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The FISA/FOCA war


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#1 Racer.Demon

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Posted 13 March 2008 - 14:18

I'll start a fresh thread on this topic - instead of linking up with a not entirely on-topic old one, which proved to be rather ineffective just recently :lol: - as I've just finished my six-part series on 8W on the FISA/FOCA war of the early eighties and am curious to know what you think. I didn't just focus on the conflict itself but also tried to explain its roots, and why its outcome is, in turn, at the root of almost all conflict in modern F1.

I'd be happy to hear your comments on the articles themselves, as they are bound to contain mistakes and misgivings, but I would also like to know your thoughts on this most vitriolic of political wars in the sport.

So here are the articles:

Part 1: Introduction and timeline
Part 2: Onset – authority and rebellion
Part 3: 1979-1980 – the FIA on the counter attack
Part 4: 1981 – long live the FIA F1 World Championship
Part 5: 1982 – all is fair in love and war
Part 6: Aftermath – the rebels become the establishment

Now for your ideas on this grand 'FIASCO'...

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#2 MonzaDriver

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Posted 14 March 2008 - 10:10

The Beginning of the End.

MonzaDriver.

#3 angst

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Posted 14 March 2008 - 12:09

Must..... walk...... away.......

Please don't let me get started on this, the awful reverberations of this are still very much felt, in the monopolistic power of Bernie's empire, in the manner of the protectionist and anti-competitive cartel of the teams, the focus upon F1 at the expense (both intended and unintended) of other forms of motor sport. A tale of greed, of powerlust, of (dodgy) business - and not an ounce of sport to be seen. Can't remember Chapman's exact words of '81 (about the sport being controlled by people who have no concept of sport), but he was right. Absolutely.

#4 brandspro

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Posted 14 March 2008 - 16:58

Interesting read so far, and as 'angst' says, an episode that is still, unfortunately, reverberating through the sport. I have to say though, in part one you do Gordon Murray a grave disservice when discussing his hydro-pneumatic suspension system. It was far more elegant and ingenious than a simple switch operated system.

#5 Hieronymus

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Posted 14 March 2008 - 17:17

Great effort, Mattijs!!

#6 Racer.Demon

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Posted 14 March 2008 - 19:54

Originally posted by brandspro
I have to say though, in part one you do Gordon Murray a grave disservice when discussing his hydro-pneumatic suspension system. It was far more elegant and ingenious than a simple switch operated system.


It's precisely these comments that I'm interested in, so thanks and please keep them coming. :up:

#7 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 22:51

The indifference, disinterest, and total lack of any intellectual curiosity on this topic continues to demonstrate the hollowness of the mindset that is all too pervasive here at TNF when it comes to anything that smacks of contradicting the Boys Own view that many have of motor racing as some sort of pure, unadulterated sport. What a pathetic, myopic view of the past this represents. It never ceases to amaze me that many pivotal moments in motor racing are generally left unexamined because there might be "politics" involved. The period Mattijs is attempting to discuss is ignored at best or scorned by most (the comment by "angst" could have easily been made by any number of those here, I would imagine) at worse. This struggle fundamentally shifted the nature of a form of the sport and the best one can expect here at TNF is infantile, emotional whining. It is as if one decides to ignore WW2 as an unpleasant period while examining the history of Poland.

I just have trouble coping with how a mention of the most minor of British circuits or drivers can produce a response of dozens or even hundreds of postings and yet this is not only be ignored but most would like to wish it away, as if it never existed.

I fully realize that this forum is not a history forum and that history is not even supposed to be a factor in the discussions, but the resounding silence says much. Then again, why am I even surprised?

#8 D-Type

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 23:56

Don,
I don't think it's a case of lack of interest so much as a case of having nothing factual to add.

Mattijs,
I am delighed that you have published this as I can now refer others to it, which I cannot do with Don's version which is buried deep in the paid access section of Autosport/Atlas.

#9 angst

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 13:26

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps
The indifference, disinterest, and total lack of any intellectual curiosity on this topic continues to demonstrate the hollowness of the mindset that is all too pervasive here at TNF when it comes to anything that smacks of contradicting the Boys Own view that many have of motor racing as some sort of pure, unadulterated sport. What a pathetic, myopic view of the past this represents. It never ceases to amaze me that many pivotal moments in motor racing are generally left unexamined because there might be "politics" involved. The period Mattijs is attempting to discuss is ignored at best or scorned by most (the comment by "angst" could have easily been made by any number of those here, I would imagine) at worse. This struggle fundamentally shifted the nature of a form of the sport and the best one can expect here at TNF is infantile, emotional whining. It is as if one decides to ignore WW2 as an unpleasant period while examining the history of Poland.

