Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Frankly Frankl - The Great Ferrari conspiracy. NOT! - Frankly Frankl-life, luck, love and automobiles

Image result for toto and niki british gp

I have never heard as much drivel as the nonsense Toto and Niki were muttering after Lewis came second in the British Grand Prix. They assumed that the hugely popular Hamilton would  win his home race for an unprecedented 6th time. It certainly looked like as they lined up with Lewis in pole position after a stunning qualifying lap. But as we all know qualifying is one thing, Sunday afternoon is a different matter.

As we all witnessed Hamilton got too much wheel spin and before he got going Vettel was already pulling away from second on the grid. Enters a devious plot cooked up in the kitchens of Ristorante Montana-the Scuderia’s favorite watering hole in Maranello. Kimi-said owner Maurizio- you will hit Lewis and put him into a 360 degree spin without damaging your own car.

Piece of cake really. Pathetic in other words and definitely not worthy of three times World Champion and old mate Lauda. I have seen him crash into Clay Regazzoni-his own team mate many years ago and over the years there have been ding-dongs with other drivers as well, that is the nature of the sport. Think Prost and Senna.

As for Toto his problem is that he thinks the Austrian Empire is still around. He really is full of it.

Next time I see him I will point out that his beloved Empire collapsed exactly 100 years ago. Humility is not a word he is familiar with. Posing for the cameras and banging a table or play acting about what is happening on the track is something he should have left behind in kindergarten. Maybe one day.

In the meantime all sorts of fun things are happening here on the West Coast. I have just returned from a talk I gave at the Peterson Museum to the Southwest Region of the Ferrari Club of America. Led by the energetic and enterprising Jim Bindman the members never seem to stop. One day they are off to Edwards AFB in the Mohave desert, next time it is Vanderberg AFB. We had  a full house for the event which started with pictures of my children-Nicholas and Annabelle. Nicholas was in the pits at Silverstone carried by Maria Helena Fittipaldi-wife of Emerson while Annabelle is on a police horse at Zandvoort just before the Dutch GP. This gave an indication as to how long we have been associated with motor racing bearing in mind that they will be 47 years old in a few days time. The talk included stories about the very first GP back in 1906, Cannonball ’79 and lots of Ferrari stories of course including my recent trip to the factory and my impressions of the new Portofino. It is very nice and as my regular drive is a normally aspirated California the only bit I was truly jealous of was the repositioned horn. Back in the middle of the steering wheel where it belongs. I am somewhat concerned about the ever-increasing production numbers, hopefully quality will not suffer. I certainly did not enjoy seeing

Lewis Hamilton’s brand new LaFerrari Aperta on the back of a tow-truck outside Nobu, that well-known watering hole of Hollywood celebs in Malibu.

Image result for lewis hamilton laferrari on tow truck

The Portofino I had for a day was just fine, especially as it had company. For the first time in years we’ve persuaded daughter -and ace driver-Annabelle to join us for  our annual visit to Modena, Maranello and Sant’Agata. Maserati, Ferrari and Lamborghini-some family trip.

The  owners  of  the restaurant at the top of the legendary Futa Pass came out to greet us just like last year.  Wonderful people and huge car enthusiasts.

Of the three I would definitely pick the Portofino but truth be told the other two were also fun.
The Lambo is too much like a bull, bit too raw for me, you really have watch what you are doing.
Especially at 140mph. The Maserati is the sort of very elegant car well to do ladies would drive up to the Monte Carlo Golf Club. White leather, stunning. Don’t get me wrong-it also goes like smoke but I enjoyed driving it slowly on the very narrow roads up to the Club. It is the sort of car in which you can turn up anywhere and nobody will ask for your membership card..

But back in Marin it is all hands on deck to get my second, updated edition of Frankly Frankl
ready for the US Grand Prix in Austin. I will let you know where it will be available and  I will of course be on hand to dedicate each and every copy. Price remains the same at 44.95. Print run is the same-499 copies . All sold years ago.

