Something weird happened in F1 at Spa last weekend.
Hamo didn’t win.
Chuck Leclerc, 21, from Monaco, did. And he did it in a Fezzer.
Here’s the thing: Hamo has won eight of the 13 races this season. He and the other Merc driver Val Bottas lead the drivers’ championship, followed by Max Verstappen, Seb Vettel and Chuck fifth. Everyone else is just making up the numbers. In the constructor race it’s Merc on 671 points, Fezzer on 326 and Red Bull on 254. The other seven teams are still on the way.
All season Merc have been faster. Until Spa last Sunday. 308km. 44 laps. 83 minutes. Fezzer were faster, in fact Seb set the fastest lap. But at the end of the race Lou was less than a second behind Chuck, which says something about the driving ability of the Brit. Val came third but 12 seconds back and Seb was 26 seconds off. All the other drivers went from more than a minute to a lap back.
Coming into the Italian GP at Monza, a course that favours fast, Fezzer’s home, you’d have to expect the locals to kill it. Which Chuck probably will.
If Seb doesn’t perform on Sunday his future at Ferrari and his $1m-a-week pay packet looks bleak. Given the Italians are only paying Chuck $86k a week (wonder how he gets by on that in Monte Carlo: it costs $36k a year to send one kiddie to primary school and $8.10 for a soy latte).
Now if Chuck keeps winning and gets an above award increase in his pay he could afford to shop at Simon Kidston’s motor shop. There’s no balloons, sausage sizzles or big inflatable floppy men at his offices in the historic 1907 Les Paons building, one of Geneva’s Art Nouveau landmarks on the Avenue Pictet-de-Rochemont.
Simon ran some of Europe’s biggest auction houses before setting up “a consultancy to aspiring and high-level collectors that has since become synonymous with Private Treaty sales of the world’s rarest and most beautiful motor cars”.
Best of all, about every quarter he sends out the most beautiful car catalogue I’ve ever seen.
This week it arrived with sensual, autoerotic pics of a 1965 3.3-litre Oro Chiaro paint with Rosso Scuro leather, V12 Fezzer 275 GTS (“used sparingly, and stands immediately ready for spring and summer motoring, hood down and foot down in the grand manner Il Commendatore intended” … my guess $3m; a one off, 1968 Lambo Miura P400 S “Millechiodi” with a $400,000 restoration (close to $2m no more driveaway?) and a Blutorange (looks better than it sounds) 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Touring (“with the 300 SL ‘Gullwing’, E-type and R-Type Continental, the Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 is a definitive, era-defining car. It is also widely considered by the world’s most experienced drivers to be one of the most exhilarating ever to drive”. RM Sothebys passed a very similar white one in at $800k in April, my guess is that is near the money for this).
But where do you drive it without being under the heavy gaze of the fun police? Naturally you buy a car condo. There’s at least four in construction in Australia now.
In the US there’s more car condos springing up than steering problems in a Lotus. The Wall Street Journal’s A.J. Baime tells us that “developments with their very own test tracks are fulfilling a need for speed and high-end living. When some people dream of a second (or even third) home or property, they imagine views of a pristine lake or a peaceful golf course.
“Not Julie Hertzberg. When it was time for her to take the plunge, she wanted thundering V8 engines and the smell of hot rubber on pavement.” Julie should get honorary Australian citizenship. Julie and hubby Robert’s auto apartment is on a 2.4km racetrack in Michigan.
If you’re short a mill to shop at Simon’s then spend $24.99 to buy a copy of long-time car writer Dave Morely’s Great Aussie Fails. This is a serious text devoted to celebrating the worst of 60 years of the Australian car industry. Remember the vinyl roof? “Maybe you could guess what would happen if you stuck a large patch of vinyl to a sheet of tin and left it out in the weather? Yep, a nice little rust farm.”
Or “the VW Kombi (where) you sat with the steering column between your legs and about as far forward as it was possible to get without getting nose prints on the windscreen … you were the crumple zone (and) your lungs were the airbags”.
In March I wrote about Australian motor race coach Michael Navybox, who set out to be the second ever amateur cyclist to complete the Grand Tours, the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and La Vuelta and the Tour of Spain on the same day as each race, in the one year.
It’s not hard, just a total of 10,400km and 150,000 metres uphill in 63 days. Mike took it on despite having battled kidney cancer, bleeding on the brain, fusing three vertebrae, PTSD and severe depression for six years. He wanted to raise awareness about the importance of early detection, intervention and prevention of cancer, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Michael died on Monday of a heart attack or stroke just as he was near finishing his self-set challenge after riding in Andorra, in the Pyrenees. There’s been a lot of heroes in motorsports, none as selfless and tough as Mike.
(If you are depressed or know someone who is, contact Lifeline on 13 11 44.)