I just have trouble coping with how a mention of the most minor of British circuits or drivers can produce a response of dozens or even hundreds of postings and yet this is not only be ignored but most would like to wish it away, as if it never existed.

I fully realize that this forum is not a history forum and that history is not even supposed to be a factor in the discussions, but the resounding silence says much. Then again, why am I even surprised?


I think that you have misunderstood my post. The good Mr Capps seems far more interested in berating posters here than in discussion of recent times. I have read the articles (which I found to be very comprehensive - and it is a period which I can hardly be accused of being ignorant of) and I am very impressed. My post was an attempt at mild "humour" , in fact the very reason that I said "Must... walk away..." is because it is a period and a struggle which I will have trouble not discussing at a level that some might consider laborious. The next points that I made highlighted ( I believed) the very ramifications to which you hint, and which you consider were merely "whined" about, in an "infantile and emotional" way. Sorry if a sport that I love might make my response somewhat emotional.

I have always had the highest regard for your posts and views Mr Capps, but your recent, embittered interjections do you a disservice. Please take the time to read the posts and digest their meanings fully.

PS - I have a horrible feeling that 'Mr' may be disrespectful (given your military personage), if so I apologise... :blush: Be assured it is not meant as a deliberate sleight.

#10 Kpy

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 14:16

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps
The indifference, disinterest, and total lack of any intellectual curiosity on this topic continues to demonstrate the hollowness of the mindset that is all too pervasive here at TNF when it comes to anything that smacks of contradicting the Boys Own view that many have of motor racing as some sort of pure, unadulterated sport. What a pathetic, myopic view of the past this represents. It never ceases to amaze me that many pivotal moments in motor racing are generally left unexamined because there might be "politics" involved. The period Mattijs is attempting to discuss is ignored at best or scorned by most (the comment by "angst" could have easily been made by any number of those here, I would imagine) at worse. This struggle fundamentally shifted the nature of a form of the sport and the best one can expect here at TNF is infantile, emotional whining. It is as if one decides to ignore WW2 as an unpleasant period while examining the history of Poland.

I just have trouble coping with how a mention of the most minor of British circuits or drivers can produce a response of dozens or even hundreds of postings and yet this is not only be ignored but most would like to wish it away, as if it never existed.

I fully realize that this forum is not a history forum and that history is not even supposed to be a factor in the discussions, but the resounding silence says much. Then again, why am I even surprised?


Perhaps you'd like to demonstrate your own intellectual curiosity on this topic, rather than berating the rest of us like some headmaster for doing no more than follow your example.
For myself, I followed the situation closely as it happened. I read Mattijs articles, but found nothing in them that leads me to criticise them or comment on them.

#11 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 17:38

Actually, I did exhibit some intellectual curiosity on this topic:

Back to the Future: The FIASCO War, Part 1

Back to the Future: The FIASCO War, Part 2

Back to the Future: The FIASCO War, Part 3

Back to the Future: The FIASCO War, Part 4

Back to the Future: The FIASCO War, Part 5

At the time I did these articles, it was interesting to note just how much this topic was avoided being discussed whenever I brought it up. The reactions to the articles were generally the same as what Mattijs has gotten -- yawns or vitriol. Indeed, I was the recipient of much scorn and derision for daring to point out the fact that during 1980 the FISA/FIA terminated the exisiting world championship and created a new one for 1981, one specifically for formula one. More than a few took -- and I would imagine still take -- exception to this notion. To them, it was a usually a case of they could not sense that anything changed, therefore, so what?

Five years later, Mattijs dipped into the fray once more and provided the insights he gathered from additional research into this topic. While I don't necessarily fully agree with some of his points, I do think that he has done quite a good job at laying this issue out.

#12 Marcel Visbeen

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 18:29

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps
Actually, I did exhibit some intellectual curiosity on this topic:

Back to the Future: The FIASCO War, Part 1

Back to the Future: The FIASCO War, Part 2

Back to the Future: The FIASCO War, Part 3

Back to the Future: The FIASCO War, Part 4

Back to the Future: The FIASCO War, Part 5

At the time I did these articles, it was interesting to note just how much this topic was avoided being discussed whenever I brought it up. The reactions to the articles were generally the same as what Mattijs has gotten -- yawns or vitriol. Indeed, I was the recipient of much scorn and derision for daring to point out the fact that during 1980 the FISA/FIA terminated the exisiting world championship and created a new one for 1981, one specifically for formula one. More than a few took -- and I would imagine still take -- exception to this notion. To them, it was a usually a case of they could not sense that anything changed, therefore, so what?

