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Rubython Back with New Scandal Mag

sport-pro.jpgTom Rubython, the maverick publisher who has spent the last four or five years publishing a fair quantity of half-truths and upsetting nearly everybody in the paddock is back for more in 2008. SportsPro is his new glossy monthly title, launched a few weeks ago and promising a broader horizon that its predecessors, BusinessF1, Formula One Magazine & EuroBusiness by focusing on the business of all professional sport, not just F1.

The Feb edition makes a brief reference the Americas Cup, but is straight into bat on more familiar turf, including a detailed and forensic Max Mosley profile (albeit largely recycled content from previous Rubython stories about the President of the FIA) and a lengthy assessment of the new McLaren PR man and his first few days in his new post.

 Objectively, it is easy to dismiss Rubython – in all probability, the new title is probably a means to place his previous magazine business into liquidation following a series of libel actions last year that found against the publisher. His new magazine maintains Rubython’s ranting house tone and style and he will undoubtedly seek to scalp a few more bigwigs before SportsPro is in the dock again.

You’d condemn his methods from any objective or ethical perspective, but you still find yourself tearing the cover off your subs copy of the title every month – and I reckon I am not alone – simply to get at the gossip and scandal – after all, this base human instinct to vicariously witness the humiliation and suffering of others is the essence of what makes magazines like Heat such a publishing (and financial) sensation.

However, BusinessF1 didn’t look like a great financial success, reliant on subs and limited advertising because the title lacked distribution and was too specialist to generate meaningful cash from cover sales. As the magazine at one time or another put the literal boot into the face of its own audience, subs were limited and F1 sponsors were gently encouraged not to support the magazine with advertising.

So how do Rubython’s publishing enterprises sustain themselves? The conspiracy theorists have two lines of conjecture, the first is that despite Rubython being a mature fifty-something, he is still ‘kept’ and bank-rolled by a rich Daddy who bails him out when the libel costs become unsustainable. The second theory, more interesting perhaps, is that Rubython, who was once upon the time in the employ of Bernard Charles Ecclestone, is still his sometime poodle, occasionally deflecting attention with a soft critique of F1’s ringmaster, but in reality writing features at Ecclestone’s behest – a little far fetched perhaps, but whatever the reality, I’m already looking forward to issue 2 of SportsPro.

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One Swallow does not a Summer Make?

FW30 Debut

OK, so maybe the judgment of the aesthetics of the new BMW might have been a little harsh, but as the new race cars make their respective debuts in Southern Spain, some early tremors in the form guide seem to be rippling across the paddock. The media are busy reflecting that the BMW isn’t as quick as it should be, but in the same breath are aware that the Bavarian tactician-meister, Docktor Mario Theissen, is quite likely to be running the new BMW with a 60 kilo plus fuel load. No-one is accusing BMW of sand-bagging, but it is more than possible that BMW are able to restrain themselves and simply haven’t let rip with the new car yet. Meantime, another team not shinning in Spain are Red Bull, especially as much has been expected of Adrian Newey’s first clean sheet design for the Milton Keynes outfit. But again, be careful of snap conclusions as Newey designs typically never flatter on their early runs. Honda also seem to be suffering, Button apparently stepping out of the new car and declaring to his engineers that “You’ve made it worse!” – Ouch! Conversely, one of the leaders in the winter world championship this week are, most certainly, Williams. Their new car hit the track on Tuesday after a brief shakedown the day before. Rosberg put 80 or so laps on the new car, so showing some day 1 reliability which is often elusive, and some hot times during long runs, rather than the more cynical low fuel flying lap which is more of a Honda stunt. However, if the BMW isn’t pretty, nor is the Williams – although the FW30 isn’t stigmatized by an ugly ‘hunch’ in its back, all the new cars look uncomfortable with their new regulation side impact structures, dubbed as ‘sails’. The winter world championship is most definitely under way and looks as if it might throw up a few surprises

Looks aren’t everything

bmw-bw.jpg THREE SEASONS AGO, there was a good deal of sniggering behind hands when the very first BMW F1 bratwurst appeared out of the new Sauber sausage machine. I mean, it was so pig ugly, there was no way the Bavarians weren’t gonna have a competitive & public relations disaster on their hands, having just walked away from a blue chip partnership with Williams and then served up this nonsense at their pre-season launch in Valencia. The general aero maxim, not terribly scientific, but usually usefully true is that if it looks like a pig, it races like one too.

Of course two seasons later and the sniggering has long since stopped, because BMW has quietly achieved what no other vehicle manufacturer-led team or indeed any new Formula One entrant has done in recent memory – progressively added performance to reliability, collected points and started to nip at the heals of Ferrari and McLaren.

No doubt the Teutonic focus will get BMW the whole way there. But when BMW win a Championship, it should be mandatory the following year that as a winner’s handicap, they are obliged to build a pretty car before they take to the track. This year’s F1-08 sticks to the pig theme, it’s as ugly as Britney with her head shaved, but you decide