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Old 1 Mar 2001, 17:16 (Ref:67420)   #1
Dan Friel
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Dan Friel should be qualifying in the top 10 on the gridDan Friel should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
Yes indeed.

Well it was rubbish anyway, and probably did a good bit of damage to some drivers careers.

But we get a series for 'up and coming drivers' instead, 6 rounds only
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Old 1 Mar 2001, 20:03 (Ref:67453)   #2
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How can you say Formula Palmer Audi was rubbish? To see someone delight in seeing the demise of a championship that was conceived by a driver, for drivers is pretty shocking.

It was set up to provide a level playing field, to promote up and coming drivers, which it did. It's just that dummies got spat when the comfort of having a 'works' advantage was taken away.

Dr Jonathan Palmer put a lot of his own money into FPA in order to help young drivers, in a world where almost every young driver needs a helping hand. Dr. Palmer introduced a lot of innovative concepts into his series that established formulae were too scared to try. He went to great lengths to get overtaking back into slicks and wings racing, and look after the driver's corporate needs. FPA provided unrivaled levels of hospitality for it's guests at races, and the kind of sponsor perks that you don't find anywhere else. All for little more than a works Formula Ford drive!

It has produced the best F3000 driver this country has got. Perhaps FPA's aim to rival Formula Three was a little ambitious, but 98 FPA champ Justin Wilson out performed 98 F3 champ Haberfeld in F3000 in 99.

I'm really sorry you find that rubbish.
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Old 1 Mar 2001, 22:23 (Ref:67480)   #3
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I like it also. To bad it didn't work out.
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Old 2 Mar 2001, 08:26 (Ref:67539)   #4
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Marshal should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridMarshal should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
I think its aims were noble, but you have to ask whether we really needed another junior slicks and wings championship.

More by accident than design there is now a very clear higherarchy in British junior championships (junior FFord, National FFord, FRenault, F3) I hope that this clear structure will be preserved. You can see from the umbers of entries for both FFord and F3 thi year that this has to be the best way forward. If all the best drivers race each other in the same category then there is much more interst and excitment.
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Old 2 Mar 2001, 11:35 (Ref:67572)   #5
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Just seen FPA media statement in Racecar website.

Sad to see the championship go, but JP seems extremely bitter.

Blames aspirations of young drivers more towards F3 and FRenault, but at a high cost. Maybe, but then again JP maybe you should have spent a bit more money on getting into the right high profile race meetings - like TOCA for instance. What up and coming driver wants to play around in front of small crowds at relatively low profile race meetings?

Bring back FOpel, it had the right formula and when it supported GP's it was blessed with full grids - good drivers came out of it, just look how many are now on an F1 grid.

No, sorry JP, its time to hold up your hands and say you got it wrong - but sadly the ego won't let that happen will it? Maybe the same ego which in the same media statement takes a pop at Autosport mag and so guarantees the failure of the replacement club championship - which driver in their right mind will do a championship which has almost certainly been black listed by this important publication. What chance has a good driver got of progressing if he doesn't have the press behind him.

Good concept, but badly handled JP - lets hope lessons have been learnt.
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Old 2 Mar 2001, 11:58 (Ref:67576)   #6
Dan Friel
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Dan Friel should be qualifying in the top 10 on the gridDan Friel should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
I stand by my statement..

Firstly, I think the cars were bad - drivers had to swap every week - couldn't get used to one chassis, and it was pretty obvious that some of the cars were clearly better than others!! Winners of previous rounds found themselves far down the grids in the next. Talent couldn't shine.

Secondly, Ok the championships were tight, but then again, those with all the talent couldn't pull away and make a real impression.. I think some good drivers suffered, even the likes of Wilson who are clearly better than their FPA form shows...

Thirdly, And as for management.. I won't start.

I don't take delight in seeing a series demise, but it should have been done properly in the first place and not try to take on the likes of the established F3 series!!

