“Bernie,” he bawls into the phone. Flav has never made the transition to modern technology and still thinks that being on a mobile connection is a reason to shout. “Are you all right?”
Fine, I say, just a black eye and a dent in my self esteem. Seen worse.
“And how’s the lovely Fabiana?” Well, a bit worse for wear. It was quite traumatic for her, what with her earrings being ripped off her ears and all.
“Yes, I heard that! As I said to my bella Elisabeta when I heard the news, it’s a terrible thing to have happen when you’re with your girlfriend. Almost as bad as bumping into your wife!”
I see. What did she say?
“Nothing! She just whacked me over the head and ran off to the nearest jeweller to buy a diamond necklace. It’s how most of our conversations end.”
I can see that, Flavio. May you have a long and happy marriage and never run out of money to buy diamond necklaces.
“Why Bernie, that’s the nicest thing someone’s said to me in all my life! Mamma mia! I truly, sincerely hope that you and la bella Fabiana get over this verry soon. If you need one my villas, just say the word. Any time you like, as long as you like!”
Never say a wrong word about Flavio. He’s a true friend.
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?
Sounded like he was at some tennis tournament. I’m sorry but I can’t get out! He shouted into the phone.
I said, sorry Flavio but what do you mean? He says I’ve been cleared, Bernie, so naturally I was going to join you at the Grand Prix. Celebrate! Have a little fun in Xin Tian Di, no? Get some girls, go paint the town, give all these imbeciles that now run F1 the finger! But I’m in Monaco and I can’t get out! Do you know how boring it is to see Nadal crushing everything he sees at the other side of the net? It’s almost like the bad old days, watching by how many laps Schumacher would win this time.
I’m bored, Bernie. Bored! But every flight’s been cancelled and they’ve run out of private jets, too!
I’m starting to say that his ban is lifted as per 2013 so it might be wise to stay a little low until then, but decide against it for now.
Thank you, Iceland.
In the end I didn’t have to do anything. Jean called, said ‘Bernie, run that Briatore thing by me again, please.’
I said why, we discussed it not so long ago and I remember twelve gauge shotguns came up in conversation. Are you getting bored?
Jean Todt's softer side, with a bit of red in the background
He says no, but I’ve been thinking. Flavio’s suing, Symonds’s suing, we’re suing and revising our procedures to get their bans reinforced, this whole sorry mess will stay on the cards and who knows? Maybe one day the shit will fly as far as Alonso again. That’s not in the interest of
I said, no it isn’t and by the way, did I hear you say Ferrari? He says, no I corrected myself, FIA, Ferrari, all sounds the same. You probably misheard.
I said I probably did. And you’re right, in the end it’s all the same anyway because what would F1 be without some red at the front of the field?
So here’s what you do: Continue reading
He wants back in. Seems after two exciting races Mr I’m-a-Buffoon-So-What? has come to the conclusion that F1 has become interesting enough for his personal involvement again. Says he’s getting fat and flabby and he needs some exercise. I tell him I’ve no idea what he means. He’s been fat and flabby as long as I can remember. He says yes, but it’s getting worse. Elisabetta’s started to complain. ‘Personally I think look good, but, you know, women…’
Word of advice, Flavio, I said. You and I go back quite a long time, and you know I’ll personally support any comeback you get into your thick head. But with that in mind I aired the idea a couple of days ago, with the same result as airing one of those deeply satisfying farts after one of your giant Italian business lunches. Makes you feel good but sends everybody else running for the trenches.
Listen, I know you don’t care a single bit for what the rest of the world thinks. But I had a quick word about you with Jean Todt and the thought alone makes him reach for a twelve gauge shotgun. ‘Flavio must be punished,’ he keeps saying. Sounds a bit like Max, maybe, but he means it. Keeping F1 Briatore-free seems to be part of the job description at FIA these days. Do me a favour, Flavio, and stay out of his sights for a while.
Flavio sighed and said yes Bernie, I’ll think it over, and rang off.
I know better. Thinking is not his strong suit. Mark my words, we haven’t heard the last of this.
… For defamation. Excuse me? How do you defame someone who’s deliberately crashed an F1 car in order to fix a race? Good luck with that one. Losers.
One thing is certain. The Piquet pair won’t have any trouble proving reputation damage: it seems the only series that would accept young Nelsinho was NASCAR Pick-up Trucks. Pick-up trucks? Would these include overhead shot gun racks? Truck antlers, perhaps? Tells me once more that Americans are capable of anything. The land where reality beats fiction.
That was predictable. Just after Flavio rang off, Max calls. It sounds hollow, like there’s a bit of an echo.
“Max, I hope you’re not calling from your dungeon again?” I ask. He knows I hate it when he does that. Every man is entitled to his own funny stuff, I always say, just as long as they don’t bother me with it. I find the thought of Max phoning me wearing only a leather harness and a whip in his hands slightly disconcerting, to say the least.