You know what’s it like. Just another Saturday arvo in Jeddah. It was smoko. The boys (no girls or others) were sitting around having a few non-alcoholic (to avoid the 500 lashes) drinks, passing around the Malboro, at $9 a pack they’re a steal (but don’t, because they cut off your hands if you do) compared to $50 a pack in Australia, when a few Houthis’ cruise missiles landed on the North Jedda Bulk Petrol Plant a few kilometres away.
“Crikey,” said Carlos Sainz Vazquez de Castro, 27, Ferrari driver of Madrid, Spain. “I thought I saw an explosion on my dashcam but guessed I’d sneaked in too many Agua de Valencias.” Quick as a flash Mad Max (Max Emilian Verstappen), 24, racing driver and Dassault Falcon 900 owner of Monaco, said: “You’re joking mate, the smoke was so thick I thought my Red Bull was on fire.”
Sainzy and Maxie looked in the corner and there’s the driver formerly known as Hamo but now known as Larbo, not getting into it but not getting out of it. “Boys, I’m not comfortable being here. Not just because someone’s trying to put a light under a few million litres of high octane over the road but I’ve heard there is a letter that has been sent to me from a 14-year-old that is on death row.”
Larbo, that might have been the same death row that the other 80 Saudis were on a few weeks before. They were all beheaded.
Anyway, the bombing and explosions were all fake news, otherwise it would have been on the F1 coverage of the weekend.
Anyway, the racing was super with Mad Max taking a last lap win from Charles Marc Herve Perceval Leclerc, 24, Feezer driver, also of Monaco, with Carl in third. Larbo sneaked into the points with a 10th. What’s wrong with Mercedes?
Not the drivers but the porpoising. If you watch Larbo’s helmet you can see that it bounces down the straight like a Donald Trump bubble head doll. This violent bouncing up and down on the Merc’s suspension isn’t great for car speed or his noggin. Problem is if Merc try to fix it, the car goes slower, which is not good for your point score or sponsorship dollars. Let’s see what happens in St Kilda by the lake next week. If not, it could be all good for the Las Vegas night race next year.
Talking of sponsorship, the North Jedda oil dump is owned by Saudi Aramco (“where energy is opportunity”), who just happen to be global sponsors of F1, a strategic partner of Aston Martin Racing and pay F1 $90m to race at Jeddah for the next decade. They’d be happy to see Nico Hulkenberg come off a year out of the fast seat to take 12th and team member Lance Stroll just behind him last weekend.
Not so happy are lots of drivers and lots of media.
As the Guardian’s Giles Richards writes: “The drivers might not like it, they might not enjoy racing in a war zone, but for all the weight they carry it pales into insignificance to the avarice of a sport that has long since decided to follow the money, and morals be damned.”. Tell us what you really think Giles.
And then there’s F1 boss Stefano Domenicali, who defended the race saying: “Don’t forget, a couple of years ago, women couldn’t drive, and they’re here on the grid, cheering the kids. They’re partying, they’re seeing the sport, they are changing a lot of laws in order to make sure that this is happening.” Beauty Stefo!
Despite the laws changes in 2019, Saudi women must obtain a male guardian’s approval to get married, leave prison, or obtain certain healthcare. Women also continue to face discrimination in relation to marriage, family, divorce and decisions relating to children (e.g. child custody). Men can still file cases against daughters, wives, or female relatives under their guardianship for “disobedience,” which can lead to forcible return to their male guardian’s home or imprisonment. Women’s rights activists who fought for these important changes remain in jail or on trial for their peaceful advocacy. Yeah, but they can drive.
In less controversial racing, former Kiwi that we now claim as Australian because he wins everything, the Mad Max and Lou Larbo of V8 Supercars, Shane van Gisbergen swept clean the Ned Whisky Tasmania SuperSprint. Our long-odds favourite, another new Australian, Chris Pither, in the red PremiAir (PremiAir Hire is the equipment, solutions hire specialists of diesel and electric air compressors, dryers and filtration, skid and trailer-mounted silenced generators, lighting towers, traffic management equipment and sustainable event solutions – ring Pete Xiberras and mention WART for your surcharge) Commodore decorated with Coke (the drinking kind) signs.
Talking of Tasmania, if the F1 is not your go, then the Sultan and I will be secretly driving the Targa Tassie route that weekend, filling in our pace notes with things like “turn right – the hand with your wedding ring on” and “stop crying Mick we only scraped the Armco”.
Talking of dodgy regimes, the Windsor family of London and Balmoral is selling Phil Mountbatten’s one owner baby blue 1956 Albatross MkIII Super Sports Runabout on April 10 at the Bonham’s Goodwood Members Meeting Sale (big choice: St Kilda or Westhampnett, Chichester, West Sussex, England).