And yes, bring back Formula Vauxhall / opel - excellent cheap(ish) racing.
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Old 2 Mar 2001, 12:18 (Ref:67578)   #7
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Marshal should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridMarshal should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
Yeah, you're right Dan, in everything apart from bringing back Formula Vauxhall Lotus. Good grief they were dull. Why not just run Junior FFord and Senior FFord then Junior F3 and Senior F3. We don't need more championships, we need less, with a greater concentration of quality. IMO.

Oh, and don't get started on JP's ego. And which one of his championships is still running, is it the autumn one?
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Old 2 Mar 2001, 12:34 (Ref:67584)   #8
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TimD should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridTimD should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridTimD should be qualifying in the top 3 on the grid
I was startled to see this thread - but only because I imagined that Jonathan Palmer would tenaciously try to keep the formula going and going and going.

It's a shame it hasn't worked out for him, but I could never see the point of the formula. I mean, the boost button was a dead-end as far as a driver's training was concerned, and it masked the efforts of drivers who could put themselves in overtaking positions on merit alone. I confess to not being aware of the chassis-go-round situation, but it did explain some of the performance anomalies over the years.

And while on the television, the FPA could be quite entertaining, as it was a very slick presentation, on the one occasion I saw them race (at the ALMS/FIA GT at Silverstone) they were one of the dullest formulae I have ever witnessed on trackside.

And from a race supporter's point of view, what indeed is the point of another slicks n' wings formula where the cars are all identical, you can't buy a desktop model of one as a memento - should you wish - and the engines are all so darned quiet...

Perhaps the trouble was, the formula was so determined to offer a level playing field that they forgot they had to make something outstanding to attract more attention.
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Old 4 Mar 2001, 14:32 (Ref:68143)   #9
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OK so how many of the people above are actually racing drivers??? And how many of you have ever raced in FPA?



The whole concept of FPA was to reduce costs to the driver AND to offer a competitive race car for that price.



FPA was going to cost 85,000 in 2001. For that price, some Formula Ford teams could only offer you a number 2 drive in the team in an uncompetitive car. All the Formula Ford top drives are bought months in advance by drivers with large amounts of money to throw around. As Dr Palmer rightly points out, if a driver cannot get one of these top drives, then they go to an uncompetitive team and simply complain that it is the teams fault that they are doing so badly. Whereas in fact, it is more to do with the fact that the driver is no good.



I know all the cars are equal in FPA as I have driven several of them. I was easily able to change car with no problems. Whilst I admit at the time I was not the fastest driver, I could feel no difference in the car. Indeed after my huge crash at Snetterton, my car was completely rebuilt for the next race, and there were no obvious differences.



To say that FPA doesn't pull in the crowds to events unlike TOCA is complete rubbish. The FPA cars, when not headlining, support events like the ALMS, which had the second largest crowd for a motorsport event last year - the British GP being the biggest. As for media coverage there is a vast amount of difference between a back row FPA car and a back row Formula Ford/Renault car. The FPA will still feature these drivers on TV and in all printed press material. You don't get these sort of benefits from any other series except perhaps F1 where everyone still knows all about the Minardi drivers.



If it wasn't for FPA, I would not have driven at all last year. I drove in the Winter Series at a cost of 9,000 - when some rubbish Formula Ford teams were offering me drives in the FFord Winter Series for over 16,000!



Gideon



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Old 4 Mar 2001, 18:43 (Ref:68236)   #10
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I'm actually sad to see this, as I thought it was a good formula.

Justin Wilson proves how this can train a driver, and he has now turned into a title-contender in F3000. Also in 1999, Darren Turner came close to the title, and he is now a well valued part of the McLaren team, driving the two seater a lot.

The winter series was also good, with drivers like Paul Edwards and Andy Priaulx.

The racing was good to me, produced some very spectacular moments, normally the accidents, like Spa last year when I think Tim Mullen had a monster at Eau Rouge.

I can't think of many who had signed up for this, but Jaroslav Janis must be annoyed.
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Old 5 Mar 2001, 17:23 (Ref:68508)   #11
Dan Friel
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Dan Friel should be qualifying in the top 10 on the gridDan Friel should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
Well not many of us are drivers (unless you count six laps of Combe in a F Fordie!), but I reckon I have a pretty good insight into motor racing, having marshalled for 8 years now - seen things come and go.. And I don't think you need to be a driver to have a view on motor racing..

