It would seem that there is a strange epidemic currently sweeping the F1 paddock. Once rational logical human beings are undergoing dramatic personality changes, suffering identity crises and becoming gibbering idiots. This strange medical condition seems to be very selective, for the most part it is leaving alone the team bosses and engineers of the F1 world. (Flavio Briatore and Ron Dennis seem to be immune, possibly because they are barking mad already) This epidemic seems to be solely going straight for the juggular of the F1 drivers.

lunaticinacape.jpgIt all began fairly innocuously last year at the Monaco Grand Prix, where the Red Bull boys DC and Christian Klien decided to raid the dressing up box and try to convince us all they were in fact Superman incarnate.

This supposedly harmless ‘costume’ drama was apparently a publicity stunt, but on reflection was this the first subtle sign that something was amiss in the sport? What man in his right mind would willing wear an ensemble that consisted of red Y fronts over a pair of blue shiny tights and a cape? Any “normal” man would be sectioned under the mental health act for going out thus dressed in daylight.

Then in September, Niki Lauda began to resemble the dog of Stephen King fame, Cujo. Frothing at the mouth, appearing slightly rabid, looking like he was going to bite someone and spouting all sorts of delusional rubbish. “Ferrari would fall apart”, “Kimi would get stoned to death by the Italian mob unless he became German and changed his name to Schumacher”, “the Moon revolves around Mars” and “the end of the world is nigh”.

Then it all went quiet over the winter period. The cold weather holding the epidemic frozen in stasis, until the warm weather came to bring it out strong and bolder than before, where it would begin its assault in earnest.

The first noticeable victim this season was Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. The poor little Finn seemed to be suffering from some strange form of confusion, not only was he smiling against his will non-stop like the Joker from Batman, but he was taking part in races claiming to be ex-Formula 1 driver James Hunt. No amount of pointing out that he in fact did not possess a pair of mutton-chop sideburns, any brown corduroy trousers, a chest-rug and medallion and a bevy of buxom beauties on his arm could convince him he was not the afore mentioned personage.

Shortly after Fernando Alonso became the second official victim; by going on the record and testifying that was in fact his childhood dream to drive for McLaren and Ron Dennis. Prompting all sorts of child support groups to wonder if the poor Spaniard had in fact been dropped on his head during infancy, or if madness was in fact a hereditary thing in the Nando family.

Before long Rubens Barrichello joined in. The ex-Ferrari driver telling anyone who would care to listen that he was in fact better than his previous team mate Michael Schumacher, despite having considerably less shiny-pots and championship titles to show for it. Rubens went on to bemoan the fact that he was invisible when he was at Ferrari and got completely ignored. Well you can’t expect people to know you are there if your transparent Rubens!

heidfeld.jpgEven BMW-Sauber’s two drivers have not been spared. Throughout the winter a strange growth has been developing on the face of Nick Heidfeld, week by week he has been morphing from that quiet little German driver into Star War’s and Han Solo’s side kick Chewbacca. We are to understand his strange facial growth is now half way down his chest and is expected to be coming out his shorts at any point.

Robert Kubica (that’s Mr. Potato Head to you and I) seems to have also been sucked into this strange inter-galactic fantasy and has been going around telling the F1 journalists that Ferrari are in fact from another planet (I suppose Luca Baldisserri could double for an ewok), and reportedly naming his car the Millennium Falcon. I just hope he doesn’t start wielding the BMW garage’s strip lighting as a light sabre or someone could have an eye poked out. One has to wonder who gets to play Jabba the Hut now that Mr.Montoya has left the sport?

But by far the worst case of this strange affliction that seems to have befallen the F1 community, is that of ex-Formula 1 driver turned pop-diva Jacques Villeneuve. Renowned for his forthright opinions on any given subject and his non stop lambasting of his arch-nemesis Michael Schumacher, Jacques this week has announced he is no longer to make any comment regarding the sportsmen of F1 because he doesn’t want to be seen as criticising anyone. Yep, he needs urgent medical treatment right away…send in the men in white coats! (armed with earplugs obviously in case Jacques starts warbling at them).

Another Clozapine please doctor, thanks.