EFF ONE

A man goes to see his doctor. "It's bad news," says the doctor. "You've only got one week to live."

"Is there nothing I can do, Doc ?" wails the unfortunate.

The doctor pauses for a moment, scratches his head and says.

"Well, you could move to Indianapolis."

"Will that help me live longer?" asks the patient. "Is there something in the water?"

"Nope," says the doctor, "but a week in Indianapolis will seem like a lifetime."

Actually even getting into Indianapolis these days is a lengthy job. Being an honest and true representative of Her Majesty's Press, I decided to do the right thing and get a proper visa because we had been told that any scribbler trying to get into the US without a visa would end up in Guantanamo Bay. We had to create massive dossiers to prove that we were real journalists (difficult is some cases) and then make lists of all the countries we had visited in the last 10 years (don't mention Iraq, Libya etc) and then pay a huge sum and finally, after a personal interview at the Consulate, we were given our visas. Phase One was complete. Phase Two meant being fingerprinted and photographed and told to "Have a nice day!" which was obviously not what one was doing after standing in the queue at Immigration for two hours.

"Until now," someone snarled, "I couldn't think of any reason to blow up anything in Indiana."

If we Europeans imposed the same rules on US citizens wishing to go to Paris, war would be declared on "the cheese-eating surrender monkeys" and the US Marines would once again be hitting the beaches of France to ensure the liberty of the free world.

And all of this to visit a city which boasts nothing but a big Speedway, an art gallery with two Monets, a few steakhouses and a mansion once inhabited by President Benjamin Harrison, one of the least famous men ever to inhabit the White House. After the delights of wicked Montreal, Indy was dull in a clean-living Mid-Western way.

Montreal has always been one of the big party Grands Prix of the year. This is because for most of the year it is very cold in this part of Canada and so when the warm summer weather arrives the local girls all go mad, wear as little as possible and are desperate to have a good time, with anyone they can get their hands on. Some of my press colleagues are beginning to realise they are no longer as young as they once were when we first came to Montreal and one even confessed to me that he is giving up meeting women in the Montreal nightclubs. Why? Because when he woke up in his hotel bed on Friday morning, he thought his sleeping "girlfriend" looked a bit different than she had the night before and then realised why: her teeth were in a glass of water by the bed.

A team member who must remain anonymous, as I have no wish to be the cause of an expensive divorce, did rather better on the groupie front. He went to the very exclusive Cirque du Soleil party on Sunday night, an event just about on the legal side of an orgy, and got back to his hotel on Monday morning with around 15 minutes left before the team transport was due to head to the airport. He was not alone, having used his charms to persuade a contortionist from Cirque to come back to his room for sexual congress. Somehow in the space of 11 and a half minutes, they managed to achieve all that was needed. I can only assume she arched herself backwards over the suitcase to accommodate him, while he packed in as much as he could.

"She had a lovely bottom," was his only remark on the subject. The trouble is that these delightful orbs now have Samsonite embossed on them.

The earth was moving for Jenson Button as well but for rather different reasons. As a temporary racing facility, Montreal is a little primitive, particularly when it comes to the toilets. The drivers have to make do with lightweight portable "restrooms" and at one point Jenson Button went to have a rest and was spotted entering one of the little plastic boxes by Juan Pablo Montoya. The Colombian listened until he was convinced that the Englishman was going about his business and then began rocking the cabin backwards and forwards very violently, until the splashing noises reached a suitable level.

Elsewhere in the city, Rubens Barrichello was having fun at the expense of Takuma Sato. The two men had collided at the Nurburgring and so Rubens decided that in Canada he would rent a big red pick-up truck and stalk the Japanese driver. Two mornings in a row Rubens latched on to Sato on the drive to the circuit and eventually found the moment to carve up the BAR star in true novice Formula Ford style. No hire cars were damaged in the making of this practical joke and apparently even Sato was suitably amused.

When it comes to having a good sense of humour, Germans are not usually at the top of the list, although one wonders about RTL television's pit lane reporter Kai Ebel who has made his name (and a considerable fortune) by looking as though he got dressed in a dark room without a mirror. Pink trousers, green shoes and very silly jackets are all part of his quite remarkable wardrobe. In Canada, Kai's latest outfit was finished off with a ridiculously large pair of very white sunglasses. Ebel then persuaded former World Champion Niki Lauda to wear them while doing a piece to camera. Everybody rushed down the paddock to watch - not because Lauda looked really silly wearing them, but more because the great Austrian lost most of his ears in a terrible fire at the Nurburgring in 1976 and everyone wanted to see how the sunglasses would stay on his head.

Lauda, who never cares about anything, has always found it strange that officially he never took part in the 1976 German GP because after the crash the race was abandoned and a new one was started later.

"So what happened to my ears?" he remarked famously when he heard this piece of information.

People in unusual clothing are not unusual in F1 circles, thanks in part to Sir Jackie Stewart, the well known motor racing figure and banking consultant, who has long championed the cause of tartan trousers. At Indianapolis he was made to march up the main straight before the event in front of 300 bagpipers, in what I can only assume was some sort of ritual punishment for being Scottish. On his parade Sir Jackie was accompanied by a pair of old dogs (of the canine variety) which brings us neatly to the subject of McLaren's performance in recent races.

The good news is that the reliability problems have now been solved and Kimi and David finished only one lap behind the winner and two whole laps ahead of the only other car left standing. They were able to claim five points and are now able to hold up their heads with pride, having overtaken Sauber for fifth place in the Constructors' World Championship. This means, if nothing else, that the disgruntled fans who held up a banner on Friday saying: "Team McLaren. New Tech Centre 300 million. Drivers 17 million. 3 points behind Sauber - priceless" will have to make a new banner for the next race.

It has been a very long season for the team but now they can throw the MP4-19s into the dumpster in Woking and go to work on their new race car at the French Grand Prix.

Print Feature