Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Billy on the Box: And it shall come to pass that no-one will

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 27: Former F1 driver David Coulthard (L) shares a joke with Sebastian Vettel (R) of Germany and Red Bull Racing as he celebrates his 40th birthday at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at the Albert Park Circuit on March 27, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Never let it be said that I don’t give anything a chance, and despite the risk of annoying Formula One fans again, I surfaced from under my Emerson Fittipaldi duvet at six o’clock on Sunday morning before slipping on my Niki Lauda dressing gown and Mario Andretti slippers to watch the curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix.

As always the Beeb makes a big song and dance of this, but at that time of the morning I just don’t need Jake Humphrey talking rubbish about drivers being ‘artists waiting for poetry to become motion’.

Just get the bit we all like on — the music — and let us long to hear Murray Walker and James Hunt, and watch exciting racing with real characters.

Given the boredom that was coming, you wished they’d let them race in Bahrain, and, sadly, there were more Mangel separatists rioting in Ramsey Street, while the nearest we got to an explosion was when Eddie Jordan’s shirt appeared.

There was a lot of time to fill, birthday boy David Coulthard revealed that he was a dab hand at sheep shearing, or at least I think that’s what he said, as my Rice Crispies were very snappy, crackly and poppy at that stage.

Then we had a painful piece with the three of them all heading to the Top Gear track with Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton to try and park a lorry festooned with ‘Vodafone’ and ‘Mercedes’ on it. That must have slipped past the Beeb’s advertising watchdogs.

It set me thinking though, why not just bring all the drivers there, let them do a lap each and the season would be over in one day, and would mean Bernie Ecclestone wouldn’t have to suggest employing fake rain. Just build a track in Larne, Bernie, you’d save yourself a fortune in the long run.

Still, at least Eddie was there to answer the big questions, such as: would there be more overtaking this year?

“Er, I don’t know,” he replied. Still, one man who was left in the pits was last year’s commentator, Jonathan Legard, ushered away to be never heard again, meaning Martin Brundle and Coulthard teamed up in the commentary box.

The trouble was, they had nothing to commentate on as Sebestian Vettel led at the first corner and led at the last one with virtually nothing other than mention of new rules and acronyms such as KERS and DRS in between. A load of oul safe handling in traction if you ask me.

On and on it went, like playing Scalextric on your own, and I was half expecting my old childhood companion Buster the Jack Russell to bound out in front of Vettel forcing him to crash into a bridge made from an empty tissue box, while my mum handed him a bag of Tayto Cheese and Onion and an orange Tip Top.

“It’s been an interesting race, it hasn’t been a stunner,” Brundle said apologetically at the end.

And after an emotion-free speech from Vettel, Martin added that we didn’t ‘need the Kleenex’ like we did when he won the World Championship. He’s probably used the box to make a bridge anyway.

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