If you would like to reserve a copy  without any obligation whatsoever drop me a note at
andrewfrankl@me.com and a dedicated copy will be yours.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Frankly Frankl - From Monaco Qualifying Day - Frankly Frankl-life, luck, love and automobiles

Many of you will have seen Daniel Ricciardo clinch pole position for today’s Monaco Grand Prix. This was expected. What we did not expect was that his team mate Max Verstappen would stuff the Red Bull into the barrier two hours before qualifying. The British lads who work for the team are probably the finest in the World but even they could not repair Max’s car in time. Of course Max’s loss is our gain, starting from last he will have to produce  a miracle to get on the podium.

F1 is full of young, hungry drivers such Leclerc and Ocon and they will be fighting their own race so letting Max pass is the last thing on their minds.

The start will be interesting because as you all know the first corner at St Devote has been tricky at the best of times so with three tigers from three different teams-Ricciardo, Vettel and Hamilton one of them could exit after a few hundred yards and seek solace as St Devote is under normal circumstances a beautiful church.

Monaco is not completely full, probably because it is very expensive to be here unless you are a sponsor or a sponsor’s guest. Or get a special rate at a hotel after 35 years  such as your reporter.

The new owners are trying very hard and I must say that their TV coverage, especially the instant replays are quite brilliant.
Would go as far as to say that unless you have plans before and after the Monaco GP-maybe a trip to the Ferrari factory- staying at home with a cold beer is a lot less hassle. And free.

So far there have been three highlights for me. One, the sight of Keke Rosberg in his championship winning Williams from 1982 alongside his son Nico in his winning Mercedes from 2016. To the best of my knowledge this is a first and it was quite magnificent. 
I know  that both Hills-Graham and Damon were also World Champions but unfortunately Graham was not alive when Damon clinched the title.

Image result for rosberg cars at monaco

My other highlight was of course my annual visit to the Monte Carlo Country Club for a game of tennis. Has to be the most beautiful  location anywhere in the World.

I have been driving a Maserati for the last few days and the trip to the Monte Carlo golf club was very special indeed. Just to walk  a few holes with playing friends. Stunning location with the first 9 overlooking the Med And the second the mountains. It is of course inside France, Monaco are just leasing it. Don’t blame them. In case you do decide to  fly over next year and you are a golfer don’t miss it just make sure you reserve in advance. The course is special, the ambiance is unique and it is just half an hour from Monaco.
So enjoy the race tomorrow, this is THE one everybody wants to win because of the tremendous world-wide interest. Baku? Bahrain? Hands up all those who could name the winners.

Image result for monte carlo golf club

Don’t miss the start or if you are in California at least make sure the alarm clock is set.

Andrew Frankl
GP Editor-FORZA    

STOP PRESS! Anderson Cooper is here for 60 minutes. Logic dictates that he is here for a reason…Frankly Frankl

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Frankly Frankl - From Monaco Day One - Frankly Frankl-life, luck, love and automobiles

I may have been coming here for 53 or so years the first sight of the blue Med its as special today as it was back in 1966.

I  am writing this before first practice and the place is eerily quiet. For now. Tuesday evening we had the traditional football -soccer-game between Prince Albert’s 11 versus a motley collection of F1 drivers past and present. As most of them live here  it wasn’t too difficult to put a team together. Old friend Mika Hakkinen, Felipe Massa, Nico Rosberg drove to the stadium in his race vintage Mercedes while others preferred their trusted scooters, for many just about the only way to get around town. Or what’s left of it. Every year there is a skyscraper missing only to reappear two years later taller and vastly more expensive.  I just feel sorry for the people who bought apartments  in  the one behind..years ago they were assured that nothing would ever block  their views. Well, not that sorry but you know what I mean.

That is not all. Monaco is expanding because they can only build so many skyscrapers so the next step as you can see from the enclosed picture is building outwards into the Med.  I am told that one day the racetrack itself might look different but I will report back on that as soon as I know more details.

As far as the race is concerned there is a lot of hype  concerning local boy Charles Leclerc. I’ve asked him how much he knows about the track, has he been around it? Oh, frequently he said, on the Number 6 bus. The number 6 is also my favorite, stops outside the hotel and takes you into town is a few minutes. And of course it is virtually free, there one thing Monaco can’t do is to double or treble bus prices. Everything else.. well will start tomorrow when suddenly the 10 euro menus will suddenly become 15 or 20. For those arriving from abroad the only thing to do is forget how much a coffee would have cost in New York or San Francisco, the quickest way to ruin the weekend is to start figuring it out. Frightening.

