For the off season there’s a lot going on in F1. And it’s not about cars.
But it is about cars at Tesla. About two million of them that are stuffed. And while drug dealers’ Lambos are being smashed up by the fun police, a smashed-up WoWS Lambo just sold for $2.5m – or about the same price as one black sheep sweater last worn by a soap dodger person exactly 40 years ago and never washed since.
But first to F1, where the very controversial FIA president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, launched an investigation into Merc race boss Toto Wolff and his wife, Susie, the managing director of the F1 Academy which supports young women in Formula One.
Ben’s PR people said: “The FIA is aware of media speculation centred on the allegation of information of a confidential nature being passed to an F1 team principal from a member of FOM (F1 management) personnel. The FIA compliance department is looking into the matter.”
No secret here. The F1 team principal is Mercedes boss Toto and the FOM is Susie. The F1 implied it started the inquiry because some teams had complained about Toto and Susie sharing secret info.
Susie is a serious racer. Among a long list of achievements, she was the first woman to take part in an F1 race weekend in 22 years. She told me by Instagram she was “deeply insulted but sadly unsurprised” by the allegations: “It is disheartening that my integrity is being called into question in such a manner, especially when it seems to be rooted in intimidatory and misogynistic behaviour and focused on my marital status rather than my abilities.”
The nine other F1 teams all issued near identical statements saying they hadn’t made any complaints. And 48 hours after saying “we have Inspector Plod on the pillow talk case” and one day ahead of the FIA Awards Gala, the FIA dropped the investigation. So, the theories are: internal politics, no one at the FIA wants Ben Sulayem in the job or Ben wanted to shaft Toto.
Now things aren’t much better over at the Tesla company. In a tersely worded Part 573 Safety Recall Report, US auto safety regulator National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was recalling a few Muskmobiles.
To quote the Part 573 – Number of potentially involved: 2,031,220;
Estimated percentage with defect: 100 per cent;
Issue, drivers driving with the autopilot rather than having two or more hands on the wheel. Drivers like 25-year-old Param Sharma, who was arrested in California for reckless driving of a Tesla while resting in the back seat on Interstate 80. In an interview with Associated Press, Param said he did nothing wrong and he would keep riding in the back seat with no one behind the steering wheel.
Musk wants him to keep doing this, he said. “It was actually designed to be ridden in the back seat,” Sharma said. “I feel safer in the back seat than I do in the driver’s seat, and I feel safer with my car on autopilot.
“I trust my car autopilot more than I trust everyone on the road.” He believes his Model 3 can drive itself and didn’t understand why he had to spend a night in jail. Yup, Param is an ornament to the electric car industry and those who drive them.
Last month in Abu Dhabi, Bonhams had the very original Wolf of Wall Street 1989 Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary Edition by Bertone up for sale, but it didn’t. You remember the scene where Leonardo, as Jordan Belfort “enraged and drug-addled, drags himself into the Lambo and attempts to tear off into the night … only to crash repeatedly, badly damaging the car during his ill-fated trip home”.
The Lambo is still badly damaged but that didn’t stop one septic paying RM Sotheby’s $2.4m for it in New York last week at Sotheby’s New York headquarters.
Top seller at the Luxury Week sale series was a light-alloy V8-engined, 1953 Fiat 8V Supersonic by Ghia. Just four owners over 70 years, the blu medio metallizato masterpiece is in as-new condition after “a deeply documented, comprehensive three-year restoration” by Roberto de Checchi’s motor magic company in Padua. Worth every penny of $3.5m.
But the Lambo and the Fiat didn’t do it for me. I made a few bids on the most wonderful and still underpriced classic in today’s world, the newish GT40.
If you haven’t seen the film Ford v Ferrari, go and sit in the naughty corner and consider what’s really important in your sadly deprived life. Anyway, the first Ford GT40 was built to show Enzo Ferrari and the other 53 million Italians what the evil empire could really do apart from world domination, putting the first and second persons on the moon and the Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm. And did Henry Ford show Enzo a trick or two. The GT40 won the 1966 through to 1969 Le Mans 24 hour races.
In 1966, Ford took all three podium places. Next year Ford took the first six places, including our own Frank Gardener taking sixth. In 1968 Ford only won, but in 1969 GT40s placed first and third. Only 105 original GT40s were built and have $16m in the sky rocket or cunning kick if you want one.
In 2005, Ford brought the GT40 back and then again in 2105 with severe restrictions on who could buy one and how long they had to keep it. This Ingot Silver 2019, 500kw GT40 is a two owner with only 200km on the clock. It was stolen at $1.2m, given that someone paid Sotheby’s $1.7m for an unwashed jumper full of sheep (one black) last worn by Di Spencer in 1983.
Friends and 20 readers, remember unwashed is the new big thing. Tom Brady sold his unwashed Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2023 game-worn jersey for $2m.
Talking of car prices, demand for all but the top end of the new and used car market are coming off. Like the rest of the economy, dealers selling middle class and workers cars are doing deals and showroom traffic and inquiry calls are dropping off like drunks in the back seat of a Tesla.