Belfast Telegraph

Formula 1 is back in business and so is Arnold Schwarzenegger

By Billy Weir

When the highlight of a sporting event is an ageing film star in suit and trainers trotting out the same tired catchphrases after two hours of tedium, you know that it is going to be a long season.

The Formula One procession for the title kicked off in Australia, which meant an early start for the Sky F1 team in Melbourne, while the Beeb were probably delighted that they didn't have the rights, meaning they got to show what highlights there were and got a bit of a lie-in too.

Perhaps it's a cunning NHS plot to aid insomniacs, for even the briefest exposure to the world's fastest sport could send them into sleeps so deep they may never waken again or at least until Eddie Jordan's trousers frighten them back to life.

Presenter Simon Lazenby, who looks more and more like David Moyes, told us "we're only half an hour from lights out in Melbourne" and just in case you weren't reaching for the pyjamas, Damon Hill was unleashed upon the wide awake to work his magic.

"The most vitally important bit of the race is the race itself," he said, but he was soon to be over-shadowed, and it was quite a shadow, as Simon got very excited.

"There he is, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Terminator is in the house," he said, before we cut to Kevin Magnussen on the warm-up lap, shuddering to a halt, with no passes, with his race, well, terminated before it started.

A bit of a raw deal for the rookie, robbed of the chance to become a fast action hero before being ushered back to the pits by a kindergarten cop. I'll stop now, too much collateral damage.

The expert opinions from former world champions kept on coming though, Sir Jackie Stewart surmising what may have been Magnussen's woes.

"There's a lot of smoke, there's something wrong there," he hinted, before shaking his head ruefully and predicting that it could be costly and it would be Tuesday week before he could pull on some tartan overalls to look at it.

It was a common problem, only 15 cars scheduled to start, in the end only 11 finished, so Martin Brundle's grid walk was even more chaotic than usual. Thank goodness for big Arnie as he asked him why he was here, knowing full well that he was here to present the prizes to the best Mercedes driver and third for the rest of the drivers.

Just when you couldn't get any more excited, they started talking about how heavy the cars are.

"They're very light, 700 kilograms or similar," said Arnold.

"702, you know your stuff," replied Martin. Well, he has detailed files.

A chat with an Austrian completed, Brundle trundled along to have a quick word with a German, with Sebastien Vettel not a bit interested.

"A lot of rain overnight, has it affected the track?" he was asked.

"Not really," came the reply.

"15 start today, you don't have a lot of competition," added a determined Brundle.

"We'll see," was the response and he was off quicker than Seb Coe.

And soon all the cars, what was left of them, were off too and within 20 seconds we had a safety car, which was nice because we got to see Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg for a while as when we started again they were off like startled kangaroos.

The next we saw of them was on the podium, being interviewed by Arnie.

"It's Arnold Schwarzenegger, man, nice to meet you," blurted out Hamilton, the most excited he'd been all day.

"I thought you were taller on Terminator," he added, before Arnie confessed that "I'm not wearing my high heels" before it all ended as we had started with the pair, in unison, joining in on an impromptu "I'll be back" for the next race.

Sadly, they may be right but as far as race one goes, no-one is going to have total recall on that one.

Belfast Telegraph

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