I spent decades herding a bunch of unruly cats into a professional, streamlined, global racing series. And look what happens if you give them a little slack.
First we have the Koreans defeat any way of getting them to comply with inspection deadlines, milestones or anything of the sort. “We’ll be ready right before race time, thank you.”
And now the FIA has to assume who’ll be racing for HRT when announcing drivers for Friday’s Suzuka press conference, since the losers themselves haven’t been able to decide yet.
Time for have a quick word with Colin Kolles, then. “You’re keeping us in suspense again, Colin. Sakomoto hasn’t paid up yet? Can the lot of you make up your minds, please?” No comment, Bernie, he says. But we’re checking our bank statements every day.
See? That’s what I mean. Place is going down the drain.
A customised steering wheel. Here’s a sneak preview Colin gave me. Says it’ll solve all of Sakamoto’s problems because he didn’t use those buttons anyway. Looks a bit improvised, what with all those bits of carbon fibre to cover up the holes, but
Sakomoto’s only paid for one more race Colin isn’t sure when’s the next time he’ll need it.
But how about optimising settings during the race? And how’s he going to limit his pit lane speed?
Optimising is only important if you’re anywhere near optimum, Colin says. And what do you mean, limiting pit lane speed? Have you seen his lap times?
“How can Sakomoto go on about his racing abilities?” I asked Colin Kolles. “If it’s true what you told me, he should be very quiet and just go out and drive the bloody car, for Pete’s sake.”
“It’s Sakon. Sakon Yamamoto,” he says, “And the way he sees it is his racing is impeccable. It’s just the bit around it he finds hard to get used to.”
The bit around it? “Yes,” Colin says, “all the little things he has to pay attention to. All those pesky settings, wing, engine, clutch, pit lane limiter and so forth. It confuses him. He does have a point, you know. I mean, do you know how many buttons these steering wheels have nowadays? Not to mention that all the labels and indicators are not in Japanese. Other than that, he claims he does know how to drive a car.”
I see. So what are you going to do about it? “Well Bernie, we’re working on a solution. The customer is King, after all.”
Customer? “I mean, driver,” he says hastily. “Tell you the truth, a happy driver is a faster driver, I always say.”
A happy driver is a faster driver. First time I heard that in more than half a century’s F1 experience. Someone should tell Massa and Alonso.