In the history of Formula 1, we have had a total of 27 world champion drivers, and around 17 world champion teams. Many, such as Fangio, Ascari, Brabham, Lauda, Prost, Senna and Schumacher have won multiple titles, while others like Farina, Hunt, Mansell, Villeneuve and Raikkonen only took one title. But what do the champions do when they hang their helmet up? Some go on to race in other series, some put their feet up and enjoy their retirement, but some have come back to the sport to run their own teams. Here I take a look at those drivers who wanted to win the title as a driver and team owner
Jack Brabham – Motor Racing Developments/Brabham Racing
After winning back-to-back titles in 1959 and 1960, Sir Jack became the first world champion to run a Formula 1 team when he formed the Motor Racing Developments team in 1960 with his friend Ron Tauranac, with the team taking the name of Brabham. After a few troublesome first few years, Sir Jack realised his ambition and became champion in his own car in 1966 – so far the only man to do so in Formula 1 history. Sir Jack continued to race for his own team right up until 1970, before retiring from Formula 1 and handing over complete control to Tauranac. The team managed to win a further 2 titles in 1981 and 1983 with Nelson Piquet, before finally going out of business in 1992.
John Surtees – Surtees Racing
Having become the only man to win world championships on two wheels and four, John Surtees decided he would try to emulate his success as a driver by becoming a team owner in 1970. His team managed to last 8 years at the top of motorsport, but failed to win a single race. They are probably most remembered for their controversial sponsorship deals during their time in F1, sporting liveries with half-naked women and also running Durex branding during the 1976 season, becoming the first sports team to publicly advertise the product.
Graham Hill – Embassy Hill Lola
By 1972, Graham Hill had achieved a lot in his career. He had been champion of the world twice, won the Monaco Grand Prix an astonishing 5 times, and even crossed the Atlantic and beat America’s finest to win the Indy 500. In 1973 he followed in the footsteps of his old team boss Jack Brabham and set up his own racing team, both running and driving for them. Originally the team ran Shadow chassis, before switching to Lola in 1974, and finally running their own chassis in 1975. Success was hard to come by for the team, with Hill suffering the embarrassment of a non-qualification at the 1975 Monaco Grand Prix where he had dominated in the past. The team suffered a sad ending though, when a light aircraft crash at the end of 1975 killed Hill, driver Tony Brise and several other team members.
Jackie Stewart – Stewart GP
Having retired at the top of his game as champion in 1973, Jackie Stewart appeared to be happy to become a TV personality and F1 presenter, until the mid 1980’s when he decided to set up his own racing team for son Paul to go racing. They began racing in the lower formulae, becoming a well-known F3 outfit and running drivers such as David Coulthard and Dario Franchitti. Then, in early 1996, they announced that they would stet up up to become a Formula 1 team from 1997. Their first year was difficult, the highlight being second place for lead driver Rubens Barrichello at Monaco, before an even tougher year in 1998. But it all came good in 1999, with Barrichello taking the team’s first pole in France, and Johnny Herbert winning the team’s only race at the Nurburgring – scene of Jackie’s most famous win 31 years earlier. The original plan was for Jackie to establish the team then hand over the whole team to his son Paul, but when Paul unfortunately got cancer, Jackie decided to sell the team to Ford for the year 2000, who renamed it Jaguar and eventually became the current F1 champion team, Red Bull.
Alain Prost – Prost GP
Having acted as a consultant to both McLaren and Ferrari since retiring in 1993, it was obvious to many that Alain Prost would one day run his own team. What surprised everyone was that instead of running a front line team, he bought over a team and renamed it. Even more surprising was that it was France’s national team, Ligier. In their first season as Prost in 1997, they had a good year, even coming close to winning races at the beginning of the season, before it was interrupted by Olivier Panis breaking his leg at the Canadian Grand Prix. But from 1998 onwards the team appeared to get worse, and they suffered the embarrassment of no points in 2000, even with two good drivers in Jean Alesi and Nick Heidfeld. They appeared to be doing better in 2001, but the withdrawl of big name sponsors Yahoo, Gauloises and others meant it was a financial struggle to stay on the grid. They went into liquidation months before the 2002 season was due to begin.
