Tuesday 6th January 2009

Lewis Hamilton. Damon Hill. Nigel Mansell. The last three British winners of the F1 World Drivers Championship. Hill and Mansell got OBEs, Hamilton got an MBE. They also both won Sports Personality of the Year for their title-winning seasons (and their not-quite title-winning seasons in 1994 and 1986), and both of their titles (1996 and 1992, respectively) came in Olympic years.

Rebecca Adlington – the girl who won 2 golds in swimming at the Olympics – got an OBE. I’m not sure how winning two golds is a bigger achievement than winning the WDC, but there we are. Chris Hoy got a knighthood, and I really don’t understand that; Steve Redgrave got knighted after 5 golds in 5 olympics, something which really does deserve a knighthood.

Sir Chris Hoy. Ron Dennis CBE. One won a few medals, the other runs a team which – amongst other things – has been at the forefront of the sport for the last 25 years, won 162 races and 17 World Championships, and become the second most successful team in the history of the sport (behind Ferrari, who have been there since 1950). I’m not saying the Olympians aren’t deserving of honours, just that it all seems a bit unfair.

Britain is the best country in the world for motorsport. We have the best teams and some of the best drivers. Our national championships are regarded as the best and most competetive in the world; if you want to make it in motorsport, you come to Britain. As such, there’s a massive industry based around the sport, employing thousands of people and worth a hell of a lot to the economy. Also, motorsport benefits the country in terms of the engineering skill it breeds and that spills over into other industries, especially the Automotive and Aeronautical industries.

The Olympics in 2012 is costing a huge amount of money, and will probably not have a massive benefit to the country. After this year, Britain is at risk of losing its F1 race, partly because the Government refuses to put any money into it. They’re more than happy to spend untold billions for the Olympics, but not a few million for a race which highlights something we’re actually good at. We’re the most successful country in the world in the sport and the industry undoubtedly benefits us, yet the Government won’t support it? Stupid.

Posted at 5:22 pm | Posted In: MotorsportRant Tagged:



Wednesday 7th January 2009, 3:47 pm

The Olympics encompasses many different areas of sport whereas F1 is just one – in that sense surely more will benefit from investment in the Olmypics and not F1 ie. in schools etc. I’m not sure how you can argue the Olympics won’t have a massive benefit to the country but there we go – we all know we clash on this in a big way so I’ll say no more ;o)


Wednesday 7th January 2009, 7:16 pm

Chris Hoy, I agree with you on, although cycling medals amongst the British are few and far between if I recall correctly. Even so, there is no way that his achievement caps that of Redgrave, whose tenacity and fortitude for over two decades definitely deserves recognition.

However, I don’t think that Miss Adlington deserves similar scorn, if it can be so called. I quote the ever-reliable Wikipedia:

“Rebecca Adlington OBE (born 17 February 1989 in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, England) is a British freestyle swimmer. She won two gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in the 400 m and 800 m, breaking the 19 year-old world record of Janet Evans in the 800 m final. Adlington is Britain’s first Olympic swimming champion since 1988, the first British swimmer to win two Olympic gold medals since 1908 and is Great Britain’s most successful Olympic swimmer in 100 years.”

She’s the only holder of British women’s world record since 1960 and she broke the longest-standing Olympic swimming record there was by two seconds. Two whole seconds. Oh, and she did it all aged 19.

With regard to the benefits of the Olympics, raising the profile of sports and getting people to participate in them at a time where just over 1 in 5 people are overweight (NHS obesity statisics) could well be worth the investment when you consider the health problems that obesity brings. Falling sports participation is a major issue in today’s schools especially for girls, and role models such as the above (possibly another reason for her OBE, although that’s rather speculative). That’s not to mention the vast influx of people for the events themselves, which will generate a substantial amount of business Sadly, motorsport does absolutely nothing for getting people to participate in sport, whatever other benefits it has. “The Olympics…will probably not have a massive benefit to the county” is a somewhat sweeping statement that I would like to see backed up with some evidence, although that’s probably difficult to come by seeing as they haven’t happened yet. I’ll reserve judgement until hindsight graces us with the knowledge to use it.

The government, I agree, spends money in all sorts of odd and sometimes unnecessary places. The Olympics is a massive investment with potentially significant benefits. Motorsport is probably seen as holding its own – why fund something that’s doing so well anyway? I’d rather see the money go to scientific development and research (for which the UK is also a driving force in many areas) if I’m honest, but I’m not a motorsports fan and by the sounds of what you’re saying they aren’t getting much anyway.

Gah, got a bit carried away there.


Wednesday 7th January 2009, 8:48 pm

I was talking about motorsport, which isn’t just F1. Given the amount of British teams in all types of racing, it makes sense to throw some money towards something that showcases them – and the country.

“The Olympics in 2012 is costing a huge amount of money, and will probably not have a massive benefit to the country”
Append “for what we’re spending on it”. And what benefit is it likely to give? Is it going to be a bigger benefit than an industry which employs tens of thousands of people and has such a positive effect on British Engineering? Doubtful, judging by how effective previous Olympics have been…

“I don’t think that Miss Adlington deserves similar scorn”
Oh no, of course not. I wasnt saying that people like her don’t deserve to get honours, and I think I said as much in the original post. Just that it seems odd that she was honoured above Hamilton (MBE is “lesser” than an OBE). Surely both deserve an OBE (esp given the fact that previous WDCs have had OBEs…). Although, “cycling medals amongst the British are few and far between if I recall correctly”. You didn’t see much of the last Olympics then? :p

“motorsport does absolutely nothing for getting people to participate in sport”
There are some pretty big initiatives involved with just that. I’m fairly sure the MSA and BRDC both have initiatives to get people involved with the sport, on lots of levels.

