EFF ONE

Can nothing stop Michael Schumacher? The thought that the man might win all 18 races this year is just too awful to contemplate, unless your passion for Ferrari is greater than your love of motor racing.

Now, I ‘m not suggesting that it is anyone's fault. Ferrari is doing a great job and Michael is driving brilliantly but one has to say that the other teams are doing a pretty poor job of stopping the red steamroller.

The problem is that if it goes on like this, I will be only bloke left in the Press Room by midseason. And I'll get lonely.

In order to avoid this I have dreamed up a suitable and spectacular solution to this problem. I suggest that the other 19 drivers in Formula 1 get together and give Michael a well-timed shove down at the chicane in Monaco. This would pop the Champ over the wall and into the harbour. I know Michael is not one who cares about beating long-established records but only two men in Formula 1 history have ever done it before: the great Alberto Ascari in 1955 and Paul Hawkins in 1965.

But, you know, I bet that even if my outrageous scheme were to unfold, the Ferrari F2004 would skip across the water like a pebble and rejoin the track at Rascasse (with an even bigger lead than before). If it did sink to the bottom, the driver would undoubtedly be up on the surface before the divers were even out of their boat and he would then walk back across the water to the paddock, waving to the fans.

The other scenario would be that Ross Brawn would go on the radio and say: "OK Michael, change the wings to the submarine setting and activate the engine hatch."

And Michael would reply: "Up periscope!"

After the race the incident would scarcely be mentioned although Mr Hamashima would refer to it in the Bridgestone press release, saying that the company is "very happy with the performance of our extreme wet weather tyres".

McLaren would like to get a bit of Schumacher luck at the moment although this week it is going to be very busy down in Woking. HRH Queen Elizabeth II will be officially opening the McLaren Technology Centre.

The Seventh Wonder of Woking has been several years in the making and one early change has been to its name as the original title of Paragon resulted in the Drawing Office being constantly interrupted by phone calls from people ordering two Number 57s, one Number 43 and two egg-fried rice.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis would have preferred the opening of the MTC to have come a few days after a great McLaren victory, rather than in the aftermath of David and Kimi finishing a lap down in Barcelona, but at least Liz and Phil the Greek (as we loyal subjects refer to our beloved Queen and her Consort) are not too interested in motor racing, preferring their sport to be on four legs rather than on four wheels. Her Majesty is no mean horsewoman and the Duke of Edinburgh is a dab hand at driving a coach and four.

But enough about horsepower…

Down at McLaren there will be no last minute rushing around with a pot of emulsion before the QE2 sails into view. Everything will be spotless. I have it on good authority that all the pebbles in the car park will be polished and facing in the right directions and all the screws in the washroom fittings will be in perfect alignment, their grooves standing vertically so that no dust can settle there.

The only untidy thing at this particular party will be the guests with McLaren's surviving former World Champions all likely to be present. No doubt Niki Lauda will be wearing a crumpled old baseball hat and Mika Hakkinen will be pacing up and down like a mad man because the MTC is a no-smoking facility and the retired racer is now more Fuming Finn than Flying Finn.

Mika was out last weekend, pottering about with Mrs H on the Mille Miglia in Italy at the wheel of a 1952 Mercedes 300 SL Prototype. The pair turned up (eventually) at the finish line in Brescia in a magnificent 223rd place, presumably because Mika kept having to stop for a quick cigarette. This performance suggests that he is not very likely to receive a call offering him a BMW Williams drive next year.

Mika was the only man Michael Schumacher had any respect for and if the Finn came back it might give the German something more challenging to do than ride a mechanical bull, which is exactly what he did on Thursday afternoon in Barcelona. In an event organised by Ferrari sponsor Vodafone Michael, typically, proved to be as adept at riding the bull as he is at driving a Prancing Horse.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the quote of the Spanish weekend award goes to Takuma Sato who produced the best ever qualifying performance from a Japanese driver in F1, when he set the third quickest time on Saturday. After driving onto the track prior to the race, he stepped out of the cockpit with a look of amazement on his face. "It's a long way to this end of the grid." he said to BAR team boss David Richards. "I thought I'd driven past my slot."

Anyway, I must dash now: it's my Amateur Dramatics night. We're doing Shakespeare's Othello and I'm playing Casio.

It's amazing what a cheap electronic keyboard can add to Desdemona's death scene…

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