An Open Letter to Mr. Takachiho Inoue

Dear Mr. Inoue,

On behalf of a grieving worldwide community of racing drivers, mechanics, journalists, and fans all around the globe, I would like to ask you to please take your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or whichever device you choose to post to social media, pick it up, and chuck it into the Monaco harbor, or at least outside your apartment window. At the bare minimum, just delete your Twitter app, your Facebook app, your Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, what have you – and have it wiped off your phone.

Do that real quick, and then take an indefinite amount of time to just shut the hell up.

For much of the last two and a half years since opening your Twitter account, you’ve been able to coast off the fact that you have been, to your credit, one of the most self-deprecating and good-humored backmarkers in Formula 1 history. Never a month goes by without a reference to the time you tried to put the fire out of your broken-down Footwork Hart in the 1995 Hungarian Grand Prix, only to be bowled over by the FIA Medical Car that ironically was meant to come to your aid and assistance. Maybe a reference to the time your awkward driving forced a shunt between title contenders Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill at Monza a month later. In 2013 you were named Autosport’s Worst F1 Driver in the last twenty years, and you were as proud of receiving that honor as if you had just won the Formula 1 World Championship.

You will always own up to your sub-par performances at backmarker teams in an eighteen-race career that saw you make relatively unheralded Footwork teammate Gianni Morbidelli look like a prime Alberto Ascari by comparison. It is that sort of driving that you now speak out against as a talent manager for young Japanese drivers, though to be quite frank, having the utterly forgettable, except when driving in a ninth-rate feeder series, Kimiya Sato be the shining star of your roster of managed talent reflects rather poorly on your overall ability in that category of racing as well (however, as a fan of the Super GT series, I will gladly welcome Mr. Sato with open arms this season as he takes on a part time role with JLOC in the GT300 class. The new Huracán GT3 will look nice in their livery.)

And like so many others, I was in on the act. I appreciated your sense of humor. It takes a special driver to look back at something that many other drivers would consider a humiliating experience with a humorous approach.

But I haven’t followed you on Twitter in some time, Mr. Inoue. To be quite honest, even as most people still adored you for owning up to being the worst driver of your generation with laughter and chuckles, I had grown quite weary, sick, and tired of you using Twitter as your open forum to snipe many of the active drivers and hard-working teams of Formula 1 for their failures, in an act of chucking rather large boulders through the front door of your all-glass mansion. I’d grown tired of you voicing your own xenophobic opinions about Formula 1’s newer markets – such as referring to Malaysia, the host of this weekend’s Formula 1 race, as a third-world country unfit for staging a race in the World Championship even after it being a constant for nearly two decades. That was a year ago actually, and it was ultimately the last straw before I decided to hit “unfollow” for myself.

Because I was sick and tired of following a retired professional racing driver who acted like a computer-illiterate knuckle dragger posting in the comments of a YouTube video. Not when there are other accounts that actually give back to the sport in a positive manner. Not when there are other, far more likeable former F1 backmarkers out there like the brilliant commentator Karun Chandhok, or the charming and upbeat Max Chilton, drivers who rarely if ever take to twitter bash other drivers and teams, only when it is absolutely warranted.

But that’s not why I’m writing this open letter today, using social media, just like yourself, to voice my own feelings and opinions. Continue reading “An Open Letter to Mr. Takachiho Inoue”

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No Longer Convinced

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I’ve once made a point in previous entries on A Motorsports Blog that I feel that the generally negative reception towards Sauber F1 Team principal and CEO Monisha Kaltenborn’s tenure in both positions since 2012 is not motivated solely by the team’s recent sharp decline in performance, but enhanced by the fact that she is the only woman of colour who has ever held a major position of leadership in Formula 1’s sixty-six year history.

In the wake of the decision of the Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia, which ruled that Sauber’s former test driver Giedo van der Garde must now race for the team which has already signed rookie Felipe Nasr and second-year driver Marcus Ericsson to full-season deals, I no longer feel that the enhanced backlash towards Kaltenborn, her gender, and ethnic background are not somehow connected.

As covered extensively by veteran F1 reporter Adam Cooper, the terms are that Van der Garde, per the original terms of a contract he had signed in 2014 when he joined Sauber as the third driver behind Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez, is obligated to run the full 2015 season, and not either Ericsson or Nasr, who each come with their own wealthy investors behind them who can issue an appeal just as Sauber did, and it would be expedited. In Ericsson’s case, their backers already paid for him to race in 2015 with an estimated budget of as much as €60 million.

I’ve made the point that Van der Garde, in the grand scheme of the overall pool of talent of drivers that are racing, or could be racing in Formula 1, has yet to prove that his merit at the highest level on a consistent basis. Brilliant mixed-weather drives in Monaco and Belgium two years ago aside, the Dutch driver still scored below 50% in every major intra-team statistical category in 2013, against a teammate in Charles Pic who is considered by all but a small handful of avid F1 followers to be a borderline F1-caliber talent. Comparatively speaking, Felipe Nasr has accomplished way more as an F1 prospect, and Marcus Ericsson drove against far more experienced and capable teammates last year.

It’s all water under the bridge now. Van der Garde will race in Australia, and either Nasr or Ericsson will not. In the first case of a driver winning back his contractually-guaranteed race seat since Alex Caffi used his power of attorney to reinstate his seat at Footwork Grand Prix – which also deposed another Swedish driver, Stefan Johansson, in the process – Van der Garde has now been deemed justified in taking his case to the supreme court of two different countries who have both ruled in his favor. And no amount of arguing based solely on esoteric advanced sporting metrics can override a double whammy of a trans-national judicial ruling.

This is no longer about Van der Garde for me. It’s about Kaltenborn. It’s about the fact that while her team’s legal defense of why the plaintiff should not be allowed to race on the grounds of safety is full of holes, and while she is ultimately responsible for the contractual calamity that resulted in this case going to court on the week of the race, the accompanying commentary running along the lines of “I have never liked Monisha Kaltenborn and this sequence of events reinforces this opinion,” or “Monisha Kaltenborn has destroyed a once proud organization,” or “This would never happen if Peter Sauber still ran the team,” is uncomfortably commonplace, and I am no longer sure that this is not further fueled by Kaltenborn’s gender or ethnicity. Continue reading “No Longer Convinced”

Why Minardi? A RaceDepartment F1 Editorial

I wrote a little something for RaceDepartment about Minardi.

It’s been really fun contributing to them for the last few months or so, it’s a shame though that I haven’t been able to stay on top of it as much as I’d like with my extremely busy work schedule. But I hope everyone is still enjoying my contributions.

READ IT HERE