When it comes to winning races and making money (the two are not necessarily mutual company judging by the excesses enjoyed by teams who would not know a podium if they tripped over one), there is no room for emotion in a F1 paddock.
Take this place, a monument to Bernie Ecclestone’s political correctness. Built in 2004 at a cost of $220m, Istanbul Park is a facility conforming to BE’s PC.
When Mr E swept into the paddock at 9.30 this morning, his silver E-class was pursued by a Toyota Corolla containing three bodyguards. Cars are not allowed in the paddock but two more followed, one of which carried Ms Tamara Ecclestone and friends.
As the rear door of the Merc was almost torn from its hinges by a be-suited and unctuous minder, Bernie stepped forth to find an agreeable sight.
The paddock is flat, freshly tarmaced and immaculate. It’s very large with the team trucks spaciously lined up on the right, the hospitality units following similar inch-perfect perfection 100 metres opposite on the left.
It needs to be this way because Mr E’s trailer is the only unit out of line, the better to allow the boss to have full view of his manor and the movement of everyone within it.
The top teams – with the exception of McLaren – are at Bernie’s end; the hoi-polloi about half a mile away at the bottom. Out of sight and out of Ecclestone’s mind, there is a small space between Honda and Force India where Super Aguri would have been had Honda this week not switched off the financial lifeline for what effectively had become their ‘B’ team.
Super Aguri was formed in a hurry at the end of 2005 when Honda, having dropped Takuma Sato, were embarrassed by an outraged Japanese media into finding a drive for the home hero. To be fair to Honda, they did their bit.
Super Aguri was badly let down last year when SS United – a Hong Kong oil and gas conglomerate – failed to deliver sponsorship.
After four races of continuing struggle this year, the main Honda team felt enough was enough and the motor giant really could do without the diversion created by Super Aguri.
Exit Sato and Britain’s Anthony Davidson, plus about 70 dedicated and talented employees at Super Aguri’s Oxfordshire HQ.
When questioned about the loss of livelihood and shrinking of his package from 22 to 20 entries, Ecclestone, pragmatic as ever, said there was now more room in the paddock. Why should he care?
Super Aguri’s departure is simply adding another name to a list of more than 40 teams that have disappeared since the start of the World Championship in 1950. Among them is Brabham – once owned by B. C. Ecclestone.
It’s the way of a world that has seen teams come and go in a roll call stretching from AGS and Alfa Romeo to Wolf and Zakspeed. Super Aguri? Just another casualty.
Mr E took one glance down his gleaning line-up of hardware and went into breakfast. Another day, another million dollars.
Sentiment? Don’t be so daft.