Niki Lauda – Jaguar
Retiring from driving in 1985, Lauda split his time over the next 15 years between running his own airline, LaudaAir, and being a driving consultant to Ferrari. But when he left his airline in 1999, he became bored and was looking to get back to F1. Meanwhile the Jaguar team, having taken over Stewart GP for the 2000 season, were in a management nightmare, having constantly changed management during their short time in F1. They hired Lauda to run the team at the end of 2001, and he managed to steady the ship in time for the 2002 season. But it looked to be a nightmare with the car both slow and unreliable. However, by mid-season, things had improved and they took a podium at the Italian Grand Prix. This wasn’t enough to save Lauda though, and at the end of the year they had changed management again, and Lauda was left scratching his head as to why he was replaced.
And the one who got away......
Ayrton Senna – Jordan
After a poor 1992 season by his own standards, Ayrton Senna was in a dilemma. McLaren had lost the Honda engines, and were due to be Ford’s second team after Benetton. His arch-rival for many years, Alain Prost, was to drive the most dominant car on the grid, the Williams Renault, and Ayrton was unsure what his next move was to be. Meanwhile, Eddie Jordan’s F1 team had a poor 1992, only scoring a point in the final round of the season in Australia, ironically helped when Senna collided with Mansell taking both out of the race.
Senna needed a fresh challenge, and Jordan needed someone to lift his team and give them a more appealing image to sponsors. Negotiations between the two began, and Eddie Jordan offered Ayrton half of his team in return for his driving for them. Jordan would retain half the ownership and lose nothing, while Senna would own half of a team for nothing and also gain the new challenge he wanted. After a few weeks of thinking, Senna decided against the move and stayed with McLaren for 1993 on a race-by-race contract, while Jordan signed up Ferrari refugee Ivan Capelli, who only lasted two races, and whose seat was taken by 4 others drivers during the year.
To those of us not familiar with Texas politics and government, the permit process has been a bit confusing. Generally speaking, the project has been in phases and several different local governmental bodies have been involved. The obvious players are the State of Texas, Travis County, and the City of Austin. But, there have also been rulings by others including the Austin Environmental Board. Rather than trying to understand, much less explain, all of the maneuverings necessary to get permission to proceed, I will instead defer to one of the officials involved.
Joseph P. Gieselman is the Executive Manager of the Travis County Transportation and Natural Resources Department. In a December 8th, 2010 memo to the Commissioner's Court, he explained the permit process:
In order to meet the developer's deadlines, they have requested that a series of permits be issued for this project. The first permits in the series were for the pipeline relocation and the overhead utility relocation necessary for the project. TNR has already issued these relocation permits. The permit that is currently under review is for site grading. The site grading permit includes temporary erosion controls, site grading, installation of public water and wastewater mains, installation of drainage conveyance structures to route the upstream drainage to the water quality/detention features and installation of water quality and detention structures. The developer is seeking a variance to the County's requirement that a Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) be obtained from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) prior to this issuance of the site grading permit application.
The December Commissioner's meeting had agenda item 9.B that considered the CLOMR variance. The variance was accepted by a 4 to 1 vote, thus clearing the way for the issuance of the site grading permit. What is unclear to me is whether or not the permit has actually been issued. I could not find this permit information listed in either the County's permit database or the City's. Perhaps someone more familiar with local government documents could help me out. I would greatly appreciate any help I could get.
One of the remaining hurdles to be crossed between the F1 developers and the AHJ (Authorities Having Jurisdiction) is the traffic plan. Everyone understands the need to move all competitors, vendors and attendees to and from the site safely and in a timely manner. It is also understood that the site must be prepared for a major incident that impacts the group as a whole. A plan must be in place that satisfies these concerns and has a reasonable chance of managing any conceivable probability. The plan must also insure that the event will not be a commercial failure due to undue delays that may sour the attendee’s personal experience and impact the future attendance at the event.
The Travis County Commissioners Court took no action on agenda item 9.A scheduled for the Dec. 14th meeting, an item that was meant to address the F1 traffic plans. The item was moved into the New Year, but the exact date has not been determined. Regarding the traffic plan, Mr. Gieselman said in his December 8th memo:
The last development permit that will be required for the site will include track paving and details, vertical building construction, driveway and parking lot paving, and private water, wastewater and electric services. Prior to issuance of the final site development permit it is expected that a Roadway Agreement will be brought to Commissioners Court that will require the developer to improve Elroy Road to a four lane road and widen and raise the existing bridge in order to accommodate the volume of traffic to and from events at the track.
