You should’ve seen Fernando last Sunday at Silverstone. He spent every moment he could spare on watching the broadcasts from Jo’burg. The picture shows him stealing some glances just before the race. He had his mechanic rig his monitor to show the feed from South Africa while pretending to check all the car’s systems.
Personally I’m not surprised he mucked up the race. Let’s face it, he let on himself that the Spanish soccer team’s chances of winning were a lot better than his own.
Afterwards he watched the match with the rest of the Spanish mafia from the Ferrari motorhome. Hardly had Spain won, or he called me. “We won,” he shouted. Well, I said, your soccer team did. You didn’t.
“Bernie,” he said, clearly not listening, “now’s the time. Ferrari, I mean F1, have to go to South Africa. It’s the greatest country for sports events. It’s a place where referees have respect for the Spanish, where they make favourable decisions instead of treating us badly! You must call Nelson Mandela now. I think he’s at home because he wasn’t at the stadium. Do you have his number?”
Of course I do. I have everybody’s number if they’re in a position to influence my choices for race venues. Hundreds of them. Fabiana keeps them in a little thing called a database and they miraculously appear in my phone when I need them.
And normally I don’t do the little whiner’s bidding but this time I thought it wasn’t a bad idea. Strike the iron while it’s hot, as they say.
Nelson, bless his soul, didn’t need a lot of nudging.
“Taking Formula One to what is already an iconic world venue gives South Africans the best stage on which to enjoy their newly found position in the world of sports. But it also allows us to continue the nation building through sport that we have enjoyed throughout the FIFA World Cup. So you have my blessing, Mr Ecclestone. Were you thinking about Kyalami?”
Ah, so the old blighter is more knowledgeable than I thought. Thank you for that, your Excellency, I tell him. As to the choice of venue, that’s sort of my speciality. I really appreciate your support and I’ll probably ask you to put in a call or two when the time comes. My best wishes and please enjoy the celebrations.