MAURICE HAMILTON

Hot and cold brewing


Grandprix.com has hacked into the minutes of the FOTC (Formula One Tea Council) meeting in the old cafe at Silverstone on Sunday morning.

This was an emergency summit for the heads of F1 catering to discuss the vexed issue of hot and cold brewing and the suspicion that Red Bull had secretly abandoned the long-established refreshment of tea in favour of an energy drink.

In the absence of Mr. Charlie Whiting (dealing with a complaint from Mr. N. Mansell over the size of the tea caddy in the FIA Stewards' room), the meeting was chaired by his deputy, Mr. Herbie Brooke-Bond, representing the UK Tea Council, a non-profit making body, therefore despised by the F1 Commercial Rights Holder, but dedicated to the promotion of tea as a calming influence.

This was a very serious matter and discussion got under way even before the kettle had been plugged in.

Red Bull: "Our understanding is that the catering directive issued in Valencia referred only to liquid refreshment. It didn't say what kind."

Williams: "Very clever. Those of us who've been in this business for, oh I don't know, at least a couple of weeks, are fully aware that tea has been the required refreshment ever since that chap Froilan Fangio or some such came here from South America and, by the look of him, clearly had a healthy appetite for tea and scones."

Red Bull: "I appreciate there are certain historical parameters and people think we've been using a silver teaspoon and bone china to hide what's actually in the cup, but we've done nothing illegal."

McLaren: "Why, then, do you have six large tea ladies standing with menacing intend around your tea trolley?"

Red Bull: "Making tea is an incredibly complex issue. There are several processes to go through - do you add the milk first, do you use tea bags or leaves - and then there's the pot and the shape of the spout. These are not, as you so rudely call them, tea ladies; these operatives are part of our catering process management group. The fact that they're of comfortable proportions is because they're needed to prevent our fluid dynamics team from being harassed by heavies in Boss suits and flash watches each time they go to the supermarket.

McLaren: "As you know, the reality is that we, as a team, came here, and I'm not casting aspersions on Red Bull or any of our esteemed rivals, but we came here to do the best job we can with the tea pots and kettles supplied and I have to say we, as a team, are not particularly happy about the situation that has arisen. But if the FIA say this is within the rules then the reality is that we, as a team, would normally accept it and focus on the racing, which is what, in reality, we're here to do. But messing about with the tea is a grave issue."

Virgin: "Blimey, that's more or less word-for-word what you said when there was all that fuss about Lewis being put in a bubble car at Suzuka."

McLaren: "As I said, and as you know - or maybe you don't know because you are at the far end of the paddock using tea bags and don't yet understand these blending issues, which you are quite entitled to do - but the reality is that we, as a team, came..."

Mercedes: "Could I just interrupt and ask Red Bull a straight forward question? Why is the tea coming out of your pot all pink and fizzy?"

Williams: "Is it? Good grief! Must taste ghastly with milk. Sir Frank will be appalled."

Red Bull: "That's because this is the secondary effect of having the kettle operate at only 10 per cent power, as instructed in the Valencia directive. That's what happens when it's not hot blown."

Virgin: "You should be so lucky to have a kettle and electricity. We're still struggling under the plan devised by Mr. Wirthless, now thankfully departed, to use a camp fire and a Billy Can."

Force India: "Representing, as we do, the world's largest tea drinking nation, we would like to suggest Darjeeling as a recommended brand in F1. This tea, most of which is owned by me, is hand-picked and rolled by hand, the leaves are fluffy and light..."

Commercial Tea Rights Holder: "Never mind all this hot and cold rubbish. How much are you willing to pay?"

Ferrari: "We are not interested in polemics so we say nothing. Anyway, we no like tea. We 'ave espresso and then we go and win the race. That is our opinion."

Sauber: "Our opinion is that we don't have an opinion. If that's alright with you."

Lotus: "That's the first thing I've heard that makes any sense."

Renault: "You would say that! We at Lotus-Renault don't mind so long as the tea is branded Lotus and comes in a black and gold box that says Lotus and is poured into a cup marked Lotus by a woman of mixed race, preferably called Lotus."

HRT: "Could we ask that used tea bags are sent to us? We can dry them on the office boiler and reuse them."

Mr. Brooke-Bond: "Good. That all sounds very encouraging and has gone precisely nowhere. Sorry to mention this, but I believe there is a Grand Prix to be run. I suggest we adjourn until Germany. Kettle's just boiled; cup of tea, anyone?"

Maurice Hamilton , a freelance motor sport writer and broadcaster since 1977, is the author of more than twenty books and contributes to websites and magazines worldwide.

His weekly column for Grandprix.com was Highly Commended in the 2011 Newspress New Media Awards.

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