… Especially without the effing Red Bull logo.
Was that a Freudian shunt in Korea, Mark?
I feel sorry for Sebastian about his eleventh hour engine failure, but I’m happy to see a great tradition emerging. Your car’s on fire, you’re the one to douse the flames. F1’s equivalent of the Captain only leaving his ship when nothing can be done any more. Stuff of legends.
I feel personally responsible for this. For years I’ve shown the way by keeping a fireman’s helmet in my office, and extinguishing a proverbial fire or two. Mostly after having started them myself, but that’s a minor detail.
Keep going, lads. Much praise for our courageous drivers, and for the pit wall crews who hand them their blowers.
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.
Called me up in the middle of the night. Bernie, he says, I’m tossing and turning, need to talk to someone. You’re a man of the world, help me out here.
Of course Mark, I say. Anything for my favourite title candidate. What can I do you for?
Bernie, he says, I’m getting paranoid. Take for instance my rear-view mirror. We got new ones in Silverstone, nothing special. But there’s a label that wasn’t there before. I’ll MMS you a pic.
Mark, I say, that’s a very ordinary warning label. Surely you’ve seen those before? He says yes, I know, but why on my car, and why now? Is it a signal? Are they telling me Seb’s the fav, get out of the way when you see him? Are they sneakily messing with my mind?
You’re seeing ghosts, I tell him. Go to sleep. Forget about the likes of Chris Horner and Dr Strangelove. Think of seeing Lewis right above that text in the rear-view. It’ll make you feel a lot better.
Who was clearly on his way to work (see his attire in the picture). Took one look at him, decided I didn’t need to say anything. Good luck at the office, Mark. You’ll need it.
Helmut Marko, sorry: Doctor Helmut Marko, is a bit of a weirdo. In the paddock we call him Dr Strangelove. He got his nickname when someone joked that being whipped by Max Mosley should become a standard FIA punishment, right alongside the drivethrough penalty and five places back on the grid, and Marko immediately said that would not be a practical deterrent for reasons which at this moment must be all too obvious.
It quickly took on, and even Dr Marko himself now plays along. Puts on his suit, the leather glove and the tinted glasses and does the thing where he almost strangles himself. I only wish he took off those bloody headphones once in a while. It’s sign language for “Don’t cross me. I’m someone important in F1.”
I can confirm that last bit. Don’t cross Dr Strangelove. Ever. He’ll strike back according to the trusted old Mutual Assured Destruction doctrine. Called me up the other day, said he’d read my blog post on Mark Webber.
Bernie, he says, do you realise Herr Webber is just an ungrateful little nobody who was doomed to mediocrity until he was lifted to fame by the Great Red Bull Racing team? So I say, well, that’s a bit of a moot point, isn’t it? Right now he’s your number one driver, looks like.
“Yes Bernie, but how did he get there? Which car has permanently had something damaged? Did Mark have the defective spark plug in Bahrain, the loose wheel in Australia, the broken brake disc in Barcelona, the defective chassis in Monte Carlo, the transmission problems in Montreal and now the broken wing at Silverstone, ja?”
That sounds like good old Dr Strangelove alright. Can’t control his strike arm again. Watch your step, Mark. Be paranoid. Be very paranoid.
Bumped into Mark, just after he cleared the air with Horner. So how did it go?
“Well Bernie,” he says, “I made it clear that I didn’t sign up to become Vettel’s wingman. Horner agreed completely, by the way. So that cleared the air. He said, for me you two are exactly alike. So I said, you mean like I’m a dead winger? Tell ya mate, the bloke’s got no sense of humour. He says, Mark, this is a serious subject. Not a time for jokes.
“So I said, no problem Christian, I was just winging it. Just like when I made that ‘number two driver’ remark. No skin off my nose. So to cut a long story short, he promised not to try to clip my wings any more, and I promised not to make any more puns. Good on ya, mate.”
Received your memo, Bernie, he says. All I’ve got to say is I had ab-so-lute-ly nothing to do with this. Those Red Bull bastards acted completely on their own authority. I’ll personally see to it that it won’t happen again. In fact, I’ve just increased the congestion charge for F1 cars by 1000%. Will cost them 80 quid per pitstop now. That’ll keep ’em out.
By the way, while on the subject, a street race in London wouldn’t be a bad idea at all, would it? Great backdrop. Think about it. Ta!
Bernie, he says, this is the bloody limit. First Ferrari, with that little so-called promotional shenanigan of theirs, sneaking in a few Fiorano laps for Alonso the other day.
And now we’ve got those Red Bull buggers, practicing bleedin’ pitstops in Whitehall. Makes you wonder why we still have an in-season test ban at all. Are you going to put a stop to this, or do you need me to do it?
What can I say? Don’t worry, Martin. Won’t happen again. I’m on it.
“Hi mate,” he says. “Heard you were a bit pissed off about our little stunt in Whitehall this morning. Just wanted to let you know, that’s all it was. Didn’t mean to offend anyone. Our PR people call it a viral. You do something funny, have a couple of cameras at the ready, shoot a video, put it on YouTube, and everybody with a desk job starts watching it instead of doing their jobs. Loads of fun!
“Seems McLaren have been doing this lately and everybody loves it. Made our PR people a bit jealous so they wanted to pull a stunt like that too.”
I say, Mark, McLaren had Jenson and Lewis put a chassis back together or slobber around in a warehouse full of cars. That’s indoors, melts people’s hearts and doesn’t bother anybody. Doing pitstops in the middle of London opens a can of worms. People call me with questions, think you’re racing around in streets or something. Can’t have that. All of a sudden everyone and his brother wants a street race and I end up fielding calls at all hours from loser cities who want one too. So please tell the lads to cut it out.
Will do, Bernie, he says. Dontcha worry. Meanwhile our PR flack wants me to read something out to you that’ll take the edge off. Listen up, mate, will ya?
Then he goes, “Ahem. As a team, we practice and perform pit stops in all sorts of conditions around the world but this has been a really unique experience, one I imagine won’t be repeated. We’ve only got a week to go before Silverstone so what better way to practice under pressure than outside the Houses of Parliament.”
I sigh. Mark, I say, listen to me carefully. Don’t give up your day job. You know I value you highly as a driver. Stick to it. And stick to designated circuits. And tell your PR flacks to go and screw someone else.
So this is what happens when the PR journos take over. Thank God it’s Friday.