Belfast Telegraph

Billy Weir on the box: Lewis busts in Monte Carlo

By Billy Weir

Things started promisingly in Monaco for the Grand Prix on Sunday and ended with a bang - it's just a shame the 90 minutes in between were less than enthralling.

Yes, it may be the most glittering day on the F1 calendar, played out on the streets of the rich, famous and beautiful in Monte Carlo, but for most of it there is all the excitement of watching someone play Scalextric on their own with two controllers.

This is very much Sky's approach when it comes to dishing out the races that BBC can show live in the season and thus it meant that the Beeb, even if Suzy Perry painted on a blue frock and slipped into some killer heels, was only given highlights.

By then the world knew that wee Lewis Hamilton had been robbed and by not one, but two pesky Germans. Twenty years ago, The Sun would have had a front page with the pair of them with points coming out of their helmets. That's the crash type, not a German man with an unfortunate affliction.

But Mr Murdoch's broadcasting arm is above that sort of thing, thus we started proceedings with a camera trained on a bottom clad in a pair of very short denim shorts, the like of which we haven't seen since Daisy Duke was straddling General Lee.

For the uninitiated that was the car in the Dukes of Hazzard, not an unusual welcome home surprise for a senior military operative, but Cara Delevingne wasn't being just so friendly to Sky's intrepid grid stalker, Martin Brundle.

"Cara, a quick word for Sky?" he tried to no avail.

"Cara, a quick word for Sky? No, she's too busy on the phone," he tried again but just as he was about to quit, she relented.

"Cannes last week, Monaco today, where did it all go wrong?" he asked to someone who had heard of irony but was too afraid to try it.

"It didn't go wrong," she replied, reaching over to grab Martin firmly by the microphone.

"I love Sky TV and that's all I'm going to say," she concluded, before heading off to find an orange motor to clamber into.

"Thank you, that's all we needed to hear, basically," sighed Martin and he was off, finding former F1 rival, Gerhard Berger, thankfully not in denim shorts but a sensible cardie, as he has scoffed down a few Gerhards since retiring, but he was approached with care.

"Now Gerhard has a bit of a habit of swearing when we talk to him. If I talk to you, you're not going to swear, okay?" he begged the man who put the F in F1.

"No, I behave," he promised but then committed a more heinous crime, by giving the game away about the Monaco Grand Prix.

"It's Monte Carlo, who turns first at first corner, is halfway done," he said and before Brundle could swear he was off, meeting Felix Baumgartner, the man who jumped from space and Chris Evans, who, unfortunately, hasn't tried that yet, and then Flavio Briatore, former team owner and boss of Brundle, who got the message back on track. I think.

"Monte Carlo is really the best, even of Formula One, 50 per cent race, 50 per cent gravel," I think he said. Hold on.

"Well, 70 per cent race, 30 per cent gravel, it's amazing," he added and it may have been 'glamour' he said as Princess Charlene came out on the red carpet, not on gravel, and we all wondered what she could see in the billionaire Prince Albert.

Onto the race and commentator David Croft set the scene with a prophetic offering.

"It's a race where a slice of luck can bring you the big cake," but by the end Hamilton found what happened a little hard to swallow.

Sadly the 'race' didn't follow the advice given by the man on the radio - I think it may have been John Virgo - to driver Carlos Sainz.

"The target is to go as fast as possible and to overtake as many cars as possible," said Virgo.

Brundle snorted: "That's the fairly standard concept when you lock your front door on a Wednesday, that's roughly why you're heading away," but it's just a shame no one told the rest of the drivers.

On and on, round and round we went with fewer passing attempts than at a nuns and eunuchs party, and Hamilton had the race in the bag until excited teenager Max Verstappen had no chance of stappen when he clipped the back wheel of Roman Grosjean and buried his motor in a barrier.

This had a two-fold effect, the 17-year-old's insurance will now go through the roof and the safety car came out but it was Mercedes who got a little by bringing the unassailable Hamilton in for a tyre change to send him out behind Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel and turn a certain victory into third.

"He's not going to be in a very good mood at the end of this race," uttered Croft in the understatement of the century and he was right, Hamilton went bananas in Monte Carlo, stopping for a wee sulk and then driving round and crashing into the No.3 sign back at Prince Albert's place.

Answers were needed and extracted from Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, or big bad as Hamilton probably calls him now, who admitted that "we had a problem with the maths". I know the feeling.

And with that it was all over, Hamilton, like so many leaving Monte Carlo, departing empty-handed and heavy-hearted. You know what they say, some you win, sums you lose.

Belfast Telegraph


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