Belfast Telegraph

Lewis changed the course of history with Austin power

By Billy Weir

For 'Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas' now read 'Sunday, November 2, 2014, at Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas', or to be even more precise, Lap 24. It was then that history was changed. We'll all remember where we were when Formula One, for one brief moment, became fantastic once again and there wasn't a grassy knoll in sight.

For, in a blink of an eye, the darling of the home fans, Lewis (brother of Hewis and Dewis) Hamilton effectively won the World Championship with an audacious overtaking manoeuvre on team-mate and arch enemy, Nico Rosberg.

And we almost missed it, the TV cameras, as is the wont of Formula One, concentrating on a nail-biting battle that was gripping but didn't really matter down the field and in the nick of time we got back to see Lewis nick past Nico.

Conspiracy theorists will, in the midst of time, point to a shadowy figure seen emerging from a tyre depository but not even Nigel Mansell could stop Hamilton becoming Britain's most successful ever racer.

You had the feeling it was going to be a dramatic day when Sky's coverage began with presenters Simon Lazenby and Johnny Herbert appearing on screen in a homage to Top Gun before being strapped to two burly US Navy SEALS and being hurled out of a plane.

Back on terra firma, the intrepid duo were joined by colleagues Martin Brundle and Damon Hill, and Herbert was quick to pounce.

"We were men, we were tough, we were strong, we were all given an opportunity to do this wonderful experience and the two of you pulled out," he said.

"I knew this was coming, can we send them back up?" responded Hill before possibly the worst set-up joke in the history of mankind when he added: "You can now properly call yourselves 'sky' presenters."

He may not have the nerve for the skies but Brundle was soon braving the grid, bumping into Gordon Ramsay.

"What are you doing over here, opening restaurants or something?" he asked, and Ramsay surprised us all by not swearing and replying: "No, I've just finished Junior Masterchef." He's definitely too old.

Also falling into that category these days is Pamela Anderson, the next hit on Lee Harvey Brundle's list, who was asked the same question.

"I love the noise, I love the cars, I love it, fast cars and fast women," she said, and Brundle in his best Alan Partridge fashion laughed falsely and repeated back to her what she had just said but thankfully didn't say anything about big bumpers.

The Partridge parody continued with a cringeworthy chasing of Keanu Reeves, who had too much speed for him as he dandered on ignoring the pained shouts of 'Keanu, Keanu' but Brundle was then completely distracted as Pamela overtook him.

"Sorry Pamela, am I in your way? Ah well, there's worse things to do in life," said Brundle before being taken away to a darkened room, but not before two enlightening moments with former stars Niki Lauda and Derek Warwick.

"Niki, what have you told your boys about racing wheel to wheel today?" he asked.

"Not much, to be honest," came the reply, but at least he could rely on Del Boy to come up with a classic one-liner to wrap up the grid walk.

"Derek, what can you tell us?" asked Brundle.

"Nothing really," said Del. What a plonker.

And then onto the racing, a crash on the first lap setting the tone and some great overtaking among the lower ranks, adding fuel to my argument that F1 should split the prize money between practice and racing, meaning that the fastest in practice start at the back in the real race.

Bernie, give me a call, we can make F1 great again rather than one over-taking manoeuvre at the front and a procession to the line.

But the highlight of the day was one of my childhood heroes, Mario Andretti, or my favourite Scalextric car as I like to call him, turned up on stage where his Stetson hat ruffled up Hamilton's hat when he plonked in on his bonce.

Just be warned, Lewis, you're in Brazil this weekend, be careful what they do with your hair in Sao Paulo.

Belfast Telegraph

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