The Third Leader: Off track

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The Independent Online

Phew, or perhaps, pneu! Not a good day, at Indianapolis, for Michelin, for Formula One racing, or for anyone arguing the attractions of racing about in screeching, belching, guzzling machines and occasionally killing yourself. Down here, of course, we take a Voltairean line on defending to the death, and your death, the right to go round in circles; we are aware, too, that, as with opera, oysters and Big Brother, there may be subtleties which we are not sufficiently sophisticated to appreciate; but, on the other hand, blimey.

Phew, or perhaps, pneu! Not a good day, at Indianapolis, for Michelin, for Formula One racing, or for anyone arguing the attractions of racing about in screeching, belching, guzzling machines and occasionally killing yourself. Down here, of course, we take a Voltairean line on defending to the death, and your death, the right to go round in circles; we are aware, too, that, as with opera, oysters and Big Brother, there may be subtleties which we are not sufficiently sophisticated to appreciate; but, on the other hand, blimey.

Should you not be entirely au fait, a brief recap, as I understand it. Driver using Michelin tyres crashes on corner at 175mph practising for big race. Michelin says its tyres not safe to go round corner. Michelin asks for chicane before corner to slow everyone down. Not all agree. There is a suggestion that everyone should drive more slowly. Ditto. Race starts and Michelin men drive straight to pits, leaving six cars to race instead of 20. Crowd not happy: imagine 130,000 enraged Homer Simpsons. Quite. Beer cans thrown.

What's to be done? Well, they were already trying to make it more fun, and this might well be an inspirational, if disguised, blessing. Perhaps the drivers should race straight to the pits, then run to grab the bottle of champagne. And then there's the driving-more-slowly option: how about last man wins? Or without one of those blondes falling off the bonnet? Bruce Forsyth? Graham Norton?

If all that's too radical, surely it would be far more gripping (sorry), and useful, to have a set of typical speed limits (no police drivers allowed, obviously). Alternatively: anyone for tennis?

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