Columns - The Man in the Pub

Fantasy Formula 1


In these straightened times a Pound will not buy very much. In the pub it's a third of a pint of beer or two bags of crisps, which is not much of a night out by any stretch of the imagination. However, if you shop around you'll be surprised what you can get for a Pound. Last week for instance you could have bought 819 branches of Woolworths, all stuffed to the gunnels with sweets, CDs and computer games and still have change left to buy a discount furniture retailer, which really is a bargain.

This week, if you believe what you read, for less than the cost of a loaf of bread you could buy your own Formula 1 team, complete with factory, trucks, posh motorhome, wind tunnels and your very own Jenson Button.

Honda may even throw in a couple of RA108s, which with last year's livery would make nice garden ornaments.

Let's face it, they aren't good for much else.

Now the chaps in The Amberley Inn are usually in the mood to put the world to rights so this got us thinking. We have, over several beers admittedly, been certain for some time that we could sort out the US sub-prime debt problem, reorganise the Treasury without giving billions of taxpayers money to bankers who could not run an ice cream van and still be home in time to watch "Strictly Come Dancing", which in these Dickensian times is about the only joy left in life.

So running an F1 team should be a doddle. Of course, finding the cash to buy Honda is one thing, but getting the $100m a year (or whatever figure it is this week) to run the squad is quite another, but in a world where rich Arabs buy football clubs they will never visit and spend $50m on a player who does 90 minutes worth of work a week - well, anything is possible. Isn't it?

If we had the clout, we'd snap Honda's F1 team up in a flash, so surely there is a Russian oligarch out there, bored with buying small countries who could take the outfit on with the loose change he'd find down the back of the sofa. Mind you, thinking back to how the last Russian effort went in F1, maybe that's not the best of examples. But you get the picture.

This is what we'd do if we bought the Honda F1 operation: and pay attention because there is a lot of detail. Make sure Ross Brawn is under a contract so tight that he would need permission to go to the loo. Tell Button that he can stay but only if takes on a points bonus scheme. He has trousered more than enough millions over the years. Take up Force India's Ferrari engine supply and (we like this bit) persuade Michael Schumacher to stop messing around with motorbikes and appoint him as team manager.

Swap one Brazilian driver - Rubens Barrichello - for another - Bruno Senna - and you should have sponsors kicking down the door. And, yes, here's a really good idea: get some sponsors - don't just think that being kind to polar bears is going to help pay for a car that costs $3000 a mile to run. Nobody in the pub swallowed that environmental nonsense anyway.

Sadly, some of the staff will have to go, but we don't believe for a second that you need anywhere near 700+ people to make two cars race 17 times a year.

Finally, burn anything that has "Earth Car" or "The Power of Dreams" written on it and give all of that horrid lime green and magnolia team clothing to an Irish line dancing troupe - at least they'd look good in it. They might even give you a Pound for it.


NB: The "Michael Schumacher as team manager" thing was actually the idea of the present Mrs Sinfield, who'd give me more hell than usual if that was not pointed out.