THE MOLE

A message from Montreal

The Mole decided not to go to Canada and the United States and so had to find other ways to avoid his life becoming polluted by soccer. In Europe one cannot easily escape the game at the moment but out in the garden at Mole Manor the efforts of David Beckham and Wayne Rooney's toe make little impact among the flourishing rose bushes. With a couple of wicker chairs and a jug of Pimm's Number 1, complete with the necessary borage, cucumber, mint and orange, The Mole and The Colonel (The Mole's next door neighbour and a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party) were at peace with the world.

"To James Pimm, the oyster salesman!" said The Colonel in a toast to the creator of this most marvellous of all possible drinks.

"Indeed so," said The Mole.

Mrs Mole walked by with some secateurs and a basket and tut-tutted at the two men over-indulging on her turf.

Penelope (Roedean) had been sent off to Montreal with a transmitter that could bounce her transmissions off a satellite back to Mole Manor. It was all set up so that whenever Penelope sent a message The Mole would get a bleep on his bleeper and he could wonder down to the old garden shed and from there enter the secret bunker that lies beneath it, built in the 1950s when England was worried about the Russians invading Chelsea.

The Mole sat down at the old console, that would not have been out of place in Mission Control in Houston, and began reading the message on the screen.

"Latest from driver market," he said. "Ferrari sources say Schumacher staying. Raikkonen joining. Marlboro paying $75m. Two drivers equal status. Logic is that by paying large sum Ferrari secure two of top three drivers. Thus weaken opposition. Michael apparently willing to accept equal status. Odd. Felipe Massa to be farmed out to Toro Rosso with cut price Ferrari engines. Team boss Berger talking about Toro Rosso-Renault deal to lower Ferrari price. No real chance of Renault deal."

The Colonel raised an eyebrow and said "Blimey" to himself.

"Renault taking Fisichella and Kovalainen. Cheap. Fisichella will be number one. Kovalainen will beat him and thus be big new star. Flavio increases value of his asset. Fisichella takes blame if team does not win title. Renault split on supplying another team. Flav wants the money (as ever). Engineers want to win. Prodrive-Renault deal possible in 2007 with old cars and engines for testing operation. Time to build up infrastructure for two teams in 2008. Depends on money."

The Mole paused, took a sip of Pimm's and went back to the message again.

"McLaren takes Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Logical move for McLaren in circumstances. Nothing to lose. No-one better on market. Thus McLaren and Renault each have young star. Montoya looking for work. Talking to everyone who will listen. No-one very keen. Maybe America for him. Williams likely to keep current duo. Cheap. Cheerful. Red Bull Racing to use Cosworth engines, Newey chassis. Drivers Tonio Liuzzi and David Coulthard. Klien in trouble. Speed OK at Toro Rosso. Toyota to re-sign Jarno Trulli to partner Ralf. Logic is mystery. Honda same but need better car. Russian still deciding about sale of MF1 team. Question over BMW drivers: Heidfeld plus one. Probably Villeneuve as Kubica still very young. Jacques is big name but not very good singer. Bob Dylan meets Carpenters. Lobsters are great. P1."

"P1?" said The Colonel.

"Penelope number one," said The Mole. "It makes her feel happy."

The Colonel nodded, took a sip of Pimm's and considered the information.

"What do you make of that lot?" he asked.

"Sounds reasonable," said The Mole. "The only thing is that I cannot see Michael happily accepting Kimi on equal status. It is not his style. Michael likes servants rather than team mates. The team would have to change attitude completely."

"True," said The Colonel, "but I guess that Raikkonen is the future and they need him nailed down."

"The good thing," said The Mole, "is that if all of this happens we will have some big new stars coming in. A new generation for new fans to get excited about. The current lot have been around too long. Alonso and Raikkonen need some new challengers because the old lot are never going to do it. It is time for a clear out. There are eight drivers who are over 30 and change is needed. In the next couple of years I see them all disappearing: Michael, DC, Jacques, Rubens, Fizzy, Jarno, Ralf and Monty. They have all had their day in the sun. The team bosses are beginning to realise that it is time for change. The sport needs to appeal to a younger audience. I think that is very healthy. The new generation are going to be the babies of the 1980s: Button, Alonso, Liuzzi, Rosberg, Hamilton, Kubica and so on."

"Seems logical," said The Colonel.

June 26 2006

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