EFF ONE

At London Airport, en route to Monaco, I spotted new Jordan boss Trevor Carlin. I must say he seems to be trying his best to please his Russian masters as, in true Soviet style, he manfully downed a few pints of lager at seven o'clock in the morning. It was an impressive performance, but will it be enough now it's rumoured that Eddie Irvine is putting together a bid to buy the team that launched The Irv's F1 career? The playboy and ex-racer has been at several recent races, which probably explains why he has not spent much time on his yacht, called "The Anaconda", which is moored off Miami. It does not even have a crew on board, which could be why a recent leak resulted in the yacht disappearing beneath the waves. I gather salvaging the craft was an expensive business, but probably not as expensive a task as salvaging the Jordan team.

Late on Thursday night, it looked as though the Red Bull Energy Station, moored on a pontoon beside the F1 paddock, might be about to follow the Irvine's motor yacht to a watery grave, as the naive newcomers threw a free party for the entire F1 world. Free booze and mechanics are a volatile brew and the burly Monegasque security men had to come and eject a few overly-refreshed gentlemen. Not since my student days, have I seen so many lads vomiting off the roof and urinating on the yachts in the harbour. Eventually, I realised I had outstayed my welcome when, on asking for the usual vodka and tonic, I was told that all that was left was "Malibu or beer?"

Surely, God's way of telling you that you've had enough to drink.

The first job Eddie Irvine is going to have to tackle when he takes over at Jordan is sorting out the catering. Currently this vital part of the operation is handled by Paul Edwards, who also provides great service to several other teams. The current Russian management at Jordan is rumoured to be in dispute with Edwards claiming that his food is no good, which is odd considering that Edwards Hospitality Services is to Formula 1 catering what Rockefeller used to be to oil, his clients including Bridgestone, BAR, Honda and Williams, not to mention fascinating covert work with America's Newell Coach Corporation, which creates custom-built dream coaches for those who can afford the shocking price tag (which means only Kings, Princes and Grand Prix drivers).

The new masters of the Jordan team have some strange culinary ideas and recently made it clear that they are none too keen on that Great British staple: The Baked Bean. In fact, we hear, that beans were banned. So imagine the upset there must have been the other day when MD Colin Kolles walked into the motorhome to find former team owner Eddie Jordan tucking into breakfast, including a handy helping of "haricots a la sauce tomate", as we epicureans call them.

"Why are you eating beans?" Kolles is alleged to have barked.

"You can't have a full f***ing English breakfast without f**king baked beans," EJ is reported to have responded, using his usual tact and diplomacy. What with rumours of bad blood with Jordan, talk of an Irvine takeover and now a baked bean crisis, one could say that there seems to be an ill-wind blowing through the team at the moment.

The average F1 media hack likes baked beans (particularly if they are free) but a lot of my colleagues liked the sound of lunch on the Steinmetz boat even better. Steinmetz is "the creator of the world's finest diamonds" and so the group of English press who were invited for lunch on Friday were quite interested when McLaren's latest sponsor handed each of them a small plastic bag as they were leaving the function. Finest diamonds and posh boats, they thought: This is going to be one of the best freebies of the season! My colleagues greedily rummaged around, looking slightly disappointed when the gift turned out not to be a girl's best friend but rather a teeshirt. But then their faces perked up markedly when they spotted a small box in the bottom of their bag. Could it be? Alas no, the box held not nice little sparklers but rather small pots of anti-ageing cream!

Ironic public relations or just bad planning? Who knows? All I can say is that the lads all looked years younger by the next morning.

Alas, they did not look as sexy as some of the ladies tripping around the harbour over the weekend. You might ask who was the hottest of them all? Well, you can forget the girls, the guy in the Chewbacca costume must have been boiling. I cannot say that I took much interest in all the Star Wars shenanigans going on in the F1 Paddock, because I've never seen any of the films. I did once catch a bit of one on TV but I reckoned that the actors performed slightly more mechanically than the robots. Anyway, I find my own life scary enough, without having to bother with adventures in a galaxy far far away.

To mark the world premiere of the latest Star Wars movie: Revenge of the Sith, the Red Bull Energy Station was decked out in the colours of the movie, although all weekend I heard passers-by mumbling that there must have been a spelling mistake.

I did stagger up the pitlane on Friday to watch a photocall involving various characters from the film. I stood next to the BBC Radio 5 reporter, who was getting as excited as a little boy, as he begged to be allowed to interview Chewbacca (no relation to Michael and Ralf) who, because of his height and unkempt hair, I mistook for a mechanic.

The Radio 5 man evidently thinks that these characters are real and was almost wetting himself at the prospect of an exclusive one-to-one interview with Darth Vader. I think the excitement finally got to him as his interview technique was not up to usual BBC standards. "Oi, Darth," he hollered across the garage. "How's your cold?"

Mr Vader duly responded with his trademark chesty wheeze.

The film's director, George Lucas, was also in town and I couldn't believe it when a swanky limousine pulled up outside the modest pizzeria where we hacks hang out in the unglamorous part of town and out popped Mr Lucas en famille. As usual, the truly rich had no idea about money and Le Patron was vraiment miffed at being left a miserly tip of $2.10.

Lucas may not know about tipping but he does know his stuff when it comes to cars, as he used to be a Renault mechanic in the United States. It is said that he even raced midgets. I thought that this was rather unfair because Mr Lucas, although short in stature, is clearly not "vertically challenged" and really should have been racing against people his own size.

Having confessed that I'm not much of a Star Wars fan, I did still go to the big film bash on Saturday night, as I take my role as the Pepys of the Paddock very seriously. However, I doubt Samuel Pepys had as much trouble finding a Hackney carriage when leaving his London haunts as I did when I left the function at 03.30. There was not a taxi to be found and so I urged the three Red Bull ladies I was escorting home to hitch up their frocks and hitch us a ride.

A convertible Porsche, driven by a sleazy-looking Italian, screeched up immediately.

"You, yes!" he leered at the girls. "You, no!" he laughed at me.

And so the girls waved from the back of their hackneyed old carriage as it accelerated away and I trudged home through the tunnel back to the port. At least the wonderful acoustics in the deserted tunnel allowed me to try out my singing and I think that my rendition of "I left my heart in San Francisco" was worthy of a recording contract.

My heart may be in San Francisco, but my liver and my sanity were lost somewhere in Monte Carlo.

Next weekend things will be quieter in the bucolic splendour of the Eifel Mountains where for centuries people have gone to enjoy the healing powers of the local water.

They say it is a real tonic.

So, all I need to do is to add a little real vodka.

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