Some mid-week odds ‘n ends:
– Old friend Lewis Franck has got a good yarn on auto123.com.
Franck, who covers motor racing for Reuters much of the time, reports that former McLaren design director Mike Coughlan (he was the guy who accepted more than 700 pages of Ferrari design secrets from Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney – remember "Stepneygate?") is now working for Michael Waltrip Racing in the U.S.
Said Coughlan: "NASCAR, for good or for bad, is becoming a more engineering-led sport."
He said that even though the Sprint Cup cars are "very, very similar, one to the other," finding speed in NASCAR takes "twice" as many steps as in Formula 1 due to the design of the cars.
So, there is, in fact, life after F1 for some people.
That’s too bad what he says about NASCAR becoming an engineering-led sport, however.
The day the designers and engineers became more important than the drivers is the day F1 lost much of its appeal.
– Speaking of F1, don’t forget that the Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying and the race will be on in the middle of the night and if you only have the main TSN channel you’ll have to find some way to record it.
Because although there will be repeats at 8 a.m. both Saturday (qualifying) and Sunday (the race), they will only be on TSN2.
– There has been much discussion about how Kimi Raikkonen will fit in when – and if – he makes the move to NASCAR. In fact, Speed TV’s Bob Varsha analyzed the situation and concluded that it just wouldn’t be a fit. Here are several Varsha quotes:
"I still find it odd because he is such a reserved guy and hated dealing with the press in F1. That supposedly was one of his motivations for leaving the sport after winning the ’07 World Championship. If Kimi knows anything about NASCAR, he knows NASCAR drivers are almost compelled to be gregarious, fan-friendly, work with the press and so on, which is completely unlike the Kimi those of us who have been involved with his career in F1 know. It just seems so odd."
Now, they said that about Juan Pablo Montoya before he made the move to NASCAR and, frankly, he’s fit in very well. Yes, he did drive in the U.S. before going to F1 (he was with Chip Ganassi’s CART team and won the Indianapolis 500), so he had an idea of what was expected. But he still had – and has – to sign autographs in Target department stores every Wednesday and that doesn’t seem to be bothering him.
He knows it comes with the territory.
I’ve interviewed Kimi Raikkonen twice – once right here in Toronto when he came to the Hugo Boss store – and he was friendly enough and answered my questions and, frankly, I’m convinced I detected a twinkle in his eye.
When I interviewed his countryman, Heikki Kovalainen, Heikki became quite animated – a big smile; the whole bit – while telling me why he, Kimi and Mika Hakkinen didn’t like to show their emotions . . .
Look, these guys are professional racing drivers. F1 is marketed as being exclusive, so they play that role to the hilt. Why put up with the proletariat if you don't have to? But NASCAR and IndyCar are inclusive, and if they have to come out of their shells, so be it.
I was reminded the other day, while reading a 25-year-old copy of Autosport magazine, of ex-Ferrari driver Ivan Capelli who, when he was in F1, was a total snot.
Capelli was arrogance personified.
Then he lost his job and wore out his welcome in F1 and was forced to come to North America to try to get a ride in CART. I bumped into him in Indianapolis and asked for an interview.
Well, he couldn’t have been nicer – because that’s how they do things on this side of the pond and Capelli knew it.
I betcha Kimi Raikkonen will turn out the same way.