EFF ONE

As someone who has had a life inextricably linked to the grape and the grain, I was "appalled" (to use a word used the other day by Nick Fry) that his team has brought the word bar into such disrepute.

I am going to write to the Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations so that they can look into it.

The only good thing that the BAR-Honda business did do was to create a nice wide open tarmac space in the paddock, where once the team's trucks had been. I suppose you might call it a big grey area but that interpretation might get me into trouble. Anyway, you must appreciate that this much space is not a common occurence in a modern F1 paddock in Europe, where the ever-expanding trucks and motorhomes mean that we are all packed into the paddock like sardines in a can. This impromptu recreational area was quickly put to good use (nothing goes to waste in F1 apart from money) and on Friday evening Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella showed off his soccer skills with a bunch of his mechanics. On Saturday morning, I spotted the forlorn figure of Takuma Sato's girlfriend, Chiharu, standing where the trucks had once been, looking rather puzzled about it all. At least Chiharu still has a Formula 1 driver for a boyfriend, which is more than can be said for her "team mate" Louise Griffiths. The newspapers in England seemed more interested in Jenson and Louise than the BAR brawl about San Marino. Apparently, the warbling songbird who has been on Jenson's arm for some time now has flown the nest, just months before they were due to tie the knot. Imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth which is now going on in the offices of "Hello" magazine?

My spies tell me that Louise cited lack of commitment from Jenson as the cause of the split. If I can slip into my Agony Aunt frock for a moment: "Louise darling, commitment? Excuse me? Jenson Button, 25 year old millionaire sex symbol, heart throb and F1 driver. Take it from me the only kind of commitment he is going to be considering right now is the one that is needed when you barrel into Eau Rouge, at full speed, knowing your tyres are shot and your rear wing is hanging off. Commitment, shmitment. Louise lovey, you should have hung around a bit longer and then done him for palimony!"

Obviously, the nice Louise is not that kind of girl. One wonders if one could use the same expression for some of the girls spotted at Jordan in the course of the weekend. Jordan hasn't done much to talk about on the track this year, but they caused heads to turn in Barcelona when they imported a gaggle of scantily-clad girls with tattoos in original places. Some of my colleagues could not understand why these young ladies kept checking their wrist watches, until I pointed out that in their usual line of work, they probably charge by the hour.

Over at Maserati things were considerably more upmarket and the stylish Italian marque, which was running a one-make race as a support event for the Grand Prix, had the delightful Jodie Kidd competing in one of its cars. I was lucky enough to get an interview with the lengthy supermodel. I told her that people often say to me, "Eff, what will you do when you lose your looks?" and had she planned for her post-modelling career?

This brought the interview to a close and she uncurled her very lanky frame from the chair and I could not help thinking it was like watching a giraffe getting off the ground. Incidentally, do you know why it is that giraffes have such long necks? Well, it's because their heads are a very long way from their bodies.

I suspect I would have felt the same way about my head if I had gone to the Red Bull party on Saturday night. This time I did not attend, as I discovered in advance that it was going to take place in one of those places which we older folk refer to as "a discotheque". As far as I am concerned, dancing is a pursuit for men who have not yet learned how to drink properly.

Drinking is a complicated business because you have to drink different things at different times of day. This can get confusing sometimes but I generally manage to get it right and go to the Red Bull Energy Station for a mid-morning espresso every day. Having achieved this, I was somewhat thrown to bump into TAG tycoon and McLaren part-owner Mansour Ojjeh. I had to reset my mind and remember the team's open-door policy but what was strange was that "Manse" was busy playing the role of a genial "Mein Host", greeting everyone coming up the stairs with a hearty handshake. It left me wondering who really owns Red Bull Racing but then I remembered the old adage about people who can sell sand to the Arabs and wondered if the Red Bullers might one day find out that Mr O has sold their palace from beneath their feet.

Another good salesman, Paul Stoddart, was not in the paddock in Barcelona. The Stod was busy doing something important with his new airline Ozjet and, finding himself with a bad dose of flu (never a pleasant experience for someone who smokes more than an Indian village) decided to stay Down Under. I don't know if it was coincidence that the team's press releases hit our desks in the media centre much quicker than usual. Stoddy reportedly says he will back in command of the team at Monaco, "even if I have to swim". I think I'll be checking my life vest and reading the water drill next time I travel on Stoddy Air.

The Spaniards did not care that Stoddart had not popped up and were keen on that nice quiet Fernando Alonso. For the first time ever there was a sizeable queue of spectators outside the circuit gates and traffic jams. However, it seems, that not all of them were there just for Fernando. As the wreck of Juan Pablo Montoya's McLaren was trucked back down pit lane on Friday, with its injuries exposed for all to see, a section of the grandstand opposite began chanting: "de la Rosa, de la Rosa" in the direction of the McLaren garage.

There were not many fans in red to chant at Ferrari and things were not going well for The Reds. There were rumours that Ferrari had actually got a pair of new drivers called Fred (the tall one) and Barney (his short pal) and the word was that the cars now feature Flintstone tyres. Yabba-dabba-do! As Michael Schumacher pulled out of the race with a second puncture (or a "loss of air" as they say in politically-correct press releases) in the space of two laps, I realised that the Spanish GP was taking place on May 8 and it was 60 years to the day since VE Day.

A German had lost, let down by his Italian and Japanese allies.

OK, the German bloke was really an Austrian, but blame it on a life inextricably linked to the grape and the grain!

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