The twin forces that drive F1

F1 Racing - - CONTENTS - Damien Smith Euro­pean edi­tor-in-chief

Power and grip: the dual prop­er­ties upon which Formula 1 is built – in more ways than one. The threads of their in­flu­ence can be traced through ev­ery is­sue of F1 Rac­ing, and cer­tainly at ev­ery grand prix. In Mel­bourne, their vis­ceral qual­i­ties were pal­pa­ble both out on the cir­cuit and, in a very dif­fer­ent sense, in the pad­dock.

On Friday morn­ing, as a new era of F1 dawned, it was im­me­di­ately and abun­dantly clear that the crit­i­cal bal­ance be­tween power and grip is just where it should be for this fresh gen­er­a­tion of grand prix car. The fat­ter Pirellis and wider-track chas­sis cul­mi­nated in ma­chines that looked not only potent and in pro­por­tion for the first time in years, but, most im­por­tantly, prop­erly quick. Watch­ing from the rapid left-right Turn 11/12 flick, I couldn’t help but smile: ‘real’ F1 has re­turned.

The Pirellis only just gripped, mind, as Car­los Sainz flung his Toro Rosso into the apex, sparks fly­ing as he grabbed it by the scruff. We in­ter­view Sainz on page 46, in the im­pres­sive set­ting of the San­ti­ago Bern­abéu Sta­dium – tem­ple of his beloved Real Madrid. Car­los knows he has to make this year count if his F1 ca­reer is to take off, and his com­mit­ment was right there in that mo­ment at T11.

Back in the pad­dock, Ross Brawn and mar­ket­ing man Sean Bratches had a firm grip on another type of power. As you’ll read on page 16, Brawn, vet­eran of no fewer than 20 F1 driv­ers’ and con­struc­tors’ ti­tles spread over three decades and four teams, has spo­ken elo­quently about a more sus­tain­able and po­ten­tially brighter F1 fu­ture in his new role as the sport­ing head of grand prix rac­ing. Bratches? Dou­glas Adams’ Ba­bel Fish would have been handy to in­ter­pret his mar­ket­ing flan­nel – but we’re sure it’ll make sense to the TV and me­dia ex­ec­u­tives to whom it is re­ally ad­dressed.

The fol­low­ing day, FIA pres­i­dent Jean Todt dropped in for a timely re­minder of who wields the ul­ti­mate power. He and Brawn are old al­lies, of course, as master and em­ployee at Fer­rari in the Schu­macher golden years. It’s dif­fer­ent now though. How they rub along over the com­ing months will keep us hooked. Will they agree how to power-share for the good of F1? There has to be more hope now that Brawn has re­placed that other chap. You know, the one with the round specs and white Bea­tles cut. What’s his name again?

You won’t find it grac­ing our ‘Power List’ (p26) of the top 25 movers and shak­ers in F1 to­day. Some might feel our de­ci­sion to omit Bernie Ec­cle­stone from our run­ning or­der lacks re­spect af­ter his years grip­ping F1 by the throat. That’s not the in­ten­tion. In­stead, our list re­flects how quickly the grand prix world can change – and how power can slip in a blink, even for a top­per­most of the pop­per­most such as Bernie. There’s a new num­ber one now.

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