I really don't understand why drivers were so inconsistent in the series - and I don't believe it was poor set up by each driver race by race. ok perhaps the cars were all equal, but there's another reason somewhere then..

It's a good concept, cheap racing - but why did Dr Palmer originally state that it was going to take over from F3 and have a european series. Claims like that make enemies straight away, perhaps part of the problem. British F3 has been around for years, and has always produced the best, hence has an awesome reputation.

It was cheap racing, but why?? Well the majority of the mechanics on race day were volunteers, engineers from McLaren for example.. These guys are the best perhaps, but not like other more expensive series where drivers know who's employed in each team..

One question Gideon, what was the thinking behind a go at the Winter Series in FPA - 9 grand is pretty good value. But what else would 9,000 pounds buy?? - a good deal of money towards a whole season in ametaur single seaters.. (where reputations can be built, if the talents present).
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Old 6 Mar 2001, 14:20 (Ref:68876)   #12
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Dan,

The reason many of the drivers were inconsistent is because the cars are so equal that driver ability was showing on these occasions. Some drivers are better at some tracks than others - simple fact. Some drivers like slow corner tracks, others like faster ones. And then some drivers know tracks better than others. This is why I was far better when I raced at Brands Hatch than Snetterton as I know Brands much better, Nothing to do with car advantage.

Rumours about cars not being equal are spread by managers trying to defend to sponsors why their guy is now a the back of the grid this race when he was near the front in the previous one. Another explanation is down to the engineers working on the cars. The engineers swap between cars after a certain amount of races. Some engineers are better than others and therefore can help the driver to set the car up better and interpret what the driver is doing better and how the car is handling from the telemetry.

The series had potential to rival F3. The cars were quick, offered close racing throughout the field which the spectators love to see unlike in F3 where the cars seem to spread out in the races and it becomes as boring as Formula One on some occasions.

The reason it was cheap racing was because Dr Palmer stuck his hand in his own pocket a lot. He virtually paid for Justin Willson in F3000 the year after too. He doesn't want to see drivers having to pay thousands and thousands of pounds to race in single seaters as it will just turn the sport into a rich man's sport even more. He makes his money through the corporate entertainment side of FPA - PalmerSport. FPA has never made any money and he will tell you that. Many of the mechanics were employed full time at the Bedford base. There were a few people (engineers and car designers) who came from places like McLaren from time to time but were known by the drivers and that is a completely wrong thing to say. Whilst I was with the team for 2 weekends and tests, I got to know many of them very well and this was highlighted by the end of year bash we attended where virtually everyone turned up.

I drove in the Winter Series because I love racing. It was 9,000 which I could not put towards another series. By then, most of the best drives in other series had gone for this year and I would not have raised any more money to race in something this year. 9,000 is not a lot when you consider a back row FFord team costs over 90,000 and I don't want to race in something where I can't prove my talent. Plus I already have done so in the past an it's got me nowhere. I've already won a championship in an amateur series - I bet you didn't know that... Winning that series has not helped my career in any way. It doesn't matter how good you are in this day and age, it comes down to how much money you have and a pushy manager. That's why this country is never going to see another Nigel Mansell as all the drivers that are going to go far in this country as simply "Rich Kid Done Well".
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Old 6 Mar 2001, 17:19 (Ref:68908)   #13
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Dan Friel should be qualifying in the top 10 on the gridDan Friel should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
We're just going to have to agree to disagree about the cars - but perhaps you know more about them - as you actually drove one..

If managers slated the cars for no reason - well that's a disgrace and Plamer should have sorted that out early doors...

And I did know you won a championship, I checked out your website, and couldn't agree more about rich kids getting all the drives - I can't even really afford to sprint my Midget this year!! But even Mansell had to shell out plenty of cash in his day - remorgating his house twice just to race Formula Ford, but he was lucky and got noticed, plus F3 was somewhat cheaper in those days...

You're obviously a decent driver, not sure of your record in FPA - but will you ever really ever be able to fork out the 85k for a full series in FPA?? - where you may then be able to develop in cars with slicks and wings..

