The Shapeshifters talk F1

Having spent a decade being famous for a number one, and another behind the scenes in the music biz, The Shapeshifters have said rather a lot about music down the years, so we collared them about Formula One instead!

Mike Boorman

Last updated: 30th Jul 2014

The Shapeshifters shot to fame in the early 2000s with the legendary summer house number one anthem 'Lola's Theme' (watche below), and they've stayed at the top of their game ever since. They've released some highly successful albums on EMI and Defected, and consistently DJed around the world, having just had a run of Ibiza dates for Pure Pacha and Glitterbox @ Booom.

Their next gig is this weekend at the Ibiza Carnival @ Rainbow in Birmingham, but when Simon and Max sat down with Mike Boorman, they didn't talk about any of that. The topic was Formula One, obviously...

So you're Formula One fans then? Let's talk about the big story at the moment - the rivalry between team mates and championship rivals Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton coming to boiling point again at the Hungarian Grand Prix at the weekend. Should Hamilton have obeyed the team orders and let Rosberg through?

Simon: I don't believe the conspiracy theories about Nico being a German driver and it being a German team, because most of the team is based in Brackley in the UK and most of them are English. I think Monaco is sticking in Lewis' throat a little bit [where there was an incident that saw Hamilton lose a flying lap in qualifying because Rosberg slowed down enough to cause a yellow flag situation].

Rosberg was over a second behind Lewis at the time and I'm sure Rosberg would have had to have raced to get by him, and if it rained again, Lewis might have had to do another pit stop, so I think there were many reasons why Lewis shouldn't have let him by.

It did seem a bit odd. Team orders… I'm okay with them as a concept, but on this occasion it just didn't seem worth it, but I think Hamilton would have disobeyed pretty much any team order to be fair.

Simon: The thing is, Lewis is by far the quicker driver than Rosberg, and Rosberg knows it. Even though Rosberg's been on pole for the last five races out of six, Rosberg knows that Lewis has come from the back of the pack on more than one occasion and nearly won the race.

I think you're right that Hamilton's a faster racer, but it's typical Hamilton to have a hard luck story - he's like Nigel Mansell in that respect. With all that talent he's only won one world championship and I think that speaks volumes. 

The way he drives is very demanding on his car, and he just doesn't seem to play the behind-the-scenes games very well. He's a brilliant underdog, but not too safe a bet in the best car.

Not that I think there is a conspiracy, but I could understand if Mercedes backed Rosberg over him because Rosberg's more likely to get his head down and keep it on the island.

Simon: I think his personal lifestyle and his outlook on life sometimes gets in the way. You're right - he should have won the championship three times. Maybe he's got a few monkeys on his back. You look at Hunt versus Lauda, Rosberg is definitely more of a Lauda - a measured professional. Maybe we'll get a repeat of that '76 championship.

But on conspiracies, to me, the biggest conspiracy at the moment in F1 is the engines. McLaren are still running a Mercedes engine but they're getting nowhere near the power of anyone else running a Mercedes engine, and shock horror, McLaren are moving to Honda at the end of the year.

I think Murray Walker used to call it 'sand bagging'!

Simon: Yeah. I know for a fact, because I've been down to the factory, that Mercedes have a man with their engine at all times. McLaren can't even look at their own engine without someone standing over their shoulders.

Obviously you guys being travelling DJs for a hell of a long time… have you ever managed to perform at a race?

Simon: I've been to a few Grand Prix down the years, but we've never ended up playing at a race but we've been close a few times. [they have managed to interview Frankie Knuckles though - it's well worth a look if you haven't seen it already]

I bet that'd be good craic. I can imagine the F1 party scene would be one of the few out there that could rival house music.

Simon: Well maybe in Hunt's day, but now they're all a bit too media-schooled. But we do know that Red Bull used to play our tracks 'Lola's Them'e and 'Back To Basics' in the garage… so I had a couple of texts about it from them actually. I'd rather it had been from Mercedes or McLaren though! 

Why? Red Bull are a brilliant success story.

Simon: I'm such a Lewis Hamilton fan - that's why. I guess I'm more a fan of drivers than I am of teams to be fair. But I like McLaren a lot as well. I've been to the factory a few times and I have a lot of respect for Ron Dennis and how he helped modernise the sport.

