Thursday, June 30, 2005

Red Bull F1 team picks on France

Via Pitpass:

According to American writer Mark Twain, "France has usually been governed by prostitutes," which is a bit unfair, when everyone knows France has been governed by Asterix the Gaul, his son Charles De Gaulle, Sacha Distel, Brigitte Bardot, that actor with a big nose and singer Johnny Halliday. Ah! La Belle France. The return to Europe for what will be the bulk of the season sees us in the country that can claim to have invented grand prix racing around a century ago.

Unfortunately, the area around the Magny Cours circuit does not seem to have changed much over those hundred years and the social scene at this event is about the dullest of the year. It is a great place if you like to look at cows and of course, being French cows, they are very chic, with lovely long eyelashes and a tan skin colour.

Apart from the drivers, who get to hang out in a modern hotel outside the circuit gates, everyone else is scattered around the local countryside, staying in accommodation that the travel agents describe as picturesque. “Picturesque” is evidently French for “broken plumbing and dangerous electricity.” However, the run down old chateaux do showcase what France does best, namely food and drink and sipping a cold drink in a landscaped garden is a pleasant way to end the day, after the usual round of bars and restaurants in North America.

The nearest town to the circuit is Nevers and if you pronounce it the English way, it perfectly describes how many times people want to come back here. For years, the F1 community was spoilt, as the French Grand Prix used to be held down on the Riviera at the Paul Ricard circuit, which provided plenty of beach time, once the working day was over. The French therefore have never been forgiven for moving the race to an industrial estate in the middle of the countryside, in an attempt to make it a technology hot spot. A referendum in the paddock about the circuit would produce the same result as the recent French vote on accepting the European constitution.

There is nothing much wrong with the circuit itself, which boasts the smoothest track surface of the season, offers excellent safety for the drivers and has a spacious and immaculate paddock. The French round of the world championship often has trouble getting a good crowd as most of the population has escaped to the coast for “les vacances,” and the race date clashes with the Wimbledon tennis finals weekend and the first week of the Tour de France cycle race. This year the grand prix will also lack a local hero, as for the first time in many years there is not a single French driver on the F1 grid, although Olivier Panis is being given a run in the third Toyota during Friday practice.

Finally, for those of you planning to travel to Magny Cours for this race, here are some useful tourism tips:

Nearest Airport – Paris

Nearest decent nightclub – Paris

Sightseeing – Arc de Triomphe in Paris (Do not bother with the Eiffel Tower until they have removed the scaffolding.)

Some have suggested this may have something to do with the fact that Red Bull is banned in France and the team members cannot even import it for thier own consumption. Could it be? Never!


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