Honey Trap

"Why do the Germans call this the German Grand Prix?" asked Penelope (Wycombe Abbey), as she sat bravely in the passenger seat of The Mole's Alvis TF21 (with bodywork by Hermann Graber) as it careered along in the fast lane of autobahn A61, on the way from Cologne to Nurburg. The "old girl" (as The Mole incongruously liked to refer to this "Master of the King's Highway") was comfortably travelling at 100 mph, The Mole stared intently at the road ahead, and failing, with a certain purpose, to give way to the ever-expanding line of sleek 2007 Mercedes S-Classes which followed him.

Darkness was falling.

"Well, the Nurburgring is in Germany. How do you expect them to describe it?" replied Penelope (Roedean), easily reclining across the back seat, her lithe legs outstretched as far as the "old girl" would allow. It is worth noting that those very legs - long, slender and honed by innumerable hours on the hockey fields of Oxfordshire - were usually reserved exclusively for the vice-like grip of Guards officers returning from duty in Iraq, and of course for moments when the British motorsport industry called for her exceptional talents to be pressed into service.

"This weekend could be one of those moments," The Mole mused to himself, as he caught a glimpse of her porcelain-perfect ankle in the rear-view mirror, quickly averting his eyes to avoid any suspicion that he was actually aware of the headlight beams of shadowing Mercedes.

"It's the European Grand Prix" replied Penelope (Wycombe Abbey). "I tell you, it's the European Grand Prix. There is no German Grand Prix this year. Something to do with Bernie and money, I expect. It just happens to be held in Germany, but it could be anywhere in Europe and still be European, couldn't it?"

"Now, girls," said The Mole. "This is a serious mission. Germany makes the best cars in the world. The 'Ring is arguably the finest track in the world. Formula 1 is over-run with Germans. They have to have a race, and they have to call it German, even if we have put paid to Hockenheim. Germany also forms the largest single threat to the dominance of Britain in the world of motorsport, apart from those American wallahs in NASCAR-land. We have taken care of Mercedes by bringing them into the fold via McLaren, and as for BMW, well, the Williams plan did not quite work out, but shifting them to neutral Switzerland was a master-stroke. A compromise at least. Fortunately, Toyota in Cologne has proved not to be a threat, but that is cancelled out by the failure of Honda to make its mark in Brackley or to get Jenson a series of podiums

"Now that Schumacher is out and Hamilton is in, the tide of the war is turning. We are looking at collateral targets and intelligence gathering deep in the heart of enemy territory. It is vital that you keep your eyes and ears open this weekend."

The Mole paused.

"I do not discount deploying a honey trap," he added. "Can I rely on you in your country's hour of need?"

The girls noted the steely determination in The Mole's voice. There was an air of risk and uncertainty about this mission.

"Do we have to?" said Penelope (Roedean).

"I do hope it's Ralf," said Penelope (Wycombe Abbey). He is rather gorgeous."

"I've heard it said," said The Mole.

"That Nick Heidfeld is too much of a boy, even with a beard," Penelope went on. "But please, please, please, not one of the corporate types."

"No, girls," said The Mole. "I said collateral targets. There is a British-based Dutch F1 team. Our counterparts in the Netherlands have a man on the inside. Need-to-know basis only, of course, but not very subtle. His name translates from Dutch directly as Mole. He is supposed to be in charge. The Dutch would be perfect allies, except ..."

The Mole hesitated.

Penelope (Wycombe Abbey) swore later that she saw a tear in his eye, which evaporated in a moment.

"... except for Colin Kolles. "He is Romanian, but no one knows for certain which side he is on. He is a chameleon. He metamorphosed from Chavski to Van Der Chav with no more effort than it took him to transform himself from dentist into team principal. He is a German and he is running things there at Spyker. Our analysts cannot establish his master plan, but it can't just be to find a succession of wealthy team-owners and part them from their millions. What is the point? We cannot discount some dastardly objective. But we must find out. We have to be ruthless and calculating."

"I don't think a honey-trap will work," said Penelope (Wycombe Abbey). "Isn't he that odd-looking creature who wore a thick fleece top in the heat in Malaysia?"

"And he can't even tuck his shirt in," added Penelope (Roedean). "I don't think he is designed to succumb to our charms. And I hear he's happily married and has babies everywhere. Besides, he's not really my kettle of fish - even for England.

"I don't think there is any hidden agenda," she added. "I think he's a salesman. He sells race drives for previously-unheard-of sums of money, and pretends he is the only one who can do it. We all know that if you have a race seat available in F1, you can always sell it; the trick is to sell it to the right driver, one who later becomes a star - a commodity."

"Oh, look - Dusseldorf," said Penelope (Wycombe Abbey), pointing to a large road sign. "My grandfather says that he has never been there, but flew over it a few times 60-odd years ago. He says it looked just beautiful, all lit up at night."

The Mole rolled his eyes to the heavens and pulled into the middle lane.

"This mission is doomed to failure," he thought to himself. "So why risk England's finest?"

A succession of Mercedes S-Classes streamed past and disappeared into the night.

July 20 2007

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