Zurich Gnome

The journal of a Swiss-based motor-racing enthusiast.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Empty Seats

If you're a wannabe Formula 1 driver, and by that I mean someone that is actually in with a chance - not just someone like me, there aren't many opportunities left for next year. Of the manufacturer teams, there's only one space open - the number two drive at BMW Sauber.

There were rumours that the young Englishman, Dan Wheldon, was in the frame but now he's signed for Chip Ganassi and will be staying in the States. It's strange in a way that pundits, myself included, are saying that the BMW seat is up for grabs. Jacques Villeneuve has a contract to drive and insists he'll be racing. But he didn't prove himself to be as quick as expected last year. If he does get the drive and can't keep close to Heidfeld, the contract may well be terminated.

Christian Klien, Scott Speed and Tonio Liuzzi look set to take the remaining Red Bull / Toro Rosso drives, which just leaves a drive at MF1, if you happen to have around $10 million burning a hole in your pocket.

Unless Super Aguri come up with the goods that is. If they really are going to race next year, then there's still three drives going. Maybe it's just worth getting into shape.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Money in the Bank

I'm not a gambling man, but I'm tempted to ask the people at CVC Capital Partners if they fancy a game of poker. Well not really of course, but I'm wondering just what they're up to. It's being reported that CVC are buying the shares in SLEC from Bernie Ecclestone and BayernLB, the bank that has the voting rights of the three banks involved in F1 management.

My question is simple. Why would you ever buy anything that Bernie wants to sell? Of course, it may turn out to be a great deal. But dumping around a billion dollars on the table in return for control of F1, in the same week that five major manufacturers announce their strategy for the sport, strikes me as "courageous". I know that Bernie is well past the traditional retirement date, but he's almost certain to stay on to run the show, so it's not just an exit strategy. My guess is that Bernie believes that the value of FOM has peaked, and that may just indicate a shifting of power into the hands of the GPMA. Or of course, that we're not being fed the whole story.

Either way, it's money in the bank for Bernie. No change there, then.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Legge's Eleven

It's not often that we see a member of the fairer sex driving an F1 car. This week Katherine Legge, an English girl who has been racing in the US, achieved her dream of driving an F1 car when she took the wheel of a Minardi at Vallelunga near Rome.

She put up a pretty good show, narrowly missing out on fastest time of the day. OK, she was around seven seconds behind the Ferraris that tested earlier in the month, but it's colder now and, let's face it, she was driving a Minardi. She'll also get to test a champ car soon, but another season in Formula Atlantic beckons before she start racing wheel to wheel with Danica Patrick in America's primary road racing series.

There have been other moves to get women into F1, as it's considered that there would be good marketing opportunities. From memory, the last lady to attempt to qualify for an F1 race was Giovanna Amati back in 1992, but a Brabham was not the thing to have in those days; future World Champion Damon Hill only qualified for two races in that car, and he had a lot more track time. And in 2002, Sarah Fisher was given the chance to drive a McLaren at Indianapolis.

Going further back, the most successful female driver, in terms of championship points scored, was Lella Lombardi. She finished sixth in the aborted 1975 Spanish GP, and as the race was stopped before half distance, half points were awarded. So Ms Lombardi scored precisely half a point, and as that was her only ever points scoring finish, that remains her total. Still, that's better than the zero points that many men end up with!

It's looking increasingly likely that we'll see a woman racing in F1 within the next few years. Whether it'll be Katherine, Danica, Sarah or somebody else is impossible to tell. But whoever it is, F1 will be the better for it.

PS I really don't know what "Eleven" has got to do with anything, but those old bingo calls have to be dragged out occasionally!

Ashes of the Phoenix

I smiled when I read that Super Aguri are negotiating to use the Arrows design for either the old A23 or the stillborn A24 racecar. I love irony, and it seems to me to be poetic justice that a team in urgent need of a chassis design should turn to Arrows.

If I remember rightly, Arrows was formed back in 1977. The name was a kind of acronym for the founders' initials (a bit like March in 1969/70) but to my shame I can only remember three of the founders - Alan Rees, Jackie Oliver and Tony Southgate - if you know who the W was, please let me know. The team put together a car in around eight weeks, and it turned out to be very promising. The young Riccardo Patrese drove the car, scoring a podium finish in its third race, and having been in the lead of the second. Impressive stuff.

