And what a spectacle it was.
While billions of Covid-ridden punters from all 193 countries in the world were watching riveting moments in Olympism like the trampoline, wall climbing (very popular in Melbourne this week), ping pong, skateboarding, artistic swimming, one-handed weightlifting, live pigeon shooting and underwater dominos, true followers of Pete Coubertin (“some people are born losers; others acquire the knack gradually”), the parent of the modern Olympic Games and who personally won a gold medal for literature at the Summer Olympics for his poem Ode to Sport (a few lines later – wouldn’t eat just before or after you read them) were transfixed by the race to end all races, the miracle at Mogyoród, the heart stopper at The Hungaroring, the biffathon to end all biffathons, last Sunday’s 124 minutes of petrol-powered, testosterone-fuelled competition that left nothing but pain in the cars or bodies of the 13 finishers and seven non-finishers.
Esteban José Jean-Pierre Ocon-Khelfane (Oco to his mates), driving a Renault (What is on pages 4-5 of the Renault user’s manual? The train and bus schedule) beat Hamo and Carlos Sainz Vázquez de Castro by hours. Oco was ably assisted by team person Fernando Alonso Díaz, who kept Hamo and other contenders at bay on the very narrow Hungaroring.
But the real story here is how, just 13 seconds after the start, on a wet track, Val Bottas locked up and took out Lando Norris and Sergio Perez – as well as touching up Maxie’s car, making Max even madder and his car without a floor much like Fred Flintstone’s footmobile – while Lance Stroll joined Botto’s lock-up club and hit Chuck Leclerc, who spun around Daniel Ricciardo, with Bottas, Perez, Norris, Stroll and Leclerc all forced into the Hungaroring retirement home as the race was red flagged.
But wait, it gets weirder.
At the restart there was only one car on the grid. Yes, clearly Merc team boss and co-owner Toto the Wolff had too much Palinka on the Saturday night (F1 is like Australian business, there’s never any conflicts – Toto actually manages Boto and owns 5 per cent of Aston Martin) and decided that, unlike every other car left in the contest, Hamo didn’t need new tyres and so he started on his Pat Malone. Hamo won the start. Of course after that it was all downhill and the world’s best driver did a wonderful lap and came back in for a tyre change as everyone else was coming out. So now he is dead last on a track that’s like Flinders Lane on steroids. Oco leads for 68 laps, Maxie is pedalling his little legs as fast as he can but it’s only good for tenth because the other cars have engines and in the drive of this, or any other century, Hamo takes third to Seb Vettel.
Hold on. Sit down Seb fans. The stewards have called for a swab. Oh no! Aston Martin, the team powered by Merc engines and partly owned by Merc’s Toto, has had their best driver disqualified for too little gas in the tank. Hamo moves up to second and Fezzer’s Carl Sainz is third. So going into little lunch break of the season, Hamo is suddenly eight points ahead of Maxie. In the teams comp, Merc is also eight points ahead of Red Bull Honda with Fezzer and Macca 28 points back.
To other madness: don’t you hate it when you die and your kids blue about who gets your cars?
Pete Bardinon knows your pain. Pete was in the rich family business. He was the sixth to run Chapal, founded in 1832 making rabbit fur schmutter, the family went on to become the Yakka of France making working garments for the French Air Force in the first big one, a jacket for Chuck Lindbergh when he crossed the Atlantic and protective leather gear for racers in the twenties and thirties. Now a pair of Chapal race shoes is a grand and a nice jacket is $10k. Anyway Pete loved cars, built his own racetrack adjacent to the family estate and collected pre-loved Fezzers from ex-race drivers, with 70 in his garagemahal. As Enzo Fezzer always said: “Why should I own a museum of my cars, Pete already has one.”
Anyway, Pete had three anklebiters, two garcons and a fille. He went to the Fezzer factory in the sky in 2012 and by 2018 two of the kids were in court suing brother Pat for betrayal of trust for selling Dad’s 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO for a record $50m to a Taiwanese collector without telling them. Not a bad deal since Dad picked it up for $3k in 1978 and spent another $2k doing it up. Pat says Dad gave him the car in 1978 and: “My sister received payouts from my father her entire life, without ever working, and my brother got money when his businesses weren’t doing well”.
OK, as promised, a verse from Pete Coubertin’s gold medal poem. Once you read it you’ll understand why Pete wrote it under the names Georges Hohrod and M. Eschbach.
“O Sport, you are Beauty! You – the architect of this house, the human body, which may become object of sublime according as to whether it is defiled by base passions or cherished with wholesome endeavour. There can be no beauty without poise and proportion, and you are the incomparable master of both, for you create harmony, you fill movement with rhythm, you make strength gracious, and you lend power to supple things.”
Yes you’re right. The Sultan, the official Nude Royal Portrait Painter and BMW service artiste, Michael McMichael is lobbying for a return to the arts category at Paris 2024.