Institute of Advanced F1 Motorists
NOVEMBER 17, 2010
'Michael was becoming distracted by the lights on his steering wheel and didn't know how to adjust the brightness, so we had to explain it to him over the radio.' Ross Brawn, Korea.
'Okay Michael, sorry about this. An instruction manual should have been left in the glove box but we've been paying the price for your insistence on the car having carpets throughout. In the rush to clean those carpets of footprints from all that mucky rain, the manual was overlooked. We'll make sure it's replaced when you bring the car back and it's checked over for scratch marks in parc ferme.
'No need to worry about refilling it, by the way. That's part of the deal and will not be deducted from your retainer. In any case, you don't appear to be using as much fuel these days. The Mercedes consumption has improved dramatically, I must say. On your car, at least.
'Speaking of bills, we've just got the Hungary car back from the workshop and there's no sign of the steering pulling to the right, particularly, as you suggested, while the car is under hard acceleration and affected by what you referred to as "the side-draught from another car driven by a Brazilian who has forgotten all he was told while racing for me".
'The FIA have forwarded a bill for $10,000 from the Hungarian organisers to cover medical expenses for the official scared witless at the end of the pit wall. That has been deducted from your retainer. And apologies again for not being able to include the Collision Damage Waiver you say you enjoyed while racing for Benetton in 1994.
'While we're on the subject of bills - and sorry to bring this up while you're busy driving - there's another on its way to cover the calling out of officials to attend that incident between you and Barrichello during qualifying here in Korea.
'You claim that you were not told about Rubens closing quickly. Sorry, we should have reminded you of the warning engraved on your mirrors - you know, the one about images actually being larger than they appear.
'You also claim the mirrors may have folded into the park position. We cannot accept this because, due to budget cutbacks, that extra was not fitted to your car. If you recall, you said you would prefer the heated seat with fully adjustable lumbar support.
'But let's first deal with the problem at hand. Did you not pop your night glasses in the glove box? Never mind; there was a lot for you to remember while packing your overshoes, scarf and anorak behind the seat. And yes, while we're at it, I can confirm we are looking at ways of finding room for an umbrella on next year's car. It could be useful because, apart from acting as an aid to get you in and out of the cockpit, a small brolly could help poke the cockpit controls you find difficulty reaching.
'Anyway, the steering wheel digital display is controlled by the big green arrows to the left of the cockpit. You wanted them like that because they're the same as the brightness control on the remote for your tele at home. Similarly, the big red arrows on the right change channels, in this case from pit radio to recordings of commentary on your ten greatest wins, to your hilarious impersonation of Eddie Irvine the day Ferrari couldn't find his wheels when he came in for a pit stop.
'No, never mind about the other knobs and buttons and fiddly things on the steering wheel. Once you've finished, we'll send a man round to adjust the settings and explain it all to you. No charge for this as it's all part of the service plan Mercedes sold you when trading in that Ferrari.
'By the way, apart from the Ferrari being a bit high mileage and sounding like something that had seen better days, we were shocked to find inside a radar jamming device, a diplomatic immunity badge and a "Lonely Planet Guide to Pissing Off Brits", all supplied and approved by the FIA.
'But we'll say no more about that. Just bring the car home. Don't forget the final Sat Nav settings available to you on the steering menu. Ignore once again "How to find the Podium" and select "Directions to Seniors' Rest Room", where a nice cup of iced tea and your favourite apfelstrudel are waiting.'
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.