But then disaster struck. Southgate had previously been at Shadow, and rather like the recent Toyota/Ferrari issue the matter went to court. The team, figuring they'd lose the court battle, built a new car, the A1, in even less time than the first car took. Arrows continued in F1 for 25 years, despite never winning a race, until it ran out of money under the control of Tom Walkinshaw.

The idea that this team that came into being so quickly, but is now defunct, may come to the rescue of a new team that is desperate for a chassis design appeals to me. I hope it comes off, and not just because it will mean two extra cars on the grid at Bahrain.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

V8s and V10s

I'm sorry if this sounds a bit like yesterday's post. But I've just looked at the times from the third day of Ferrari's test in Bahrain and I'm not happy. Ferrari are testing with the new V8 engine in a hacked about 2005 car, and even a 2004 car for that matter. So I'm guessing we're not looking at an optimal set-up. And yet the lap times they are recording are already good enough to be halfway up the timesheet for the first practice at this year's Grand Prix.

So it seems safe to assume that come March, the new generation of V8 F1 cars, replacing the current V10s, with their engines reduced from 3.0 to 2.4 litres will be just as quick as this year's cars. The FIA will no doubt claim this as a victory, saying that "if we hadn't made changes they'd be even faster now". But it just isn't good enough. The FIA have forced through changes resulting in massive costs, but haven't managed to achieve their goals. I'm really beginning to think that having the GPMA in charge of setting rules might not be a bad thing after all.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Yeah, right!

Stories that a number of team bosses met up in Monaco last week seem to be surfacing at the moment. Nothing unusual in that, they always have things to discuss, but this whole GPMA/FIA thing is just dragging on too long. Of course, F1 is a multi-billion dollar industry and where there are sums of money like that involved, there's always going to be political infighting. The story at the moment though, is that the infighting is not just about the money paid to the teams.

Normally, I'd be sceptical and say "Yeah, right!" but this time I'm not so sure. F1 is an expensive business, and the manufacturers would like to be able to go racing more cheaply. The FIA has initiated a series of cost-cutting measures, but, let's face it, they haven't exactly helped. Reducing the engine capacity is fine, but it means incurring new research costs. Changing tyre rules two years running isn't a great idea either.

I don't think FIAT or Renault would be too worried about losing out on an extra $50 million income, if they could cut their expenditure by $100 million. So when the manufacturers say that they are more interested in the governance of the sport than in division of income, I could, just about, believe them.

But here's the rub. If manufacturers believe there's a business case for spending $400 million each year to go racing as they do now, there's a good chance they may think that in future. Because they are interested in maximising the profit to their business, not just in having fun and going racing as you and I would. And even if costs in some areas do come down, there'll be other areas where they can spend money: simulation systems, Computational Flow Dynamics etc. both of which can cost shedloads.

On the new GPMA website there is much talk of fairness. Which implies that while they may not want to set rules that help individual manufacturers, at least they want to make sure that they don't get new rules that will work against them. Personally, I think the best way to achieve that is to keep the rules stable. But that's not going to happen is it? New safety issues will always arise, for one thing.

Anyway, let's hope that the GPMA commitment to the fans (which I read as "customers" by the way) remains as it is now. And that somehow, Grand Prix motor racing (for it may not always be called F1) isn't destroyed by petty bickering and endless rule changing. Which leaves the issue of the extra income. Would the GPMA be happy for the financial structure of the sport to remain as it is, where so much of the cash involved leaves the sport? Would they say no to that extra $50 million? Yeah, right!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Political Correctness

There are stories surfacing that there may be problems with the Italian GP at Monza. Usually it relates to needing to cut trees down in order to make changes to the circuit. But this time it's the local residents. Apparently they don't like the noise that F1 cars make. Apart from the fact that they're wrong (it's a fantastic sound) they might like to think about the fact that the circuit has been there a while.

Monza was built in the 1920s, so it's safe to say that all the residents knew about it when they moved in. And the circuit is only used about 15 days a year (and only one Saturday and Sunday) so it's not as though it's every day. The argument usually follows the line that F1 is environmentally unfriendly because of the fuel used. Yes, it's people going round in circles, but so is going on holiday and coming back home again.

