EFF ONE

It is a little known fact that on Friday at the Nurburgring a broomstick was found lying in the paddock.

The German authorities spent the rest of the day looking for one of the PR ladies.

Apparently someone said that she must have been riding the broomstick when it went out of control and crashed.

No bodies were found. Well, not dead ones anyway.

Red Bull had a good supply of rather nice young female bodies, which belonged to a bevvy of babes known as the Formula Unas. At each race there are a dozen Unas standing around looking beautiful. The European Grand Prix is always rather devoid of celebrities and so the girls received rather more attention than the Unas who were picked for the recent Monaco Grand Prix. According to the publicity blurb, the girls were competing to be picked as the top Una of the weekend. The winning Una at each race will then go to Shanghai at the end of the year for what the Japanese might call "the Gland Finale" at which one of the number will be crowned Formula Una "Girl of the Year" and the winner will then be allowed to make a speech about wanting world peace and pleading for people to be nice to animals.

Most of the competitors say that they are "students" and I am a little suspicious of that because I never encountered anyone looking as good as they do when I was going to college. I guess, however, that they are pretty poor because when they appear in the paddock they never seem to wear much in the way of clothing.

Some of the Unas have strong opinions when interviewed. One of the girls at the Ring claimed that the reason there are no women drivers in F1 is that, "the men who run the sport are chauvinists, who don't realise women can drive." It would have been a valid criticism if she had spoiled it but adding that she "doesn't concentrate hard enough behind the wheel, which is a bit dangerous."

I must say that I double-checked to make sure she wasn't called Montoya.

At a Quad Bike event on Thursday (I am talking about the Unas and not Juan Pablo - apparently he was busy playing tennis) one of the ladies seemed to be particularly feisty and when asked to drape herself over one of the four-wheeled motorbikes, replied: "No I will not do that!"

The photographer was not be shaken off easily and tried for a second time.

"I have four brothers," replied the Una. "I am not like other girls. I do not wear skirts. I do not pose like a girl."

The photographer retired to the corner, whimpering quietly.

Another of the girls was honest enough to admit that she would like to marry Michael Schumacher for his money. If she were ever to get her wish (and the current Mrs Schumacher might have a thing or two to say about that!) I suggest that the first thing she would need to do would be to throw Michael's entire wardrobe into the trash. At one point during the weekend I noticed the World Champion wearing what appeared to be a perfectly presentable pair of jeans. When he stopped and turned, I was shocked to see that embroidered on each buttock was a tiger. Was this a message from a sponsor? Is Shell being given the boot at Ferrari to give Esso the chance to put a tiger in the Ferrari tank? Or had Michael secured a personal sponsorship from Tony the Tiger of the Frosties (or Frosted Flakes as you Americans wallahs call them) breakfast cereal.

I was tempted to run across and warn the gr-r-reat man that, with two big cats on his trousers, he ran the risk of ending up with big fur balls, but then someone "close to the Ferrari team" knocked me off my path by muttering: "You can always tell a German. But you can't tell them much."

My thoughts turned instantly to Dr Mario Theissen of BMW, who will shortly do a comedy routine for the BMW board, to convince them that Sauber is a better bet than Williams.

On the subject of comedians, I noted that Bernie Ecclestone was trying very hard to make up for the lack of humour in the paddock with his own stand-up comedy act. Spotting BAR boss Nick Fry in the paddock after his enforced two-race layoff, Mr E's opening words were: "Welcome back. You remember where everything is, don't you Nick?"

Later in the weekend, the new F1 King of Comedy attended a prize-giving in the Toyota motorhome and complimented the catering staff on their starched white uniforms, adding that he liked to see women in white, as it meant that they matched the appliances in the kitchen. It's an old (and not very politically-correct) joke, but Bernard "Chuckles" Ecclestone delivered it with perfect timing. Elsewhere Ecclestone's buddy Flavio Briatore, was also trying his hand at comedy routines. Fed up with the incessant prattling of the French media about the Renault team not having a French driver, Briatore called a group of them over to look at the timing screens during the GP2 practice.

"Look, dare is ya Frensh driva, Jean-Pierre," he said in his best English. The French stared blankly at the screen, searching for someone called Jean-Pierre.

"Ma, look, look," insisted Flav. "Jean-Pierre, Jean-Pierre, Jean-Pierre Kovalainen!"

Flav must have been a bit bored by life at the Ring as the whole place shuts down after tea time. There was one bash, but I decided to give it a miss when I heard it featured a Swiss pop star. Switzerland has fewer popular singers than it has war heroes and no doubt the crooner's repertoire would have included such Helvetic classics as "You melted my heart like chocolate on a sunny mountain" and "My girlfriend has big eyes, but why does she have a bell round her neck?"

The one thing that was not dull at the Ring was the final lap of the race during which, according to the tabloids, Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button narrowly escaped death when the McLaren careered out of control and crashed (or was it smashed?) into the barriers. There have since been calls for the tyre-change rule to be reviewed.

It was not the only upset of the weekend. As Fernando Alonso was taking his fourth win of the year, a much smaller crowd at an event in England was watching an English stock car driver losing his life in a race. Doubtless, over the next few days, someone somewhere will go auguring into the side of a mountain while enjoying a spot of hang-gliding.

Motor racing is supposed to be dangerous.

Given that no TV coverage can convey the skill involved in hanging an F1 car over the precipice of equilibrium, the sport's whole appeal rests on the fact the drivers are always on the verge of a big crash.

A bit like me when I hit the night spots in Montreal next week!

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