Atlas F1 The Formula One Insider

where the rain in Spain
all fell on Silverstone last week.
by Mitchell McCann, U.S.A.

The Spanish Grand Prix at Catalunya (Spanish for "where the rally is") had a little something for everybody - passing, crashing, spinning, controversy and sex. And that was just Pedro de la Rosa's first half lap. (OK, there wasn't a whole lot of sex except for Alesi's opinion as to what Pedro had done to him). Actually, it was probably a very good job that Pedro was gone by turn 6. Given the director's predilection for all things Catalunyan, it's likely that Pedro's charge from last back to ninth may have proved too much for the director's delicate sense of proportion.

But to give credit where credit is due, the coverage this week was not too shabby and the worst moments were confined to pre-race shots of some old geezer on the grid. Was there anybody, anywhere, outside Catalunya, who knew who he was before the trophy presentation? I know TV commentators around the world variously identified him as the King of Spain, the President of FMSA (they made that up), Julio Iglesias' great-grandfather and 'some old geezer' but it is unreasonable to expect your commentators to be right more than 25% of the time. Even though we didn't know who he was, it was nice to see him leading Eccles around by the nose. Poor old Bernie doesn't often get dissed quite so effectively. It's so hard to appear nonchalant when somebody else thinks they're more important than you think you are.

(While we're on the subject of commentators, I do have to thank one of our American broadcasters for a flub worthy of the great Murray himself when he introduced his colleague, Sam Posey, as Sam Pose-Me. I wasn't sure whether I was listening to a bizarre sexual invitation on live TV or whether the two-time F1 driver does indeed have a line of action figures in the works. Which ever is true, I wish you all the luck you're going to need, Sam).

All in all, this was not a bad race. The outcome wasn't decided until more than half-way through, there was some on-track passing, including Barrichello's spectacular move, and we didn't have to listen to Michael gloating after the race. We did have to listen to a new interviewer struggling with Mika's 'style' to such an extent that Mika struggled with Mika's style but I'll bet that's the last one word answer he gives this season.

The next couple of weeks should be fun as this new interviewer perfects his own technique. Where the previous incumbent specialized in bizarre statistical questions such as: "Every third winner of this race has gone on to win the championship in odd years divisible by 3, how does that make you feel?", the new guy seems to have an immediate affinity for the painfully, bleedin' obvious. For example: "You just won the race. Are you pleased?" This is off-set by an apparent knack for the counter-intuitive such as: "You overtook Michael. Do you feel as though you owe him your third place?" Keeping the interviewees, not to mention the audience, off-balance like this, is bound to result in a swift return to journalism school and a new job on Blue Peter.


Many people have complained about the absence of The Jos Watch from the last issue or two. Unfortunately, F1's own Ivan Stewart has become completely boring and has failed to give me anything to write about for weeks. Now content to be outpaced by his rent-a-drive teammate, Jos simply trundles around from session to session vacillating between 11th and 14th in an effort to prove what a uniquely average F1 driver he is. The only excitement he gave us this week was when we saw Pedro off in the gravel and we all thought it was Jos back to his spinning ways.


The highlight of the season so far has to be the three-way dice between the two Schumachers and the two Ferraris - proving that 2 plus 2 doesn't always equal 4. Seems Michael's comments about cutting his little bruvver some slack may have been slightly premature and probably a little unwise. Although perhaps not quite as unwise as risking death and dismemberment by locking wheels with a faster car when your car is clearly going to require an imminent pitstop in order to cure the puncture that has been slowly deteriorating for the last half a dozen laps. But then again, the title of The Stupid Schumacher Brother has always been hotly contested.


(And don't blame me if you're singing this song all day).

There is such a thing as taking competition too far. I think that holding a competition to give the lollipop job to the mechanic who could get it up the quickest was just asking for trouble. Seriously, I hope that Nigel Stepney is OK but given that the diagnosis is a simple broken leg, he should be back on duty in the pits no more than a month or two after he starts playing soccer. As for Nigel's Italian replacement who couldn't get it in, rumour has it that his citizenship has been revoked and his posters of Sophia Loren have been confiscated.

Anybody want to hear my opinions on pitstops now? No, didn't think so.


Many people were puzzled by Prost's multi-stop strategy. Apparently, this strategy involved Heidfeld pulling into the pits every other lap to ask: "Is it on fire yet?" Alesi was forced to retire half a lap before his first scheduled pitstop.

Reports of Wurz' demise have been denied by the same Benetton spokesman that announced that F3 star Antonio Pizzonia will test for the team this week at Jerez. Meanwhile, Johnny Herbert's replacement has not yet been named and therefore no official denials have been forthcoming.

Rumours that Juan Antonio Samaranch walked off with Hakkinen's half full bottle of champagne are probably mischievous exaggeration. Rumours regarding Barrichello's leftover half bottle, on the other hand, are completely true.

The President of Catalunya is still strutting around the grid. Eccles is no longer following him like a lost puppy but has hired Sid Watkins' son's brother-in-law to follow him around like a lost puppy.

Mitch McCann© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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