JOHNSTON, R.I. — Blog by Race Chaser Online Open Wheel Correspondent Joel Sebastianelli — Mark Thompson/Getty Images AsiaPac photo —
The holiday season is upon us once again. With December comes gifts of friendship and family, but unfortunately, the gift of racing is still over three months away.
Even with some chips still to fall before the 2015 season begins at the Australian Grand Prix, it’s never too early to start thinking about a new year of racing. In the spirit of the holidays, here are some gifts I’d like for those in the Formula One community receive, along with a few wishes of my own.
- For the sake of everybody in the sport from the teams to current and future fans, I’d like to give Bernie Ecclestone away. Like a subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club or a fruitcake, it would be a gift nobody wants, but somebody has to give it away, right?
Ecclestone’s legal drama has been a black eye for F1 (and not his first shiner, either), the current economic climate of the sport under his leadership has risen out of control, and he still shows little regard for any fans or teams that he should be promoting. In the last year, he has insulted Caterham’s attempt to stay alive in F1, and even trashed F1 fans of all ages with asinine comments about social media’s place in motorsports…and that’s just the Reader’s Digest summary of grievances.
The old definition of the word troll used to mean “a mythical, cave-dwelling being depicted in folklore as either a giant or a dwarf and having a very ugly appearance.” Now, the internet has created an alternative meaning: “one who posts a deliberately provocative message with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.”
Congratulations, Bernie, you fit the description for both. Despite some the good you’ve helped orchestrate since the 1970s, it’s finally time to say goodbye and good riddance.
- As far as drivers who could be on their way out too, it has been speculated that Kimi Raikkonen could finish his F1 career after his contract with Ferrari expires in 2015. If so, I hope Kimi receives the gift of a fitting sendoff. Ferrari’s offseason has been one of upheaval and turmoil, but “The Iceman” deserves one last crack at Grand Prix victories before he departs, and at the very least, he deserves more fanfare when he says farewell than Rubens Barrichello ever got.
- In order for Kimi Raikkonen to get a proper sendoff though, Ferrari must be on their game in 2015 too. It’s easy understand why fans dislike Ferrari, but no matter who you root for, F1 is a lot more fun for everybody when more than one team is in the fight. Here’s to hoping the incoming staff at Ferrari can combine their technical gifts in full force and create a winning car that can challenge Mercedes next season and beyond.
- When Kimi does eventually depart, it will after a long, illustrious career complete with a World Drivers’ Championship in 2007. Hopefully, the careers of Kevin Magnussen and Jean Eric Vergne won’t end before they have a better chance to make their marks on the sport too. Asking for every talented young driver to get a race seat is a pipe dream and assuming they’re in the same league as Raikkonen isn’t my intention, but I hope that somewhere along the line, these two in particular get the gift of a second chance.
- To the powers that be in F1, give us back the gift of noise! I would contend that the 2014 season was still a very exciting one with great wheel to wheel battles and some exciting races even at unexpected venues like Bahrain, but the sound of a golf kart and a turbocharged V6 hybrid engine don’t quite have the same magic that the whine of a V8, V10, or V12 does. I know we need to strike a balance between what we want and what we can reasonably have with the current state of affairs, but a louder F1 just feels faster and like much more of a spectacle.
- While Mercedes AMG Petronas’ dominance in 2014 turned off some fans, the rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg provided top notch drama through the campaign. At some point next season, I hope somebody somewhere bestows the gift of controversy into team activities once again. I like Nico and Lewis both as competitors and wish them the best, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the infighting last season. It played out a lot like a reality TV show, just without the guilt of admitting to others you enjoyed it.
- As an American, I hope the gifts just keep on coming for Gene Haas in his pursuit of launching a competitive F1 team. Earlier today, it was reported that Haas bought the Marussia factory in Banbury and with a Ferrari partnership in place, the team appears to be on pace for a 2016 debut. Regardless of where you are in the world, American success would mean more exposure for F1 in one of few big countries where it isn’t already immensely popular.
- Haas will have two seats to fill in 2016, and when that time comes, I hope deserving American driver/s can unwrap a new contract. Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi have tried to varying levels of success in the developmental ranks of F1, but neither has gotten their big break yet. My citizenship makes me a bit biased, but I’d like to see somebody take a chance on them and see the American public rally behind them with unwavering support.
- Finally and most importantly, I wish for all drivers to be safe from harm in 2015. The last calendar year has been a difficult one for some key members of the motorsports community. I hope Jules Bianchi and Michael Schumacher improve in 2015, and I wish for their families to be comforted especially during such an emotional time of the year.
2014 was a great ride and I’m glad we all got to share it together. May 2015 bring more of the same, and may you and your loved ones all have a happy holiday season! Wherever you are and whatever you may be doing, be sure to enjoy it!