The AHJ needs to have proposals mooted to them that can be approved without taking any gigantic risks. The traffic proposal previously submitted by FTP did not satisfy the staff of the AHJs, did not make anyone in Government comfortable, and basically was a “do nothing much to the roads” plan. The plan suggested that traffic management, mainly done via shuttle buses, contra flow, bicycle access, on-site camping, etc. would be all that is necessary.
It is clear, to anyone who is reasonably well informed, that this will not work. Instead, the real issue is who will pay for the necessary improvements. Will the developer pay for the improvements, or will the public pay for the improvements? It is clear that the County Commissioner's Court expects the improvements to be paid for by the developer.
I do not intend to get into a discussion about the philosophies regarding public funding for private development, but instead will look at the issue from a practical point of view regardless of who pays the freight.
In my opinion the roads that immediately surround the F1 site are inadequate for the demands of a major racing series. I cannot cite any studies, but I have been to racing events in six countries and more than 25 locations in the US. I have driven around the site, looked at the existing roads, and I recognize that the road infrastructure is inadequate. It barely satisfies the current daily demands. Improvements are needed and the Commissioner's Court has some demands.
In another memo to the Commission dated December 8th, Mr. Gieselman addressed agenda item 9.A:
Overall, Travis County agrees with the basic assumptions, routing of vehicles, and the use of contra-flow lanes included in the report. The one issue that Travis County does not agree on is the mixing of shuttle traffic with vehicular traffic on Elroy Road. We believe that the shuttle operations will not be successful unless shuttle vehicles have a dedicated lane of travel. Furthermore, Elroy Road will need an additional travel lane for emergency operations access. Currently Elroy Road from McAngus Road to the northern access point of the site is only two lanes with no shoulders and the submitted traffic plan proposes using both lanes as contra-flow operations with no lanes available for shuttle services or emergency operations access. Thus, Travis County believes Elroy Road from McAngus Road to the northern access of the site needs to be widened to a minimum of 4 lanes. This work would include the widening of the existing bridge structure on Elroy Road that spans Dry Creek.
The approximate cost for widening Elroy Road from a 2-lane roadway to a 4-lane roadway is $6 million. Travis County staff believes the cost associated with widening Elroy Road should be born by the developer.
It would appear that acceptance of this demand is a requirement to gain approval to proceed.
It was also revealed in the transcripts of the December 14th Commissioner's meeting that the TxDOT already has a project in place that will effectively make FM 812 a usable 4 lane road. Here is the quote from the transcript from staff member David Greer:
TxDOT was going to already repave FM 812 on the southern side of the site, and we've talked with TxDOT and TxDOT has agreed to re-stripe that road, which is a two-lane road, two nice wide lanes with shoulders to re-stripe it to where we can actually use it as a four-lane roadway when we need to. It will be striped as a two-lane road with wide shoulders, but when you need to for the site, for the race, we can actually use all four lanes.
That bit of information makes a great deal of impact on the feasibility of the entire traffic plan. If the developer does agree to widen Elroy Road, and TxDOT executes their existing plans for FM 812, many of the traffic concerns will be solved.
The Commission also agreed to consider any of the public funding solutions available including public improvement districts and public sports authorities. But, the immediate response required is for the developer to assume the costs of improvement to Elroy Road. Maybe he can recover the costs, maybe not. But, in order to keep this project going a decision much be taken very soon.
To summarize all this bureaucratic fog, I would just say this: if the developer agrees to the improvements to Elroy Road the permission process would be complete. I suggest they accept the Commission's recommendations and get the construction moving.
In the 2010 Formula 1 season, there were 6 drivers competing in their first full season of Formula 1. Some made their debut with experienced, successful teams, others with new teams who had never entered a grand prix before. And all experienced different levels of success and disappointment. Here I look back at how they have done, and how much of a future I think they can have in the sport
Nico Hulkenberg – Williams
‘The Hulk’ had what can probably be described as a mixed season during his first season in Formula 1. It would be fair to say he never had a great first half to the season, having a run of poor races and only scoring one point in the first 9 races of the season. He was rarely on the pace and did not look like the driver who had dominated A1GP and GP2 earlier in his career.