Poor Karun Chandhok. Fine lad, salt o’the Earth. Always had a soft spot for him. So when I heard he didn’t only miss Hockenheim but has to sit out the Hungarian GP as well, I decided to give Colin Kolles a call.
What’s the problem, Colin? I ask. Lad not up to scratch? “Nothing of the kind,” he says, “In fact he’s doing quite OK for a rookie. Out-raced his teammate the last couple of times, what can I say?”
So why push him aside for yet another race, then? Thought you were going to alternate him with Sakomoto? “It’s Sakon,” he says. “Not Sakamoto. Sakon Yamamoto. Bloody disaster if you ask me. Not sure if you noticed but he started in Hockenheim with his pit lane limiter still on. And he dropped out of the race by stalling the engine. Accidentally pulled the fire switch, he says.”
Well then. So why’s Sakomoto still driving?
“You know we’re a poor team, Bernie. Especially now, have to save every penny for the deal with Toyota or else we’ll be driving second hand Dallaras next season. Probably won’t even qualify with those. So we really need the money. And then I get this voicemail.
“It goes, ‘Colin-san! It’s me, Sakon. I have here in my hand a cheque for another two and a half million dollars. Can you confirm you understand that message?‘”
“Bernie,” he says. “Ferrari is innocent. Can you confirm you understand that message?”
Perhaps, I say, but do you understand that there are about 25 others on the World Motor Sport Council?
“Many of them have already been taken care of, Bernie,” he says. “It’s not been cheap, but they understand. Ferrari is acting in a long tradition that started in the old days, with Il Commendatore sending drivers to their deaths from his command post in Maranello. Theirs is not to reason why, theirs is but to do and die. Nowadays we don’t send them to die anymore, but they’re still supposed to do as we say. For sure everybody understands.”
Suddenly things start to fall into place. The sunglasses, the fact that he hardly attends races any more, the oath of undying loyalty he’s had everybody in the scuderia, from the lowliest garage floor sweeper to Stefano Domenicali, swear on an autographed portrait of the old man.
We have a new Enzo in our midst.
Gerhard Berger called me yesterday, said he’d read my post about Mark’s rear-view mirror issues. “Bernie,” he said, the secret of being a successful prankster is thinking out of the box and making the best use of the materials at hand. I have an immediate solution to his problems.”
Making the best use of the materials at hand? When someone like Gerhard says that I’m all ears.
“Do you still have your spies in the parc fermé? I’m sure you do.” No comment, I say. “OK good. So you’ll be receiving a box shortly with new mirrors. I want you to switch them in Hockenheim. It’ll make his day.”
I’m sure they will. Everyone on the grid will want those.