Saturday, October 31, 2009

Yas and the plastic population

By day, the translucent raiment of Yas Hotel resembles gossamer film, draped over hedgerows on a dewy morning; by night, it mimics the violet bioluminescence of deep-sea cnidarians.

Snetterton, it definitely isn't. In fact, in terms of cultural distance, it might be impossible to devise a facility further from Snetterton than Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina facility.

The drivers, however, seem to like the circuit. Lewis Hamilton, in fact, gave it the thumbs-up on the basis that "it's really smooth, the kerbs are nice and in the right places." What more could one want of a racing circuit?

Meanwhile, Ron Dennis has made his first appearance at a Grand Prix since his enforced exile from Formula 1 in the wake of the lie-gate controversy. Coincidentally, this is also the first Grand Prix since the end of Max Mosley's tenure as FIA President. Coincidentally, McLaren Automotive, the road-car division of the McLaren Group, which Ron Dennis has been heading-up this year, have just launched the McLaren MP4-12C. Their new vehicle will be powered, not by a Mercedes engine, but by a McLaren engine. Coincidentally, it is believed that Mercedes will be leaving McLaren at the end of 2011, and buying a 75% shareholding in Team Brawn. Coincidentally, the initial investment in Team Brawn will be made by Aabar, an Abu Dhabi company affiliated to Daimler-Benz, thereby avoiding the exclusive ownership terms in the current Mercedes contract with McLaren.

Thus, whilst there is much talk of whether Jenson Button is really considering the possibility of leaving Team Brawn to join McLaren next year, Anthony Hamilton will surely have noted the direction in which the engine-supply wind is now blowing, and will perhaps be thinking of a move in the opposite direction, at the appropriate time. In this context, it is also interesting to note that Rubens Barrichello recently confirmed on Brazilian TV that his initial 2009 contract with Team Brawn only covered the first four races. One might recall that during the fallout from lie-gate, there was a suggestion that McLaren were in breach of contract to Lewis Hamilton. Barrichello's admission seems to substantiate the view that Anthony Hamilton really could have transferred Lewis into Team Brawn at the time, and perhaps helps to further explain why Ron Dennis was compelled to fall on his sword.

The McLaren MP4-12C, incidentally, has an interesting one-piece carbon 'monocell' construction (pictured on the left here). It's certainly not a monocoque, for there is essentially just half a shell here, so perhaps it would be most appropriate to refer to it as a plastron chassis, lacking as it does a carapace (the dorsal part of the shell in arthropods).

The other great political cause celebre entertaining minds at the Yas Marina circuit is the perpetual state of limbo into which the British Grand Prix seems to have fallen. Intriguingly, the Business Secretary, and Prince of Darkness himself, Lord Mandelson phoned Bernie Ecclestone this week to stress the importance of the British Grand Prix to the UK.

Lord Mandelson doesn't strike one as the sort of person to contact Bernie Ecclestone lightly. In strategic terms, the Business Secretary would either want to have no part whatsoever in the negotiations over the British Grand Prix, or if he did decide to get involved, he would surely do so only in the belief that Ecclestone could be encouraged to come to a settlement with Silverstone. If Lord Mandelson got involved without having any form of traction, he would leave himself vulnerable to appearing impotent.

Whilst Mandy encouraged Bernie to retain the British Grand Prix, Bernie reassured Mandy that he was doing everything possible. Only a shot across the bows at this stage, then, but a full confrontation between Mandelson and Ecclestone would truly be the political equivalent of Alien vs Predator...

1 comment:

Sean said...

Yas reminds me of WIpeout on the playstation for some reason.