines between fact and fiction. In short, he makes up stuff that drivers may be thinking and feeling and then passes it off as fact. I dunno... just grates on my nerves a bit (and this is from someone who subscribes to F1 Racing for which he writes)

#22 Ray Bell

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 10:52

I don't know... Pete had some fun times in a Formula Vee one day... he knows what it's like to be on the circuit.

Surely he can translate that to what a top driver is thinking?

Or is it too hard for you to accept that Schumacher might already know where the next apex is?

#23 baggish

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 13:50

Originally posted by Paul Newby


...better still giving him his own "ask Nigel" segment on the autosport.com for us to enjoy, gratis.


I'm sure there are many subscribers to Autosport (like myself) who find it annoying that "Ask Nigel" does not appear in the magazine. The magazine subscribers (together with corporate sponsors) are paying for the website and yet Haymarket appears to give them second priority and a second class product.

In another thread, there was a complaint that Autosport can no longer be regarded as an authoritative historical record. One reason is that if an event of note happens after the magazine has gone to press (i.e. Tuesday - Thursday), it is recorded on the website, but does not appear in the next magazine. There is now an assumption that such news is old news, and of course it is also assumed that all subscribers will have read about it on the website.

I find it strange that the magazine is almost regarded as a loss-leading promotion tool for the website. Yet it's the magazine that has established the brand, the magazine which (presumably) brings in the revenue and the magazine that can reach a greater number of readers. So, shouldn't it be the other way round? (Yes, I know I'm a Luddite :lol: ).

So, why should someone with internet access subscribe to what now seems to be regarded as a lower priority product? One reason is that sometimes I want to read in the garden in the sunshine, and not be tied to the screen all day. Also, autosport.com may advertise itself as 'the world's finest motor sport website' or some such, but it is also a contender for 'world's slowest motor sport website' and therefore very frustrating.

Got that off my chest, feel better now :) . I don't dare look at the thread on worst commentators...

Originally posted by Ray Bell
How old is he, anyway? I wouldn't have thought he'd have personal recollections of 1950?


Quite often he writes about attending races in the 1950s as a child.

Jon

#24 mike_w

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 15:09

I'm sure we could all accuse Nigel Roebuck of recycling the same stuff time after time, but it seems to me that 1) there are only so many anecdotes that one can associate with a particular driver/race/event (especially those experienced at first hand) and 2) although it's the case that we're reading the same anecdotes about Stefan Bellof for the xth time, I bet there's fans out there who are reading them for the first time. I reckon it's a good thing when some kid who's just got into F1 reads something like that, and it inspires them to investigate the history of the sport.

#25 JohnS

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 18:40

Originally posted by Ross Stonefeld
Ive never understood Roebuck's current relevance to Autosport. He seems to detest everything that has to do with F1. Shouldnt he be writing history books or contributing to Vintage Motorsport?


:up: Couldn't agree more.

#26 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 18:53

I should point out I didnt mean that as derogatory (though I do dislike Roebuck but dont want to start that issue) Ive just allways felt its odd for him to be in a magazine that is so obsessively catered towards modern F1 and little else.

#27 Eric McLoughlin

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 19:13

Although Autosport does have far too much content and emphasis on current F1, there are little historical "snippets" scattered amongs the rather messy layout. So - Roebuck has his place and I'd hate to see him go.

#28 Evo One

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 19:40

I'm amazed at the criticism of Nigel Roebuck on here. IMHO he is one of the most eloquent jounalists in motorsport. So what if he occasionaly recycles what he has written - it is always entertainintg to read it again. So what if he disapproves of current F1 - we are in the TNF where dare I say it - most of us do. The general tone of this thread would be more appropriate on the RC forum :(

#29 holiday

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 20:20

:up: Most of the comments so far are ill-minded.
I am constantly hearing comments about quality sites like forix being rightly privatized but when it is about Roebuck's lenghty gratis quality articles, every dude believes to have right to piss on them.

I'd rather see 98% of the free f1 garbidge coverage on the net disappear into nothing than NR's articles. If you have a problem, then dont read them - simple. Contrary to forix, with Roebuck's articlesat least you have the option to choose.

Looks like my middle-finger in this thread wont go down too soon. :cool:

#30 petefenelon

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 21:14

Originally posted by Ross Stonefeld
Ive never understood Roebuck's current relevance to Autosport. He seems to detest everything that has to do with F1. Shouldnt he be writing history books or contributing to Vintage Motorsport?


