The Undercut: Brazil prepares to say goodbye to Felipe (again)
Plus: a superb charity shop find, Ferrari cry wolf again, and Lewis's 'planegate' problems
I had a bit of luck last week. I had an hour or so to kill in town while my current wife had her hair attended to, it was a cold day and 11am was probably too early to pop into a pub so I thought I’d have a root around the charity shops. As you do.
Anyway, tucked away at the back of Oxfam I spotted what looked like two ordinary red books with ‘F1 1998’ on the spine. What they in fact are, is the entire collection of F1 Racing magazine editions from that year, beautifully bound in two volumes with ‘Marlboro World Championship Team’ embossed in gold on the cover. Mint condition and only £3.99 each.
A quick email check to someone in the know, revealed that these were never on sale but were commissioned by Marlboro as an end of year gift, possibly for Ferrari guests. One of the volumes is unfortunately bound upside down (that legendary Ferrari quality control even extends to books), so this pair probably never made it out of the printers until they turned up in the Oxfam shop twenty years later. These things are rarer than Sauber points.
What a result.
So that is my big news, what else has been happening in the world of F1 I hear you (possibly) ask?
Well. Fernando Alonso continues to be linked with racing events elsewhere, the latest rumour being that he could enter Le Mans with Toyota next year. He is already signed up for Daytona in January and an Indy 500 return is still being talked about. It is only a matter of time before he expresses an interest in riding in the Grand National.
Elsewhere, Ferrari continue to throw their toys out of the pram, by threatening to quit F1. I can’t even be bothered to check why, something to do with engines but despite what Bernie Ecclestone says, they won’t go anywhere. They need F1 more than F1 needs them and they are the only people who fail to realise this.
That really was about it, until the BBC News at Six on Monday and up first, the headline act, one Lewis Hamilton and how he, when buying that jet he loves to brag about, avoided (legally) paying over three million quid to the VAT man.
My first thought was ‘well, bang goes the knighthood’ before I remembered that The Queen was somehow embroiled in an offshore investment scheme involving corgis or something.
At least Lewis is in good company.
I tweeted what the BBC had said and of course, the inevitable furious backlash ensued from his devoted worshippers.
One rather sniffy response was that he had done nothing wrong (I never said he did) and that it was the same as me reclaiming the VAT on my laptop.
I suppose so, but I never felt the need to set up a company in the British Virgin Islands to buy the laptop, import it into the EU via another company I have on the Isle of Man before leasing it to a charter company who then rent it back to me.
Apparently, this would make the jet, or laptop, a genuine business item but it would appear that the tax folk are interested in all the private use he makes of it. According to The Guardian, he could be looking at a bill of £1m.
He’ll probably be regretting all those Instagram snaps of him posing with the ‘plane before jetting off to the Kardashians' for tea or table tennis with Justin Bieber.
Ask yourself this: How did he get up there?
The media frenzy is of course huge and in the age of instant news there isn’t a lot of time to check facts. The Mirror had the aircraft correctly valued at £16.5m while The Sun must have thought he had a Ryanair version as they said it cost £1.9m. Still, we must not let the facts get in the way of such an entertaining tale.
I’ve just remembered, this is supposed to be a Brazilian Grand Prix preview but thanks to PlaneGate, I’m nearly out of space, so here is a shortened version:
The race is on Sunday. Red Bull reckon they can win it. The championship is done and dusted, though Sebastian Vettel or Valtteri Bottas can still go for second place in the standings and it looks likely to rain.
I’ll leave you with a quote from an article entitled ‘Why are there no black Formula 1 drivers?’ in the February 1998 edition of my F1 Racing find, which says:
“F1’s first black star will have to be absolutely outstanding on the track, while completely charming off it. He must never put a foot wrong, especially in the eyes of journalists and television reporters. Could Lewis Hamilton fit the bill? Watch this space”.
Anyway, must go, I need to see if these books can be claimed as a business expense.
See you in the DriveTribe F1 chatroom during the race!