Today: Maserati goes captain rats; The F1 drive and driver of the season (hint: it’s not who you think); Why Mercedes is slow and why it denied the Hamster his first win of the season; How the Hamster escaped a nose fine; How you or your nose won’t escape any fines soon; and a special tribute to the toothpaste salesperson who became F1 (and just about every other dangerous sports’) greatest ever promoter.
I’m John Connolly and he’s Michael McMichael (so good like Wagga, Gumly, Woy, Paw and Min, he was reduplicated). Those stories and more in the motoring in the business section next to John Durie, Helen Trinca and a nice space at the bottom of the page for your ad.
You saw Mad Max win the Texas Grand Prix, the drivers’ and constructors’ championships and equal Schuey Sr and Seb Vettel’s most wins in a season. If you were watching on Foxtel or Kayo or both, you saw the best drive of this season. It wasn’t a faulty wheel gun making Max fume for 11 seconds in the pits, coming out behind Hamo then finally passing him. It wasn’t Hamo coming second in a car that is really much slower down the straight than a Nissan Cedric. No, it was Fernando Alonso, nearly killing himself and his car after a crash with Lance Stroll, going into the pits for major surgery, coming back into the race at 17th and finishing seventh.
Ferdy, 41, came up behind Stroll at about 289km/h. Young Lance, 23, moved to block him. Alonso’s front right wheel rode up Lance’s back left, shooting the overtaking Alpine into the air. Look at the video. Ferdy has his two front wheels one metre in the air for three seconds. Ferdy then goes into the barrier. Stroll loses a wheel and spins into oblivion. Alonso drives causally into the pits. “We changed tyres, front wing and we kept going,” Ferdy told me via Foxtel. In the drive of his or any other lifetime, he takes the stricken car through the field to finish an amazing seventh. Don’t see him there on the results. That’s because Hass protested Ferdy for driving with a broken mirror. Normally if a car is unsafe officials wave the black and orange flag, meaning come in now. In another example of inconsistent decision making by another new race director, they didn’t give Ferdy or his team any warning. They waited till after the race to hit him with a 30-second penalty. Isn’t it about time the teams gave the FIA the flick and got someone sensible to run the billion-dollar show?
In another great moment, race officials let the Hamster off for wearing a nose stud in Singapore but fined the Mercedes team about $40k. Hamo told officials removing his stud had given him an infection and his quack told him to keep it in. Merc say they know why their cars are slow but if they do, they aren’t doing much to fix it. The issue is too much drag. These cars are wind-tunnel tested to smooth rough bits to save hundredths of seconds. But the Merc design means too much air goes around the outside of the car and it needs a big wing to counter that. Big wing means more drag and less top speed.
In our next segment, we look at what an owner with the name Stellantis can do to your brain. Stellantis owns 15 car brands, including Alfa, Fiat, Jeep, Dodge, Citroen and, of course, the smallest runt in the litter, Maserati. You can imagine Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares saying to Maser boss, Davide Grasso: “Davide, why do you have an E in your name? Oh, I know, you were the marketing boss of Nike. The Maser brand is getting a bit old. Doing something to show it’s very now.” Davide's bestest idea was … ? Please take me out and shoot me now. Here’s the go: “An audacious collaboration with Barbie, driven by the mutual desire to break boundaries and showcase the unique flair of both brands. Both immediately recognisable by their extraordinary personality and signature style, Maserati and Barbie unleashed their creativity in a masterpiece of timeless design and bold character, inspired by the Barbiecore phenomenon.”
Readers, it’s the ultra-limited edition Maserati x Barbie Grecale Trofeo SUV. And it’s personally selected by Barbie to match her multifaceted lifestyle ranging from a business meeting to a glamorous event. Only available in two custom units globally. Barbie’s Maserati Grecale pulsates pure adrenaline thanks to its powerful 400kw V6 Nettuno engine. In full Barbie fashion, an expression of her iconic pink hue covers nearly every inch of the dreamy car with fine acid yellow (there’s your first clue to what they were taking at Global HQ) lines. Its sleek black interior, dashboards, carpets and doors are accented with pink stitching, as well as branded headrests with the unique “B” badge. $500k drive away and have everyone laugh at you. Go for the Barbie Doll & Fashion Accessories Set. A much better bet at $22 at Kmart.
And I’m sad to say my friends at Mercedes (the only car company that talks to me) are dealing with their F1 losses badly. They’re selling a one-off kids Mercedes G63 covered in Swarovski Crystals for $40k.
“It means entering uncharted territory, which is exactly the sort of challenge that has always given us particular motivation. That’s how we do things: with joy, optimism and tongue in cheek,” Dietrich Mateschitz wrote at the beginning of the first F1 season after Covid. Mateschitz was a salesperson for specialist toothbrush company Blendax. Travelling in Thailand, he discovered a tonic that workers drank to keep them going. It cured his jet lag. He chased down the owner, Chaleo Yoovidhya, and the two invested $700k each to form Red Bull. From the beginning, he spent heavily on maximum attention marketing. But he had a special interest in high-performance cars and planes. He had an early association with F1 ace Gerhard Berger, bought his first Formula 1 racing team, Jaguar, in 2004 and Minardi in 2006. His Red Bull team has not only become one of the best ever, he used his investments in motorsport to give young drivers a chance.