Interesting about Ron Dennis. I always like what he says in interviews but other than the late 80s domination with the turbo engines, I've felt that too often McLaren haven't made the fastest car count.

Simon: It was about sustainability for an F1 team. He quickly realised that you can't only rely on sponsors, and that the moment you do, they have too much say over the team. McLaren Applied Technologies and the whole car business is earning them a lot of money. To turn the whole thing into a proper business is genius.

It's nice he's back as the public face of McLaren, because he was in Coventry for a bit over that whole 'spygate' incident as they called it.

Simon: Yeah, that McLaren factory… it basically is like James Bond's lair. When you walk in there you go down a lift and these big white doors open and you're in this long white corridor… nothing else… sorry, just a second, that's Michael Gray calling me…

[he paused for a few seconds, but Ron Dennis was clearly the priority]

…I'll call him back. Anyway, then you walk through there and it's all glass and chrome - it's a magnificent place - but I bet they just stuck Ron in the basement for a couple of years!

He was down there with Oddjob!

Simon: Exactly! And a white cat!

So who's your all-time fave driver?

Simon: I know it's a cliche, but Senna.


Max: To be honest, I don't really follow the sport that much!

Ha ha ha ha, oh dear. I assumed you both did. Twenty minutes into the interview we are - I just thought you were quiet because you were a bit hungover or something!

Simon: I mean, we do go to track days together and stuff.

Max: Yeah, I enjoy those, and I'll watch it when it's on and I've got a free weekend, but I'm not as into it as Simon.

Simon: But ironically, out of the two of us he's always had the best and fastest cars!

Max: I love cars and I love driving but watching it isn't as good!

Sorry Max, but, errr, back to Senna… what did you think of the film? I thought it was enjoyable but very biased.

Simon: Yes, of course it was always going to be, but I really really liked it. Because I'm a fan, I don't want to see any shit about Senna. I don't think it was too biased though, but I guess they made him appear to be a saint which he can't have always been. If you asked Alain Prost he would say something different.

And that's why as a piece of journalism, I disagreed with it - there was no right of reply for Prost in the present day. Also, Nigel Mansell was pretty much airbrushed out of it but they had a great rivalry. On his day he was as good a racer as Senna. The footage in it was absolutely amazing though.

Simon: That Monaco lap… just brilliant. We've actually DJd with that on in the background before. We got a friend of ours who does visuals for people like the Gorillaz to do us a little film of that lap cut up with loads of visuals to go with the set.

So there are eight races left this season… how do you think it's going to play out?

Simon: I think Hamilton's gonna do it. I think Rosberg is going to have a couple more issues technically so that should balance out a bit. One DNF from Rosberg and it's wide open. I think Hamilton will do it because he's got the best car this year, and he's a better racer.

There'd be some justice in that. I guess sometimes it can take a while for someone with the raw talent to really crack it. Like Ronnie O'Sullivan in snooker.

Simon: You've got longer in snooker than F1, but Lewis is twenty nine now, so he's still got a few years. If you think Mark Webber stopped when he was about thirty five…

Ah, Webber. It didn't quite happen for him did it? But back on the theme of team orders, there's a classic example of where the team was right - look at what Vettel went on to achieve after Red Bull backed him over Webber.

Simon: It is funny though when you think how much more liked Webber is as a person than Sebastian Vettel. People love a loser, especially in this country.

But I love Sebastian Vettel. Why? Because his favourite TV comedy is Fawlty Towers! I just think it's brilliant that this prolific kid from Germany found time to get in to Fawlty Towers. He's a different kinda guy.

Simon: Ha ha ha, yeah! But Vettel just goes to show the influence of technology… the margins are so narrow. Now he doesn't have the best car, he's struggling.

But it wouldn't surprise me if the sport of Formula One - Bernie Ecclestone's circus - made some technical changes to the sport with the purpose of disrupting his driving style and domination, because it wasn't good for the entertainment.

Simon: I wouldn't put anything past Bernie Ecclestone to be honest!

And then the conversation descended into libelous conspiracy theories, the moon landing, and the angle of the bullet entry wound of JFK's passenger, Governor John Connally. We didn't really discuss much house music.

You can see The Shapeshifters at the Ibiza Carnival at Rainbow on August 2nd (buy tickets here), and if vocal house isn't enough, you can always ask them about a random topic - we're sure they would be more than happy to oblige.

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