Ahh Monaco – playground of the rich and famous, and home to a few F1 drivers, Button included, who even prior to this season sat at 35th on the Monaco 2007 rich list, which doesn’t seem to have been updated since it states his championship chances as slim. DC is also on the list at 33 and both sit behind greats such as Ringo Starr, Stelios and Sir Michael Smurfit (something to do with packaging, but man what a name!!). If you’re interested, top is Topshop owner Sir Philip Green who back in 2007 was worth a sizeable £4.9 billion and had recently spent £60 million on his 60th birthday.
The rich dwellers, the yachts and the fact you have to shell out 70 quid just to sit on a precariously steep hill to watch the race gives the impression of a decadent and luxurious race full of guilty pleasures (crashes) and smooth moves. Oh well, not this year then? I found it to be, dare I say a little dull? There were a few ‘moments’ including fall-off-my-seat shock when Kimi smiled….yes he smiled….more than once even! And did anyone else notice the glitter mirrored squares that adorned Vettel’s helmet – perhaps he is trying to rival Glockdog in the bling stakes? Also, it was a happy birthday to Rubens, a shock to see Heikki Kovalainen (I admit I’d forgotten he existed), a great dramatic dive in the charity football match from Alonso and a bewildering moment when Legard opened his commentary with:
“Three words: Location, location, location.”
Now I don’t want to be picky but surely that is one word said three times? But I digress, on to the Badgerometer!
In at one is Jenson Button because the incredible five times winner, six times podium stander and 4 times pole-sitter (hehe) hasn’t actually featured in the Badgerometer since the season began and its about time he sat at the top, in the same way he sits at the top of the championship with a sizeable 16 point lead. In the preseason Badgerometer I mentioned Button because of his good looks and ability to sport Ray-Bans and stubble, but it turns out he is also a phenomenal driver, has a really cool dad and a great attitude towards his fellow drivers. Plus he is a human being and shows real emotion both pre and post race. When Button was talking to Brundle on the grid I was concerned he wasn’t going to win, he sounded croaky and a bit distracted, but my fears were all allayed when he got to the first corner in front and then in true Button style built his lead until it was over 15 seconds – and that really is the measure of what an amazing driver is. We know the Brawn car is quick, but even when we have a Button Barrichello 1,2, Button still builds up enormous leads.
Button really does deserve his glory and is taking it with modesty and continuing to progress and succeed, no laurel resting for this one. And this brilliantness has come as such a surprise, with Daddy Button and Ross Brawn both stating on Sunday that even they were shocked at how well he was doing. Bernie Ecclestone was the only person to be negative stating that Button was making F1 predictable….I am not sure how he draws this conclusion, but maybe he wants predictability only with a red car out front. I am more pleased than I can say for Jenson Button and as an F1 fan I am rewarded every race by his humility and genuine pleasure at winning, congrats Jense and may it continue, but perhaps with less of the naff Austin Powers, “yeah baby yeah” style celebrating.
In at number two is Brundle’s pre-race grid walk. What on earth was going on? Answers on a postcard to the random Brazilian journalist he ‘interviewed’ who seemed as perplexed as I was. Aside from the conspiratorial chat with Button where they seemed to chat in code as not to give away any Brawn strategy, Martin seemed to wander around the grid with not much to do. Having said that, Olympic athlete Johnson had more to say for himself than any of the other ‘celebrities’ normally on the gird – Danni Minogue, Nicole Scherzinger and Bernie Ecclestone’s secret love child Geri Halliwell. Although perhaps I am being cruel because Geri actually did appear to know what she was talking about – it was just a shame it was sandwiched between 90s style ‘Girl/Britain Power’ sentiments, that resulted in me and Mr Ecclestone cringing which led to further cringing from me as I realised I had something in common with little Bernie.
And why did Brundle cattily point out to Geri that there were a few million viewers, not entirely sure what point he was trying to make with that comment or earlier when he insulted (a perhaps oversensitive) Villeneuve by insinuating he was too old and slow to race anymore. This was not taken well by the Canadian at the time, probably because Yahoo reports today that he is actually planning a return to formula one if the budget cap goes ahead and is actually quoted as saying he is fast and fit enough to return. Ooops looks as though Brundle ripped out a nerve and stomped on it before rubbing it with sand paper and pouring vinegar on it to make it really really really raw. However I did enjoy Brundle’s spot on sarcasm when he walked away from Kimi Raikkonen without even trying to interview him stating he wasn’t sure Kimi spoke anymore! (The Kimi bashing will stop but he just gives us so much ammunition we simply can’t ignore!)
In at three is the ‘durable’ super-soft tyres as told by Bridgestone, it begs the question how had they tested them? On a fiat cinquecento going to Sainsbury’s perhaps? It did seem as though these tyres were going to be the undoing of the Brawns as by lap 11 Rosberg was 1.5 seconds faster than Button and then in lap 12 Kimi starts to catch Barrichello, whilst Massa and Rosberg are getting lap times 2 seconds faster than Button. And 2 laps earlier the race was pretty much over for Vettel when he limped back to the pit lane with completely degraded tyres and lost 11 places, albeit then going on to hit the barrier and spin out in lap 15 anyway. However despite an early wobble for Brawn, pit stops by the pair on lap 16 saw them regain their traction by using the right tyres (seems they too listen to Brundle) and the problem was resolved. So we can conclude the super-soft tyres are rubbish, they give lots of grip initially reducing the amount of accidents (not good) and then degrade rapidly, reducing the amount of speed (again not good), so its back to the drawing board (or perhaps the test track) for Bridgestone as far as the Badgerometer is concerned.
At four is the commentary and thank heavens for ‘Ted’ for listening to the in-depth team radio coverage. He was the only one in the commentary box who had anything of interest to say with facts about the team’s strategy, insights into crashes and altercations and the low-down on the tyre fiasco. An unusually quiet Brundle and Legard commentating on a race that didn’t have a lot going on made for dull listening and frankly I think silence would have been better. We did get another gem of info though when we were told ‘you’re never going to sleep here, because you don’t know what’s around the next corner.’ Err….no you are never going to sleep here because you are driving an f1 car at a couple of hundred miles an hour in a RACE, the noise alone would be enough to keep those peepers open not to mention the fines and ridicule you’d face for falling asleep at the wheel!
Five on the Badgerometer this week has been cancelled due to lack of interest….literally. Now I am sure that the Monaco race had its merits and I am probably not experienced enough in F1 watching to know what they were, but for me it was a bit dry and even when there were a few whiffs of excitement they seemed to be over in a flash. It even got to the point where around lap 40-50 myself and co-watchers found ourselves talking about the weather where we were and comparing it to the temperatures in Monaco (if anyone’s interested we concluded they were roughly the same here in London). And it wasn’t the lack of crashes or overtaking that left this race a bit limp it was just an absence of prolonged drama that left us feeling flat. If you have an idea for number five, leave it in the comments below…
This week I am miffed with Monaco, as in the place itself and this is a ‘miffedness’ borne of pure and complete jealousy that never in my wildest dreams will I be rich enough to live there, own a boat there and generally be a decadent and fabulous Monaconian or however it is they are known. What a relief the next races are in Istanbu and just outside Milton Keynes in the dilapidated Silverstone, it will bring us all back down to earth, oh and we still have the ‘glamour’ of Germany to look forward to! Although it did make me giggle that the drivers were not allowed to have their champagne on the (non) podium in case they ‘got’ the royal family.
And finally big congrats to Bourdais for making up 6 places during the race, far and above anyone else and he is definitely my driver of the race. Oh and does anybody know why is Hamilton filming everything? ….more to the point does he know?!?