As the sport that represents the pinnacle of motor-racing, Formula 1 is ever obsessed with image.
On an average Grand Prix weekend, Mark Webber couldn’t swing his handbag without it smacking some poor A-list celebrity or beautiful person who is quaffing champagne and pretending to have half a clue which end of a F1 car is which. It’s all about stunning locations, money, glamour and being fabulous darling.
But no matter how hard it might try, Formula 1 has a murky unpleasant side that just won’t go away. For every beautiful person, there is someone somewhere in the pit-lane with a dirty secret.
Ferrari is no exception to that rule.
Take young Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, who at 25 years old, has a fabulous career ahead, a beautiful girlfriend, lots of money, a lovely home and celebrities falling over themselves to have a picture with him. But one has to question why when you know that this young man has a penchant for wearing the same pair of underpants for 3 days in a row because he thinks its ‘lucky’. I think the only ‘lucky’ thing about it is the garage doors are generally left open otherwise the poor mechanics and engineers might pass out.
Felipe isn’t alone in his grubby habits. He learnt them right from the very top…yes Jean Todt. The Ferrari CEO, the man widely credited with changing the fortunes of the Scuderia is another one with a murky secret. Well its not really a secret because anyone who is anyone knows it….the man refuses to take his Ferrari Team Sweater off from the day he puts it on in October until the day the team changes official strip the next year. Even in sweltering temperatures in Malaysia, Brazil, Bahrain and Australia the sweater stays on come what may….if he has to dress up for an evening function…it just stays on underneath everything else. No wonder Michelle Yeoh often appears walking at least ten paces behind him….
Even 7 times World Champion Michael Schumacher is not exempt from the odd grubby habit. We are to understand from rumours that circulate in the pit-lane that in his younger days Michael would often wear his engineers underpants…if he thought they had been ‘lucky’ in them. There is being close to your engineers but that really takes the biscuit. And what happened to the lucky engineer then…did he have to go commando? oh the very thought.
After winning a few championships and moving to Ferrari, it would seem Michael decided to ditch his borrowed pants fetish and instead would be seen everywhere with a strange bulge in his trousers. Even in his speedo’s the strange bulge would be ever present. Had the Champion decided to go for a bit of cosmetic enhancement? we later found out his dirty secret…on exiting a toilet at the back of the paddock a pair of socks fell out of the bottom of one trouser leg and the game was up. On questioning him it became apparant the socks had a perfectly innocent explanation he was just smuggling them in his race suit because it had no pockets…..honestly he wasn’t trying to enhance his profile…no really he wasn’t…..
I just hope we are never priveledged enough to find out what Renault Team Boss Flavio Briatore’s grubby little secret is….it might just kill me.
(Written especially for the members of http://www.schuey.net who seem to have a strange fascination for socks)