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.
… Or actually, visited for the first time. By my good friend Karun Chandhok, who’s going to do a demo run for Red Bull on the brand new circuit. A little while ago I voiced some worries whether anybody would be able to find the place, as it sits in a remote region of a remote peninsula in a remote part of Asia.
Unfortunately I have no idea how difficult is really is to go there, as I always use my private jet for these things. So Karun and I agreed he’d send out a blow-by-blow report of his trip via Twitter, the new medium that lets the whole world look over your shoulder.
This confirms my worst suspicions. I wonder how many people will to go to this amount of trouble – 26 miserable hours of trains, planes, automobiles, many of these spent lost in translations.
This means that the only thing between racing for empty grandstands and something resembling a real Grand Prix is a massive number of Koreans.
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?‘”
Rumours are swelling that poor Karun Chandhok, bless his soul, may lose his seat in the financially challenged HRT team. That would be a pity. Karun’s a fine lad, and besides, F1 has already too many Chiefs and too few Indians. (Verry funny – ed.)
Worse even, his potential replacement might be a Dutchman. Not that I have anything against Dutch drivers, mind. It’s the fans. The Dutch soccer team just kicked the Brazilians out of the World Championship and this is what you then have to deal with. Argh.
People, meet Ron Walker, paragon of Australian tourism. Ron’s found the perfect way to motivate the entire F1 circus to keep coming back to Australia, despite the increasingly crowded racing calendar: insult the drivers.
According to Mr Genius Walker, our fine lads who risk their lives on the world’s circuits on a weekly basis are “a bunch of lazy people who won’t do anything to help the sport, except for two or three.” The expression ‘prima donnas’ was also heard. The reason for all this? They’re afraid of the dark.
Ron’s remarks come in a fine tradition of Australian Tourism advertising by way of insulting large masses of people. Which is strange, considering they should know by now that it does the opposite of what it’s supposed to do.
Keep going Ron, you’re doing fine. Meanwhile, here’s a suggestion in case you’ll be queried later about the two or three exceptions. Be sure to exclude: