Australian Grand Prix Diary
Australia’s relationship with Formula One reached levels of confusion never seen before in the Southern Hemisphere over the weekend, but as RichlandF1’s Trent Price writes, it may have something to do with their preoccupation with oval shaped balls.
“It’s a bloody farce I tell ya!… Aussie pride!”
The Herald-Sun’s Monday headline ‘Grand Farce’ was actually written long before Sunday’s race was run and won. A general lack of understanding and overexposure to oval-shaped leather had already caused a degree of confusion over the 2014 brand of F1 in Australia. That and Newscorp’s continuing mission to dumb-down Victoria.
While Melbourne prides (or is that “proids?”) itself on being the sporting capital of Australia, its ‘main priority is AFL football or ‘Aussie Rules’. Invariably the Australian Grand Prix is held during the lead up to the AFL season, but this year the opening round of F1 and the AFL happened to coincide on the same weekend. Coincidence? Maybe. But what an opportunity to cross-promote both sports! What an opportunity for the AFL to crowbar a few international travellers from the biggest international sporting event in the Southern Hemisphere!
The not so subtle reprogramming began with an open press invitation to Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez to visit the MCG for an introduction to footy with AFL team, the Western Bulldogs. Hulkenberg’s and Perez’s bemused reactions to the unfolding scenario was one of Charlton Heston’s same bewilderment upon learning he’d crash-landed onto a planet of anthropoids – as seen here when my colleagues Box of Neutrals compiled this anthropological documentary…
Facing a barrage of questions requesting a comparative essay detailing the Force India/Western Bulldogs concordance, both drivers were naturally a little lost for words. Unsatisfied with Formula One’s noncompliance, Hulkenberg was dragged into a gladiatorial one-on-one with an AFL player twice his size. With reporters now satisfied with Nico’s acquiescence, he was now simply referred to as “The Tackling Man”. Stage one of Formula One’s rebranding was now complete.
After much consultation with my Australian colleagues as to why the Australian media feels it so important to compare Footy to Formula One, we came to the conclusion that it’s simply the only way they can wrap their heads around the concept. When reporters stray from this safety net they’re in unchartered waters and often forget to actually ask any questions.
Reporter: “Lewis. You’re a world champion… You’ve been on fifty-four podiums… With one-thousand and… Two points to your name…”
Reporter: “So how’s Nicole going?”
As you can see, the results can be truly horrifying; just as they were when a “comment-for-hire” motoring journalist was dusted off to explain the Daniel Ricciardo fuel-flow incident on national television. When asked if there was data available detailing the flow-rate, his awkward, all-thumbs reply was: “I… I don’t know.”
Rule number one, don’t comment on stuff you don’t know so good.
The same should apply to ex-Minardi boss Paul Stoddart. When faced by angry journalists demanding why the “noise had disappeared from Formula One”. Stoddart (normally a man who should know better) assured the ravenous Aussie media that Bernie will make a few calls and Bob’s your uncle!
Sorry Paul, I’ve just finished my copy of Yes a Turbo can make Ur Car Quieter and the bad news it seems, is that we’re in this for the long haul. Unless of course suggestions from Melbourne AFL identity (yes Footy again), Sam Newman – stating on radio that he’d “spoken to some F1 people over the weekend and it’ll be fixed in a few weeks” – turn out to be true. In that case, fans can sleep easy!
Even the AGPC Chief Executive Andrew Westacott threatened to sue over the lack of noise… After years of trying to appease Save Albert Park protestors over the event creating too much noise!
The Aussie media/F1 showdown reached its crescendo in the early hours of Monday morning when Australian TV crews – demanding closure on what’s happened to ‘our’ Daniel – locked horns with seasoned F1 journalists when hustling for interview room outside Red Bull’s garage. “Hey buddy! ***-off we’ve been here for ours!” was the threat directed towards a veteran F1 writer.
In the pandemonium I even lost my glasses, which is why it’s taking me three-times as long to write this story!
Just when I thought F1 was a lost cause in Australian media I was heartened to hear the voice of a local sports commentator (who had travelled back to the track upon hearing of Daniel’s exclusion) embroiled in a verbal stoush with his radio station, because the announcer back at the station didn’t want to discuss F1 matters when a football game was being played. “Are you kidding me???” yelled the exasperated sports commentator. “This is the biggest sporting story on the planet right now and all he wants to do is talk about the ****ing St Kilda/Carlton games??? They’re not even playing each other!!!”
Australia. This is Formula One.
Images courtesy Speedcafe.com, Boxofneutrals.com , AGPC and Newscorp
Trent Price is an amateur race driver, former V8 race coach and FIA Accredited journalist from Melbourne, Australia. A former Race Editor for GP Week and contributor for ESPN, Trent is now the Editor of the WEC/Formula E magazine E-Racing; www.e-racingmag.com