To have and have not


Lewis Hamil­ton’s classy, record-break­ing win painted a sil­ver sheen across a trou­bling F1 week­end

You’ve ei­ther got it, or you haven’t. Money, tal­ent, speed, power… what­ever ‘it’ is, F1 de­mands only and al­ways that you have it in plen­ti­ful sup­ply.

So by the sport’s own bru­tal-though-twisted in­ter­nal logic, when teams like Marus­sia and Cater­ham wither and fail to make it to the end of the sea­son, those who have man­aged to stand strong amid the nan­cial mael­strom that’s pluck­ing away weaker op­po­nents, can sim­ply point to their lesser ri­vals’ in­ad­e­qua­cies.

Time and again dur­ing a US GP week­end over­whelmed by off-track chat­ter about ad­min­is­tra­tion, boy­cotts, wealth re­dis­tri­bu­tion and the thaw­ing of the en­gine ‘freeze’, the ‘haves’ re­fused to en­gage with the no­tion that the plight of the ‘have nots’ could in any way be a prob­lem shared. It’s as if by fail­ing to ac­knowl­edge the ex­is­tence of a nan­cial virus, the wealthy few can some­how ig­nore it into sub­mis­sion.

But the po­lar­is­ing na­ture of F1’s nan­cial woes could hardly have been more starkly por­trayed than they were in Austin. Ahead of the pack, in a race of their own, were two glint­ing Mercs, driven by a pair of sleekly ef­fi­cient rac­ers and backed, in Brack­ley and Brixworth, by 1,200 staff – not to men­tion the full cor­po­rate might of par­ent company Mercedes. Be­hind them, in or­der of af­flu­ence, were aligned the nine teams and 18 driv­ers who made it to the US.

No vaguely sane ob­server can ig­nore the widen­ing chasm be­tween those able to race ef­fec­tively at the pointy end and those left be­hind, for it taints the view of ev­ery­thing on track. The ir­re­sistible ex­cel­lence of the 2014 Mercedes is a thing of won­der, com­pa­ra­ble with any of the dom­i­nant ech­e­lons that have in dif­fer­ent eras ruled F1. But at what cost this level of su­pe­ri­or­ity? “Don’t blame us” say Mercedes, Red Bull, Fer­rari and oth­ers. And, yes, it is

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