He should be editing Motor Sport - Fearnley is just in it for the test drives, I reckon.

pete

#31 nigel5

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 21:15

Does anyone possess pictures of Stefan Bellof testing the McLarenFord at Silverstone in October 1983 (with Martin Brundle, and Ayrton Senna) ?

Thanks

#32 holiday

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 22:04

http://www.atlasf1.c...&threadid=52504

http://www.izdebski....fan_bellof.html
http://www.stefanbellof.de/

At one of these sites were a couple of pics, one with Bellof pulling off his balaclave with an inquiring looking Ron Dennis. Also a lenghty newspaper article about the test.

Test report here: http://www.izdebski....3/msa_1983.html

#33 Haddock

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 22:14

Roebuck has his flaws, I guess, but his weekly online column is the one truly essential bit of weekly motorsport reading I can think of.

We;re getting it for free, so if occasionally he feels like cutting and pasting old material, fair enough. One complaint though - the Autosport beancounters seem to have arbitrarily decided to cut his wordcount - back in the late eighties fifth column used to be a lot longer.

#34 LittleChris

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Posted 01 February 2003 - 01:17

Originally posted by petefenelon


He should be editing Motor Sport - Fearnley is just in it for the test drives, I reckon.

pete


Well said Pete.

#35 petefenelon

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Posted 01 February 2003 - 09:37

Originally posted by Haddock
Roebuck has his flaws, I guess, but his weekly online column is the one truly essential bit of weekly motorsport reading I can think of.

We;re getting it for free, so if occasionally he feels like cutting and pasting old material, fair enough. One complaint though - the Autosport beancounters seem to have arbitrarily decided to cut his wordcount - back in the late eighties fifth column used to be a lot longer.


If it was occasional repeats of material I'd not be too bothered. When I've seen the same thing in two books, at least two Fifth Columns and a bag of Ask Nigels I start to think he's getting lazy or exploited. And yes, I find the increasing amount of (real-world) politics in his writing annoying -- and not in the same way that WB's fulminations are endearing.

As for the word limits, there seems to be fairly strong circumstantial evidence that Haymarket want no articles longer than 1500 words and most at 1000 - a guess a Fifth Column used to be fairly close to 1000. There is less text in Autosport than there has been for a long time. I doubt Roebuck is intentionally giving short measures.

I'm sure Roebuck is a great enthusiast. He can, when the mood takes him, still produce memorable journalism - I was knocked out by his article on drag racer John Force a while back. But he seems to be on autopilot when discussing contemporary F1 and his set of historical reference points - or at least the ones he feels prompted to share with us - is limited to a fairly restricted set of anecdotes.

It's interesting - I picked up a 1973 run of Competition Car recently and by 'eck that was a good magazine - the writers really seemed to know and love their racing and to be writing for a knowledgeable, broad-minded audience. What a difference 30 years makes.... particularly to one opinionated, funny, perceptive young writer called Roebuck!

(I notice at least one regular here contributed columns on history to it - any tales on what went wrong? Did the Energy Crisis kill it off?)

(I'm also amazed at the 20 quid prize for the caption competition - comparing prices of road cars that's about 200 quid at today's values!)

pete

#36 Haddock

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Posted 01 February 2003 - 10:23

originally posted by petefenelon If it was occasional repeats of material I'd not be too bothered. When I've seen the same thing in two books, at least two Fifth Columns and a bag of Ask Nigels I start to think he's getting lazy or exploited. And yes, I find the increasing amount of (real-world) politics in his writing annoying -- and not in the same way that WB's fulminations are endearing.



To be honest, my major problem with Roebuck's political comments is simply that I disagree with them - though his Tony Benn quote about New Labour was on the money last week.

I guess I've just read less of Nigel Roebuck's material than you have. I have never, for instance, ever read the Brundle Mercedes W196 anecdote before this week, and only parts of the Bellof story were familiar to me. It might help that, since about 1995, I haven't read Autosport on a regular basis. His writing has rather more personality to it than any of the new Autosport drones who seem to specialise in writing sanitised, opinion-free pr-pieces - the journalistic equivalent of processed cheese.

Actually, thinking about it....when I was about 13-14 I used to co-produce a fortnightly newsletter for a radio control car racing club I was in with another member of the club, and even then I used to think he wrote bland, anodyne articles - which I guess were technically and gramatically more competent than my own 13 year old scribbles. And guess what he does for a living now ?