Five years later, Mattijs dipped into the fray once more and provided the insights he gathered from additional research into this topic. While I don't necessarily fully agree with some of his points, I do think that he has done quite a good job at laying this issue out.


I think I understand your point, but on the other hand I would like to suggest that the simple fact that this topic hasn't been discussed much or that your and Mattijs' articles didn't get a lot of response doesn't mean that the articles are not appreciated.

As a matter of fact, I am very much interested in the subject, maybe because I think it doesn't only say a lot about how formula one is managed, or sport in general, but it goes beyond that. Reflecting modern society in an exemplary and historicaly interesting way. That's why I read a lot about it, I even did some serious research myself and I have been planning to write a piece about it somehow, some day. I found your articles very enlightning and read them with great interest. In fact, they are the only articles of Atlas I printed, bound together and integrated in my small library. But I never shared my appreciation with you, or on the forum before.

Maybe a reason for the minor interest in this subject is that isn't very easy to comprehend, you really have to dig into it before you can ad something worthwhile to the discussion.

I didn't find the time yet to read all the articles of Mattijs, but I am sure they are thorough and interesting as usual.
Especially when you say you don't necessarily share all of Mattijs' views.

Would you care to tell us where your views differ from those of Mattijs?

#13 Racer.Demon

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 18:47

Originally posted by Marcel Visbeen

Especially when you say you don't necessarily share all of Mattijs' views.

Would you care to tell us where your views differ from those of Mattijs?


Yes, please. :D

Among the reasons for starting this thread is that I realize that I have probably gone very far in making my own interpretations based on the facts. In fact, I had trouble understanding some of the sudden switches in viewpoint that occurred with some of the main protagonists, and usually explained them as signs of opportunism - but there could be other rationalities (or irrationalities) behind them. One good example is the question of why the 1982 conflict petered out as it did. I found that I was surfing the waves between accepted knowledge and a couple of hazardous guesses based on my gut feeling of human psychology...

#14 Formula Once

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 19:51

As for the conflict petering out, I believe that first of all the conflict, as severe as it may have been at times, was just a way - if not the only way - for FOCA (and FISA) to get what they wanted, which, in the end, had nothing to do of course with turbo engines, wingcars or anything else they argued about, which is why most FOCA teams were busy getting hold of a turbo engine at the same time and the fight for keeping the wingcars was given up rather abruptly at the end of 1982. For this was all about getting the most out of a no win situation and - just like the conflict lasted for years - it became clear only much later what that was and how much. Also, going back to 1982, after Imola most major sponsors - and this is crucial - had just about enough of the strikes, disqualifications, accidents and boycots that had dominated F1 since round one, and one can not underestimate how much pressure Marlboro, JPS, TAG, etc. put on Dennis, Chapman, etc. to get their act together. Monaco, remember, was looming. So while it seems the conflict just pettered out, I think it had just reached its peak and got to the stage of putting together what ultimately would be the compromise that shaped the F1 world as we now know it. In the meantime, the teams had to put up a show for the rest of the season, while making sure they'd get hold of a Porsche, Renault or Honda turbo.

#15 Racer.Demon

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 22:07

Good point, and I agree on the need to put up a show.

In fact, the FOCA teams were caught out the same way here as the CSI was in 1977 when the season had already started. There was no turning back and commercial interests were simply too high.

How long could they have lasted with their boycott? I suspect that Imola was all they could financially take.


#16 Racer.Demon

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 08:55

This is probably very much RC but I've compiled an article as some sort of coda to my FISA/FOCA series on 8W. It's all about the parallels and contrasts with the political events of recent years, so beware... Modern motor-racing alert! ;)

Anyway, for those who are still interested:

http://8w.forix.com/...co-present.html

Very much my take on things so no guarantees it's the truth. I hope it's close though... :D

#17 Jerome

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 10:34

I've read the articles, just like I read Mr. Capps articles a few years back. And there's in Matthijs article again the notion of Tyrrell driving in Imola in 1982 (despite the FOCA-strike), and that later it would cost him (meaning his disqualification in 1984 for running underweight cars). I've heard this line of reasoning a lot, in most articles that describe Ken Tyrrell.

And I don't buy it.

I think that Tyrrell - who always said that the verdict in 1984 was political - by virtue of being Ken Tyrrell got the press (and therefore motorsport historians) on his side. But he DID run underweight cars, he DID breaks the rules. Too bad the FIA used crokky evidence to nail him, but in that sense the FIA did what the justice system did to OJ Simpson: they framed the right guy.

My five cents.

