Home  /  March 2018  /  Racing

Friends, you and I have to stand together. It might interrupt F1 qualifying, your mingling in the Parc Chalet with the upbeat cocktail bar, garden, modern fit-out, lounge-style furniture with a social and vibrant ambience and daily DJ ($495pp, which is cheap compared to other family lounge areas) and in walking distance of that other family spot, the Heineken Village, with Jimmy Grants, 400 Gradi and Sliders on Tyres for the kiddies. BYO Coopers.

But if the FIA and the whole F1 community want to regain the trust of fans and the global community except those in North Korea and possibly Russia, then they need to be transparent.

Like they are on slavery. Read the Modern Slavery Act Transparency Statement on www.formula1.com. No wonder they had to get rid of the grid girls.

Today we can almost exclusively reveal the scandal that threatens the multi-billion-dollar glamour sport. It’s a scandal that demands we get underneath the spin and everything else.

Yes, friends the rumours you’ve heard are true. Formula E driver Lucas di Grassi was fined $15,000 after the Punta del Este ePrix stewards discovered he had worn unapproved knickers.

Of course, the bigger scandal is that there are electric cars racing at all, let alone in an event called “Formula’’, which implies these are serious cars.

Next we will have Formula Autonomous. How good will that be? You go to Monte Carlo to watch silent cars drive around the streets by themselves. Imagine you’re sitting in the La Rascasse with some friend of Sacha Distel and one of les super canons shouts “oh look, it’s the blue car catching up to the red car!”.

Evidently, FIA race officials told him to drop his dacks and discovered that his fire-resistant knickers were too short.

“It was a decision that I took today because of the extreme heat, and I ran out of underwear, and I didn’t want to use a wet one, so I just put a new one (sic),” Lukey told the media. Readers, I don’t know about you but I’m not sure I want to hear this much detail about the state of Lukey’s fireproof underwear: what goes on in the cockpit should stay in the cockpit.

But let’s keep the reputation of our Grand Prix up there with the Stawell Gift, World Championship Wrestling and Premier League Curling. Let’s say to Chase and his mates at the FIA: we want all 23 drivers up in front of the crowd today and want them to drop their dacks and the officials to measure their fireproof knickers. Any shortages and they’re on the plane back to their tax-exempt homes in Monaco, Switzerland or Norfolk Island. It doesn’t matter if it’s Hamo, Dano, Sebo, Kimo, Nico, Felipo or Maxo: if it’s short you’re caught.

Talking of famous race drivers, Michael McMichael and I are forgoing the Parc Chalet and kiddies section of the Heineken Village for the wilds of Tasmania, where we are trying to learn the route for next month’s Targa Tasmania.

Now, thanks to the hospitality of readers from the Apple Isle, it appears we will be doing a lot more beer/OP rum/pinot noir and scallop tasting than rally learning.

I did a reconnoitre about two weeks ago but got caught with immigrant (Sydney and Melbourne) readers at the Koonya garlic festival. (On your next night out, ask the chef to throw in some fermented garlic. It goes down a treat with the Gala Estate Constable Amos Silver Estate Pinot and the wood-roasted cabbage with flathead roe butter and ricotta salata.)

Talking of scandals, reader Peter Hart writes: “I read your column in The Weekend Australian and for some time I have noticed your reference to ‘Mazdagate’. I own a diesel Mazda CX-5 and am intrigued to find out what you are referring to. I have spoken to my dealer who denied all knowledge, but later on checking with his hierarchy in Mazda did say that they were aware of you and your comments etc but for whatever reason were not prepared to discuss the alleged problem.”

Just to remind readers like Pete: Mike Dare’s daughter has a three-year-old Mazda CX-5 and two young kids. Mike told my colleague, Paul Gover, that the kids, the Mazda and the mother were driving along one of Melbourne’s always busy freeways when the warning lights started flashing, sounds started sounding and the drive system disengaged. “Drive system disengaged” is a nice way of saying the engine is in neutral and the car is rolling along by itself, no doubt with a big B-double truck racing up behind. it goes without saying that young mothers of young children aren’t all that pleased about their cars rolling along freeways.

Three hundred dollars later, the Mazda CX-5 was towed to the dealership where Mike’s daughter was told that for a big cheque and a few days in the Mazda hospital she could have the car back. She did get the car back but you know the story. While the dealer people said they had never seen the problem before, one of the mechanics let slip that indeed they had. But wait, there’s more. After the big cheque and the few days’ wait, Mr Mazda said he wasn’t sure he had fixed the problem and that it could happen again. Mazda has been asked to comment but have declined, citing customer confidentiality issues.

Ford also deserves some focus.

Rocket Rod Sims and his Untouchables team at the ACCC will be seeing Ford in on April 30 in Melbourne’s Federal Court, where Justice Nye Perram, will preside.

Rod alleges about half of the 70,000 Fords Focus, Fiesta and EcoSports sold between 2011 and 2016, had at least one repair to their PowerShift Transmissions.

“The ACCC alleges that Ford misrepresented to customers who made complaints about their car’s excessive shuddering and jerking when accelerating, loss of gear selection and sudden loss of power and/or excessive noisiness, that the issues with their vehicles were caused by the way the driver handled the vehicle, even though Ford was aware of systemic issues with the vehicles from 2013,” Rod says.

In another exclusive I can reveal Nye Perram is a petrol head. At his swearing in he told the gathering about his skills at Grand Theft Auto. “I am not very good at it. In a recent game I was mugged by an accountant, which is, I think the game’s way of telling you that it thinks you are truly hopeless.”

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