Watching and waiting


Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne

The passage of time means different things to different people. For a geologist, two hundred and fifty million years is a long time. For us motor racing nuts, seven weeks is a long time. That’s how long it is until the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. And it seems more than fifteen weeks since we saw Kimi Raikkonen cross the line at Interlagos. Wonder what he’s been doing? World Champion seems to be a very low-profile achievement these days. Pictures of Kimi grinning, in public at least, are rare but perhaps they are on the walls of every bar in Helsinki. We didn’t hear much from Fernando Alonso during the previous winter did we?

What we need, to lift the general gloom that seems to be settling over Gordon Brown’s Britain, is a British world champion. Now it is a long time since we had one of those. At Silverstone the other day I bumped into the last man to do it for us while chatting with another man who could, and should, have done it for us. Both had what it takes, skill and grit, and both are great ambassadors for motor racing. Damon Hill, now President of the BRDC and no longer looking like a heavy metal star, is busy putting back some of what he took in 1996. Derek Warwick, also busy finding, and helping, young British drivers would have made a wonderful World Champion. He turned down an offer from Frank Williams in 1985, the seat went to Mr Mansell, and he became, yes, a British world champion.

It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. Even Gordon Brown knows that. And so does Lewis Hamilton. But we don’t want to go over all that again do we? I fear that ITV will have more than enough to say as we edge closer to the sunshine of south Australia. Thank goodness for Martin Brundle, always a source of knowledge and humour amidst the hysteria. I watch ITV for Brundle in the same way as I bought Autosport, until this year of course, for Roebuck. And unless Matthew Paris makes a move, I shall continue to buy The Times. I’d like to read Alan Henry in the Guardian but the rest of that newspaper makes no sense to me at all. Reading is one of life’s great pleasures, along with Grand Prix cars at Spa, or just about any of the Greek islands.

You can probably tell I am a virgin blogger, a big, fat book beating a blog any day. But we must move with the times. Wonder what Jenks would have made of blogging? It would have been tricky for him to have got himself on line, the great man’s home not being connected to a supply of electricity. But I digress.

Seven weeks, then, until we get some real clues about the new Grand Prix season. For me, Jenson Button will be the interest. If Ross Brawn does not make a material difference to the Honda team I will be surprised. It is said that Mr Capello will do the same for England. Time, probably a couple of years in both cases, will tell. And it’s time I got on with writing up my chat with Derek Warwick. You can read it in your magazine two months from now.

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