EFF ONE

I have not stopped to think about it yet, but when you stop to think about it writing previews for the coming Formula 1 season is not going to be an easy task. For a start we are not quite sure about the technical and sporting regulations. Everyone agrees that there are rules in a book but they are all arguing about what the wording means. Everyone seems to be in agreement apart from Ron Dennis although no-one is quite sure where he stands because his use of marketing-speak has reached a point at which not even the Germans understand him.

Minardi appears to have decided that the best thing to do is to formulate its own tire regulations and is aiming to blitz the opposition using slick Formula 3000 tires. As with all good ideas in Formula 1 the idea is catching on and Peter Sauber is saying that everyone should use Formula 3000 chassis. On top of this the entire Formula 3000 grid has been signed up as test drivers as part of the F1 plan to cut back on testing so Formula 3000 has virtually disappeared - at least according to the FIA entry list which lists just five drivers for the 2003 season.

David Coulthard hasn't yet had time to deliver his traditional speech explaining that this is his year to win the title but it will not be long in coming and Eddie Irvine will probably soon explain his ambitions for the year ahead - even if he isn't in Formula 1 any longer and nobody cares.

And while all of this is going on the whole world is waiting to see what a madman armed with weapons of mass destruction is going to do something silly.

Personally, I haven't got a clue what George W. Bush is planning but I know that given the way Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone have been dealing with the F1 team bosses, it might be an idea to send them to Baghdad to sort out the Iraq situation.

Max believes he will be able to spot when teams are running traction and launch control after the British GP and so could probably do a better job finding nuclear weapons than Hans Blix and his UN weapons inspectors.

And the Bernard has taken a leaf out of Baby Bush's book and mounted an unprovoked attack against a defenseless little country: having deprived Austria of its Grand Prix.

The way I see it, Bernie has also figured out that as he can no longer use his Digital Television Facility in F1 the best thing to do is to have Grands Prix in venues which have potential for crisis and so can make a bit on the side by broadcasting live war coverage. As most of the luvvies and riggers of FOM looked and behaved like extras from The Dirty Dozen he already has a cast and all he would need was to invite commentator Murray Walker to come out of retirement (which does not seem like a difficult task) to provide a few shrieks and yelps at the right moments.

"Welcome to Baghdad where the sirens have just gone off and it's bomb, bomb, bomb! Yes, and I can definitely see the Germans retreating even if they are going forwards rather than backwards.

At this point, Martin Brundle will interject:

"I think Murray that you'll find that they are Iraqis."

"Yes, you're right Martin but look at the leading tank. It's absolutely unique apart from the one that's right behind it, which is identical."

With digital TV offering an interactive viewing facility, those watching the war at home could join in the fun. "Press the red button now to bomb Bush. Press the green button now to blitz Saddam."

The Paddock Club would get a new lease of life as VIPs would come dressed in battle fatigues and be helicoptered in and out of the circuit in Bell Hueys left over from the Vietnam. The guests would each be given goody bags containing saline drip, ear plugs, a bandage (with a sponsor's logo), a vial of morphine (for medicinal purposes) and a Jimmy Hendrix record. These Warzone Walkabout operations would take place during lulls in the fighting after the fighting men has all been sent to sleep by constant replays of the highlights of FIA press conferences featuring Kimi Raikkonen and representatives of Honda.

You may think that it is time that I went off to lie down in a small dark room but I have already done that and to be quite honest I don't think it helped at all. It happened the other day at Paul Ricard where I was put into a very small dark room and told to provide simultaneous translation for the Renault F1 team launch. Perhaps it should be mentioned that Renault has previously agreed to pay me to do this rather than being condemned to this fate because I had committed some heinous crime such as suggesting that Renault had made a grave error getting rid of Jenson Button instead of Jarno Trulli.

Everything was going swimmingly for me until Flavio Briatore stepped up to the microphone. I must say that I think Flav might have warned me that he was going to say that he had found Fernando Alonso on top of a Christmas tree because it is hard to translate anything when you have just sprayed the contents of a glass of water all over the electronic equipment and dropped a lighted cigarette in your crotch.

I can only presume that my translation was rather more amusing than the over-optimistic twaddle and platitudes that we usually have to endure at new car launches.

Briatore looks like being one of a kind in F1 now that Eddie Irvine is without a drive. We could always rely on the Irishman to deliver a bon mot or a barbed comment and he will be sadly missed, although not by some members of the F1 media who found his views on our ability or lack of it hard to stomach.

With Eddie I always found that the best form of defence was to attack and I once had the dubious honor of interviewing him immediately after a race, as he stripped out of his race suit in the Ferrari motorhome.

"You might want to turn away," he advised as he removed his underpants. "One glance at my member (this might not be the actual word he used) and you'll be weeping with jealousy."

Given that in those days, Eddie thought "monogamous" was a large mammal that likes to wallow in African mud holes, I pointed out that the only thing likely to be weeping was the aforementioned "member."

At a race last year, I was breakfasting with fellow hacks in the Jaguar motorhome when the Irv bounced into view.

"Jeez, just look at you lot," he smirked. "Eff, when was the last time you sat at a table with such a scruffy, ugly bunch of individuals?"

"That must have been the last time you and I had dinner together," I replied.

It shut him up, but not for long.

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