I came across a very interesting cast iron statue of my hero Ayrton Senna. Stunning.

Before you think that Monaco is one non- stop party, well, it may be for others. I am busy updating my book “Frankly Frankl which will publish just before the US GP in Austin.

I’ ve had a surprisingly large number of orders from people who’ve missed out on the first one.

In case this is the first time you’ve heard of it the price will be the same at 44.95 dollars and the book will be full of new stories about F1 greats such as Colin Chapman, Dan Gurney, more Cannonball pics and exclusive pictures from ace photographer Mark Sutton.

Print run 499 copies. 

Must go now, the Ferrari team are staying at the same hotel and the PR supremo just invited  me for an espresso.

Andrew Frankl

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Frankly Frankl - Grid Girls and Jackie Ickx - Frankly Frankl-life, luck, love and automobiles

My apologies for the long absence but things have been pretty hectic of late.

Still, I had to find time for Liberty Media’s latest brainwave or should I say brain fade with children taking the place of ladies who were under professional management, have never been harmed and had the times of their lives. One in particular recalled being near Kimi Raikkonen on the gird as one of the happiest days of her life. These ladies-aged from 18 to 36 –were supervised by an mature lady acting  i like a matron so it was so far above board it isn’t even funny.  They were also wearing a great deal more than some college students on Spring break..

Image result for formula 1 grid girlsWith Liberty being an American public company the bosses are terrified of their own shadows so to be on the safe and I dare say pathetic side they’ve decided to use children in the future. How they will select these little Johnnies and Jennifers God only knows but Jean Todt –a former tiger leading the Scuderia turned into a pussycat. I won’t go into the halo which really is for pansies but would respectfully suggest that apart from  one tragedy (hate to say this but it was the driver’s fault and it was a 1000 to one accident) in the last few years F1 has been the safest sport this side of chess. If you don’t believe me check on Google how many  legs or arms were broken during the 2017 season and then compare it to skiing or American football or motorcycle racing. So mostly boring drivers hidden in their carbon fiber bubbles driving around like school kids ‘cos they can’t get hurt is unlikely to get fans spending thousands of dollars for the “spectacle”.

Liberty should thank their lucky stars for Lewis Hamilton and  Verstappen plus up to a point much loved but ageing Raikkonen and what have you got ? Yawn a minute Bottas or thrill a minute Stroll?! If Merc and Ferrari were to quit you would be left with Sauber-is that a Swiss watch?- Toro Rosso-something to do with bullfighting? Or Haas. Haas what ? I think there will be a time soon when the cry will go up-come back Bernie, all is forgiven.
Last word on the pit lane kindergarten. Small children might be ok to hold hands with Messi  and the rest of the  Barcelona soccer team walking on to the field but there are no mechanics running around, no hot engine, no last minute adjustments. Clearly these kids would have to have someone with them who no doubt would want to pester drivers for their autographs a minute before the start. It will be a huge success I am sure especially with Alonso !

Image result for jacky ickx

On a much happier note I am delighted that my old chum Jacky Ickx was honored in Monaco as one of the Sports Legends of the World. A huge family friend, he predicted our twins . A great Ferrari driver , a great endurance driver and altogether a wonderful guy. Michele Mouton was also honored, her exploits in an Audi Quattro are legendary. Armin Zoggeler was Olympic  champion in the luge- and of you think F1 is dangerous just look him up on YouTube.)

And finally one of our neighbors had a visitor from Manchester. England. (This will also appear in Forza)
But for those who are not subscribers just a word about his reaction to the thought of a Ferrari badged Tesla. I cannot repeat his words but he was mortified.

On the other hand we both agreed that a naturally aspirated V12 with skis, kids and all the paraphernalia zapping up to Squaw or Alta would not be such a terrible thing. After all the FF is not exactly a two seater sports car any more than the Lusso is.