“I’d rather see the money go to scientific development and research”
And some of the organisations who do the most scientific development and research (esp in fields like aerodynamics) are… F1 teams. Racing tech spills over into loads of areas, and not just into automotive and aeronautical. Apparently there’s some sort of hospital equipment that was designed by McLaren (the team Hamilton drives for) which uses some of their telemetry tech.

“why fund something that’s doing so well anyway”
For funding, I was specifically talking about the British Grand Prix. If the Government were to help keep that going, it’s something like $20million a year. For an event which is watched by hundreds of people worldwide and that happens every year. It’s a pretty good return on investment. How much is the Olympics gonna cost?


Friday 9th January 2009, 4:21 pm

Just a bit of stuff you might want to take into consideration about M, O and CBEs:

o To get one, you have to be nominated by someone, and I believe there is then some kind of voting process; it’s not as if some secretive governmental organisation somewhere draws up a list of suitably deserving people and then slowly eliminates them until they’ve got a reasonable number to go on the New Years or Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

o They stand for Member of the order of the British Empire (MBE); Officer of the order…; and Commander of the order…; then of course there’s Knight of the order as well but they *are* rare.

So therefore one of the reasons that Olympic figures are better represented in the honours lists over time than motorsport heroes is because more people have heard of their achievements and therefore more people believe them to deserve that recognition.

In reply to some of the other things said here, I don’t think that hosting the Olympics will be of any great benefit to the country for the amount of money being spent; but if the way in which money was spent was redistributed – spending more on educational schemes and less on grand architecture, and also spending more to make the damn thing more environmentally friendly then I guess I might be appeased.

Motorsport does absolutely nothing for getting people to participate in sport that will make them any more healthy or less obese. I know no-one who’s involved in motorsport and as for getting schoolgirls off their fat arses and setting them up for a healthy lifestyle (speaking as an ex-fat-arsed-schoolgirl), then motorsport is surely almost completely irrelevant? Sadly I also doubt the usefulness of Rebecca Adlington as a role model or inspiration for many girls, with the exception of those middle-class busy-every-day-of-the-week-with-riding,-choir,-ballet-and-tennis/swimming/netball types who don’t exactly need any kind of help because their parents already do it all; but that’s irrelevant.

I’d rather see the money go to scientific development and research on more topical issues – I’d cite the environment but you probably already have me down as some kind of greenfreak, so I’m going to say education instead, or something. But then I’m not a motorsport fan either.


Friday 9th January 2009, 5:33 pm

“To get one, you have to be nominated by someone”
The Government pick who gets them. It’s at the Monarch’s discretion who gets them, but the Government “advises” the Monarch, who goes with that advice. The reason Olympians have been better represented this time is probably we’re hosting the next Olympics, and it’s costing us a hell of a lot of money…

I don’t bemoan us having the Olympics, or that it costs a lot. It’s probably a bad time, but ho hum. My point was that it’s weird for the Government to happily spend billions on the Olympics, but not spend a fraction of that to retain the British Grand Prix at Silverstone (or at all).

“Motorsport does absolutely nothing for getting people to participate in sport that will make them any more healthy or less obese”
I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here (or how it’s relevant, but there we are), but as with any sport, to be a good racing driver (at any level) you have to be pretty fit. At the highest levels, racing drivers are certainly some of the fittest athletes in the world. If you’re saying otherwise, you’re fairly misinformed.

From a purely engineering perspective, motorsport is a fantastic testbed. It’s been a place where loads of technology has been pioneered, made lighter and more efficient, so that it works better when it’s put into road cars. Clearly road car technology is going to be shaken up pretty vigorously soon, what with all the oil running out. KERS (“hybrid” tech, in other words), alternative fuels, and alternative means of propulsion are all things that need investigating, to make cars more efficient and to kick their addiction to oil. Motorsport, be that Touring Cars, Rallying, endurance racing (a la Le Mans), or F1, provides the ideal arena to develop, perfect and market these new technologies. Purely in terms of engineering excellence, the teams involved at the highest levels in motorsport are some of the best engineering companies in the world, probably exceeding places like BAE, Boeing and Airbus. At the moment, Britain is where most of these teams live – particularly in and around Northampton. Keeping that knowledge in Britain is surely going have a massive economic benefit to the country. You want scientific development? This is the fastest-paced development anywhere in the world.

In terms of education, surely motorsport serves as an inspiration to kids? A reason for them to study science or engineering? In that case, surely it’s worth having F1 – as a showcase of the state of the art of automotive engineering – race here? Surely it’s worth the Government helping out if needs be?

I’m an engineer and a motorsport fan. Maybe I’m biased in wanting both of these industries to do well. Equally, maybe I’m just more aware how important both of them are.

(In view of equal opportunities, “I know no-one who’s involved in motorsport and as for getting schoolgirls off their fat arses “. Do schoolboys not need to get off their fat arses then? :p Also, if Rebecca Adlington is a role model, isn’t Lewis Hamilton too? I digress)

I should probably say that I don’t actually think the Government should have to spend anything to keep the British Grand Prix. The fact that the fee is so high is an indication of how badly managed the sport is these days, but that’s a different matter. The point is that even though there’s a high fee, it’s cheap compared to the Olympics, and I still think it’s worth the Government being prepared to support it, considering the many benefits the event brings.

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