#18 RTH

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 10:39

In view of the recent high court case in London probably best......

"Don't mention the war "

#19 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 11:45

Originally posted by Jerome
I've read the articles, just like I read Mr. Capps articles a few years back. And there's in Matthijs article again the notion of Tyrrell driving in Imola in 1982 (despite the FOCA-strike), and that later it would cost him (meaning his disqualification in 1984 for running underweight cars). I've heard this line of reasoning a lot, in most articles that describe Ken Tyrrell.

And I don't buy it.

I think that Tyrrell - who always said that the verdict in 1984 was political - by virtue of being Ken Tyrrell got the press (and therefore motorsport historians) on his side. But he DID run underweight cars, he DID breaks the rules. Too bad the FIA used crokky evidence to nail him, but in that sense the FIA did what the justice system did to OJ Simpson: they framed the right guy.

My five cents.


My two cents is that the number of cars that were actually "legal" during the 1981 thru 1984 seasons could probably be counted on one hand with several fingers left over....

The cars that Tyrrell fielded met the same criteria for meeting the stipulated weight requirements that all the other teams did. Think about that for a moment. Of course, that is not saying much, merely damning formula one as a whole with faint praise, if you will.

Ken Tyrrell was "framed" in the sense that he was singled out for making statements and creating unrest at a time when both the FISA and the FOCA were trying to put a "happy face" on things and get down to the business of taking care of business. In this instance, Tyrrell was, in my personal opinion, his own worse enemy. Tyrrell kept harping and yapping away, causing the FIASCO parties to get highly irritated with him, especially when he refused to take take the "hints" and/or "offers" that were being made. So, when FIASCO was given an opportunity to "deal" with Tyrrell, they took every advantage of it.

It was not just Imola 1982: it was that and all his being too outspoken at the "wrong" times and not toeing the FIASCO line. A phrase borrowed from elsewhere, "It was nothing personal, strictly business," moreorless applies here since it became personal as well it being business.

So, while I probably can be "had" -- I am certainly not cheap, as a motor racing historian I tend to see a level of causality and context within Tyrrell's actions and those of the FISA -- actually FIASCO since the FOCA did not raise a finger to defend him -- to think that it is interesting that only Tyrrell with dealt with in such a manner. Tyrrell pushed the envelope, and the envelope pushed back in this instance, the consequences being a bit more draconian than Tyrrell anticipated.

I will admit that the immense dissatisfaction I felt regarding formula one at that time may have influenced my earlier thinking on this, but later research has simply shown that the context was more complex and convoluted than imagined, which makes any simplist judgment almost irrelevant. Indeed, as in always the case, there was more than enough "blame" to go around so that no one -- including Tyrrell -- left the scene unsullied.

I continue to maintain that ripples and consequences -- intended and unintended -- from this period, the FIASCO War era, still resonate and created the springboard for the current way in which formula one is run. Just an opinion, of course....

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#20 angst

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 14:38

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps


I continue to maintain that ripples and consequences -- intended and unintended -- from this period, the FIASCO War era, still resonate and created the springboard for the current way in which formula one is run. Just an opinion, of course....


I agree. Not just reverberate though, the outcome of the FIASCO war era fixed inplace the means by which F1 would be run, until it (as it must) eats itself.

#21 Jerome

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 20:00

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps


My two cents is that the number of cars that were actually "legal" during the 1981 thru 1984 seasons could probably be counted on one hand with several fingers left over....


Hehe, you're right Don. Just like the number of teams that did not spy on other teams (including receiving documents and soforth) in the year that McLaren was caught, can be counted on the same hand you mentioned...

I think that, indeed, Tyrrell made himself a 'happy target' by acting the person he was. But was he not also daring the FISA (was it still called that way?) to try to catch him? I remember that several journalists asked Ken Tyrrell about his 'waterinjection' system, for example, and he would say: 'Ask Ferrari how theirs work.' And I also remember that magazines like Grand Prix International (not anti-Tyrrell at all, according to me) expressed sarcastic comments about the Tyrrells that suddenly could overtake turbocars under braking...

Tyrrell embarrassed the powers that were as much as he could. It is my impression that the FISA, FOCA or FIASCO could not let it pass anymore, because the general public was catching on. I remember vividly that the director of the BBC kept the pitstop of Brundle (I believe) in view of the camera, to show the enormous amounts of water that was pourred in the Tyrrrell. So it were not just the specialists anymore who were chuckling at good old Ken.

Yes, Ken Tyrrell dared them. And to his suprise and disgust, they did it. But is that the same as the FIASCO powers having it 'in' for him?