#37 stuartbrs

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Posted 01 February 2003 - 13:36

I love Mr Roebucks writing style, I have many old (?) books and magazine articles he has written and always have a good time when I go back to reading them. He does seem a bit disenchanted with modern F1, but a few weeks ago someone asked about his favourite bit of 2002, he wrote about the Montoya pass at Montreal on Ralfie boy and, I forget the other driver, with all the old passion and fire of Roebuck articles of old...so he still loves bits and pieces of it!

And c`mon, its free.... well, free if you dont take into account what your PC and internet connection costs you, but most of time I read it at work...

#38 JohnS

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Posted 01 February 2003 - 19:14

Richie Benaud, the veteran cricket writer and commentator, recently attributed his longevity at the top of his field to the fact that he focuses on the players of today, and doesn't continually harp on about Bradman, Sobers and co. Fred Trueman, on the other hand, constantly and annoyingly compared the modern game in less than flattering terms to how things were in his day.

Nigel Roebuck is definitely from the Fred Trueman school, and I find it all very tiresome.

His writing is far better suited these days to Motor Sport. I enjoy his Legends column in that magazine.

As for his political comments, which seem to appear in Autosport every single week, if I want to read such remarks then I'll buy the Daily Mail (God forbid).

#39 Bladrian

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Posted 01 February 2003 - 20:35

Steady on, old son - Benaud, 'Ahr Fred', Sobers, Bradman .... all in one sentence? Mr Beard will have a conniption! :rotfl:

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#40 masterhit

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Posted 01 February 2003 - 23:41

I love his reminiscinces, there were times when I found his Prost bias infuriating, but that is his right as a journalist, and I like the fact that he speaks his mind - a rare quality. I would also like to add that he helped me see Prost in a different light, so I am by no means damning him here. I grew up and appreciated the drivers in a differnt way, as did Nigel, and hopefully most of us bar the obsessive single driver fanatics.

The art of writing is a difficult one. Each article is a snapshot in time, and once it is released into the wild, people will forever quote it to you as though they expect you to be somehow less hypocritical, partial, changable and opinionated as the rest of the world. Equally they will judge you with the benefit of hindsight.

20 years later some crazed wild eyed internet person will come up to you and ask your opinion on such and such, and if it happens to differ on some article that you said way back when, they will make you out to be some sort of demon for daring to change your mind on the matter! Continuity demands that you be as stupid now as you were then!

Equally as a writer, simply talking of the excitement and beauty of a racing car being driven to the limit, he is very good indeed. The only other thing which bothers me about Nigel is that he sees things a little in overly simplistic terms with regards to so called driver aids. I loathe and detest the fact that driver input is being diluted by technology as much as he, but to actually implement and police these changes in a watertight manner is something else entirely, and it is not a case of just saying "Let's get rid of all the electronics" or "gizmos"as unlike, say, IRL, there is considerably more money at stake.

Nonetheless, I am being hyper critical, and nit picking because Nigel Roebuck is a wonderful writer who earns my respect, and loves his racing.

#41 Ray Bell

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Posted 01 February 2003 - 23:43

Speaking as one who has been writing professionally for over thirty years, I can tell you that the most criticism you can get for your writings will usually come from one source...

Yourself.

#42 TODave2

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 20:59

Originally posted by Ray Bell
I don't know... Pete had some fun times in a Formula Vee one day... he knows what it's like to be on the circuit.

Surely he can translate that to what a top driver is thinking?

Or is it too hard for you to accept that Schumacher might already know where the next apex is?


He may well be able to... I'm simply saying that I personally don't like it! I've no doubt at all that the guy is more able to do that than me...

...in the same way that I have no doubt Schu is a better driver than me, so it's not hard for me to accept at all.

