EFF ONE

Where better for an FIA President to announce his retirement than at Magny-Cours? Mosley began his Farewell Tour with a very dignified performance on the Friday before the French Grand Prix. He was not seen in pit lane accompanied by a pass-less roller-skating Brazilian bimbo (as was his predecessor) nor did he go rabbiting on about being in love with his lawnmower (Yes, the same bloke again) but rather he came up with a brilliant explanation as to why it is better to delay the arrival of medical help after a big accident.

Mosley would not need roller skates to give the impression he can glide along effortlessly and his powers of persuasion are legendary. He has long been a complete expert in convincing people that he and Bernie Ecclestone are not in agreement and in his spare time he managed to let the team owners labour under the false impression that they were actually running the sport.

The highpoint of the show for us scribblers, however, came when Mosley arrived at the subject of the Formula 1 team bosses with a rapier-like lunge, saying that he was fed up with dealing with the lot of them. He singled out one in particular, describing him as "not perhaps the sharpest knife in the box" and mentioning that he turns up at meetings accompanied by "a manager person".

Mosley said that the manager person was "a detail man" but said that the problem is that "it is always the wrong detail, so you have these interminable discussions about completely irrelevant minutiae when you're trying to get on with something serious".

Everyone in the media centre immediately jumped to the extraordinary conclusion that Mosley was referring to Ron Dennis and his sidekick Martin Whitmarsh. The main topic of conversation in the F1 paddock that evening was what Mosley had meant by the remark. Apparently, Dennis rang Eddie Jordan and said he thought it was shocking that the FIA President should talk about EJ in this way. Jordan said later that he thought it had been a joke but he wasn't quite sure. The arguments raged late into the night as the team bosses tried to decide which of them was the most stupid.

One can imagine that there were some lively disputes: "It cannot be me, I don't keep my knives in a box, I keep them in a drawer". "Does this theory apply to pen-knives because mine is always very sharp" and "Where does Max stand on the issue of fish knives?"

There was probably even talk about the need to ban ceramic knives and how many votes would be needed to achieve this.

Most of the team principals spent the evening together, up in the VIP suites, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the emergence of FOCA. In the course of this great event Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone were presented with silver platters inscribed in their honour, in recognition for their efforts. The man making the presentation was none other than Jacques Regis, a fellow who in recent times has had some strong public opinions on the subject of Mosley. Apparently, the champagne was not properly chilled before the two men shook hands but afterwards you could have made Popsicles out of the stuff.

In addition to the tray Regis gave Mosley a bottle of 1974 Chateau Petrus to mark the famous year in FOCA history. I am not much of an expert in these matters but I had a look at the Web and discovered that according to some expert or other the 1974 vintage is remembered as being "unripe and diluted; not worth much".

We can only wonder whether Regis was aware of the fact that FOCA actually dates back to the early 1960s when Petrus was producing rather better stuff. A bottle of 1963 would have set him back $2395 and a 1961 comes in at around $6000 these days. The 1974, incidentally, retails at about $250.

Anyway, on Saturday afternoon, Ron Dennis fired back at Mosley in a dignified and ironic fashion when asked about the FIA having greater control over how the teams operate.

"I don't want someone coming and interfering with my poorly run business," he said. "I would rather suffer the consequences of my own inadequacies."

Which brings me in a round about way to the media toilet facilities. After having to cope with the worst loos in the world in years gone by, the media had a big improvement this year, the French apparently seeming to understand for once that foreigners like a few niceties when dealing with bodily functions.

The most notable change however was that these facilities were now unisex (or perhaps one should say multisex). The problem with this was that some of my colleagues found it impossible to do their thing in the urinals while a gaggle of girlies giggled at the sink as they exchanged make-up tips.

On Saturday, when the time came to change out of my shorts to go to a dinner at the BMW motorhome, I stood in the quietest place I could find, a corridor filled with lockers where no-one spends much time. As I departed I was accosted by one of the dozens of good-looking women who hang around the Magny-Cours press room doing nothing but being nice.

"My luck's in," I thought, but this idea was quickly exploded when I realized that I was being told off and asked "out of respect for others" to please change somewhere else.

"Madam," I replied. "I would normally change in the Mens' toilets, however there are more women in there than there are in the rest of the paddock."

She gave the traditional Gallic shrug of the shoulders and wandered off to be pretty somewhere else.

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