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INTERLAGOS - The only F1 track named
after a Nigerian soccer team.
by Mitchell McCann, U.S.A.

(dum dum dum, diddle dum dum dum dum dum)

Shame it's the only track all year about which it won't be said: "It's a very hard track to pass on." (Drivers wouldn't know a preposition from a supposition let alone the fact that it's something you shouldn't end a sentence with). Interlagos provided the opportunity for more overtaking than a meeting of weight-watchers at an all you can eat buffet. Everybody passed everybody else at the end of the front straight, Button found places to pass where we didn't even know there were places, Jos even got in on the act for a while and, drum roll please........there was a pass for the lead on the business side of the pitwall. (For those of you new to F1, it's called the pitlane not the passing lane although quite how you could be expected to know that, I don't know).

By all accounts it's also a fabulous place from which to watch a Grand Prix with the grandstands offering a view of virtually the entire circuit without forcing the cars to only turn one way. Shame the TV director didn't just take a seat in the stands with a Handycam - we might have gotten to see some of the 'alleged' passing.

No, for all the excitement the track produces, the drivers hate it to a man (so does Ralf), the surface has more bumps than you could shake a phrenologist at and the organizers couldn't arrange a bouquet in a flower shop.

The farce with the Marlboro signs was variously attributed to wind (the workmen had beans for lunch) or sabotage by, apparently, a small dog. Although, you have to give these guys credit for a sense of humour. The press release regarding the proven strength of nylon bindings in commercial applications was comical in its ability to maintain a dignified air whilst defending string which breaks when you blow on it. Maybe they could borrow one of the teams' wind tunnels to test their string before next year's race.

The bumps of course were all still there looking much the same as they did last year, although it did look like they'd slapped some new tarmac over some of the flatter parts of the circuit. The difference this year of course is that the bumps have become an issue in the championship. Apparently, almost all the finishers had their wooden planks (aaaarrgghhhh, Jim-lad), worn away to illegal levels by the uneven surface. Faced with the prospect of disqualifying the whole field and declaring the small dog the winner, the scrutineers decided only to DQ DC, probably because of the dimensions of his chin. McLaren have of course immediately appealed blaming the irregularity on the bumps.

With the off-week coming up we can at least look forward to the prospect of the FIA's Supreme Court of Lefts and Rights leaping into action. As soon as they remember where Paris was last time they saw it and figure out whose turn it is to bring the booze. As the official decision won't be known until early next week, I have taken it upon myself to investigate the matter thoroughly and reveal to you exactly what the FIA's ruling will be next week.

Sneaking into Parc Ferme after the race, while pretending to walk a small dog, I used micrometer measurements, spectral analysis and divining rods to determine that the cars weren't in Parc Ferme anymore. Following the trail of oil spots and various Prost parts, I found the cars at Sao Paulo airport. After close examination of the front wing elements, endplates, two dinner plates and a weather vane, the answer was immediately obvious. This was a Ford Escort. I looked around but the F1 cars had gone, spirited away into the sky by huge white birds that roared like dragons and belched fire from their....well from the wrong end actually.

Dismayed by my failure, I turned to my copies of the McLaren schematics lovingly recreated in exquisite detail by a source I can only refer to as "Sore Throat". I thought his use of crayon was a poor choice of instrument but it was all I had. Staring at the blueprints, the answer became clear.

Bernie needs a one-team walkover like a one-armed paperhanger needs a pair of castanets. The McLaren appeal will be upheld and it will have nothing to do with millimeters (but plenty to do with milliliters per milligram).


Renault buys Benetton and suddenly Briatore is Flavio of the Month. Must be his wonderful performance with Supertec that got him the job. Although, when you think about it, selling that overweight, underpowered hand grenade to half the teams in F1 is quite an achievement. He may not know as much about F1 as Rocco but he could sell Florida real estate to the alligators. On returning to his old team in Brazil, Briatore was reportedly puzzled to find them all wearing red until Jean Todt redirected him to the Benetton garage.

Eccles has sold 50% of F1 to MTV. I can't wait for the next series of Road Rules. Apparently, MTV plans to buy another 25% stake as soon as they finish paying for Brittany Spiers' talent (at time of press, the left one is believed to be paid in full).


Supposedly, it was a pretty good one. But you had to be there. It might've helped if the TV director had been there too. But why spoil a perfect run of thoroughly abysmal TV coverage.

Shame about Barrichello. Not being as good as Schumacher, I mean. It'd be nice to see more than two good drivers in good cars. Before you start swearing at me in Portuguese, let me say that I really like Rubens and would love to see him beat Schumacher but I think after two races it's pretty clear that the Brazilian is not going to be much of a match for Michael. (Better than Eddie maybe but that's not worth the 32 cents it'd cost to write home about it). I wonder if Barrichello's already pining for the Fords (beautiful plumage). Speaking of Irvine, seems he's trying to recreate his Ferrari glory days by turning his Jag into a 3-wheeler.

Jos Verstappen had a pretty good weekend (no, this week's column is not being ghost-written), running as high as third before he got a little pooped and decided not to bother any more. One teeeny-weeny little off-track excursion and a quick driving lesson from Jenson Button and Jos was rewarded with a well-earned last but two.

Did anybody notice Zonta's little fuel spill in the pits? Now I'm not going to turn this into one of my regular diatribes against re-fueling and/or pitstops (diatribes are scheduled for alternate issues), but I thought it was interesting to watch the reactions of the pit-crew.

As fuel started spraying from the hose during the pitstop, the two closest mechanics leapt out of the way (this being the FIA approved method of not being burnt to a cinder), the mechanic with the fire extinguisher, to his everlasting credit, instinctively moved TOWARDS the re-fuelers and stood, en guarde, his hose poised like a fencer's rapier.

His every fiber fueled with adrenaline, you could sense his controlled tension and see him looking for any sign of a spark or other potential danger as he stood there, alone, his comrades' last line of defence against the most feared enemy in racing. Fire. The seconds dragged by and it seemed like hours before the re-fuelers got the leak under control. Finally, our would be firefighter could relax enough to notice that...... he hadn't taken the safety pin out of his fire extinguisher.

The FIA, Bernie, MTV, whoever's in charge now. This one was funny. Do you really want to bet that the next one will be too?


I asked God for a sign if I should give up smoking. He gave me three. I quit.

Mitch McCann© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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