The question that is presently raging across the paddock is – has Flavio finally gone off his rocker? The temperamental Italian has never been known for his subtelity, but we like to think the reason why we have been given a brain is to use it to filter our thoughts before mouthing the same. Clearly that is not what Flavio thinks, for he has been jumping up and down post yesterday’s grand prix and enacting his own unique war dance (if you can picturize a fuming Flavio donning feathers with smoke coming off his ears, you have it nailed almost). One can’t help but remember what Michael Schumacher said of Flavio years ago – that Flavio is entirely pleasant as long as things are going his way. Well now things are obviously not going his way (the Renault car is nothing to write home about and poor Heikki Kovalainen has incurred his wrath by bungling up things a bit on debut) and Flavio is in a rather murderous mood. He doesn’t seem to be in favor of the usual 10 second drive through penalty for backmarkers who hold up faster cars, advocating instead that the drivers pack in a rifle or two along with the usual ballast. “These people ignore blue flags, any flags. You need a rifle to get them moving” says Flavio – a rather interesting suggestion you have to agree. This comes on top of Flavio rubbishing his own drivers and openly lamenting the loss of Alonso – claiming it is costing the team around 0.5 seconds per lap. “In the same way I missed Michael Schumacher then (1996) I miss Fernando now” says Flavio. Now that ought to do wonders to the confidence level of his drivers. Well, whatever is left of it anyway after the assault on Heikki Kovalainen yesterday when Flavio called his performance ‘rubbish’ and hinted that it was not Heikki but his twin brother driving the car instead, demanding the real Heikki return for the next race (now if that isn’t unbalanced, I don’t know what is). I suppose as long as Flavio doesn’t start seeing flying elephants over the race track and attempt to take them down with bricks, the paddock is relatively safe.

ms133.jpgWe are now finally convinced that Michael is a hard-working super-assistant, for not only did he wake up at an unearthly hour to watch the race on television, but he was also the first to call Kimi Raikkonen to congratulate him on the victory, never mind Kimi couldn’t understand a word of it – it is the thought that counts. “I was very happy to get two phone calls” says Jean Todt, “The first from Michael as I was going up to the podium which I handed to Kimi, and the other from Montezemolo who was very excited and jumping for joy as if this is our first win in a decade”. Michael is rumored to have slept fitfully through the race owing to frequent calls from an excited Montezemolo who constantly kept waking him up, and he must have been glad when the race finally ended so he could place the congratulatory call and finally go back to bed. For a person reputed to nap through his own races (much to the nervousness of Ross Brawn who often made continious conversation to him on the radio to keep him awake and concentrating), it is difficult to imagine Michael staying awake through someone else’s. And the last time Michael watched a F1 race as a spectator (more than a decade and a half ago), it was in broad daylight and yet he left halfway through because “it was too noisy”, so you can understand why we are a bit skeptical. But kidding aside, it was strange to see a F1 grid without the all-too-familiar sight of the red helmet/red car combination and its commanding presence and a lot of us will miss Schumi irrespective of whether Kimi/Massa clinch the championships this year – he has been an integral part of the Ferrari family for too long to be ever forgotten. Michael is expected to play a charity soccer match tomorrow with Ronaldo, Zidane, Robinho and Rivaldo according to German tabloid Bild.