Friday, March 22, 2013

Wither la Italiano’s

Italy’s Alessandro Nannini behind the wheel of his Benetton-Ford B190 at the British Grand Prix... (Silverstone, 1990 - Source:
Was reading one of Grizzled “Journo Joe Saward’s countless blog stories (prior to going to Hawaii...) while he’d been suffering the duties of having to rough it at Madonna di Campiglio for the annual “Vroom-Vroom” PR blitz hosted by Phillip Morris in the picturesque Italian Dolomites this past winter...

And the part of his story that caught my eye; ‘Whale actually my ear since ‘Lucy reads to me every day, was  the reply that la Scuderia’s Team Principal Stefano Domenicali tossed out to the media - which instantly made me harken back to the now deposed Bull ridin’ IndyCar chief Randy “the CandyMann” Bernard when posed the question about not enough Americans  in Indy Cars replied by saying ‘Somme-thun to the likes of “We only want the best drivers in the world competing in our series.”

As ditto when Domenicali was queried upon the current lack of Italian drivers in F1 he replied with the following.

Stefano Domenicali:
“Ferrari is primarily interested in the best talents rather than the passports involved.”

“However, Domenicali said that Ferrari continues with its young driver programmes, saying that one has to be patient and allow the youngsters to develop; while more testing would obviously help this.”

Yet perhaps the real reason is the current lack of ‘Dinero (Euros) that Italians can manage to wrangle up to bring to Formula 1 instead, as after all isn’t this most likely what ultimately did in the latest Italian F1 ace Jarno Trulli? Since “Trulli Scrumptious” was replaced by the USSR’s Vitaly ‘VO5 Petrov, as this “Rooskie” brought some $12-14-million from Russia with ‘LUV to the third Lotus incarnation; Err what’s now Caterham F1 instead, as we really don’t need to go down the what colour’s your Lotus route anymore, right? But I digress...

Thus, this year’s Formula 1 grid is set to see the following countries represented: Australia: 2; Brazil: 1; Finland: 2; France: 3*; Germany: 4*; Mexico: 2; Russia: 1; Spain: 1; United Kingdom: 4; Venezuela: 1. As the numbers listed equal drivers from corresponding nation, while we’ve breathlessly awaited the final verdict from “Vijay-duh-Playuh” over who’ll be Force India’s second driver - which looks likely to be decided between France’s Jules Bianchi or Germany’s Adrian Sutil? (Although the number of Germans has decreased by one since I began scribbling this with Timo Glock’s departure from Marussia, meaning only 3-Germans will run in 2013 - unless Sutil makes a return)

Having gone off to Hawaii before finishing this... I’ve now discovered that actually both Sutil and Bianchi made the cut, while I was caught off guard in regards to Russia’s Vitaly ‘VO5 Petrov being cast adrift by Caterham in favour of der ‘Niederlands (Netherlands) “Guido,” nee Giedo van der Garde. Hence, there are now currently four drivers apiece for France & Germany with Mother Russia being replaced by Holland... (Netherlands)   

As its somewhat funny to Mwah, this somewhat controversial topic over the lack of Italians on the Grand Prix grid, since after all I believe that France is actually the sport’s birthplace, albeit many feel its Italy thanks largely to Enzo Ferrari and the almighty Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Maserati concerns... Before those Bloody Brits joined the party!

As although many Italians have raced for la Scuderia over the years, the latest duo suffered indignantly behind the wheel of Ferrari’s disappointing machinery, as the names of ‘FishyFellah, aka Giancarlo Fisichella and Luca Badoer spring to mind.

As ironically although Giancarlo is Italy’s latest Grand Prix winner, he only did so for two British based teams; first there was the bizarro ‘KABLAMOE Great Balls ‘O Fire post mortem win for EJ’s Jordan concern, (Brazil, 2003) followed up by a further two victories for le Reggie, nee Renault; (2006) while Badoer got pretty beat up over his short lived career at Ferrari as Felipe Massa’s substitute back in ‘Twenty-oh-nine...

And I hope I’m not giving the impression that I’m advocating for thee Prancing Horse to hire some home grown talent, especially since when I think of past Italiano’s to drive for Maranello, the names of Ivan Capelli, Nicola Larini and Gianni Morbidelli spring to mind...

Yet Italy has a very proud history of its countrymen and women racing in Formula One, with 98-drivers having raced to date, with 15 having won Grand Prix’s, along with two world champions claiming a total of three titles - while obviously la Scuderia is the most storied Constructor in the sport’s history with a remarkable 16 Drivers titles & 15 Constructors crowns to boot.

And Italy also has the added bonus of having the most Gran Primo Piloto’s in the exclusive 200-starts club, with two of the four members astoundingly having started more then 250-times! As these drivers are: Riccardo Patrese; 256, Jarno Trulli; 252, Giancarlo Fisichella; 229 and ‘DuhCrasheris! (Andrea de Ceaseris) 210 - with Patrese having won six times, ‘fishyFellah three and Trulli once. As this quartet’s staggering starts total equals 936; aye Karumba!

Having had at least one Italian on the grid since 1969 until last year, (2012) and usually more than one Italian participating, its easy to see  why this is such a sore subject, but; obviously Italy isn’t the only nation to suffer this indignity! As just for humour the good ‘Ol USA hasn’t had anybody since Scotty “The Goose” Speed ran briefly at Scuderia Toro Rosso between 2006-07 before becoming Franz Tost’s punching bag...

And those adorable ‘Hosers from Up North Eh! As in Oh ‘KanaDuh, haven’t had anybody since native son Jacques ‘Vanilla Villeneuve was abruptly dropped first from BAR Honda in favour of ‘Taku-san, (Takuma Sato) ironically substituting for the fired Jarno Trulli at Renault - and then let go from BMW Sauber in 2006 in favour of “The Krakow Kid,” aka Robert Kubica, who’s Poland’s only Formula 1 driver to date...

As I’m still crossing my fingers that one day may be “thee Young Wicky,” nee Robert Wickens will appear in F1? While Y’all don’t need to shed any tears for Villeneuve, whom just got married to Brazilian supermodel Camilla Lopez...

And then there’s our neighbors down south, a la Viva la Mexico, who now after a void of nearly three decades, have seen their numbers double this year as did I read that correctly? Finland and Mexico have twice as many drivers racing as Brazil? Which once was a Formula 1 driver factory... As wouldn’t it be surprising if Brazil wasn’t represented upon the grid in the near future?

And while I’m all in favour of Conor Daly making it to the big leagues, it seems that Alexander Rossi conveniently gets left out of the discussion, as after all the current Caterham F1 “Simulator Jockey” did defeat Sauber’s rookie Esteban Gutierrez  (amongst others) for the 2008 Formula BMW world championship! - NO less on Gutierrez’s home soil in Mexico City! And thus the never ending conundrum of how to successfully become a Formula 1 driver lives on; as Piercarlo Ghinzani said it best in a recent interview:

”It is simply a fact that talent alone will not get you into F1 these days...”