You bet they are.
Look, I know that F1 would not be the same without a Monaco Grand Prix. Which is relevant if you’re sentimental. I ask you, my dear friends: do I look like a sentimental person?
Think about my position for a moment. I’m sitting on a franchise worth a couple of billion dollars. That sounds great (and believe me it is) but a money mountain like that attracts a lot of greedy people. In increasing order of greed we’re talking about the likes of the FIA (bunch of paupers), the F1 teams, a swarm of
locusts private equity capitalists and, last but not least, my beloved ex-wife, who needs to pay the upkeep for the most expensive private jet on the market.
And they all want more. The only reason I can survive this mayhem is by asking more money from race organisers. Is that so unreasonable?
Not if you consider that developing countries like Russia, India and Texas are prepared to shell out tens of millions of dollars for the privilege to host a Grand Prix. So why would I give a giant discount to a bunch of rich people occupying the hottest real estate on France’s Mediterranean coast?
In the end it all comes down to negotiation skills. Which is why I always mention one race in public when I really want to put pressure on another.
Dear burghers of Monaco, I’ve said it before and it goes for your lot too: if you think you’ve got me by the balls, your hands aren’t big enough.“
… And what a ride it was. Sorry my friends for not having posted this weekend but I’ve been on what the Americans call a sentimental journey.
Last Saturday marked two significant events in F1 history: it was 60 years ago that the Monaco Grand Prix was included in the F1 Championship; and that very race was Ferrari’s entry into F1. There were no fewer than four 125F1s in that race, two run by Enzo’s Scuderia, and two by private drivers. Alfa Romeo won, but Alberto Ascari’s Scuderia car grabbed a podium with second place.
Of the three legends in F1 (Monaco, Ferrari and me) two were born that day. I was still practicing at Brands Hatch at the time, racing Cooper F3 cars with 500cc motorcycle engines. Those were the days, my friend. You just bought an engine and some tyres, stuck ’em on a Cooper chassis and Bob’s your uncle – you’re in the racing business. No wind tunnels or specially milled parts, no carbon fiber and no expensive engineers. Couple of hundred quid was enough to get you going.
Anyway, thank God those days are over. F1 is big business and there are more billions to be made. Don’t just sit there, be good boys and girls and swiftly go buy a ticket or wash your hair with Head&Shoulders.
If you wanted proof that hunting season on Michael Schumacher is officially open for not only journos but everybody else as well, Monaco was the place for you last weekend. Let’s leave the discussion aside about how stiff the penalty should’ve been for overtaking Alonso. I mean let’s face it, the rule wasn’t exactly a monument of clarity and they could’ve exercised a tiny bit more restraint in punishing Michael.
But the really telling bit is the speed and eagerness with which the stewards dropped everything when they spotted Michael’s manoeuvre. At least according to one of them, Paul Gutjahr, that’s the reason Barrichello got away with tossing his steering wheel under an HRT after getting stuck in the middle of the track.
According to Gutjahr, Barrichello’s little lapse was definitely on the radar but, and I quote, ‘it simply fell off the agenda in the “hectic rush” to sort out Michael.’
I really don’t want to be the one who’s rushing to Michael’s defence all the time, but seriously, let’s give the lad a break, won’t we?
Sad, very sad.
The greatest race in the world. Twenty-four drivers, each and every one a celebrity. The most powerful race cars known to man. Half the planet’s jet setters, all gathered on a couple of hundred square meters. Royalty, movie stars, what have you. Speed. Danger. Victory. Drama.
And what do the bloody journos think they need to write about? Me having lunch with Flavio. Which is then conveniently branded as ‘making his return to the Formula One circuit.’ Well done, Guardian. What’s next? When the new Government announce their next budget, you’ll ignore it and just report on what Cameron had for breakfast that day? When BP’s oil wells need plugging, write about the company’s bosses having constipation?
Listen, journos. Flavio’s lifetime ban has been lifted. And in case you hadn’t noticed, he’s not exactly your proverbial shrinking violet. (Seen here showering in public. OK, so maybe he is having too many lunches.) So he’s coming back, and I’m the last person to stop him.
As Flavio would say: capisce?
… so I thought I’d stir things up a bit. Told the ladies and gentlemen of the press that we might lose a rookie team or two before the end of the season. And guess whose team sits firmly at the bottom of the rankings?
It only took a few minutes. Instead of my favourite Ennio Morricone soundtrack my phone belches out orgasm sounds. Note to self: ask Fabiana to change the ringtone for Richard Branson – it was a nice joke for a while, but when it happens in company you always have explaining to do.
Hello Richard, I say, what can I do for you? Sir Swinging Dick is not amused. How could you do that? he shouts. Everybody and his mate is calling me and I have to keep telling people that we’re in it for the long run. Which means at least for the next month in Branson’s case, but I decide not to mention that.
Well, I say, you could start with getting your cars to the finish line. I mean, isn’t that what racing is all about? To drive your way back to the paddock, rather than walk? Continue reading
Don’t blame him, his dream had just come true. He didn’t just win a Grand Prix, he won Monaco.
Not bad for a Canberra Milk Kid.
I know, my friends, it’s been a while. Busy at work, renegotiating the Shanghai GP, defending The Neck against the bloodthirsty pack of media hounds, and battling it out with New Jersey politicians. These blokes fight without gloves, I can tell you! But they haven’t been up against Bernie yet, so watch this space.
Meanwhile, who can stay indoors when Monaco is about to happen? See you all at the One Race To Rule Them All, as they say in New Zealand.