Sunday, May 25, 2014
Well, well, well... what dramas we are having in Monaco, As you may have seen on television there are accusations from Lewis Hamilton that his fastest lap was deliberately sabotaged by team mate Nico Rosberg. Tut tut.
Great for TV, great for F1, we haven't had such aggro since the halcyon days of Senna and Prost. Love it!
Briefly, with just a minute to go in final qualifying Rosberg "accidentally" locked up and went off the track at the only place where you could do that without doing any damage to the car. Still, out came the yellow flags, everyone lifted off in case there was a crash and the outcome: Hamilton's lap was compromised and he is livid. I will deal with it the way Senna did he muttered ominously. As for the rest, well, Red Bull are doing better with Ricciardo in third and Vettel in 4th and our boys are not far behind with Alonso's lap in a not particularly good Ferrari. don't miss the start whatever you do.
Friday, May 23, 2014
You never quite know who you will bump into in the middle of the Monaco Grand Prix. As I've mentioned the other evening it was Keke Rosberg with his wife and Jonathan Palmer, another former racing driver, introduced me to his son Jolyon. Look out for the yellow car in the GP2 race, he is the favorite. Sure enough this morning he ran away to a comfortable victory.
There were three yellow flags and some great accidents. Let me be clear. I am taking about the cars getting damaged and the drivers walking away. This being Monaco some of the tangles were slow and spectacular. The injuries were to the egos and the carbon fibre. Jolyon is tipped for a Formula One seat next year, on the evidence I've seen it makes sense. The rest of Friday is spent at various parties and receptions. All the sponsors are here from all over the world, this is one race wives are happy to attend as the glamour and the shopping opportunities are second to none. McLaren are having a bit of a tough time at the moment, not quick on the circuit and not quick in the sponsorship stakes. For years they've had major names such as Vodafone, no more. To add insult to injury this year their amazing huge motorhome which is like an entertainment center has been relegated. Ever since I can remember it was always Bernie's control complex first, McLaren second, Ferrari third and so on.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
There is something very unfair about practice sessions in Formula One. Here we are Thursday afternoon with tens of thousands of people in the grand stands and there isn’t one car on the track for 40 minutes. The reason – the track was a little bit wet. Now I can understand that the teams don’t wish to risk their precious race cars unnecessarily but what about the paying public? If you go to the circus and nothing happens for 40 minutes you demand your money back. Here you just sit and wait. Pathetic. Finally team Toro Rosso decided to brave the elements, with 45 minutes to go we were still waiting for the rest. This is the first time this year that I’ve been able to hear the engines first hand and I am afraid they do sound absolutely awful. Lawn mowers make a better sound! Still, I can only report on what is happening and not on what I would like to happen. 50 minutes into the afternoon session there are now five cars going around which seems logical to me because the race might be held under wet conditions and then this would be useful to the drivers and the mechanics.
Last night was a lot more interesting, had dinner at a place called Pulcinella. Interesting crowd, Keke Rosberg was at the next table with his wife, cool as a cucumber. Two tables from him sat Herbie Blash, someone you would all know – he is the grey haired gentlemen who ushers the drivers from their cars to the weighing machine.
Stay tuned for more.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
With no disrespect to that great American President JFK, there are millions of people in this World who often ask each other-where were you on 1st May 1994. To which of course we all know the answer. Either in front of a television set or at the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola. For my part I was commentating off-tube, meaning that I was in front of a monitor seeing what everyone was seeing except for one thing. I had excess to the BBC as well as Sky so when the BBC moved away from the scene of the tragedy to show the pitlane I was able to witness Ayrton’s last moments. As five times champion Juan Manuel Fangio said as he was watching in Argentina “as soon as I saw his head move I knew it was over. I switched off my set”. If you are young and don’t know what all this is about get on the internet and watch some Senna footage. I would recommend the European Grand Prix of 1993. Or any other race featuring him for that matter. Then you will understand why tens of thousands of people are making the pilgrimage to his shrine in Imola 20 years after his passing. Alonso, Raikkonen, just about everyone.
I first saw him drive in Monaco, back in 1984 in a humble Toleman racing car. He was up against all the big names-Lauda, Prost, Nigel Mansell, Keke Rosberg, Rene Arnoux. It was raining cats and dogs but as the race went on Sienna worked his way up to second place and rapidly catching Prost. Much to his disgust the race was stopped on lap 31. The British commentating team of Murray Walker and former World Champion James Hunt had a few choice words concerning the decision . It is debated to this day. A star was born there and then. His mastery in the rain became legendary over the years. The awful thing is that his fatal accident just like Michael Schumacher’s near fatal in the Alps it was a million to one chance. His lasting memory apart from all the “reels” of his victories the accident and that of Ratzenberger the day before resulted in a massive safety campaign led by FIA President Max Mosley and Prof. Sid Watkins. Mercifully we haven’t had a fatality in F1 since. My cherished memory is the interview I conducted on behalf of Hungarian TV at the world famous Gundel restaurant in Budapest the Saturday evening before the race. It was a rare exclusive. One on one-unheard of with Ayrton and I have to thank Marlboro for arranging it.
He was happy, relaxed and much in love. I didn’t know until recently that the interview was also secretly recorded by a waiter! Over 3000 people have viewed it on YouTube, just tap in Senna in Budapest 1993.
For many enthusiasts and almost all his fellow racing drivers he is regarded as the greatest ever. The way he drove, the determination, the way he wore his belief in God on his sleeve, the joy he gave to his adoring fans, hard to define but easy to see . Racing drivers come and go but Ayrton will be with us forever.