THE MOLE

How to really upset Michelin

With the motor racing world relatively quiet at this time of year, The Mole and his colleagues in SIS Headquarters in Vauxhall (which is no longer a secret now that MI6 has its own website) have spent the last few days reading the revelations of Vasily Mitrokhin, a KGB man who for 30 years kept track of the going-on in Moscow. When the Soviet empire fell apart Mitrokhin dug up the paperwork, which was buried in his garden, and asked the Americans if they would like it. The Americans, in their infinite wisdom, said that it was a load of old Red bull.

This amused The Mole. Everything is bull until it suddenly comes true. Who would have thought a week ago that Adrian Newey would sign for Red Bull Racing? It is a move that makes a lot of sense on the one hand, but on the other is not necessarily a good idea as Newey's arrival is hardly likely to be greeted with delight by Mark Smith and Gunther Steiner who have both been technical director at the team in the last few months.

But when you have money like Dietrich Mateschitz does, you can do what you like and pay to get out of the messes you create, which is bit like running a government. All those nice tax-payers keep giving you money and you can waste it on whatever pet project you happen to have.

Mitrokhin revealed, for example, that India's national heroine Indira Gandhi, codename Vano, was a KGB spy for 30-odd years thanks to the skillful art of bribery. And Salvador Allende of Chile, the great liberal cause for many years, turns out not to have been such a liberal himself as he too was a Soviet agent. Not to mention 35 high-ranking officials in France and most of the German bureaucracy.

"Is nothing sacred?" said The Mole. "Are there no morals left in this sick and twisted world?"

"Good Lord no," said Penelope (Roedean), who was sitting at her desk, polishing her handgun with all the loving care she would have employed if it were her nails. "Morals are a thing of the past. People just don't sleep with one another any longer."

The Mole grunted. Things were better in the 1960s, he thought. What with free love and all that. The only problem as he recalled was that free love never quite made it into the Foreign Office, despite the best efforts of John Profumo and Sean Connery.

Motor racing was not much better. Back in the 1960s everyone was sleeping with everyone else. The Mole blushed to even think about some of the stories, but nowadays most of the drivers appear to be rather dull and rather monogamous although he was amused by David Coulthard's recent remark about there being only two certainties in life: "death and nurses".

It is not even certain that by hiring Adrian Newey and using Ferrari engines the Red Bull team will get to the top of the F1 pile.

There are other elements to the package as well. Notably tyres.

This is important in 2006 and The Mole had spent a few days investigating the recent vote at the F1 Commission which resulted in the new tyre rules coming in next year. Or perhaps one should say the old rules coming back.

It was no big surprise that Ferrari, Williams, Toyota and Jordan (who will all use Bridgestones in 2006) voted for the idea. Renault, BAR, McLaren and BMW (still known as Sauber) all voted against the idea, which was not a surprise as all are Michelin users and the French tyre company was clearly against the proposal.

Red Bull Racing voted in favour of the rule change, despite the fact that it will be running Michelins next year.

Minardi abstained. Thus there were five team votes against the idea and five in favour, which meant that the 12 votes that the teams control were split six-six. If Red Bull had voted against the idea the vote would have been 8-4 and it would have been impossible for the propossal to have passed because the representative of the engine companies would have had to have voted against the idea, as his vote had to reflect the views of all the people he was representing.

And here was the strange thing. Although people disagree on which way Bernie Ecclestone voted, everyone agreed that Bridgestone, representing the tyre companies, voted for the motion. This is most odd when one considers that the Japanese company is supposed to represent the interests of the tyre companies, rather than its own devices and desires. With the two tyre companies split 50-50, Bridgestone should perhaps have abstained.

"Small wonder Michelin was so upset," mumbled The Mole.

One might argue that if the whole procedure were to be repeated now the Minardi vote would switch from being an abstention to being for the motion as Red Bull has now taken over the little Italian team. That would have given the teams six votes for and four against, enough to have won the day.

"But that's the whole point," said The Mole. "The vote had to happen before November 1 in order to come in next year."

The Mole pondered awhile on whether one should worry too much about such things and concluded that the manufacturers, who are planning their own series, would have taken note of the voting.

And, of course, Red Bull racing will now have top have a long, hard think about what it has just done. It is hardly likely that Michelin is not going to put a turncoat team at the top of its priority list, indeed the French fellows might be forgiven for making Red Bull's 2006 tyres in a concrete mixer.

"Perhaps it would be wise for the team to switch to Bridgestone," said The Mole.

"Absolutely," said Penelope, blowing down the barrel of her gun, to make sure there was nothing nasty lurking in the mechanism.

Click here to read previous Mole columns: The Mole Archive

Print Feature