An F1 car uses about 200 litres of fuel per race. So thats around 5000 litres for the entire grid. A modern 747 has a fuel capacity of around 250,000 litres. So all the GPs added together use less than half the fuel of a single long range flight. Call it about the same if you include the Fridays and Saturdays. But statistically, a 747 loaded to 75% capacity is more fuel eficient per passenger mile than a family saloon car with a driver and passenger, whether they're driving to watch a football match, motor race or just going to the beach.

So what should we be stopping? Well clearly, people driving to work on their own. But such an argument is ludicrous. We're humans with different preferences. I don't want to stop people driving to watch football matches because that uses fuel. So please don't try to argue that F1 cars using fuel is bad. Just come out in the open and say "I bought my house cheaply because it's next to a racetrack. If we stop the racing it'll be worth much more". I think that would be much more honest. Mind you, I do own a house next to a motorway, that'd be worth much more if I could stop people using it to get to work.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Better late than never

F1 news is thin on the ground at the moment, but there's always something in the air. A Belgian driver, Jeffrey van Hooydonk, will apparently test for MF1 in December. MF1 is the name by which Midland wish to be known, now they've completely taken over from Jordan. And to complete the MF1 news, they've announced a striking red, black and white colour scheme to replace the Jordan yellow. I say striking, but frankly it means they're going to look a bit Minardi-ish, which is quite appropriate as MF1 will almost certainly be at the back of the grid for most races next year. I think it's reasonable to assume that Squadra Toro Rosso (née Minardi) will take a significant step forwards after an injection of Red Bull dollars, which will just leave the two MF1 drivers to race against themselves.

But back to van Hooydonk. He's certainly one of those drivers that's been a long time coming. He's 27 now, which is considerably older than our new World Champion Fernado Alonso, and consequently he'll struggle to get a proper drive. He'll need lots of cash to get in at MF1 (around $10 million) and then he'll need to destroy his team-mate to make anyone sit up and take notice. I first saw JvH race at Donington in September 1997. Our Eiger Racing team were making our debut (and as it turned out only) appearance in the Formula Renault Eurocup, so we were more concerned with our own problems. van Hooydonk simply walked that race and left the impression that he was a major talent with a big future. But so often that happens and it turns out that at the F1 level a major talent turns out to be not so major after all.

Antonio Pizzonia for example never really delivered on his promise, and Aluizio Coelho was another. You've probably never heard of Coelho, but in 1998 people in the know were prepared to bet money on him being F1 Champion within 10 years. Instead he went on to F3, was paired with a young Jenson Button who was fresh from Formula Ford and simply failed to deliver the goods.

So what does the F1 world have in store for Jeffrey? Well frankly, not much. I might be cynical, but I assume that he's had to put a large number of notes on the table to get this test. MF1 need money, and renting test drives to individuals with wealthy backers is a useful source of income. It may seem harsh to say that this is not much more than a glorified "Red Letter" day out at Brands Hatch, but sadly, that's just what it is. At least make sure you enjoy the day, Jeffrey.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Cover Story

When I moved to Switzerland, much of the family horde of motor racing memorabilia was left behind in England. Most of it was left in the loft of the family home, but for some reason, some of our possessions remain strewn around the UK, with siblings, parents and friends. I keep promising myself I'll go back and sort it out but sometimes it never seems to happen. Maybe next year.

Anyway, it's been a while since I've seen the collection of Grand Prix programmes and books that have probably rotted away to nothing, so it was with great pleasure that I came across this site with it's collection of motor racing programme covers from around the world. It's a fascinating history of design, with loads of pictures of fantastic racing cars thrown in for good measure. Hours of fun.

The picture shows the cover of the very first Grand Prix I ever attended. Well, to be honest, I didn't actually go to the race, only to qualifying practice the day before. According to my mother's diary it rained on the day of the race, so I decided to stay at home and play with a friend instead. In my defence, I was very young at the time, and wouldn't contemplate such a thing now. I say that, but how many times this year did I opt to play golf instead of faithfully watching a Grand Prix live? More than once, which just goes to show that not much changes in this life, and if you check out the modern F1 programmes, you'll see that change is something that's really missing. Pretty well all of the recent programmes look the same, so I'm really glad that there are still enthusiasts prepared to share their work and show us that it wasn't always so.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Suspension Settings

This might be a bit technical, but it's been inspired by the story that Toyota allegedly managed to acquire software from ex-Ferrari employees.

