I’m sorry to keep writing about F1 but ever since the geniuses at No.2 St James Market, London, Soapdodger Land, changed it from a motor racing series to a reality TV show, the storylines are becoming so outrageous that even we think they have to be reported.
As the New Yorker’s Kelefa Sanneh wrote, “reality shows have a tendency to blur together into a single orgy of joy and disappointment and recrimination”. So this week’s orgy leading into the Azerbaijan GP at Baku City (no, I don’t know where Azerbaijan is let alone Baku City but I do know, if you go, don’t miss the Flame Towers, three-pointed skyscrapers covered with LED screens or Baku’s equivalent of Moomba) has the global boss of the FIA, which is the global boss of F1, getting stuck into the drivers for speaking out on LGBT, BLM, mental health and holding hands in the dark.
Our own Herald Sun tells us Pres Mohammed ben Sulayem, 60, from the United Arab Emirates, told everyone on Thursday: “Niki Lauda and Alain Prost only cared about driving. Now, Vettel drives a rainbow bicycle, Lewis is passionate about human rights and Norris addresses mental health. Everybody has the right to think. To me, it is about deciding whether we should impose our beliefs in something over the sport all the time.”
I don’t want to mention persons in transparent houses and stoning, but according to our independent political adviser here (Wikipedia): ‘The UAE is an autocracy with the sheen of a progressive, modern state. There are no democratically elected institutions, and there is no formal commitment to free speech. According to human rights organisations, there are systematic human rights violations, including the torture and forced disappearance of government critics.”
And then there’s the flogging, stoning, amputation, crucifixion and homosexuality being illegal and punishable by death. Apart from that, all good.
Good for Hamo who has just signed with Apple Studio for a new F1 film starring Brad Pitt (please don’t write in and say you know Brad’s brother Arm or Cec). Good for Val Bottas who says he is aiming to release the full potential of his Alfa Romeo. (“I just saw an Alfa Romeo driver using his indicators correctly on the freeway. Twice. Should I report the vehicle as stolen?”) Good for Hamo who is official, Soapdodger Land’s fifth most generous person after giving $30m to worthy causes. Good for Dan Ricciardo because Martin Brundle says he can turn around his poor form while F1 champ Damon Hill says Dan is stuffed.
Of course, you can watch all this on Kayo and Foxtel beginning at the reasonable time of 9pm in those parts of Australia who keep to sensible time.
There’s been a boom the prices of classic F1 cars.
In May in Monaco, RM Sotheby knocked off two cars from Nigel Mansell’s collection for $11m. His Williams FW14, chassis No.5, known as Red 5, was given to him at the end of the 1991 season. Red 5 is most famous as a taxi. During the British Grand Prix, which Nige won, Ayrton Senna’s car ran out of gas. Nige picked him up and popped him on top of the cockpit and took him home. “I could see he was getting a hard time from the fans and I thought ‘Well I’ll give him a lift, see if I can drop him off,” Nige said. Well sold at $6m, or more than $1m over estimate, particularly given Renault had taken their V10 engine back.
Nige’s 1989 Ferrari 640 F1 car brought $5.38m. RM believes this is the first time in history that a works driver has offered his own Grand Prix Ferrari publicly at auction.
Meanwhile Renault could be looking to sell a few, well 800, of their own classics to help them over a financial hump. The frog eaters have partnered with local auctioneers Arturial to move the cars a few at a time so it doesn’t look like a fire sale, which is what it is. Next month in their Le Mans auction the first car to hit the blocks will be Alain Prost’s 1983 F1 car. Look to pay $1.8m. Phillippe Streiff’s 1986 Tyrrell can be yours for $300k. Phil Streiff is a little known legend. He raced in 55 grands prix until a pre-season testing crash in Rio left him a quadriplegic.
Auctions prices for the best classic metal are still moving up as we head into the great global recession that we have to have. The Historic Automobile Group International index (HAGI) is up nearly 11 per cent year-on-year with Porkers and Feezers making a big contribution.
So, if you’re hunting for a Feezer, Dave Gooding’s September London sale features a bright yellow 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione for only $12m. Classic car genius Simon Kidston says: “A powerful case can be made for the comp SWB being Ferrari’s finest racing GT car. Until the introduction of the GTO, virtually unbeatable in all disciplines – and still capable of being driven on the road. Fast.”
Talking of racing, there were hundreds of emails not asking for the results of last Sunday’s MX-5 Cup. But let me give them to you anyway. The Mad Max of Mazda MX-5s, Tim Herring, won qualifying and all three races. Unsolved mystery of the day: where was the Chuck Leclerc, Tim’s bro Todd? Anyway, the Yuki Tsunoda of MX-5s, yours truly, came consistently second last with a standout performance in race three. The radio stopped working and I was so far behind that I didn’t realise the race had finished. After a few laps by myself, race officials set up roadblocks to check my solo progress. It was a long, lonely and embarrassing drive down pit lane to the Weekend Australian garage.