A (fake) Team Principal writes...

Dear Harry,

Sorry I haven’t written for a while but it’s been absolutely mad here! Did I tell you I’m running a Formula One team now? I know! How funny is that?

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Test Three - Day 4 -  Barcelona, Spain

It’s been really interesting though and I think I’m getting to grips with it. I know that because my new boss Vlad the Inhaler, the Russian chap who bought the team, said it’s good that “I don’t know anything about it, means you will approach what happens with empty head”.

I think he meant open mind but he’s foreign so he probably didn’t get the word right.

Vlad’s a top bloke. Last week he decided that we needed to hold a press conference to formally announce our amazing comeback, so we flew down to London in his helicopter to meet the world’s Formula One media.

The chopper looked really cool – all camo painted and with a machine gun hanging out the side. He said he’d had to move it to the UK, as there had been some kerfuffle about him keeping it at an aerodrome in somewhere called Donetsk. He looked a bit cross about that.

When we arrived, I met the team’s new head of communications, who said she’d brief us about what to say. Viktor told me that she’s the same as the old head of communications but now with a stronger smell of vodka in the morning. Then he made a face and a repeated drinking motion with his hand.

“But no one else want job,” he said and shook his head sadly.

Anyway, after Camilla (that’s her name) had asked me to get her a coffee (black and strong, like her men she said) and told me to photocopy a press release 40 times, she asked who I was.

“Tristan Gelding-Jones, Team Principal,” I said and then she sprayed her ‘black and strong’ all over my brand new shirt.

“Bit young aren’t you dear?” she smiled as she tipped the contents of a hip flask into the remains of her coffee.

“This is philosophy of team,” growled Vlad. “New generation, new image, new ideas… ”

“Or no idea at all?” ventured Camilla.

“Oh no, I’ve got plenty of those?” I replied. “What about a publicity stunt where we get Formula One drivers to train racing sheep – I call it ‘A Quick Ewe-Turn’.”

I knew they were thinking seriously about it because they went all quiet for a while after that.

Motor Racing - Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Circuit Visit -  Mexico City, Mexico

Anyway, after I’d nipped out to M&S for a new check shirt and a brown jumper, which I’ve got to say made me totally look like a proper F1 team principal, we all trooped into to meet the world’s press – all six of them.

“Is that all there are?” I asked Camilla.

“I forgot to put on the invitation that we’d have some free food and booze. Sorry.”

We all sat down and then the questions came thick and fast – “mostly thick,” said Camilla.

There was a whole lot of stuff about regulations and Strategy Groups (the nice chaps I met last time I think) and then some stuff about money, which I didn’t really catch. Vlad did say that the team would be funded by him personally and had nothing to do with blood diamonds, nuclear waste disposal or selling Kamchatka.

At least I think he said “nothing to do with”, he might actually have said “separate from my interests in” but to be honest I was too busy watching the assembled members of the fourth estate to pay any attention. Well, by that I mean one in particular.

I actually thought most of the journalists were grubby sorts with questionable personal hygiene and haircuts from the 1980s but there was one vision of loveliness from a cable TV station I thought was rather fetching – and it was her that asked me my first ever press conference question!

“Ophelia Cox, LCD TV. And you are?” she asked.

What an insightful questions, I thought, as I carefully prepared the answer Camilla had given me.

“Tristan Gelding-Jones, Team Principal,” I said confidently. This was going well.

Unfortunately that was all Camilla had told me to say. She’d even written my name down on my palm just in case I forgot, which was nice, so I wasn’t prepared for the beautiful Ophelia’s follow up question at all.

“So, Mr Gelding-Jones, do you think the team can be competitive in Australia in two weeks’ time?”

“Bloody hell! Is it in two weeks? Bit short order isn’t it? I’d better get a move on and find the bloody cars then hadn’t I?”

For some reason, Vlad didn't offer me a ride back in the helicopter. Never mind. Now about those cars…

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing -  Abu Dhabi Test - Day Two - Abu Dhabi, UAE