It's clear that any visible parts of the car can be understood and copied by rival teams, which is why for years teams would cover their front and rear wings when the car was stationary. But software is not visible, and nobody really knows exactly how Renault's traction control works, or what Benetton's differential management system does. But what is clear, is that there is now an amazing variation of settings available.

On my race car, there is just one setting on the shock absorber (damper) and it's easy to understand. You either make the damping softer or harder. Softer works better at low speed, harder is better for longer faster corners. On the racecars that we ran as a team, there were three settings; low speed bump, high speed bump and rebound (which controlled how quickly the suspension goes back to normal after a bump). That starts getting pretty complicated, and I could never understand how the engineers arrived at a particular setting as a compromise for the whole circuit.

But now, the car knows exactly where it is on the track, thanks to a combination of GPS and computerised circuit mapping. So where we would struggle to find an optimum setting for the circuit as a whole, it's now possible to set the car up for every different corner. When a circuit has a mix of corners, including a slow bumpy hairpin and a long smooth flat-out blast of a bend, the onboard electronics can set the car up excatly as required. The driver wants the car rock solid under braking and then really soft for the corner? Done. No wonder then that one team might be interested in the source code from a championship winning car. Why not read the full story here?    

Monday, November 14, 2005

Good ol' boys

There was an interesting race at the weekend.  A chap by the name of Scott Poulter came up with the idea of getting famous racing drivers that haven't raced for a while to get back into modern race cars and thrash round a track. The series is called Grand Prix Masters and it's a bit like the senior tour for golf and tennis, except if you get it wrong you don't just lose a ball or do your back in.

I was a bit concerned about the idea at first. Driving a racecar, especially one that generates a lot of downforce, is a very physically demanding task. And as the races last around an hour, you need to be very fit to be able to do it. But the first race at Kyalami, in South Africa, passed off without a hitch. Well, almost; Alan Jones, the 1980 F1 world champion, was unable to race because he suffered spasms due to serious neck pains, as he'd never driven the car before and wasn't used to the seating position. But the medical arrangements showed themselves to be first class, and he wasn't allowed to race.

As for the race itself, the two remaining world champions, Nigel Mansell and Enerson Fittipaldi (both of whom also raced extensively in the US Cart series) lead the field and were never more than a second apart. There was excitement down the field too, with a couple of minor incidents and feedback has been very good.

So it just shows that older sportsmen remain competitive, and are prepared to stay fit enough to carry out the sport they love. And as most racing drivers play golf (you need to be able to play with the sponsors) I wonder how long it'll be before the concept gets extended to include a round at a local course.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Wanting to win

It's natural in competetive sport that a team wants to win. Trouble is, all the other teams want to win too. So the announcement that Christian Horner, boss of RedBull Racing, expects to be challenging for wins in 2008 doesn't fill me with excitement.

I understand that it's probably just expectation management, and what he's really saying is that he doesn't expect to be winning in 2006, or 2007 for that matter. Because even though he has just signed probably the most successful designer of all time, it takes an amazing amount to win in F1. I find it hard to believe that Red Bull will commit the same amount of cash to racing as, say, Toyota. And Toyota have been trying for four years now to get to the top spot of the podium but still haven't manged it. They've lead races, and had pole positions, but being in front of the end of the race is something else. It requires everything in the team to be right.

Even Ferrari had an amazingly long drought back in the 80s, and it's likely that the once all-conquering Williams team will struggle for the next couple of seasons.  Put it this way; only five of the current teams have ever won a race and it doesn't look likely that Midland (née Jordan) are going to be troubling the scorers again. So that just leaves the usual suspects: Ferrari, McLaren and Renault.  Honda and Toyota will be knocking at the door, and you have to assume that BMW will make progress by 2008 too.

So for Red Bull to win a race, they have to beat all of these teams. And they have to do it with an engine that they're buying from someone else. I honestly can't see it happening, but I am really glad they're going to give it a go.    

