Columns - The Man in the Pub

And conditions are perfect for racing


And with those words, ITV's anchorman Steve Rider welcomed us to the season opening Australian Grand Prix. Yours truly, in time honoured fashion, duly shouted back: "No, they flippin' well aren't!".

Shouting at the television is something that I do a lot, normally during the news or whenever anybody in a jumper mentions the word "environment". The family is used to this sort of behaviour, but they weren't expecting it at two o'clock on Sunday morning. Conditions were definitely not perfect from where I was sitting. I mean, what sane person gets up in the middle of the night and wraps oneself up in a duvet, with a steaming hot drink while winter rages outside in the darkness?

You have to be a serious fan to be doing this sort of thing.

And, of course, what we really want is to see a great race to make it all worth while. The Australian Grand Prix was, in my opinion, an OK kind of race. No more than that. The TV coverage was average but we saw Lewis Hamilton relieve Jenson Button of the title of "Britain's next World Champion". We all breathed a sigh of relief when Alex Wurz emerged with his noggin intact after 500kg of Red Bull machinery swiped across his visor, but apart from that it just wasn't that exciting. Kimi Raikkonen dominated.

The reason that I was getting a tad irritated was that whenever the Grand Prix coverage starts with the words "conditions are perfect for racing" and the camera pans around a sunny, bone dry circuit, I fundamentally disagree withe the assessment. I'm sure that for those folk lucky enough to be bathing in a bit of sunshine in Melbourne, conditions were indeed perfect for racing. If you were up in a corporate box with a few prawns and some Chardonnay, it was probably a nice day out, but for us at home watching on the electric fishtank, it did not deliver what we wanted to see. All we wanted was a bit of rain. Even a little light drizzle would have done.

Apart from maybe Juan Pablo Montoya getting out of bed the wrong side on race morning and stepping on one of his kid's diapers, is there anything that is 100% guaranteed to produce an exciting or spectacular race?

All together now ... RAIN!

Now I am not saying that I would be advocating this if I had parted with a large pile of the folding stuff to be there in the grandstand because when you are in that position the one thing you don't want is rain. Whenever I suggest a trip to a Grand Prix, She Who Must Be Obeyed will point out that whenever we go to races it always rains and she really doesn't like getting all her glad rags wet when she could stay at home and get rained on free of charge. She is exaggerating, of course, but we do seem to have a talent for attending rain-affected races. We always pick the really wet ones. It rained so much at Barcelona in 1996, that the sight of Noah knocking up an Ark in the F1 paddock would not have been a surprising thing to have seen. And the Saturday at Spa back in 2005 was so wet that our luxurious lunch was rather ruined by the fact that our champagne glasses were filling up with water from the heavens. There have been other events wrecked by a bit of precipitation, but those two races have coloured her opinion somewhat.

Nevertheless, it is clear that a bit of the wet stuff livens up the proceedings somewhat, and although Bernie Ecclestone has been known to work the odd miracle, controlling the weather is (as far as we know) not one of his many talents.

We were discussing this matter down at the pub the other day - as one does - and although perhaps we had had a couple of lemonades too many, the lads and I came up with a solution which would get everyone talking about Formula 1 again.


When Herr Tilke next knocks up a new circuit, maybe he can add a few sprinklers to keep the grass green and also the track wet. This could be set to work on a completely random basis at different points around the circuit with different settings ranging from a light spraying to a full-on soaking. Some parts of the track could be dry and others could have a Brazil style river flowing across the tarmac.

Bear with me here. There is a precedent about to be set. Many years ago, Mr E said that a night-time Grand Prix under floodlights would happen: "Over my dead body", and yet here we are with a night race looking certain to be on the cards - and not just for the folks who have to get up early back in Europe.

If one can introduce one such truly radical idea then why not mine as well.

We would have great races every time AND the added bonus that the ladies in the Paddock Club would stay dry in their new frocks - and the car parks will not turn into mud that would not be out of place on the Western Front.

Perfect !

Rob Sinfield also writes for