No better description of F1 than this from Thrillist.com.au: “Most of (reality TV) shows are actual trash, leaving you feeling empty and listless on your couch. But a rare few have mastered the art of trashy reality TV, which is no easy feat.
“Trashy, in this case, is a term of endearment, a qualifier for shows that capture the raw human emotion that makes compelling viewing, without demanding all your brainpower to decipher plot, motivation, or fan theories. (F1) which is currently airing, has elevated trash to an art, and will satisfy you in the best-worst way possible.”
So, let’s do a catch-up on the story so far ahead of the Belgium Grand Prix (waffle eater jokes to follow) in 14 sleeps. On Tuesday the croissant eating team, Alpine, formerly known as the Renault F1 team (whose CEO was arrested in Japan and was smuggled in a briefcase to Lebanon … and you thought Mission Impossible was far -fetched) told the world that, “after four years as part of the Renault and Alpine family, reserve driver Oscar Piastri is promoted to a race seat alongside Esteban Ocon starting from 2023.”
Now the croissant-eating, CEO-in-a-suitcase team is in a spot of bother. Up until Tuesday it had two drivers for its two race cars: Ocon and Ferdy Alonso. In the space of one press release and one tweet, it lost two drivers, Ferdy and Oscar.
If you follow my logic, that leaves Team Croissant/CEO in a suitcase with two expensive cars and one moderately expensive driver.
The croissant-eating /suitcase-stuffing Alpinists got too clever. While there are about one million hopeful F1 drivers, there are very few who either have the money or a rich parent to buy their way in or have the experience and skill to be a reliable team member, or both. Ferdy fits into the old and skilful category. But with a seniors’ card in the back pocket, he was quite rightly anxious about his future. So, before the Hungarian GP, Ferdy gave his team a nudge by telling reporters: “I would like to stay here but there are two parties and I will not put a gun to the head of anyone.” Croissant/suitcase team boss Otmar Szafnauer didn’t get the hint.
This is when the whole thing turned to merde.
More than a month ago, Aston Martin team owner Lawrence Stroll got the resignation letter from its driver, Sebastian Vettel. Seb, 35, decided to take a voluntary redundancy, top up his super and retire to his smallish chateau in Thurgovia, Gnomeland. Stroll told Seb to keep mum, dad or other about this while he headhunted Ferdy. Ferdy grabbed the offer with both hands and, on the Saturday night in Hungary, he told the world about his new drive.
“Crikey” said croissant/suitcase boss Otmar, “that’s a bit rough, we didn’t expect that.”
OK. At the time of writing, we all think Oscar is going to McLaren, which leaves that other Australian, Daniel Ricciardo, without a job next year unless he replaces Oscar at Alpine. Dan obviously thinks the same because he walked out of the team door.
Hey. Wait on. This story hasn’t finished yet. Guess what team Szafnauer ran until last season. Yes, 20 readers, one friend etc. He was the Aston Martin team boss! And who is the Aston Martin performance boss now? Martin Whitmarsh. And where was Whitmarsh before? He was at McLaren.
The only driver left standing at Alpine is Esteban Ocon. Esteban is straight from F1 casting. Born 25 years ago in Evreux, a town in Normandy and houses Esteban’s dad garage. Dad’s family came from Malaga and mum’s from Spain. Sabrine and Lauren were pretty committed parents.
To fund his karting career, they sold their house and garage and lived in a caravan until young Oco came good. In karts he came second in the Euro Series to a young Max Verstappen. Renault signed him at 14. In 2017, he finished eighth in the drivers’ championship for Force India and is in the same spot for Alpine this season.
I was going to tell you a few waffle-eater jokes; mention that the Broken Hill Mundi Mundi Bash is trying to nab the world record for the largest nutbush dance from its Queensland counterpart, the Birdsville Big Red Bash; describe the V10-powered eco motor bike; answer the question of the day – why isn’t diesel dead yet; tell you Lady Di’s one-off black Ford Escort RS Turbo is for sale; look at why some classic car prices are following some house prices down … but let’s do that next week.
Instead, feast your eyes on another eco mobile: this 1962 custom-built Pontiac Laurentian with a handy 6.2 litre V8 engine. Yours for $160,000 at Shannons’ online auction right now.