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Hugo Chavez calls

He comes right to the point. “I beg you to stop trying to trap the gullible people into visiting races in the North American empire,” he says. “You have many more fans in South America. It is your moral duty to add a race in Venezuela.”

I’m a little taken aback by that. Until this moment in my life I’ve never been aware of having any moral duties. But one of my life’s rules is never to contradict a dictator so I tell him I’ll look into it.

I mean it, Mr Ecclestone,” he says. We have Mr Pastor Maldonado, an excellent Venezuelan driver, and I assure you Petróleos de Venezuela will be happy to sponsor him. And Isla de Margerita is a perfect venue for your Grand Prix de las Americas.”

Grand Prix de las Americas? “You have a European Grand Prix, no? The one in Valencia? Well, you should have an American one as well. The Grand Prix of the Americas. And it should be in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which is representative of all the freedom loving nations in the Americas.”

I see. Well, he does have a point. Except of course Europe is just an excuse to have two Grand Prix in one country and very little else. And I’m not at all sure what Bolivia has to do with all this. But he seems the kind of chap who gets things done so I decide to let it go.

“Thank you for your excellent advice, Your Excellency,” I say. I will look into this and you will hear from us shortly.

Clint Eastwood was right

‘Opinions are like arseholes. Everyone has one.’ If you thought you’d heard everyone’s arsehole on the Webber-Vettel incident by now, think again.

Last week it was Max’s turn. He should know better as he’s a past master of the ‘play the journos’ game, but apparently when some German rag interviewed him he couldn’t contain himself. Makes him look pathetic, of course. He’s stepped aside, enjoying retirement (in his dungeon, I bet) and pretending he doesn’t want to reign over his grave. And here he is, showing off his German and throwing his weight around over a little incident well after everybody else has weighed in. Probably has to do with his being thick as thieves with Red Bull’s owner, Dietrich Mateschitz.

I had him on the phone shortly after, asked him how’s life with your nose up Mateschitz’s arse? I could hear him smile, and he said “Come on, Bernie, you should know better than that. I form my own opinions, and in this case mine just happens to coincide with Dietrich’s.”

“Dietrich’s.” This tells me volumes. He’s up to one of his little games again. Mark my words, we haven’t heard the last of this.

Looking at an alternative calendar for 2010

In case the Iceland volcano keeps on spewing ash, here’s an alternative schedule for the 2010 Grand Prix:








This brings us to June and then we’ll see further. I’ve just booked my suite in the Four Seasons in Pu Xi for another month.

John Travolta just waved the Checkered Flag for Button

For a while we were worried there because he kept hovering around the safety car. Bernd finally found a way to distract him. Got him back just in time. Phew.

Schumacher getting back at Alguersuari…

… for passing him during his tyre change pit stop. Commentator says wheel banging is probably unintentional. Those who know The Neck know better.

Steve Slater is trying to do the Murray Walker thing

One of the screens in my pit lane suite shows ESPN, with Steve Slater doing the race comments. Steve’s going “This is Massa in pursuit of Kubica. These drivers are really having a difficult time. And by the way it’s Alonso but you still can see how hard they try.”

Keep going, Steve. Some day you’ll become really famous, like Murray.

Stay out of Schumacher’s way after the race

King of Rain lost five places during the rainy phase. He’s on fresh tyres now but still not making a dent. Stay away from the Mercedes garage after the checkered flag. It’s not going to be pretty.

Vettel in the gravel box

Last seen on his knees in the gravel. Must be looking for a lost spark plug.

Just got called out to prevent Travolta from commandeering the safety car

Caught him in the middle of a heated discussion with Bernd Maylander, insisting on piloting the safety car next time it’d be called out. Used the word ‘piloting’, said he was certified on twelve types of aeroplane so why not the safety car? Managed to talk him out of it but he didn’t look convinced. Neither did Bernd.

Thank God for rain

After weeks of pointless discussions how to make races more attractive, here’s the one to end them all: a spot of rain. Need to have a little pow wow with the Chinese who seem to be world readers in rainmaking. Now that would be a solution, having some cannon inducing rains at critical points during the race.

Definitely beats shortcuts.