How good are the show runners at F1? They know viewers are in a dark spot what with the upcoming Chinese invasion (no need to worry fellow Australians, the old bloke and I are ready to don the khakis, get the 303s out from under the house and go straight to the front line), paying $2 a litre for petrol, $2k a year for electricity, an extra $700 a week on house payments and $10 a schooner. So, the Drive to Survive and F1 reality drama (drivers, managers and team owners live life in the fast lane – both on and off the track – during each cutthroat season of Formula 1 racing) have changed the format to reality comedy in the manner of other motoring shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, The Amazing Race and the Real Rally Drivers of Stepney.
And what better place to start the fun than at last weekend’s Clogland GP. (What about the Dutch painter that dropped a V12 into his Chrysler Voyager? Everyone in Amsterdam said: “Look at Vincent’s van go!”) This was the race that answered the questions the drama series was too afraid to ask. What’s going on under the helmets of F1 drivers? Not much. Why did Mercedes’ George Russell nearly run up the bum of teammate Lewis Hamilton’s car? Because he could. What’s the difference between a catfish and a Ferrari race strategist? One’s a bottom-dwelling scum sucker; the other’s just a fish.
Red Bull runs two teams. Red Bull and Alpha Tauri. Red Bull is running first in the constructors’ championship on 511 points and Alpha Tauri is running eighth (or third last) on 29 points. But owning two teams mean everyone believes you could get up to hanky panky and that’s exactly what happened on Sunday in the land where dykes are king. AT pilot Yuki Tsunoda went in for a pit stop, a Kirin, a puff on a Seven Stars (Silent Man. Silent Smoke.) and four new tyres. The beer and the gaspers went well, probably too well, because when he was back out on the track he said his tyres weren’t fitted and by the way his seatbelt had come off and Yuki pulled over. Of course, it took a while for the AT pit crew to realise Yuki the jokester was pulling their leg. The tyres were all good and off Yuki went again.
Yuki comes in again, gets new tyres, gets a few metres down pit lane and yells: “Something wrong, something strange at the rear. Diff is broken I think.” Well, by now, everyone except Merc boss Toto Wolff was hissing themselves with laughter. Toto more or less said it was a conspiracy, hinting it had ruined the Merc team’s one-stop strategy. “If we were fighting a championship, this would be something I would closely look at,” Wolffy said. And, of course, the Hamster, the master of quick, humorous one-liners, had this to say about Mercedes strategy: “It was monumental bullshit. That was the biggest f..k-up. I can’t believe you guys f..king screwed me. I can’t tell you how pissed I am.”
Always the funny one, particularly when he looked like having his first win in 40 years. And it turns out he mistakenly had slow engine mode on when Mad Max passed him. And didn’t the Ferrari team ham it up. Carlos Sainz pitted for a Peroni and got the chance to drink it all because his pit crew lost one of his new tyres and had to go looking in the stockroom for it.
Here’s another funny factoid. Lewis is the first black driver in F1 in 76 years. F1 owner, Liberty Media Group (one woman director), has set an aspirational target of having a woman F1 driver by 2098.
OK, talking of legends, down at Steve Shelley’s Pheasant Wood Circuit this week I ran into (no, not on the course) one of the greatest temporary Australians. Troy Corser was a two-time world superbike champion, holds the record for most World Superbike Championship race starts and, I can exclusively reveal, will start a Troy Corser Racing School Australia very soon. Troy already has five successful schools in Europe. While you can BYO bike, Troy has free Beemers for you to ride. Yes. Yes. I have already done a deal for the Sultan to personally service the bikes at every class outside the Kensi.
Then in another world exclusive we can reveal that legendary song writer, actor and screenwriter Rob Draper has a Brock TV series on the go. “Blue Print is a drama set in the early 1980s when the Australian Touring Car Championship was all thrills and V8 intensity. In a world of cutthroat competition, we follow the hidden characters behind Ford’s explosive comeback against The King of the Mountain. It reflects the suburban energy of Don’s Party and the working class sincerity of The Castle, with the cinematic experience of Ford vs Ferrari. This story has never been told in the public domain,” Rob tells me. If you’ve still got a bit of JobKeeper cash left over, then Blue Print is a better go than the Porker IPO.
It’s a long way from Pheasant Wood and Bathurst to Monza and St Tropez, but we know you demand it of us so we will be in Monza for another Mad Max benefit, then off to St Tropez for the finish of the Gran Turismo Europa 2022. A rally for old rich white men and their daughters, where the driving is quite rightly second to busy days drinking and eating. A normal day looks like this: 8am – Leave Hotel Grand Hotel Tremezzo ($2.5k a night, breakfast included); 13:30 – arrive in Monaco and Hotel de Paris (suite $20k a night); 14:30 – Lunch at Nikki Beach; 19:30 – aperitif and dinner at Buddha Bar (Azul Margarita $85). Hey, who said tarmac rallying wasn’t a sport for real men, women and others?