The problem with deciding whether or not to watch Formula One racing is that there are so many mouth-watering alternatives. Far better to spend the afternoon up to the armpits in blocked drains, for instance. If one absolutely must watch TV, there’s little to match reruns of Boer soek ‘n vrou.
I think I lost my enthusiasm for watching F1 regularly more or less when compulsory pit stops were introduced. Or was it when they were scrapped? Or when tyres were grooved… no, wait, maybe it was when the grooves were removed, or perhaps when Schumacher won his 23rd consecutive title.
At any rate, it was long ago. The other day I overheard two colleagues discussing F1. I couldn’t resist: “Why do you say they’ve got a curse?”
After much rolling of eyeballs and groaning, they realised that I was being serious. I really didn’t know that they were talking about KERS – Kinetic Energy Recovery System (look it up – Wikipedia is a wonderful resource).
My point: the 2010 Formula One season is all over, and Red Bull-Renault driver Sebastian Vettel is the man. I know this from following the Monday morning chat around the coffee machine, and from the occasional nugget I pick up while surfing the Web.
I was reminded of this while watching two also-rans, two Nearly men, on video this week. Both world champions in their time, I’m told: Jensen Button and Lewis Hamilton. The two of them were driving the new McLaren MP4-12C. No, make that driving the snot out of the new McLaren MP4-12C.
It’s fair to say that, being paid to drive a McLaren Mercedes F1 car, they probably wouldn’t be particularly ill-disposed towards a road car of the same name. Still, they give the impression of nothing so much as two lads out having fun. They smile, they wisecrack. They hang the tail out (it’s a technical term), and then some. When Hamilton climbs out at the end, slaps the roof, and says, “I’ll take it,” you get the feeling he means it.
The McLaren MP4-12C has just been launched in South Africa. Price is On Application, but it will be in the somewhere north of R3 million and somewhere south of R3,5 million. Before you reach for your credit card, that’s excluding taxes, and dependent on exchange rate.
Having seen the car minus its uncompromisingly… er… bodacious bodywork, I can tell you that the asking price translates into a terrifically high number insofar as the rands-to-metal ratio goes. The car is mostly air, held together with a few exquisitely crafted bits of metal and carbon fibre. Given this fact, and the fact that much of the metal bits consist of aluminium, a large proportion of that being engine, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect that words like “shattering” will come to mind when describing how the McLaren drives.
I can’t tell you about that. In between nibbling on fruit skewers, the best we got was to sit in the car, and hear it at idle, when it makes a delicious, rather high-strung purr.
But I kind of got the idea, from watching the lads, that actually driving one could be fun.
To watch the video of Jenson and Lewis testing the McLaren MP4-12C, click here