Thursday, November 10, 2005


British Racing Motors; a classically understated English name for a racing team, formed as it was just after the Second World War. Back then everything was more formal and calling a team "Super Aguri" would be simply unthinkable. BRM were formed in 1947 and were in the racing business for 30 years. One of their longest serving employees, Alec Stokes, died this week, which is why the team sprung to mind.

BRM was never my favourite team; in the paddock the mechanics always seemed to be scruffier than the other top teams, with tools left lying around on the ground, much to my Father's horror. But they did win the constructors championship in 1962 and every now and then they'd build a car that you just loved. My two favourites are the P261 from 1965 (shown above) and the first slicks and wings BRM, the P153. I was fortunate enough to see both of them in action earlier this year at the Nürburgring when I went to help my brother Ken race there.

One of the great things about BRM was that they built their own engines, rather than buying them in like most of the British manufacturers. Like Ferrari and Matra, they built amazing V12 engines that screamed at full throttle; mechanical music that's been missing since the FIA in it's wisdom decided that all engines should have the same cylinder layout. If there had been rules like that in the 1950s, BRM would never have built the ludicrous 1.5 litre supercharged V16. It hardly ever ran, was totally unreliable and when it did work it was so powerful it just made the wheels spin. But it sounded glorious, and you can get a vague idea of what it sounded like here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Belgian Chocolate

If you ask any fan what their favourite F1 circuit is, it's more than likely they'll mention Spa. Spa Francorchamps, to give it's full name, is one of the most historic circuits around. Originally run on public roads, and then converted to a permanent circuit it is one of the fastest and most challenging tracks on the calendar. Drivers love it too, but today we hear that the Belgian GP is in danger as the promoter is likely to go bankrupt.

Now forgive me, but how can a sport where it costs as much as $20 million dollars to put just a single Ferrari, McLaren or Toyota on the grid for each race, be short of cash? That's around $3 Billion that the teams spend to put their cars on the grid each year. And yet the GP promoters have to pay around $10-15 million to host a race, money which goes into the pockets of FOM, run by Bernie Ecclestone. And they can't even sell advertising space as that gets signed over to FOM too. So they can only make money from selling tickets and hospitality (apart from the high margin Paddock Club for the elite, because that is run by, you guessed it, FOM). TV rights? FOM. That's why Bernie Ecclestone's family is the third richest in Britain, with assets over $3 Billion.

Why screw every last penny out of the promoters? Why prevent them from investing in new infrastructure, like decent sanitation and car parks? It just doesn't make sense and now it's possible that we lose the best Grand Prix on the calendar because it's not possible to pay a ludicrous fee to someone who has more money than he could spend in a hundred lifetimes.

Which begs the question: what is the point of Belgium if it doesn't have a Grand Prix? I guess some people would answer "Chocolate". But Zurich Gnome lives in Zurich (no surprise there then) and Zurich is in Switzerland, so obviously Swiss chocolate knocks the spots off the Belgian variety.  That means that unless Bernie steps in to help, I'll never have a reason to go to Belgium.    

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Son of the Father

Since 1996 we have had Jacques Villeneuve racing in F1, despite the fact that his father Gilles was killed during qualifying at Zolder in Belgium back in 1982. This week we hear that the son of Manfred Winkelhock, who raced turbo-powered monsters back in the 80s and lost his life at the wheel of a Porsche, is also about to step into a Formula One car. I guess that shows what an amazing drug motor racing is. If you lose your father at the age of five, it must be incredibly difficult to put your family through the same stress by doing the same thing. And when you consider how much backing (financial and emotional) a driver needs to be able to get to Formula 1, it's clear that Markus Winklehock must have had the complete support of his family since he was very young.

I guess it all comes back to that line in the Steve McQueen film, Le Mans; "Racing is life, everything in between is just waiting". Everybody thinks that that's over the top and a bit of a joke. But if you've raced, you know that it's true.    

Monday, November 07, 2005

Designer fashion

It's rumoured that one of the great F1 designers, Adrian Newey, is set to leave McLaren for the relative freedom of Red Bull. This might seem a strange move for a man that's designed winning cars at two of the three most successful teams in F1 history. But to me it makes sense. I suspect he feels that one of his greatest achievements was the 1988 March 881, a car that so nearly won the French GP that year against opposition with budgets ten times that of his team.  Of course he might be tempted to choose the Williams FW14, the first of the cars with which Messrs Mansell, Prost and Hill dominated the mid 1990s. But I like that old 1988 March, lightweight, elegant and full of innovation.

