Bob McMurray: Tough decisions hard to accept
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It is an accepted rule that a person should never write an email in anger.
That rule must surely also apply to anything else written for public consumption.
Therefore, I am refraining from writing about the goings-on around the Western Springs Speedway promoters and the latest actions of the Auckland City Council in the guise of its Regional Facilities Auckland branch.
At the time Driven was going to press it was understood an extension had been granted for Speedway to stay at Western Springs after council bosses struck a last-minute deal with promoter Bill Buckley.
Let’s hope that this is a sign that reason and sensibility are making a breakthrough in a situation that had the potential to become dangerously chaotic. Instead it might mean a reprieve for what is an historical, word-famous part of the fabric of Auckland’s history.
At the other end of the scale, chaos seems to be reigning within the Williams Grand Prix Engineering Formula 1 team.
A plainly uncompetitive — again — racing car, with the drivers seemingly underwhelmed and publicly stating that, in Robert Kubica’s words, “there were some positive things”.
That is hardly high praise. And, just last week, the man who was drafted in to raise the proud Williams team name from the bottom rung of the competitive ladder, former McLaren and Mercedes engineer Paddy Lowe, was said to be “taking a leave of absence for personal reasons”.
Those words have an eerie similarity to those used about football team managers on the brink of being sacked. It remains to be seen whether that “leave” will be permanent.
Without Lowe, the team is without the captain of the design and engineering departments and those units lie at the core of any team’s inability to regain on-track respectability.
A sad situation but especially sad, if indeed the end of his Williams tenure is nigh, for Lowe.
I, like all others, had much respect for him when he was within the McLaren organisation.
He has a brilliant mind and an envious record in the sport. Having been involved at the cutting edge of developments over the past three or more decades, the situation exemplifies the simple “perform or perish” nature of multimillion-dollar sport. Even those with huge reputations and a proven track record are not immune to taking a fall.
But it also shows how deputy team principal Claire Williams, daughter of team founder Frank, has grown into her role and is prepared to be involved in the hard decisions.
However, the question is: “Was Lowe given enough time to see through his ideas and developments for the 2019 Williams F1 car?” Has the team kneejerked a reaction after a terrible start to the testing season with the failure of the car to even appear at the start of the tests?
Perhaps the inference is that while Lowe was, and still is, a brilliant and talented engineer, perhaps he thrives in a team environment and not in a situation where he is the final design and engineering arbiter of what will work on a car.
I have no doubt that Lowe will resurface, in Formula 1 or elsewhere. He is far too capable to be lost to the sport.
Likewise, open-wheel speedway is far too important to be lost to Auckland. Perhaps those in power need to be reminded that no one is irreplaceable, in any position in life.
● I am attending the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix having been invited by Visit Victoria in conjunction with NZME Radio Sport. More about my visit later.