‘Adriaaaaaaan. Adriaaaaaan!!’ journeyman boxer Rocky Balboa cries out after beating Apollo Creed in THE iconic scene from the first film of the Rocky franchise written and starring Hollywood megastar Sylvester Stallone.
In that scene the battered fighter is calling out for his girlfriend Adrian (Talia Shire), but it’s a cry that Stallone might well have repeated in 1998 having spent time with the Williams F1 Team in preparation for the Formula 1 film he was planning.
Whilst there, Stallone would have seen first hand the Williams FW20: the first non-Adrian Newey designed Williams since 1990, the car that saw the team tumble from double World Champions the previous year to also-rans in ’98.
And though The Italian Stallion couldn’t have known it at the time, but he was witnessing then World Champions Williams beginning a painfully long streak of title-less years that continues to this day.
For having been the force behind to an almost unprecedented period of success in the 1990s for Williams, engineering guru Adrian Newey jumped ship to McLaren, mid-way through the 1996 season (having already penned the 1997 Williams FW19 that would win Williams’ last championships to date).
With McLaren, Newey would go on to win titles in 1998 & 1999 as Williams foundered.
There is little doubt that – along with Renault’s decision to withdraw from F1 leaving Williams with an outdated engine – that Newey’s leaving was the main factor in the team’s loss of competitiveness, and not only that, but that history might have been very different if Sir Frank Williams had ceded to Newey’s demands (allegedly that he wanted to become technical director of the team but found his path blocked by Sir Patrick Head).
It’s enough to justify a repeat of Stallone’s famous cry in lamenting Newey’s leaving.
Stallone eventually opted to set his film ‘Driven’ in the world of Indycars rather than Formula 1.
Released in 2001 & directed by Renny Harlin, Driven turned out to be one of the biggest turkeys ever to hit the big screen, grossing less than half of its production costs, with a 3.6/10 score on Rotten Tomatoes, which is, quite frankly, generous.
It’s a blessing Stallone turned his attention to Indycar rather than Formula 1, a decision allegedly prompted by him having been denied access to key information about cars, teams and the sport’s organisation as a result of everyone in F1’s desire for secrecy.