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Over the white line: humble pie and Rocket Red

This week the most exciting thing to happen had been the appearance of a coveted McLaren Rocket Red victory shirt through the letterbox of Brits on Pole Global HQ – until, that is, we learned that Jense was due his cards. Yet another British F1 driver out of a job, cutting the numbers from the dizzy heights of four in March 2008 to just one now. Honestly, this is like that old rhyme about Henry VIII’s wives: laid off, retired, laid off – oh, yes, and world champion.

Talking of young Lewis and happier matters, the victory shirt eventually turned up here after a long period of haggling with retailers over available sizes and of looking out for the arrival of the postman. And, gosh, it’s red – in the sense that a motorway maintenance worker’s fluorescent jacket is orange. We’re in the territory of never losing your better half in a car park or a shopping mall again. It must be a hard day’s work when they hand them out to all staff at Woking. Let’s hope they do complimentary victory sunglasses as well.


Here’s what we’ve been reading this week:

  • The Derby Evening Telegraph continued to depress us with the Thoughts of Chairman Gillett on the chances of his racetrack being ready for the Max n’ Bernie Show in summer 2008. This charming gentleman says: “It will be ready on time. Some people think differently — and I am looking forward to handing out the humble pie to them when I’m standing on the grid.” Let’s hope he’s got an order in for a couple of truckloads of that delicacy, for he’d need them and more. Even more illuminatingly, he adds: “The corporate world has a big part to play in Donington’s future.” Of course! How stupid have we been? This is why he has no interest in communicating with fans – because we play no part in his plan, as anyone who has ever tried to swim across the hospitality trough to glimpse sport at Wimbledon, Twickenham or Lords will confirm. This is your future, British F1 fans – this or no race at all…
  • And the Top Gear reasonably-priced car comes good! This week we learned from Autosport that Tempus Sport is to enter a pair of 2008-spec Chevrolet Lacettis into the BTCC. One of which will be driven by 23-year-old Harry Vaulkhard (no, not Coulthard, please concentrate) plus an unnamed colleague with a “race-winning pedigree”. Great news, especially following the withdrawal of SEAT and the news that their bill-topping drivers Jason Plato and Darren Turner were out of contract… Expect a run on “I am the Stig” t-shirts.
  • Also in Autosport, GP2 champion Giorgio Pantano has been confessing that he feels unloved, with no F1 team taking an interest in him. What does a man have to do? “I challenge anyone to have a CV as good as mine,” he says. “I won two karting world titles, three European, three Italian, German F3, GP2 and was always at the front in F3000. But now I don’t have a seat in F1, is this a joke? … I feel abandoned.” But he does mention that Bernie Ecclestone’s been lending a sympathetic ear. It appears that the 29-year-old is making the fundamental mistake of expecting life to be fair, and to operate under comprehensible rules. Which it isn’t, and it doesn’t. And Pantano is old enough to have found that out before now.
  • Here’s one of our favourite quotes of the week, this time from McLaren rear-gunner Heikki Kovalainen. While we generally respect the personable Finn, and think it’s a bit unfair to take the piss out of those not speaking in their first language, this is a masterpiece of perfectly-phrased banality: “If I had been at the front more often, then I would have won more frequently. So that’s something we have to look at for the coming year.” Well, yes… Is he actually complaining, as many fans claimed, that McLaren don’t give him the chance? Oh well – we guess it’s the off-season and people need something to talk about.
  • Just when Lewis Hamilton looked to ticking several items off most people’s list of wildest dreams with his post-Brazil celebrity lifestyle, along come people wishing to remind him of his social obligations. British prime minister Gordon Brown reportedly wants him to help cut deaths on the road. And the ever-so-popular Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has named him in a list of inspirational role models for young black men. Clearly there’s nothing that energises an electorally-challenged party like other people’s success. Maybe, if they ask very nicely, the bandwagon could be slowed down to accommodate a few more flying leaps?


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