As long as they leave that V12 well alone!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Frankly Frankl - Monaco Musings! - Frankly Frankl-life, luck, love and automobiles

Monaco musings

One way or another it has been quite a fortnight to remember. San Francisco-London-Nice and on to the Beach Plaza Hotel in Monaco  for the 33rd consecutive time. Same room, same view, same staff, wonderful. It is of course a complete madhouse during Grand Prix week but I still would not miss it for the World.  This was my 52nd consecutive trip. At the beginning of the week I always use the much loved number 6 bus to get around the Principality.  After Wednesday once practice starts the whole place comes to a standstill apart from the action on the track. We all  know the result of course, simply perfect for Scuderia Ferrari. There was some arguments about whether Kimi should have won but with great respect Vettel was quicker and even though nobody says it he is the Number One driver. Will Ferrari keep Raikkonen? I have my doubts but it is early days yet.

Off the track the action was pretty fast and furious as well. There were parties galore on boats, discos, even on the beach. Of course the perfect weather helped as well.

My only problem was lack of transport. For the past12 years or so we have been flying to Modena to collect a new Maserati which we then drove at a nice, steady 75 miles per hour to Monaco. This of course is  a total lie as speeding tickets have been arriving from the factory with monotonous regularity. At any rate this year we just couldn’t get there. Hail savior Randy Steyer who undertook the thankless task of driving the car all the way from Modena having just visited the Ferrari factory a stone throw away in Maranello. Although both he and his good friend John vehemently deny it I have a funny feeling that they might have had a quick dash round the circuit before getting to the hotel.

Funniest thing is that when Randy and Co arrived at the Beach Plaza they were treated to a cry of “ but it is the wrong color! “ The ever helpful bell captains got so used to a metallic bronze  over the years that a deep metallic red took them by surprise.  In Marin I normally get a Maserati Ghibli as a loan car while my Ferrari is getting serviced so I was familiar with it.

Having said that I did not expect 404 horsepower from the top of the range S 4Q which never missed a beat. I found the instrumentation excellent, quite frankly better than in Ferrari’s new Lusso which was the next car we were going to drive. There are just two things I would complain about in the Maser. Buckling up the safety belts is difficult and changing from P to D or P to R invariably ends up in neutral which is  particularly embarrassing when one is trying to make a three point turn. I have to admit to a tricky moment. Randy and John rented a beautiful villa  in the hills above Beausoleil in France. 

As we stood outside my hotel I did the right thing asking if they would like a lift. Yes please was the answer and we were off. Either the Maser is wide or the streets are narrow but it was quite a hairy trip. I should add that it was pitch black. Anyway, the good news is that we arrived safe and sound. Enjoying the wonderful fresh air you certainly do not find in Monaco it suddenly dawned on me that in the great excitement I left my hotel without any ID, passport or even a cell phone. Had I been stopped-after all it was late and my car had a foreign (Italian) plate the consequences would have been too horrible to contemplate. To cut a long story short I got back and immediately texted Randy who too was somewhat concerned.

It is always wonderful to see  the ever-helpful PR team at Maserati after one more perfect trip.  The engine never missed a beat and the trunk swallowed all the luggage. I cannot think of a more pleasant highway cruiser in Europe or for that matter across the United States.

The navigation system was excellent,  I would not have been able to get down the hill from Beausoleil.

At the risk of getting into trouble in Maranello  the 400 thousand dollar  (luggage included) Ferrari GTC4Lusso is less comfortable for 4 people. Regardless of whether it is a Ferrari or an Aston or any other fast 4 seater automobile with 2 doors  climbing into the back has to be problematical. Once you are in the back of the Lusso it is like being in a gentlemen’s club. The children would certainly love the specially designed Ferrari baby seats, would love to see their faces as Daddy or Mummy rockets down the autostrada at 140 miles per hour.  Have a funny feeling with the exceptional brakes the odd pacifier or two might just fly straight on to the dashboard. Getting to 140 in a genuine 4 seater is the domain of relatively few, the 0-62 mph figure is a stunning 3.4 seconds! I have been fortunate to know Ferrari’s legendary  V12 engine for quite some time. 550, 575, 599,  F12,  FF and now the Lusso. When I look at this list I suddenly realize just how lucky I am!

The best bit of the trip was that my son Nicholas- a pretty decent driver-could not get away from me in Lamborghini’s latest Huracan cabrio. The 514lb-ft torque enable me to keep up on the twisties all the way up to Passo della Futa which sits  at 903 meters. Glorious place. Glorious fun. More of the same next year I hope!