How the rich live
JUNE 1, 2006
Working in motor racing gives one friends all over the world and The Mole is fortunate to know a number of very rich people who enjoy their expensive toys.
Fortunately, The Mole's knowledge of the ins and outs of Formula 1 makes him a popular guest amongst VIPs as people like nothing better than to be able to tells their friends what is really happening inside F1. The Mole rarely takes advantage of his position in this way but before Monaco two offers combined to create a really nice day: one pal suggested that after the Grand Prix they should cruise across to St Tropez on his shiny white motor yacht and another offered to fly The Mole back to England in his small private plane. The Mole convinced the latter to agree to meet him at the St Tropez aerodrome and so created a very pleasant way to get home.
And so soon after the chequered flag had fallen The Mole jumped aboard a tender in the port and was whisked off to a 23m vessel called a Sunseeker Manhattan 74 with a name like Windfall or Lucky Lady, as they all have on the Cote d'Azur. And at 35 knots they thundered quietly off towards St Tropez, four hours away. During the voyage they sat on the deck and enjoyed the comprehensively equipped bar and then a flurry of pretty New Zealanders served them a rather splendid dinner in the dining room with Limoge porcelain, Baccarat crystal and Christofle cutlery.
"It really is a splendid way of life," said The Mole, as he sipped on a glass of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild. "So very civilised."
The following morning The Mole was taken by tender to the port to meet his old friend who managed the aerodrome at St Tropez and together they drove up to the Chateau de la Mole to talk to the Boyer de Fonscolombe family about whether they might one day sell him the chateau. The answer was, as usual, a polite "Non merci" but The Mole concluded that if he continued to occasionally mention his interest, they might eventually remember him when they decided to flog the family pile, as old French families always do in the end so that they can buy apartments in chic locations. The Mole reckoned that this day would come the next time they had to pay for a new roof and so paid careful attention to the state of the tiles, remarking at one point: "Goodness, it looks like an elephant landed on the roof over there."
His mission complete he then had rather a good lunch in the sunshine and then they went to the aerodrome to await the arrival of his plane, a Beech Baron which The Mole liked immediately if only because it has two engines. It was rather difficult to stay awake all the way back to Farnborough but as The Mole knew that he had to pay his fare with information, he began to relate all the rumours and scandals of the Monaco weekend, which already seemed rather a long time ago.
The entire event had been dominated by the business with Michael Schumacher on Saturday but The Mole explained that this had been a pleasantly positive business as the FIA Stewards had shown for the first time in years that they were willing to punish Ferrari, even at the cost of a race dominated by Fernando Alonso. By doing that the stewards made everyone feel that the close relationship in recent times between Ferrari and the FIA does not extend beyond proper limits as some have suspected. By Sunday morning the new permanent steward Tony Scott Andrews had become St Anthony and everyone wanted to shake his hand and buy him a drink. Everyone in the F1 paddock seemed unusually happy which reminded The Mole of the good old days when the sport was less serious and more fun. It was like racing used to be before the political upheavals of recent years began. It was great.
Explaining all this took most of the flight but they still had time to discuss other matters as the plane passed over Le Touquet and headed out to sea, with the English coast visible ahead.
"The big thing was engines," said The Mole. "Williams is just a few weeks away from signing its deal with Toyota and so that frees up the Cosworth engines and MF1 Racing. The word on the street is that MF1 will get a Cosworth deal but that the engine compnay's big thrust in 2007 will be supplying engines to Red Bull Racing. Red Bull has a deal with Ferrari for next year but everyone knows that is never going to result in wins and so they are going to offload the engine and a car based on the RB2 to Scuderia Toro Rosso. It is cheaper that way. And that will mean that Adrian Newey and his design team at Red Bull Racing will be building a car around the Cosworth V8. With the new ideas about freezing engines for three years, this will be a good package. Williams has shown this year that the Cosworth is a very good a good little engine even if it is unreliable. The thing now is to homologate the most powerful version of the engine one can imagine and then work through the blow-ups to avoid being uncompetitive for the next three years.
"Marvellous," said the enthralled plane owner. "Have another gin and tonic."
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