October 2nd, 2009
03:29 PM ET

Formula One musical chairs begins in earnest

With three races left in the Formula One season the musical chairs have begun.

Alonso has signed a three year deal with Ferrari sparking off a host of potential driver changes for next year.
Alonso has signed a three year deal with Ferrari sparking off a host of potential driver changes for next year.

So far, the exchange of drivers will see Fernando Alonso of Spain switch from Renault to Ferrari next season in a three-year deal said to be worth in the region of $36 million to the two-time world champion.

At present, he is due to spearhead the Italians' 2010 title challenge alongside Felipe Massa, provided the Brazilian sufficiently recovers from the life-threatening head injury he sustained this season.

Of course, that means there is no place at Ferrari for Kimi Raikkonen, who won the title for them in 2007.

The Finn is apparently reluctant to leave, but the blow could be softened if, as is rumored, he gets to join Lewis Hamilton at McLaren next year.

All this is very interesting, as the teams start forming their ranks for what will be a very important season for the sport next year, when Formula One will surely hope to banish the memories of another scandal-ridden campaign.

However, just for the sake of argument, how about this for a radical idea to shake things up even further.

Why not make the drivers independent in future? By that I mean, sign them to the FIA but not to any specific team, and make them race in a different car at each grand prix?

As you know, there is an on-going discussion as to whether it is the driver or the car that makes the difference.

And, while it is obviously a combination of the two, it was interesting to hear Lewis Hamilton describe his title defense with McLaren this year as a “non-starter”, simply because his car was not up to scratch.

Here is how it would work. Drivers would test in all the cars during the off-season when the various mechanics and designers would do everything needed to get the dimensions and set-ups as close to ideal as possible for each man.

Come the start of the season, the drivers would then compete for each team in a season-long rotation.

To start the process at the opening grand prix, the last place finisher from the previous season’s driver’s championship would be first behind the wheel for the reigning constructor champions, and so on down the pecking order.

Newcomers to the F1 circuit would take the position in the order of the driver they replaced.

It is a similar idea to the worst teams in the NFL from the previous season getting the first pick in the draft for the following season in order to promote more parity, at least on paper.

Obviously, there would be a lot of technical issues to overcome, and I am interested to hear your views on the impracticalities.

However, some of the plusses would be that the potential for corruption and cheating would be reduced, as no driver would be affiliated to any one team.

It would provide some of the smaller teams, who currently just make up the numbers in Formula One, with a major boost, as a star driver might actually make them competitive.

At the end of the season, we’d not only know which is the best car, as the constructors championship would still exist, but also who is the best driver per se, not who had the best technology behind him.

What do you think?

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Filed under:  Motorsport
October 2nd, 2009
10:00 AM ET

Will IOC members vote with heads or hearts?

COPENHAGEN, Denmark - The bid cities are making their final presentations to members of the International Olympic Committee right now and you can feel the tension and the sense of anticipation in the air.

U.S. President Barack Obama is in Copenhagen to pitch for Chicago's bid. (AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
U.S. President Barack Obama is in Copenhagen to pitch for Chicago's bid. (AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Around me, in the media hub of the Bella Center, are hundreds of journalists from all over the world, most of them from the countries which are vying for the Games. Every now and then I hear one of their reporters live on air. It really feels like I am in the eye of the storm here.

Everyone has been speculating about who is going to win. There are four really strong candidates and the chances are the host city for the 2016 Games will not be decided in the first round of voting. This, my friends, is going down to the wire.

Who will be the final two bids standing? Well, in my opinion, it will come down to a duel between Rio de Janeiro and Chicago. The Brazilian city could make history by becoming the first in South America to host the Games.

Sport in this region has developed a lot in the last decade, and the fact that the economic situation has also improved means that this continent is finally ready to receive the Olympics.

With Chicago, the IOC knows it has a safe bet. Three American cities have already hosted the Games, and the United States has the experience and know-how needed to organize a great event.

Furthermore, the money the IOC could make from TV deals with American networks will exceed any amount received from channels from other countries. And we all know money talks, right? So it will basically come down to whether the IOC members vote with their hearts of their heads.

The heart calls for Rio, the head for Chicago.

What about the others? Well Madrid has a shot. A realistic shot. Over 70 percent of Olympic venues are already in place or have started to be built in the Spanish capital so from an infrastructure standpoint, it is a very strong bid. Its main problem is the fact that the previous Games will also be held in Europe. if London were not organizing the 2012 Olympics, then Madrid could be the frontrunner.

As far as Tokyo is concerned, this is a long shot. The bid has lacked passion and the last media activities here in Copenhagen have reflected that. The fact the 2008 Games were in Beijing is also a disadvantage.

Its strength is the green and environmentally-friendly approach. The Japanese city has presented a plan for an Olympic stadium run entirely on solar energy.

So the scene is set. As the presentations are made, we follow them with great interest. Who will win? Watch this space...

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Filed under:  Olympics