#22 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 20:34

FIASCO wanted to make a point and Tyrrell was going to be the sole recepient of that point. By 1984, any of the others in the maverick crowd had gotten the message and got on board with FIASCO, leaving only Tyrrell to continue to wave the red flag and thumb his nose at the FIASCO crowd. In their view, Tyrrell stepped over the line and his head had to roll. It was a business decision. The FIASCO painted a target on Tyrrell and he openly wore it. In part, it was not so much what the FIASCO did as how they did it. It was, also, not so much that Tyrrell got targeted due to his actions, but that his reaction left something to be desired, especially at the time and more so as time has passed. Tyrrell should have realized that at some point that they were call call his bluff

Go back and look at some of the contemporary -- as well as those in the aftermath -- writings of the Tyrrell Affair, and you will get a sensing that Tyrrell garnered relatively little support in the yellow press, the comics. They knew a losing cause when they saw one. On top of that, there was a weariness within the community with all the "politics" that was going on within FIASCO. When it was just Tyrrell versus FIASCO, it was auf weidersehen, cherrio, see 'ya, goodbye, adio, ciao Ken -- and don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out....

Postscript.
Tyrrell's fatal "flaw," upon reflection, was that he still thought that formula one was a sport. Bernie, who got sick and tired of Tyrrell standing up to him, and the other sharks ate him for lunch. Needless to say, JMB did not shed any tears when Tyrrell got the heave-oh.... Oh, did I mention with Tyrrell out that there no one to hold up the various goings on regarding the Concord Agreement? Oh, my! Surely, they would never toss ol' Ken on the rubbish heap for something like that, would they?

#23 Bruno

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 05:20

the strike, Kyalami 1982:

Posted Image

Alboreto, De Cesaris, Villeneuve, Serra or Salazar?, Giacomelli, Cheever, Arnoux, Lauda, De Angelis, Prost, Watson, Patrese, Piquet, Daily and Rosberg

#24 angst

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 17:05

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps


Postscript.
Tyrrell's fatal "flaw," upon reflection, was that he still thought that formula one was a sport. Bernie, who got sick and tired of Tyrrell standing up to him, and the other sharks ate him for lunch. Needless to say, JMB did not shed any tears when Tyrrell got the heave-oh.... Oh, did I mention with Tyrrell out that there no one to hold up the various goings on regarding the Concord Agreement? Oh, my! Surely, they would never toss ol' Ken on the rubbish heap for something like that, would they?


Hmm.. and hence the somewhat cynical response to this era from many. Some of us were young and naive enough to consider it still a sport.

In terms of the wider world I think that current F1(that was born of the FIASCO war), the Concorde Agreement etc. shows the paucity of any real regulation of 'big business'. Any ideas that anti-competitive practices, cartels etc. are in any way under control within the realm of Western democracies is shot to pieces if one knows the first thing about the machinations of Bernie, Max, Balestre et al.

I mean, if one were to look at setting up a money laundering operation, one could not find a more efficient model than that set up to operate the F1 'business'. It has always struck me as odd that countries that spend so much money trying to control organised crime become so......toothless in the face of such entities as FOM. And that taxpayers money gets poured into the coffers of a business dripping with excess because of the monopoly/cartel relationship (in the name of hosting 'Grands Prix') ought to be a matter of shame to the governmental oprganisations concerned. But, alas, this is probably way off topic so I'll desist from any further complaint...

#25 Macca

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 19:08

For myself, I do not have a 'lack of intellectual curiosity' about this period..........I was there, I followed it in the media, I knew AT THE TIME that Tyrell were scapegoats and what J-MB and BCE were up to. It put me off F1 for several years, during which I switched my main enthusiasm to bike racing.

I have read the online articles about the period too, and if I feel vitriolic or like yawning, it's because it was an unpleasant era which did indeed set the tone for modern F1, and because it is just one small part of the history of motor-racing, and not the most interesting or noblest.

We all know that for two hours from 3 pm on Sunday afternoons F1 is a sport, and the rest of the time it's a business..........we just don't have to like it, or to prefer it to the pre-1982 period.


Paul M

#26 Jerome

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 19:31

Don, do you mean with the Yellow Press the British tabloids? Because indeed, at that time I did not read them (I was 17 then, you know! It was quite a thing I read the Guardian as a Dutch boy!)

#27 fines

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 20:33

Originally posted by Macca
We all know that for two hours from 3 pm on Sunday afternoons F1 is a sport, and the rest of the time it's a business...

It used to be like that, but I guess today it's two hours "entertainment"/show biz, the rest BS... or is it BES (Bernie Ecclestone Shit)?