Well, you got your money’s worth last Sunday.
It was all action all the time at the Formula 1 Grande Premio de Sao Paulo 2023 at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace which, of course, also hosts the Lollapalooza music and drug festival.
In fact, there was so much action it had to start well before the Grande Premio itself. In qualifying, the commentators described the rain as of biblical proportions and it was so heavy that qualifying was cancelled. However, biblical proportions was a slight exaggeration since, as you know from Genesis (the bible book, not the Korean car), the “rain was upon the earth for forty days and forty nights”.
But at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace it stopped overnight. And so there was no Noah, who was 600 years old at the time of the really big rain (or the same age as Michael McMichael, my co-driver in this week’s Adelaide Rally).
OK. Chuck Leclerc got so excited about the end of the biblical proportions rain that he crashed on the formation lap. Put simply, he didn’t even get to the grid. Put your hands over the kiddies’ ears because once he was resting on the wall, he uttered the magic word. “Why am I so (rude word) unlucky?”
Then once the race did start for the first time, Magnusson and Albon had a prang in the first few seconds so the whole thing had to start again. Anyway, after the second start there were only 14 finishers; the Merc team was slower than a one-legged dog on tranquillisers; Lando Norris came second, and Alonso and Perez came third and fourth by 53 thousandth of a second.
Of course, Mad Max won. Of course, the Red Bulls are quicker in just about every condition than every other thing on the track and of course that’s because the world’s greatest F1 architect, Adrian Newey, designed them.
You all know the secret is their bottoms and the airflow through the car that makes it stick to the track like a beer coaster on a wet bar.
Danny Ricciardo was hit by a flying tyre at the first start and came in lucky 13th ahead of Aussie Piastri after the second start. Hamo and Georgie Russell’s cars were slow, impossible to drive and lucky to get to the finish. Well, Georgie didn’t and the Hamster came in eighth.
What’s happening at Mercedes? Well, there’s a few lessons here for up-and-coming executives.
Toto Wolff is team principal, CEO and part owner of the Mercedes-F1 team. He is the managing partner of the team and head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. He is an extraordinary person. A self-made billionaire, serious racer married to a former development driver for the Williams Formula One team and hugely successful team manager.
But he made the classic mistakes. Yup he started teaching courses in high-performance culture, team leadership and personal effectiveness, including at Harvard. That year, 2021, the team started losing. In 2022 Red Bull, with new bottoms, won the constructor’s championship and the Merc team slipped to third and this year it’s 500 points behind Red Bull.
After Sunday Toto said: “For me, personally, the worst weekend in 13 years. Totally baffling. At the same time unacceptable for all of us.”
Second mistake is don’t tell everyone you have no idea went wrong. What’s wrong is the aero. For instance, instead of making the F1 mobile Mercs go quicker, the rear wings made them go slower.
Anyway Las Vegas is only seven sleeps away. If you don’t want to see grown drivers cry as they try to go fast on a gripless street circuit, next to a paddock and pitlane that F1 owners, Liberty Media paid $380m for, then head over to Wynns Awakening Theatre where RM Sotheby will be auctioning off a really weird collection of cars, bags, shirts and wine at prices from $15k to $23m.
We’ve talked about Hamo’s 2013 Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 for a very reasonable $25m but some other bargains include Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2023 game-worn and signed footy jersey for $4m. (Hope he washed it.) I have nothing against Tom or what passes for footy in septic land but for the same money you could buy a 2012 Lexus LFA with the Nurburgring Package.
Look, the burnt orange (BO) colour is really crook but once you turn the key on the 420kW 4.8-litre V-10 you enter a world where everything else, including the orange stitching on the black seats, is subsumed in an orgasmic cacophony that is the only true fountain of youth on this or any other earth.
While this BO has less than 200 clicks on the clock, if you bought it new the salesperson would have given you a quick spin on the Nurburgring with one of the circuit’s chief instructors, a complimentary one-year pass for the Ring, a full set of Tumi luggage, a crystal block with wooden stand, a hardback coffee-table book documenting the car’s construction, a car cover, pen, flashlight, tyre inflator kit, one carbon fibre-key and a set of BO balloons for the kiddies.
Also, on offer is the 2003 Michael Schumacher Scuderia Ferrari signed race suit at $20k; a $40k Hermes Birkin bag or a 2021 McLaren Elva for $3.3m.
I take back all I said about the Lexus BO. The Elva – the lightest, most extreme road car McLaren has ever produced – comes in stunning “Pacific colourstream”. This is an iridescent, colour-shifting shade of purple that transforms to hues of violet, magenta and blue, depending on how light hits the car’s many sculpted features and how often passers by vomit on it after seeing Pacific colourstream in real life.
On a more serious note, road deaths in most states are up significantly. What’s more disturbing are the number of children killed in speeding cars.
The bottom line is there are no accidents. Calling what’s happening accidents are just weasel words to escape accountability. The policies of federal and state governments aren’t working.
Hiding behind the police as though they are not trying hard enough or failing in their duty is convenient for pollies but only shows how little they care.