I'd personally love to buy a second hand Formula Vauxhall (with slicks and wings) for about 5 grand, run in the Monoposto series and actually see how good i could get!! (another story)

I don't disagree with you on many points, but just feel some things were done wrong (right from the outset) and that's why there's no proper series this year.

So what's the plan this year?
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Old 7 Mar 2001, 00:11 (Ref:69053)   #14
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Gideon should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
The managers did have a reason - their driver wasn't performing! FPA know all about this but what can they do? No-one was getting hurt. I know managers say this sort of thing because my so called one time manager (who decided not to help find me any money to go racing but to run off with it and break the contract didn't we Mr Allen of www.2sponsor.com but I've got a solicitor on the case and we are ready to take action when I have the money to pursue) told me that FPA cars weren't equal and tried to convince me to go to Formula Renault instead as the hospitality was better in the TOCA package. What he meant was that in FPA his company couldn't provide the hospitality and charge extortionate prices and make huge profits because in FPA, they supply the hospitality at a very good rate to the drivers/sponsors - and another reason why costs are lower.

I too have shelled out plenty of cash in the last few years. I'm still paying off over 7,000 in debt and personally spent over 30,000 in two years! I would mortgage my house if I had one. And you're so right about it being far cheaper in those days and for that cheaper price you could also be competitive. I would talk about cheating in the sport now but that would require a whole new topic.

I had hoped to be able to get 85,000 to do FPA. My results are far better than some better known drivers but as I've not got a kart background and therefore couldn't jump straight into a national series then I don't get noticed. And getting money to race really depends on two things and they are being rich in the first place and having a good trustworthy manager you can employ to push you as a driver in the correct circles. You can make it by luck writing thousands of letters but usually the club racers out there with sponsors are being sponsored a few hundred quid by the company they work for or a friends company.

I was actually doing OK in FPA until I nearly broke my neck! In my first races I started off well until I broke my gearbox and slipped down the order. Then I was involved in a huge crash whilst making up places. The next time out I was running in the top 10 til I had bad neck pains and slipped back but the second race I decided to fight the pain and qualified well. The races were hard physically but I fought the pain and beat some far more experienced drivers. I think I did well considering I hadn't raced all year and many of the guys in the series had also been testing the FPA cars a lot more. With more money and experience I would do well - I'm 100% sure of that!

Plans for this year - well I'm managing another driver and apart from that who knows! I'll keep writing letters every week and keep working hard at my job. You never know, our company may make huge profits his year and therefore I'll get a huge bonus so I can race this year or next. I'm not giving up - other drivers who have never really had the passion to race do that.
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Old 16 Mar 2001, 09:20 (Ref:71630)   #15
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Super Tourer should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridSuper Tourer should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridSuper Tourer should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridSuper Tourer should be qualifying in the top 3 on the grid
I feel some of the posts have missed the point.

The whole reason that FPA failed was because drivers didn't want to do the series - full stop.

If it was as equal and level as people seem to think, then why didn't drivers with back of the grid F Renault budgets who will never beat a Manor Motorsport car in a million years, sign up for FPA?

Because it is a formulae that takes you precisely - no where. Aside from Wilson who got the first and only F3000 drive, what has having FPA on their CV done for other drivers.

Richard Tarling - former champion - no drive this year

Somebody mentioned Darren Turner - the reason he has good links with McLaren Mercedes was because he is a previous McLaren Autosport winner - not because of FPA - in anycase I seem to remember that he fluctuated from the front of the grid to the back of the grid - as per Dan's comments.


I always felt that JP was to ringmasterish with the whole thing, with his 'favoured' drivers - whatever anyone says there are so many cases of weird driver performance.

Richard Lyons went well in the winter series but was nowhere
in the main series. Tarling won it one year - no where the next. Mark McCloughlin - always at the back of the grid in FPA - but front of the grid in F Renault.


FPA never became a serious career path or step on the ladder, once the F300 prize went - the incentive to spend a year in a back water was lost. Career drivers are not out there to just gain experience and have fun , they are out there to win championships that count.
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