Belfast Telegraph

And they're off – straight into court

By Billy Weir

Rummaging around in my mother's roofspace not so long ago, I came across a prized heirloom. No, not a Ming vase, a lost Rembrandt or a Faberge egg, but my 1980 Grand Prix wallchart – more crash than cash in the attic.

Back then, while my Scalextric was still assembled at all times, I loved Formula One. Murray Walker in the commentary box jostling with James Hunt, the music, exotic names like Mario Andretti, Gilles Villeneuve and Emerson Fittipaldi, John Watson in his McLaren festooned with fag adverts and a big rough Aussie bloke called Alan Jones.

It was fitting then that, according to Sky, as the 'brave new world of Formula One' was about to begin in Melbourne on Sunday, that one of the first people presenter Simon Lazenby bumped into was Jones.

It's fair to say, like myself, Jones has changed a little since that title-winning year, a few barbies have been held and a few cans of amber nectar have been imbibed, but he was still ahead of the pack.

He recalled his title win, when, as he said, 'Big Ben was a wristwatch' and hopes were high in this new dawn that Daniel Ricciardo would prevail and see an Aussie mount the podium for a first time in their own backyard.

"He's got that lovely smile but he grows horns at the right time," said Jones, and he was right, as somehow he got his Red Bull into second place and it was quite a sight as thousands of Bruces and Sheilas thronged into the pits to see two Aussie blokes hug in public.

He may be able to grow horns but unfortunately for him someone in the garage couldn't pour petrol and he was promptly disqualified, meaning the brave new world of F1 started with a procession of a win for Nico Rosberg and the man in second will finish his race in about three months time in court.

"It's like going from the vinyl era to the digital download era and missing out the CD age in between," explained commentator David Croft, or Crofty as we must call him, as he tried to explain the exciting new rule changes for the cars.

All week we'd been told how Lewis Hamilton was unstoppable and he was, for two laps, before he retired. Not like an Englishman to disappoint Down Under.

There was some hope though in the shape of Kevin Magnusson, a cherubic-cheeked Danish cub, who surely must have some Irish in him to follow in the wheelnuts of Watson, Eddie Irvine and the mighty Tim O'Glock.

He came third (or second depending on the lawyers) and as Martin Brundle said, he 'looks like his mum sent him out for the afternoon.' It won't last though, she'll call him for dinner just as soon as you've finished filling in your wallchart and put that Fleetwood Mac album back in its sleeve.

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