Saturday, November 12, 2011

F1 blog | Inside the Abu Dhabi GP | Kimi Shelter

With the Abu Dhabi grand prix around the corner and the global economic crisis in the back of everybody's minds, one question was on the press' lips... When will the iceman cometh back to F1?

Sitting in Yas Marina looking at the mega-yachts bobbing up and down in front of the five-star Yas Viceroy hotel, lit up as usual in all its pomp, it’s fair to say that the global economic downturn isn’t exactly in evidence. Then again, who knows? Maybe the people on the boats are ranging against the dying of the light and its all going to be repossessed in the morning? Even the fantasy-land that is the F1 paddock isn’t immune to the travails of the global economy and at today’s press conference team principals accustomed to answering questions about grumpy drivers and broken gearboxes were asked to step out onto the rather more unfamiliar territory of airing their views on the state of the Euro and other such matters economic. Admittedly, the questions were couched in fairly comfortable terms, mostly along the lines of ‘If Europe sinks into a catastrophe not seen since the Mongol horde was at the gate of Vienna and fire, famine, plague and pestilence rain down, will it affect your development budget for next year?’ Reassuringly most of them said ‘No'.

Rather more in keeping was the inevitability that Frank Williams would receive a question or two about Kimi Räikkönen. The Iceman is currently sliding around the forests of Wales in a borrowed Citroën, but his presence is very much in evidence on Yas Island as the saga of whether or not the 2007 F1 World Champion is coming back for another tilt edges nearer to an answer. Whenever one of the Williams board is put in front of the microphone these days, that’s usually the first question, and always if the man doing the asking is Finnish.

“Frank, 10 years ago you were interested in getting Kimi to your team. Now, 10 years later are you still interested to get him now you can do so?’

Newspaper men know that local talent is what sells their papers, so when Red Bull Racing disappear into the distance and record another one-two finish, the headlines in Italy are going to be ‘Ferrari disaster’, while the British will probably go for ‘HAMILTON SNATCHES THIRD as Vettel wins again.’ As the F1 media’s professional Finn, Heikki Kulta of the Turku daily Turun Sanomat has a rather more narrow window of opportunity. Heikki Kovalainen is the amiable bread and butter story, but the possibility of a returning Räikkönen is an ice-cream sundae with a cherry on top. A cherry that’s probably been dipped in vodka and taken a ride on a jetski dressed as a gorilla, but definitely a cherry. So when Frank’s on the panel, and Heikki snaffles the microphone, everybody in the room smiles, including Frank. Credit to Heikki he asks the same question he’s asked every race but for variety changes the phrasing. This week it was “Frank, 10 years ago you were interested in getting Kimi to your team. Now, 10 years later are you still interested to get him now you can do so?’

Frank pauses for dramatic effect, eyes twinkling before saying “A lot of supposition, and I cannot make any comment about supposition, sorry to be so unhelpful.” It’s the ‘no comment’ everybody knew was coming, but delivered with sufficient grace to create a respectable quote to file. Even with the world falling about their ears, you can still depend on the old school.

Source: Red Bull

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