A (fake) Team Principal writes

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Mexican Grand Prix - Race Day - Mexico City, Mexico

Dear Harry, 

Hola! Como estas, pendejo? I think that means ‘how goes it, my dear old friend’, as that’s what the doorman said to me every time he greeted me on my arrival at our splendid little hotel in Mexico City.

What a city, what a race, what a bloody awful dose of the old Montezuma’s revenge I had on Thursday and Friday. The chief mechanic, ‘Bubbles’ – so called because he apparently once did something truly evil to a monkey in Malaysia – said he remembered being here in 1992 when the last race was here and he said he wanted to take me to this little taco stand he knew, somewhere next to the airport. I’m always up for immersion in a new culture so gladly accepted, despite the mechanics all frantically shaking their heads and drawing their fingers across their throats behind Bubbles.

The only problem was we couldn’t find the taco stand anywhere. “Don’t matter,” Bubbles grinned with all four of his teeth. “They’re all the same ain’t they?”

Having eaten plenty of Old El Paso taco shells as a penniless student and having marvelled at the uniformity of their Bakelite-ish texture and taste I had to agree, so we went to the first stand we found.

“Bloody marvellous innit,” enthused Bubbles as we tucked into some tacos the man told us were called culo de burro, whatever that is.

After four or five, the chief mech suggested we wash them down with something and dragged me into a bar where he asked for Mezcal.

Anyway, that was Monday of race week and I think I found the hotel again on Friday morning. I don’t remember much except being told by a luminous green armadillo that I must complete my vision quest, which for some reason consisted of eating the worm at the bottom of the bottle, then digging around in someone’s garden for more worms to eat and finally getting a tattoo of Selma Hayek on my shoulder from a man who told me he had killed 12 men. Then he showed me the necklace of ears.

It all resulted in rather an upset stomach and no small amount of pain in the abdominal region, which really wasn’t surprising as I appear to have picked up rather a long and nasty cut there during my lost week. Wonder what that’s from?

Anyway, apparently my absence was very much noted at the track, as I was supposed to be in the Friday Team Personnel press conference to answer a few questions about the future of Shitzu Rockbottom Racing.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Mexican Grand Prix - Practice Day - Mexico City, Mexico

To be honest, given the state the team is in I was glad I missed it, though not so glad about the €5,000 fine I got as a result.

“Just pay the bastards,” said our team owner Larry Lentucho when I called him to tell him the news.

“Err I can’t,” I replied.

“Why the f*** not? It’s not even $10,000,” he growled back.

“But I don’t have any money,” I yelped. “You haven’t paid any of us since Monza, or any of the suppliers. I called home the other day and apparently there’s a woman from our travel agency camping in my garden, saying that she now lives with me as we are the reason she’s lost her house.”

“F***in’ freeloaders. Burn her out. Anyway, screw the fine. Write the FIA a cheque; it’ll take weeks before it bounces. Then you can write another one.”

This was just one of the issues I was supposed to answer questions about in the press conference.

In Russia, we’d been locked out of our hospitality because the team hadn’t paid for anything, but it was alright, as I heard that Williams were feeding the every-hungry media a curry on Friday night, so I told the mechanics to come to the track in their civvies and if anyone asked to say they worked for Sky TV – they usually have so many people at a race that they don’t even recognise each other half the time. I have no idea what half of them do, aside from standing around taking up space talking to each other on walkie-talkies.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - United States Grand Prix - Qualifying Day - Austin, USA

Also, we’re still struggling for an engine. I think I told you that in Monza I met the chap from our current supplier and I was under the impression that we had come to an agreement for power units next year, but it seems that he believed he was agreeing to sell me Kimi Räikkönen in exchange for a signed picture of Carol Vorderman wearing nothing by a West Ham jersey.

Anyway, we’re still without an engine for next year and with our current supplier very now unhappy about not getting a signed photo and the fact that if he wants to get rid of the grumpy Finn the team will have to pay him to sit on the sidelines for the second time in his frankly brilliantly masterminded career, we’re left to go cap in hand to the crowd whose engines are about as much use as drunken chief mechanic in a Mexican jail.

If only we could get to them. I was supposed to have a meeting with their inscrutable boss on Saturday afternoon, but when I arrived at the engine manufacturer’s motorhome I found my way blocked by the boss of the team that currently has sole supply of this chocolate teapot of an engine.

“I cannot grant you access to this facility at this juncture,” he said firmly.

“And that would be because…?”

“We have optimised a singular interface with this supplier and I cannot allow any third party to insert a tool designed for the tightening of threaded metal securing pins through the application of torque into our precisely calibrated mechanism. It would lead to a sub-optimal information flow between the technical operatives of our respective entities.”

I wasn’t sure what any of that meant, so I tried to dodge around to his side and squeeze through the motorhome door but he wasn’t having any of it and jumped sideways to again block the door. I tried the other side but he did the same, quickly hopping across in front of me.

“You will find that despite being some distance through the duty cycle of my corporeal form, I am nonetheless capable of moving with a great degree of celerity,” he said.


“You’re not getting in,” he said grimly.

At this point I could see the boss of the engine manufacturer standing at the back of the motorhome pointing frantically at the open back door and beckoning me to take this option.

“No problem,” I said to my adversary as I darted for the side of the motorhome, heading for the back door. “I think you’ll find that I can move quite quickly as well.”

It was at that point that he rugby tackled me to the ground and started shouting “Ingress denied! Ingress denied! None shall pass – and you quote me on that, verboten!”

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - United States Grand Prix - Preparation Day - Austin, USA

That was pretty much the end of that weekend’s hunt for a power unit supply for next year and later that evening I was forced to phone Larry with the bad news. I sat in my office in the motorhome, with Camilla alongside me for moral support.

“Don’t worry, he said. “Go and talk to the guys at Renault, we can switch to their engines next week in Brazil. Problem solved.”

It was at this point that Camilla began to choke on her first vodka and tonic of the afternoon.

“And to think,” she snorted as she ended the call, “I used to believe you were the biggest idiot in the team.”

That’s Camilla, always blowing my trumpet for me. And you can stop laughing now.

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