I only said the 'apex' thing as an example - I'm not sure how you arrived at your conclusion from what I said :confused:


Anyway... this is all an aside - the thing that really gets me going is F1 Racing's monthly Renault 'advertisment-article' (adticle?). This month we had... at home with Flav!!! I chuck my copy out when I get the next one, so I've not hard data to back it up, but it certainly feels like every issue has some damn article relating to the Renault team. So this year I'm going to keep a note. So far, one issue down, one Renault adticle... :D

#43 David M. Kane

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 22:39

Ross I have followed Nigel Roebuck since day one. Here is my opinion, he is
a REAL fan who remembers REAL racing. Secondly, he has the WILL and the
SPIRIT to fight and to fight and to fight for what he thinks is right. I
happen to agree. I don't know how old you are but I saw my first Grand Prix
in 1970 and it was magical. The last GP I attended was last year's USGP and I thought it sucked, REALLY sucked! I would also add that I was lucky enough to drive the circuit two times that weekend in a 1974 Formula One
March. That was a lifetime treat! HOWEVER, I was shocked at how BORING and
TOTALLY unchallenging the circuit was! Real F1 cars need to be driving places like Watkins Glen, Long Beach, etc.

I'm glad he has the balls to speak his mind and I'm happy for you that you
enjoy modern F1, I personally think it is boring, the drivers are boring,
the Paddock Club is boring, boring, boring, boring...

Lastly, I respect your right to your opinion. Please keep expressing it,
I find it stimulating.

#44 ghinzani

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 23:10

Originally posted by petefenelon


If it was occasional repeats of material I'd not be too bothered. When I've seen the same thing in two books, at least two Fifth Columns and a bag of Ask Nigels I start to think he's getting lazy or exploited. And yes, I find the increasing amount of (real-world) politics in his writing annoying -- and not in the same way that WB's fulminations are endearing.

As for the word limits, there seems to be fairly strong circumstantial evidence that Haymarket want no articles longer than 1500 words and most at 1000 - a guess a Fifth Column used to be fairly close to 1000. There is less text in Autosport than there has been for a long time. I doubt Roebuck is intentionally giving short measures.

I'm sure Roebuck is a great enthusiast. He can, when the mood takes him, still produce memorable journalism - I was knocked out by his article on drag racer John Force a while back. But he seems to be on autopilot when discussing contemporary F1 and his set of historical reference points - or at least the ones he feels prompted to share with us - is limited to a fairly restricted set of anecdotes.

It's interesting - I picked up a 1973 run of Competition Car recently and by 'eck that was a good magazine - the writers really seemed to know and love their racing and to be writing for a knowledgeable, broad-minded audience. What a difference 30 years makes.... particularly to one opinionated, funny, perceptive young writer called Roebuck!

(I notice at least one regular here contributed columns on history to it - any tales on what went wrong? Did the Energy Crisis kill it off?)

(I'm also amazed at the 20 quid prize for the caption competition - comparing prices of road cars that's about 200 quid at today's values!)

pete


Pete

Once again I find myself agreeing with your opinions. Dont get me wrong I think Roebuck is one of the finest writers of his generation, perhaps as a GP correspondant second only to Pete Lyons, however the continued use of cut n paste of old articles grates with me (especially after I had a first year essay on Hobsbawn and the runway for Industrial take off rejected for plagarism....) What I also dislike is that back in the 70s when he edited pit n paddock he was'nt afraid to say what he thinks - especially about people such as big lou etc, but nowadays its all toned down. Maybe thats because we live in a more letigous world, I dont know. Somehow the cutting remarks seem more snide these days, especially in the politics arena - although to hear him quoting Tony Benn was a surprise. I know Nigel must be bored of modern F1, we all are!

One other thing that annoys me is he was so pro-Prost in the old days, but once Ayrton died he seemed to start venerating him - do you think he had a change of mind over Senna? I do like the fact he doesnt really like Ralf and Michael, but will that change when Michael stops racing? Incidentally I had a letter published in Autosport back in 93 about how boring F1 and the Prost/Renault contrived domination was - but they failed to print the bit where I suggested if Roebuck ever went missing they should examine Monsiuer Prost with a Proctoscope!! I wonder why ;-)

#45 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 23:22

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Ross I have followed Nigel Roebuck since day one. Here is my opinion, he is
a REAL fan who remembers REAL racing. Secondly, he has the WILL and the
SPIRIT to fight and to fight and to fight for what he thinks is right. I
happen to agree. I don't know how old you are but I saw my first Grand Prix
in 1970 and it was magical. The last GP I attended was last year's USGP and I thought it sucked, REALLY sucked! I would also add that I was lucky enough to drive the circuit two times that weekend in a 1974 Formula One
March. That was a lifetime treat! HOWEVER, I was shocked at how BORING and
TOTALLY unchallenging the circuit was! Real F1 cars need to be driving places like Watkins Glen, Long Beach, etc.

