Maybe I was a bit harsh with Peter Windsor just now, but to be honest today’s a bit of a bad day for me.
Reason is I had a long meeting yesterday with Gerard Lopez, my money friend from Luxembourg. (Sounds a bit redundant, doesn’t it? -ed.) Gerard had been going through the figures again on our Saab offer, and the picture wasn’t good. “They’re winding it down as we speak, Bernie,” he said. “Every day it’s starting to look more like throwing good money after bad.”
It’s a shame. Such a nice brand. Saabs always make me realise there’s motor oil in my veins instead of blood. On the other hand, Gerard’s right. In the end it always comes down to the cold hard numbers. There’s no room for sentimentality. And even if there were, sentimental I am not. Ever tried keeping a bunch of ruthless car manufacturers, arrogant team bosses, penny-pinching circuit owners and hormone-ridden race drivers together for a couple of decades, shaping up the greatest sports spectacle on Earth? Continue reading
Just had a very triumphant Peter Windsor on the phone. “We have a driver!” he belts out. “US F1 has a driver!” I turn down the volume of my phone a bit and say calmly “Oh good Peter. That’s one down, one to go. By the way, do you have a car yet? And engineers? You need a couple dozen of those at least but maybe two or three to start with?”
This does not go down well. “Jose Maria Lopez is the dominant race driver in all of Argentina,” he says. “He’s the new Fangio. So stop jerking me around, will you? The President of Argentina came out especially for the signing ceremony. I sent you the picture, did you get it? That’s her right there, right next to me.”
I decide not to mention Continue reading
Hardly got rid of Sir Swinging Dick or the phone’s ringing again. Tony Fernandes this time. He sounds harried.
“Bernie,” he says, “I’ve got Dr Mahathir on my back again. He asked me what our competitive chances were with Lotus and I made the mistake of saying that we aimed to be the best of the new four – us, Campos, Virgin and US F1. He said, what F1? US F1, did I hear you correctly? Are you saying the US are sponsoring a team as well? I said no Dr Mahathir, it’s not the country, it’s a private team. There are no country teams in F1. He says, of course there are, we are one aren’t we? I said no, technically speaking we’re not, but harm was already done. And now he’s continuously bothering me with all kinds of theories.
Latest is that the US F1 team doesn’t physically exist and Continue reading
It’s that time of year again. The teams are about to unveil their new cars for the season.
Normally this doesn’t involve me but this year we have four rookie teams with no clue what to do, and the phone’s been ringing off the hook.
Worst of the lot is Sir Big Swinging Dick. Calls me up at all hours about things like colour schemes and grid girl uniforms. I keep asking him how’re the engineers doing but Continue reading
Sigh. I can see this coming. Ever since Michael ‘Giraffe’ Shoemaker thought about stepping in to replace Massa and then didn’t on account of his neck, the press has been all over one thing, and one thing only. Believe you me, we haven’t heard the last of The Neck by a long stretch (no pun intended).
Take the other day. Hardly has the Saviour of All Germans done two laps in Jerez, Continue reading
Just got back from the annual Ferrari and Ducati ski do in the Italian Alps, or as I like to call it, the Ultimate Italian Motor Racing Wankathon.
Might sound like fun but I assure you there’s nothing funny whatsoever about a bunch of Italians getting pissed in the snow. Or it should be the army of journalists they invited as well, who’re getting even more pissed. To make it even worse, they make everyone wear Ferrari gear so you end up looking like a giant group of sloshed red and white dorks.
But there’s something to say for going there and staying sober. Continue reading
Tony Fernandes just called. Wants my advice. He’s a likeable fellow, I met him a couple of times at the KL Grand Prix. Runs a budget airline out of Malaysia, sort of an Asian version of Richard Swinging Dick Branson but with a lot less bullshit. The airline’s his daytime job; in the moonlight he runs the Lotus F1 team.
Turns out, he’s being pestered by a fellow called Mahathir. Continue reading
Apologies, my dear friends and TV rights payers, for neglecting my updates for so long but it’s been a busy time. Especially that Saab business cost me a lot more time than expected.
Many people asked me what on Earth I spent all that time for. Why would anyone would want to buy an ailing car manufacturer these days? Good question. I can’t really explain it. There’s very little to gain, aside from the fact that just about every car brand owner in the world sooner or later receives a Knighthood. I’m kidding, of course. (I bet you are – ed.)
It all started out over coffee with my old friend Gerard Lopez. Gerard’s a money man, which makes him a friend by definition. But for Gerard I have even greater respect than usual. Continue reading
That was predictable. Just after Flavio rang off, Max calls. It sounds hollow, like there’s a bit of an echo.
“Max, I hope you’re not calling from your dungeon again?” I ask. He knows I hate it when he does that. Every man is entitled to his own funny stuff, I always say, just as long as they don’t bother me with it. I find the thought of Max phoning me wearing only a leather harness and a whip in his hands slightly disconcerting, to say the least.
It was one of those drunk phone calls he’s notorious for. Couldn’t quite make out what he was saying, except there was a lot of mwuhahahaha in it.
Can’t blame him of course. It’s quite a victory, the French court overturning his ban from F1. Trust those Frogs to overturn anything that’s written in English. Not that it’ll make a bit of difference, least not in the short run. Max is already putting pressure on Jean to drag out the appeals any way he can, so he won’t be able to come back any time soon.
Personally I think it’s all a bit overblown. Continue reading