Ran into Colin Kolles th’other day. “How’s Sakamoto? Still on the trots?”
No, Colin said, he never had them. And it’s Yamamoto. Sakon Yamamoto. Not Sakamoto. Can’t you get that right for once? And about those trots, tell you the truth, he just hadn’t paid the bill for the Singapore race seat, so I had a perfect excuse for putting a real driver out on the track. You have no idea how quickly I phoned Christian Klien after checking the bank account. The food poisoning was just an excuse to save his face. Which he also screwed up, by the way, by appearing in the paddock to watch the race.
So of course I’m trying to act surprised. “Blimey, so Montezuma’s revenge was really Mastercard’s revenge? I’m shocked. And stunned. Matter of fact, shocked and stunned. What’s the world coming to, these days?”
Stop kidding around, Bernie, he says. You knew this all along. I really wish you’d stop making jokes in public about it, by the way. Doesn’t do our reputation as a serious Formula One team a whole lot of good. And besides, we’ve taken care of the issue, so it won’t happen again. He’ll be back in the car in Japan.
Taken care of it? How?
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.