I'm glad he has the balls to speak his mind and I'm happy for you that you
enjoy modern F1, I personally think it is boring, the drivers are boring,
the Paddock Club is boring, boring, boring, boring...

Lastly, I respect your right to your opinion. Please keep expressing it,
I find it stimulating.



For starters I hate editorials. I want information, not opinion. Im intelligent enough and experienced enough a race viewer to make as informed if not more so an observation than Roebuck. That page of Autosport is one less page that can be devoted to giving more break down of qualifying laps or pit strategy or whatever.

Now even though I sometimes agree with what he's saying, I disagree often with how he reaches that conclusion. One of his favorite things is about how electronics have killed the sport. He just doesnt like them, thats fine. But he doesnt seem to have actually thought it through. Do paddle shifters really make a difference? I dont think so. The amount of Formula Ford races that have been decided by a missed shift I cant even remember one, and thats hardly 20 of the best drivers in the world. TC hasnt made a damn bit of difference in the races we've had them in F1, or even in CART for that matter. The one thing I will concede is launch control, thats all but destroyed one of the coolest moments in all of racing. I think thats a general complaint I have with people though. For you and I and Mr Roebuck all those aids would make driving an F1 car easier, but for the guys Frank Williams and Ron Dennis are picking, it doesnt make a wit of difference. Schumacher and Raikkonen can control the throttle as well as any current computer system so whether its there or not its not even noticeable. So ive never liked his "oh electronics have ruined racing!" as if pre-Spain 2001 racing was something to behold with reverance. Same thing for his dislike of certain drivers. He doesnt like certain guys. End of discussion. HIs reasons for disliking schumacher are about as good as my little sister's reasons for liking him "its red and it wins a lot"

He's part of the ignorant collection of journalists who think there's some magical contract at Ferrari about team status in spite of people like Brawn, Montezemolo, Todt, and the drivers say otherwise. Forget facts, Roebuck things different. End of discussion. So that aspect I dont like. Its editorialised, and its not even well thought out. Thats fine for Autosport though, which is pretty much the tabloid level of racing journalism (much like Windsor and F1 racing who just seem to make stuff up since no one is really taking the time to tell them otherwise) so Im surprised you guys revere him so much.

#46 Eric McLoughlin

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 23:31

Give me opinionated reporters any day - even if I disagree with the opinions.

#47 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 23:33

Then they arent reporters, and you might as well charge by the thread

#48 masterhit

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 23:45

Originally posted by Ross Stonefeld
Then they arent reporters, and you might as well charge by the thread


Ross, I like you and I'm not shooting you down, but everybody is opinionated and the only way to please everyone would be if reporters devoted exactly the same number of words to all teams equally, avoiding emotive words for fear of being accused of favouritism. And that type of reporting of events is strictly limited to the Financial Times. Not many of us sports fans honestly can say that we buy that.

It s like when you race, you know that people will think what they like but its up to you to do your job and other people will have their opinion but only you know yourself.

#49 Bernd

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 00:13

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Ross I have followed Nigel Roebuck since day one. Here is my opinion, he is
a REAL fan who remembers REAL racing. Secondly, he has the WILL and the
SPIRIT to fight and to fight and to fight for what he thinks is right. I
happen to agree. I don't know how old you are but I saw my first Grand Prix
in 1970 and it was magical. The last GP I attended was last year's USGP and I thought it sucked, REALLY sucked! I would also add that I was lucky enough to drive the circuit two times that weekend in a 1974 Formula One
March. That was a lifetime treat! HOWEVER, I was shocked at how BORING and
TOTALLY unchallenging the circuit was! Real F1 cars need to be driving places like Watkins Glen, Long Beach, etc.

I'm glad he has the balls to speak his mind and I'm happy for you that you
enjoy modern F1, I personally think it is boring, the drivers are boring,
the Paddock Club is boring, boring, boring, boring...

Lastly, I respect your right to your opinion. Please keep expressing it,
I find it stimulating.


:up: My thoughts exactly. Brilliant Post.

Ross I agree with you for once it isn't the electronics that have ruined F1 racing, though they have helped. I think the aerodynamics are the root of the problem without a doubt.

#50 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 00:26

Id say i norder of importance

1. tracks (straights arent long enough, corners arent tight enough)
2. braking zones are too short
3. aero