He was almost crying in it. I know he’s a bit of a moaner, but to go into a complete funk over Bahrain seems a bit much. Come on Ross, I said, fifth and sixth ain’t that bad. You’ve got a whole season ahead of you, and all the money and might of Mercedes to prove it.
“You’re hitting the nail on the head,” he says. “The full might of Mercedes coming down on me, that’s what.” I say listen, a few Krauts around the paddock, grownup like you should be able to handle that. And they’re good engineers, aren’t they? By nature, I mean. Being German and all that. It’s in the genes.
He says, “it’s not just that. It’s the whole thing. They changed the catering – no more fish ‘n chips with some vinegar from the people we knew and loved.
Instead there’s bratwurst and sauerkraut, measured out by someone with a German accent in exactly measured doses. We call him the soup nazi.
“And then there’s Zetsche. Oh I’m sorry, Herr Doktor Zetsche. His friends call him Herr Doktor Dieter I guess. He’s there all the time. The bastard’s insufferable. ‘Ve expect rezults,’ he keeps shouting from under that ridiculous moustache of his. ‘Ze very best, or nozzing at all. Es lebe Gottlieb Daimler!’
“And to top it all off, there’s Michael. He’s a good man. You know he and I used to be thick as thieves. But with Zetsche around he becomes another person. Even more perfectionist than usual, even less sense of humour, obsessed with the setup of his car, barking at underlings. Actually he’s not tuning that car, he’s rebuilding it. Says he dislikes understeer and we should’ve built it in a different way for him. And finishing behind Rosberg didn’t help either, of course.”
Cheer up, I say. Mercedes paid you a lot of money. You’re a rich man now. Enjoy the life and make the most of it. “Enjoy life,” he says, “that’s precisely my point. It’s just not as much fun any more. But you’re right. I guess I shouldn’t complain and soldier on. Can you get the landlord over there to bring me another steak ‘n kidney pie? Need to get rid of that sauerkraut taste, verdammt noch mal.”