THE MOLE

Parry Thomas and Jaguar

The Mole, The Colonel and the Reverend O had decided to go shooting. The Mole was not a great hunter but he had been alarmed by the Hunting Bill which, he felt, was against everything that Britain stands for.

"And beating up people in Barbour jackets is just not cricket," said The Colonel, looking though the sights of his shotgun to check that the sky was empty of game.

"Banning fox hunting is stupid," he added. "When you get arrested what are the police going to do with the horse? And all those yapping dogs? Will they build stables at every police station?"

"Very drole," said The Mole.

The three men strode out on to the moor.

"Now look here," said The Colonel, looking at the Reverend O. "If I see you giving the last rites to some rabbit, I shall shoot you."

"Right-ho," said O.

At that moment a flutter of grouse or pheasant rose ahead of them and The Colonel was blasting the sky.

"Oh Lord," said the Reverend O.

The Mole waited for the fusillade to finish.

"Missed the buggers," said The Colonel.

"Think of the bean-counters at Ford in Detroit and I am sure you're aim will improve," said The Mole.

"By the way," said The Colonel to the Reverend O. "I really think you should have preached about Jaguar Racing."

"I don't suppose the Lord cares very much about what happens at Jaguar Racing," said The Mole. "I get the very distinct impression that he's been a Ferrari fan for quite a long time now."

The Colonel appeared not to hear the response.

"So who is going to buy Jaguar Racing?" he said.

"No idea," said The Mole. "There are all kinds of people coming out of the woodwork. Russians, Americans and Chinese. All the people who have money. I'm not really sure that Jaguar is the big problem."

"Why so?" said The Colonel.

"I'm more worried about Jordan and Minardi. They don't have engines."

There was a rustle nearby. The Colonel turned and blasted the bush, firing from the hip.

"It's a disgrace," he said, without missing a beat. "Allowing Americans to make decisions about Formula 1. They just don't understand the subject. They cannot see the bigger picture. And this Parry-Thomas chap. Did he defend F1 as much as much as he might have done? I suppose he's a Welshman, is he?"

The Colonel mentioned the Welsh as though they were all crooks and troglodytes, with no talent other than singing and occasional bright moments on the rugby field. The Mole decided to head off a xenophobic tirade.

"Parry-Jones," he said.

The interruption knocked The Colonel off his stride. He made a noise that sounded like "Hrrmmph" and The Mole moved in to change the subject.

"Parry-Thomas was a engineer who tried to beat the land speed record in the 1920s," he said. "He had this huge car called Babs with a massive great 27-litre aero-engine. Can you imagine? Anyway there was an accident at Pendine Sands. The chain came off and lopped half his head off."

"Oh dear," said the Reverend O. "Was he all right?"

"Not many people can survive with only half a brain," said The Mole.

"I know several," said The Colonel.

There was a pause.

"Anyway," said The Colonel. "This Parry-Thomas chap said that he thinks Jaguar Racing and Cosworth are very attractive to buyers. What do you think, Mole?"

"I am sure there will be a buyer for Jaguar," he said. "They have done a brilliant job in very difficult circumstances."

"Really?" said The Colonel.

"You bet," said The Mole. "Did you know that between 2002 and 2003 the team's budget went from $172m to $119m. Basically the bean counters halved the money that Ford put in. Halved it! From $90m to $47m. And in 2002 the team made a loss of $5m! And then in 2003 when the current mob took over the team did it all for considerably less money and turned a small profit. And did we notice any real change in the results?"

"That really is most impressive," said the Reverend O.

There was a loud bang.

"Fricasse-ed the bastard!" said The Colonel, looking across at the ragged remains of a rabbit.

The Reverend O made the sign of a cross in the air.

"The thing I'm worried about," said The Mole, "is that Cosworth needs a buyer. It is a fine little company without an F1 involvement but if they want to do F1 they need to find a truckload of money. They spend about $65m on the engine programme. That is all. People like Renault are spending $150m. That's the worry. Renault spends $240m with the engines and the chassis combined and they mess it up as they have this year. They were only lucky that McLaren and Williams had not done well. And Renault F1 made a loss of $9.4m in 2003. You cannot afford to do stuff like that when you have the bean counters paying close attention to the books.

"The thing that alarms me is that without Cosworth and without help from the others Minardi and Jordan are going to die. It is too late really and it is all going to be a big mess. Minardi can run its old Cosworths but only if the teams let them run the 2004 cars. They cannot afford to build new ones. And Jordan has got nothing at all."

"That's bloody awful," said The Colonel, as he blasted a pigeon from the sky.

"Pigeon pie for tea!"

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