I’m surprised I didn’t see more of you on the Elite Terrace at the Palais Heracles on Sunday. There was no better place to watch Hamo drive the race of his life around a circuit originally designed for trams and horse-drawn carriages where most of the time if you start on the front row of the grid you win.
Now, disappointingly, for a so-called sophisticated city, there was no Coopers or even any of Ed Carr’s great Tassie-made Museum Release Blanc de Blancs. But there was an unlimited supply of premium champagne, wine, water, coffee and soft drink (for the wussies). Of course for $5.5K a head they also threw in salty and sweet afternoon refreshments, VIP host persons (who mainly seemed to be of the female kind) attending our every need, a sophisticated ambience with live DJ and a good old-fashioned buffet with the best looking bains-marie (a plural for the pedants out there) this side of the Freo football club on grand final night.
Now negative gearing is off the table, you might want to look at buying a nice three bedder (mixed use approved) for $7m in the 1953 constructed Palais Heracles so you don’t need to pay $25k for a weekend watching the race with your partner and the kiddies. Cheaper still was viewing the F1 on Kayo SplitView, which lets you watch up to four videos at once, all on the one screen.
Don’t forget Monaco is a circuit imbued with Aussie history. Mark Webber won here twice, the Honey Badger and Jack Brabham once and our own Paul Hawkins is only one of two racers in history to drive through the straw bales into the harbour.
Being true blue, Hawko let his Lotus sink to the bottom of the sea and casually swam back to the boat ramp in his race suit and helmet. Of course, there are always a lot of prangs around this track, the best being that of Marin Brundle, who went too fast into a corner in 1984, turned the Tyrrell upside down and told Murray Walker that he couldn’t remember how he got back to the garage. Haven’t we all been there?
It was sort of business as usual at the start. Hamo looked unbeatable but then the Merc team made a bad call, putting Hamo and Botto on medium tyres while Fezzer and Red Bull went for hards.
Lou is a demon on the radio and all through the second half of the race he moaned about how crook his tyres were and telling the team he wouldn’t finish.
Despite the moaning, Lou drove unbelievably well on dud rubber, surviving a last minute dive to pass from Mad Max Verstappen. Max drove brilliantly to cross the line second but copped a five-second penalty for an unsafe pit stop release and was relegated to fourth.
The driver to watch is the 23-year old Thai-British Alexander Albon. AA, as we call him in the pits, is easily the best new driver of this season.
Was it the bad weather, a stand-in auctioneer or is the classic car market going south more than we all think? I don’t think it was the election but when miracles happen, who knows? All we know is that at last weekend’s RM Sotheby’s Villa Erba auction, sell-through on the day was only around 60 per cent.
The highlights were a 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider and a 1957 Porsche 550a Spyder, both of which brought around $5.6m. My Merc with no windscreen is still on the market. Another test today at Bonhams’ Greenwich, Connecticut sale: this is Bentley’s 100th birthday so there will be five Bentleys, two from the Wocka Bentley era: a 1930 4½-litre Sports Tourer and a 1924 3/5.3 litre Le Mans Replica Tourer, both with Vanden Plas style coachwork and both wearing British racing green. Look for the 1930 car to hit a million.
One for the post royal commission bank execs: a two-tone coffee/cream exterior 1973 Volkswagen Custom Deluxe 23-Window Bus ($140k). It comes equipped with most Samba options: safari pop-out vent windshields, front and rear roof racks, “jail bars”, ventilating side windows, eight skyroof windows and a sliding fabric sunroof. The bus also features the rarer nine-passenger seating arrangement. The correct 1600 flat-four motor has been rebuilt and comes mated to a four-speed manual transmission.
After the royal commission I know many of you have taken up meditation and Eastern religions so why not pay $5k for the very rare French 1920s polished bronze ‘Poutai’ Buddha mascot, 6cm high on a period bakelite radiator cap.
Talking of religious experiences, the Ford v Ferrari movie is set to be on our screens in five months. Of course, the flick is about the Ford and Ferrari motorsports battle at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, not about the court case 40 years later when Gianni-Paolo Ferrari sued Ford for discrimination. Tom Cruise won’t be in either movie. Look for Matt Damon, Chris Bale, racer Alex Gurney playing his dad, Dan and our own Ben Rigby. Ben has a similar movie in the works: Godzilla vs. Kong (•CORR•) in which a Skyline GT-R driven by Ben takes on giant simian who possesses semi-human intelligence and great physical strength driving a 2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat.
And finally, a cheerio call to regular reader Martin Davis, who has just survived a stint in hospital, driving both a Mazda MX-5 and a new Mustang and reading this column as a sedative.