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Home  /  February 2022  /  Comment

It’s only 23 sleeps till the first F1 race of the season, the controversial (human rights and Mad Max and Hamo) Bahrain Grand Prix.

But in a bigger stand-off than Joseph Robinette Biden and Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin in Ukraine (and just wait till you see the ski deals we have for you there this week), Mercedes and Hamo were standing on the borders of the F1 Global HQ at the very trendy St James Market (it used to be lower Regent St before the property PR people got to it) on Monday waiting for the F1 commission to cave in or compromise.

The implicit threat from Merc was that Hamo would pack up his race bag and leave the sport unless the FIA gave race director, Australia’s Michael Masi, the flick.

After a huge meeting that included Mick (who made the Abu Dhabi call that saw Maxie take the global championship from Hamo), the sport’s governing body said and did nothing except issue a long statement with only one paragraph on the hottest issue on the F1 planet.

That didn’t go down well.

The next day new FIA boss Ben Sulayem (a seriously great rally driver in his day) met with Mick and it appears Mick wasn’t happy about the lack of support for him. On Friday Ben said Mick would be offered a new position in the FIA.

His old job will be taken over by two persons with some additional staff and everybody will head off to the Sakhir Desert for a look at the 1120 palm trees and $240 a seat grandstands.

We don’t encourage irresponsible wagering here but if you put the house and the kids inheritance or even the kids themselves on a Merc, Red Bull, Fezzer 2022 championship you’ll be laughing.

Just to rub in that the Feezer company is largely irrelevant (third place? Second of the losers) Ben made the announcement during the Ferrari season launch. Oh, and the detailed report on the fiasco the FIA was meant to have painstakingly done over the last few months? It will never be released.

If you have missed out on a few seasons’ skiing, there are some serious discounts going at Bukovel in Ukraine, which I reckon has the best snow in the Carpathians.

Don’t believe me? Have a squiz at the webcams. A VIP ski pass is only 2100 hryvnia ($103) and a night at the Baza Smart Hotel (only 300 metres from the lifts) with a capsule bed, your own hookah (try the citrus cup flavour … wait on … you didn’t think I meant, no …) and a meal of potato pancakes with pork and cream sauce with Carpathian white mushrooms washed down with a nice cold bottle of Chardonnay Third Generation from Nugan Estate. Hotel Australia is about the same number of hryvnias. Now I know there’s been a bit of a bad rap going on about Ukraine lately, but the crowds at the Ukrainian mogul championships are pretty light and they end early next week anyway.

Sorry we had to bump our first ever comparison road test (just like real motoring columns) last week, but here’s all you need to know. After paying Hertz (now owned by private equity after going belly-up) a small fortune, we put an Infiniti QX80 head to head with a Chev Yukon. You can’t buy an Infiniti in Australia, but there are some companies bringing in Yukons. Both have V8s (heaven), both are too big to drive in Australian capital city streets, but the Yukon would be my choice of tank to do the lap of Australia if Shell sponsored the trip.

Basically, the very expensive Infiniti drives and handles like a barge. The Yukon is great. But the real point here is that both cars have succumbed to the “more dials and buttons the better” fad that is dangerously infecting all new autos. I counted 187 in the front of the Yukon, and that’s without whatever comes up on the IMAX-sized display screen.

The major cause of prangs is distracted drivers. Under the guise of safety, manufacturers are pandering to buyers who believe they will be invincible with blind spot monitors, lane departure warnings, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with lane-trace and stop-and-go, safe exit warning and safe exit assist, self-park, smart summon (you whistle and your car drives to meet you), blind-spot videos and brakes.

Last week’s recommended changes to Australian school curriculum got a huge response. Here’s some others to hit your local principal with: name Australia’s greatest painters? Correct answers: Grace Cossington Smith, Albert Namatjira and Michael McMichael. Australia’s greatest food? Correct answers: the Pavlova; Peach Melba and Panko Crumbed South Australian Garfish with gravy, mushroom, Diane and pepper sauce as invented and served in the Kensi’s spacious restaurant and alfresco dining area. Australia’s greatest bevvy? You know there’s only one correct answer here: Cooper’s Sparkling Ale naturally conditioned in the bottle with the Doctor’s own unique strain of Coopers yeast.

And finally, Bonhams’ new online market just sold a 1999 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 for $140k, quadrupling its pre-sale estimate and setting a new auction world record for the model. These cars with a few miles on them are selling for around $40k on a good day here. A couple of years ago someone listed one for $500k in the US with no result. Look, these cars came from the golden period of the Japanese car industry and I think the 3000GT VR-4 was the best of everything produced at the time.

The special sauce of this one was the 270km on the clock. The owner kept it off the road on static display. They can be a technical nightmare but buy a low mileage, good history car with not many prangs and you’ll love driving it and you’ll make money.

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