EFF ONE

"One Lap, Two Continents," said the advertising slogan for the first ever Turkish GP. What it should have said was "One Lap, Two Continents and Three Effin' hours to get home from the race track each night."

Apart from Sunday, not much of this appalling traffic could be blamed on the Grand Prix, as very few Istanbul locals seemed to realise that there was a race meeting taking place, despite the huge amount of advertising around the city. This made life rather interesting for one of my press colleagues, forced to make the trip from town to track every day by taxi, after his hire car failed to materialise.

On the first day the cabbie stared blankly at him when he asked for "The Otodrom". He tried "race track", "Formula 1", "racing car place" but in the end dipped into his briefcase and pulled out a Formula 1 magazine and pointed at a photograph of Fernando Alonso in his world-renowned Renault. A light went on above the driver's head and the taxi took off, leaving tyre marks on the road. After a break-neck ride, the car screeched to a halt outside a Renault dealership!

The next day things were little better. The driver appeared to understand the request to go to the racing circuit, but he then drove our intrepid journo to the bus depot and set him down near a ramshackle coach that appeared to be bound for Ankara.

Even those of us brought up on a diet of driving in Sao Paulo and Shanghai found our first foray on to Turkish tarmac to be a daunting experience. Speed limits were apparently advisory only, indicators were for sissies, buses blithely parked in the fast lane and the most common overtaking method on the motorway was similar to that demonstrated on Tiago Monteiro by Juan Pablo Montoya in the closing laps of the Turkish GP.

McLaren is reckoned to have one of the best race simulators in the business, but while Kimi Raikkonen was more interested in different kinds of stimulation (more of that later) his team mates Pedro de la Rosa and Juan Pablo Montoya were heavily into simulation as they prepared for the new event. The major problem, it seems, was that none of the McLaren boffins thought to simulate a Portuguese driver in a yellow car when Montoya was at the controls.

Apparently, Tiago's only comment after running into the back of the McLaren was: "Ah oh no wa ha hen." A Turkish taxi driver might understand this (although more likely Tiago would be taken to the airport) but it could probably use a little explanation. The problem, you see, was that the Portugeezer (as the Jordan team now call him) had been suffering all weekend from a very bad toothache. He was reluctant to go to the local tooth-puller but salvation came his way in the form of team boss Colin Kolles, who finally answered the question that has long taxed the F1 paddock: what exactly does Our Col do for a living? It seems that when he's not trying to win the Mr Congeniality award in the paddock, he is actually a dentist. I am told that the root canal work was carried out without a sniff of giggle-gas. I cannot imagine why this would have been the case (except perhaps Jordan cost-cutting) unless, of course, Tiago has gone all mystical and wanted to transcend dental medication.

Do you know how many years I've waited to get that joke into an F1 column?

My advice to Monteiro, if he ever needs more dental work done, is to grab his dentist-team boss firmly by the testicles while reclining in the chair and say: "Now, we're not going to hurt one another are we?"

The subject of pain raised its ugly head at Jordan early in the weekend when the team threw a little lunch party for some of the media. Every grand prix party and official function seemed to feature a belly-dancer. At the Jordan lunch the woman involved was getting up close and personal with the hacks, giving them each a souvenir bra-rubbing to take home with them. The thought of this proved to be too embarrassing for one Italian media man, who took off like a scalded cat but failed to notice the glass door of the motor home and nearly broke the panel with his head.

There were troubles too at the other end of the grid where Renault had the great misfortune of having its garage directly beneath the toilets in the Paddock Club. These overflowed and leaks came through the ceiling and into the garage. There were soon stories circulating that Renault was deeply in the sh*t. A better reflection of the situation would have been if the toilets had been located above the Ferrari garage.

For the moment the red team sits embarrassed as the battle for the World Championship hots up between Renault and McLaren. Kimi Raikkonen is the man in a hurry but he remains the Ice Man, unperturbed by the world at large. Once again he delivered a faultless performance for his McLaren masters. Nothing, it seems, could faze the Finn who, earlier in the week, had been the subject of yet another scandalous tale in the Finnish tabloids, involving copious quantities of alcohol and sex. Along with raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, these appear to be some of Raikkonen's favourite things.

Come Sunday, Kimi sat quietly in the cockpit awaiting the start, as Bernie Ecclestone introduced him to dignitary after dignitary including Mr Unpronounceable, the Turkish Prime Minister, and the well known ear-chomping pugilist Mike Tyson. The latter's appearance caused some confusion in the F1 Paddock as his name is not dissimilar to BMW Motorsport boss Mario Theissen.

"Did you hear? said a colleague. "Mario Theissen has just bitten off Niki Lauda's ear!"

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