David Richards is the name most people are linking to the empty 12th slot on the grid for 2008 – and rightly so. Of the other known possible new teams for ’08 his Prodrive outfit is clearly the most credible – whatever tedious local protesters may have to say.
Richards set out his stall as a man of the future in F1 back in 1998, when he stabilised Benetton following the disastrous Gerhard Berger-Jean Alesi years and the loss of Renault engines. The Benetton family were foolish to replace him with their own Rocco Benetton, and the team subsequent decline before the Renault takeover proves that.
It was Richards who turned BAR from a laughing stock into a serious outfit before they were taken over by Honda. He separated the wheat from the chaff in management and fashioned Jenson Button into a mature team leader. His final year with the team was their most successful.
So it makes perfect sense that Richards’ small but efficiently-run Prodrive squad should get the nod ahead of the likes of Paul Stoddart and Eddie Jordan. What does not make sense is the tiresome reaction of a few local busybodies out to thwart Prodrive’s plans.
The Prodrive expansion would create 300 extra jobs. Most of these would be highly skilled and the opponents complain that few would be filled by locals and that the surrounding road structure would be put under greater pressure.
Aside from the unbelievable pettyness of opposing job creation simply because it doesn’t benefit your own exclusively, they appear to be ignorant of the economic benefits a well-paid incoming workforce brings. Like, say, a substantial amount of disposable income?
As ever there seems little point in arguing with people who can’t see beyond the tiny constraints of their local fiefdoms. Leave them to dreaming their little insignificant dreams and the true visionaries, men like Richards, to reach for the stars. Here’s hoping Prodrive get their chance.