It's acknowledged that this year's McLaren ended the season as the fastest car on the track. It certainly wasn't Newey's fault that the Mercedes engine wouldn't hold together at the start of the season. So he really has nothing left to prove. If he stays and McLaren win next year's championship, so what? If they lose, it'll be his fault. But going to an underdog team like Red Bull, which is where last year's McLaren driver David Coulthard has suddenly shown so much promise, will give him a great incentive. We have a new set of rules next year (again) and that will even the odds a bit. And if Newey can drag Red Bull up the grid, that'll be a major achievement and show that he is what we all believe him to be. A truly great engineer.    

Friday, November 04, 2005

Rules is Rules

Michael Schumacher has been giving his opinion about the latest rule changes recently. First of all it sounded like he didn't like the changes, but now he's saying he does, but doesn't like the fact that they've changed. Are you still with me? Good. Because in general I agree with him. I think the fact that the FIA has accepted that there are problems is a good thing, but they really are making too many changes that aren't thought through.

How many other sports have rules that change every year? Especially when the fans are saying that they liked the rules as they were five years ago, but if you could lose a bit of the downforce to give the drivers more chance to overtake, that would be great, thank you very much.

It seems clear that what the FIA needs is an intelligent, knowledgeable person that can understand what the public wants and could phrase it in such a way that the teams wouldn't be able to get round it. So why haven't the FIA contacted Zurich Gnome yet. He's waiting with baited breath.

For a full length version click here    

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Testing, Testing, Testing

Ferrari are testing their cars at Vallelunga near Rome this week. Nice work if you can get it I say, but some people are complaining that Ferrari test too much. At the beginning of this year, nine of the ten teams signed an agreement limiting testing to a total of 30 days per year. They didn't ask Ferrari to sign - why would the Italians sign when they own two test tracks, and are the only competitive team racing on Bridgestone (aka Firestone) tyres. So why complain when they do what they said they'd do. Everyone says that if Ferrari do get back to winning it'll be because they've tested too much, but that's just sour grapes. I drove past the new McLaren factory a few weeks ago and my goodness it's impressive. So impressive that there's no way you can see any of the buildings (or the lake to cool the wind tunnel) from the road. Security resembles Fort Knox and you just know that it costs a fortune to run. The Sauber factory on the other hand, is a straightforward industrial unit and when I go skiing (not far away now) I often drive past their premises, with the transporters parked by the side of the main road, next to the most expensive wind tunnel in motor racing history.

Peter Sauber chose to spend his money on a hair dryer, Ron Dennis chose to lay out shedloads of cash on 21st century premises and Jean Todt chooses to take his team testing. It's a free, competitive market and teams should do what they think best in order to win. And not give in to bullying tactics. Good luck with the tests boys.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Super, Aguri!

So we are to have a new F1 team next year. Actually we'll have quite a lot of them. Sauber becomes BMW, Jordan will be renamed Midland, BAR has been bought out by Honda and Minardi becomes Squadra Toro Rossa. And to join them will be (if they can build a car in time) the second Honda team form Japan; welcome Super Aguri.

An extra team on the grid is undoubtedly good news. It's just the name that gets me. I thought it was bad enough with Midland, which, to an Englishman, smacks of Birmingham and Wolverhampton, cities famed for their appalling nasal accents - yes, there is no such thing as an English accent, we have lots of them.

But "Super Aguri"? What's that about? Surely the Japanese can come up with a name that sounds halfway plausible, even in English. Thank God that Aguri Suzuki (who is an ex-F1 driver, let's not forget, and one of the best to come out of Japan) was not christened Barry or Kevin. Otherwise we'd have an F1 team called "Brilliant Barry", or "Cool Kevin" or something equally ridiculous. Actually there is an aftershave marketed in Switzerland (by a supermarket chain admittedly) called Cool Kevin, so maybe the Swiss need some naming lessons too.

Why didn't Aguri choose something like Samurai Racing or Bullet (after the train)? It's obvious why Aguri didn't use his surname (in traditional F1 manner) because of the motorcycle company. But a little more modesty would have gone down well. Or am I just being too English here?