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F1 CHAM­PI­ONS CEL­E­BRATED IN HALL OF FAME

F1 Racing (UK) - - INSIDER - DI­ETER RENCKEN @F1rac­ing_­mag face­book.com/ f1rac­ing­mag

It was one of those “Why-on-earth-has-no-onethought-of-this-be­fore?” oc­ca­sions: many of the great and the good of For­mula 1, past and present, at­tend­ing the of­fi­cial open­ing of the FIA Hall of Fame. Watch­ing them gather around the FIA’S Parisian head­quar­ters on a De­cem­ber evening, I was gripped by a feel­ing this should have been done while many of those rep­re­sented here by fam­ily mem­bers were still alive to wit­ness it.

So it goes al­most with­out say­ing that such a homage – to the 33 peo­ple who have achieved mo­tor­sport’s high­est hon­our since the FIA For­mula 1 World Cham­pi­onship was in­au­gu­rated in 1950 – is long over­due. That a long suc­ces­sion of FIA pres­i­dents failed to cel­e­brate their achieve­ments in this sim­ple yet pres­ti­gious man­ner is un­fath­omable. Full credit to cur­rent FIA pres­i­dent Jean Todt for ini­ti­at­ing the project.

And this is only the be­gin­ning. This first phase is fo­cused on F1, with a ded­i­cated area in the en­trance hall of the FIA’S HQ on Place de la Con­corde cel­e­brat­ing the cham­pi­ons’ ex­ploits via mem­o­ra­bilia and au­dio-vis­ual touch screens. Pro­vi­sion has been made for ex­pan­sion, and the hall will be open to fans, free-of-charge.

“The Hall of Fame has been cre­ated to cel­e­brate the his­tory of mo­tor­sport and to hon­our the he­roes of our sport through the ages; to tell their sto­ries for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, and to cel­e­brate their ex­tra­or­di­nary achieve­ments,” said Todt dur­ing the open­ing, which fea­tured a dis­play of sig­nif­i­cant F1 cars.

Phases two and three, which will hon­our World Rally and World En­durance cham­pi­ons, will be set up at the FIA’S op­er­a­tional base sit­u­ated near Geneva air­port over the next two years. These halls, too, will be open to the pub­lic.

It’s fit­ting that the project was in­sti­gated dur­ing Todt’s three-term pres­i­dency, since he led Peu­geot to WRC and WEC cham­pi­onships, then mas­ter­minded the Fer­rari/michael Schu­macher era. In­deed, dur­ing the open­ing cer­e­mony a cynic re­marked that Michael’s seven ti­tles, five of which he achieved un­der Todt’s su­per­in­ten­dence, place Schu­macher top of the tree and en­ables Todt to en­joy a great deal of re­flected glory. But there’s no avoid­ing the fact Michael is F1’s record-set­ting cham­pion.

Not all in­ductees (or fam­i­lies of de­parted cham­pi­ons) were in at­ten­dance on the evening. True, a full house of 33 could never be ex­pected, but 1978 cham­pion Mario An­dretti hap­pily made a tran­sAt­lantic trip while his ti­tle suc­ces­sor Jody Scheck­ter failed to cross the Chan­nel. Nico Ros­berg was present; not, though, fa­ther Keke. Lewis Hamilton was con­spic­u­ous by his ab­sence, ditto Niki Lauda.

A to­tal of nine in­ductees were present: Jackie Ste­wart, An­dretti, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Da­mon Hill, Jac­ques Vil­leneuve, Fer­nando Alonso, Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and Nico Ros­berg, while the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of de­parted cham­pi­ons num­bered ten. Schu­macher’s man­ager rep­re­sented him since son Mick had a clash­ing F3 test, and Juan-manuel Fan­gio’s fam­ily sent a mes­sage. Why, I won­dered, did nine liv­ing cham­pi­ons give the event a miss?

How­ever, the big­ger ques­tion is whether cham­pi­ons alone are wor­thy of in­clu­sion in the FIA’S Hall of Fame. By cur­rent stan­dards Stir­ling Moss, cer­tainly more fa­mous than many cham­pi­ons, fails to make the in­duc­tion grade, as does the great Gilles Vil­leneuve. Given that, should the FIA’S ini­tia­tives not then be known as Hall of Cham­pi­ons, rather than of Fame?

Ral­ly­ing opened a Hall of Fame in a for­est near Tam­pere in cen­tral Fin­land in 2010. Nom­i­na­tions – by a panel that in­cludes FIA and WRC com­mer­cial rights rep­re­sen­ta­tives – are in­ducted each year dur­ing Rally Fin­land. To date 17 per­son­al­i­ties have been in­ducted, six of whom are not world cham­pion driv­ers – for in­stance David Richards (a cham­pion’s co-driver) and An­drew Cowan (a cham­pion’s team boss).

So, Lib­erty Me­dia, if you’re se­ri­ous about “do­ing some­thing for the fans”, then please con­sider es­tab­lish­ing For­mula 1’s Hall of Fame (pos­si­bly in Monaco, given its her­itage) where F1’s per­son­al­i­ties over the ages, not only cham­pi­ons, are recog­nised for their con­tri­bu­tions to F1’s rich ta­pes­tries. In­duc­tions need not be re­stricted to driv­ers – F1’s top team bosses, its bright­est en­gi­neers and best me­chan­ics de­serve to be hon­oured too.

Thus the FIA would have its Hall of Cham­pi­ons, and For­mula 1 its Hall of Fame. Prop­erly co-or­di­nated, the two ini­tia­tives would com­ple­ment each other and not com­pete, and F1 and its fans would be all the richer for hav­ing both (es­pe­cially if en­trance is free of charge).

F1 cham­pi­ons, past and present, gather with FIA pres­i­dent Jean Todt at the new Hall of Fame

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