Ron Dennis got into a little bit of hot water after pulling a practical joke on Eddie Jordan the other day. Word is he disconnected Eddie’s earpiece in the middle of a BBC broadcast. Eddie was ‘spitting feathers’ and the BBC wants an apology.
Oh my. And this passes for a practical joke these days? Ron of all people should know better. He was there, during the legendary times when Gerhard Berger ruled the roost. You didn’t mess with Gerhard. And you certainly didn’t want to come off too seriously when Gerhard was around. Gerhard would know what to do.
For one thing, you’d better not show off your new attache case to Gerhard during a helicopter ride, telling him how tough it is. Is it? said Gerhard, and chucked it out of the heli. They ended up spending half a day searching around the circuit before they found it.
Or take Jean Alesi, who once took Jean Todt’s new custom built Lancia for a spin, with Gerhard on the passenger seat. Gerhard pulled the handbrake in the middle of a high-speed corner, with the car ending up upside down in front of the entrance. While Alesi was hauled off to the hospital, Gerhard went inside and told Jean that his new car might have “slight curb marks on the roof.”
The one I like most is when Gerhard replaced Ayrton Senna’s passport photo with what Ron Dennis described to me as “an equivalent-sized piece of male genitalia”. Senna, bless his soul, rarely needed to have his passport checked, but some time later in Argentina he ended up being held for 24 hours. In retaliation Senna superglued all of Berger’s credit cards together.
The list is endless. And I haven’t even started on the worst ones. So either Ron has become a shadow of his former self, or this is a bit of practice before getting on with the real stuff.
My money would be on the latter. Brace yourself.