At least one of the new teams is a shining light of hope in this sorry pre-season mess. To be honest I’d gotten a little bit worried because I heard nothing from Tony Fernandes for a while, so I gave him a call. One never knows, better to be safe than sorry.
Turns out, Tony’s been busy playing host to officialdom. Apparently they’ve renamed their Norfolk facility as the new Lotus Racing factory and that’s as good an opportunity it gets to do some old-fashioned wanking.
Here’s the notorious Dr Mahathir on the cutting edge in Norfolk. Tony was particularly pleased with his appearance, because apparently the good Doctor, who still wields quite a bit of influence in the ex-colonies, had cast some doubt on his achievements. ‘Almost got into some serious trouble there,’ he told me. ‘Hardly had I announced that we’d wouldn’t be moving our factory to Sepang for a while, or he started telling people he wasn’t sure the Norfolk facility even existed. Said they could fake anything these days. And since he hadn’t seen any real cars yet, he wouldn’t be surprised if we would be just sending some green-and-gold avatars around the world’s circuits. So I had no choice than to invite him over, stick him into one of the cars, tell him to stay off the frigging controls and start the engine.’
And what’s with the old Duke of York, then? I ask. ‘Oh that,’ he says. ‘Prince Andrew and I go way back. He helped me out with getting Rolls Royce engines for my airline and I involved him a bit in the Norfolk investment as well. He loves cars, seems he regularly gets in trouble with the Law for speeding so I invited him over and gave him a racing suit. He loved it!’
Note to self: keep an eye on Tony Fernandes. That lad has a great future in F1.