Jenson Button is the next Tim Henman as far as the British press are concerned. But that won’t stop Ferrari snapping him up. Don’t believe everything you read in the papers or, for that matter, in this week’s media review.
Amid the frenzy of the British Grand Prix the tabloid heavyweights slugged it out in a battle to find the biggest non-story they could over-hype. The Mirror got their first over the weekend itself, rehashing ages-old speculation that British darling Jenson Button is Ferrari-bound as an ‘exclusive’.
Not to be outdone, The Sun struck back on Monday with another Button ‘scoop’ – a not-at-all terse exchange of words between Button and his race manager. Squeez on the back page is, “Pitlane to Button: Can you go a bit faster please Jenson. Button to pitlane: B******ks!”
Clearly they’re not familiar with Juan Pablo Montoya’s penchant for four-letters tirades in the heat of battle…
Montoya, the day’s victor, is already popular enough in Britain thanks in large part to his Schumacher-vanquishing moves in the past – perhaps rather kindly, the tabloids conveniently forget that his F1 chance came at the expense of Button at the end of 2000.
The celebrating Montoya is spread large across The Star, The Times and The Daily Telegraph’s bumper pages of F1 coverage. Of course, Formula One should get this much exposure on a regular weekend – it is, after all, one of few international sporting contests that happens week in, week out.
Kevin Garside in the Daily Telegraph throws in a worthy reminder that, during the winter break, there was a serious crisis over the British Grand Prix as it looked set to be dropped. He expresses total confidence in BRDC chairman Jackie Stewart.
The Daily Mirror keep on flogging the ‘Button to Ferrari’ story for all its worth: “The Battle for Button” proclaims their inside rear cover. “[Button] found himself at the centre of a three way chase to sign him for next season.” Meaning Williams and BAR (as everyone already knows) and Ferrari (as is rumoured.) Nothing new to see here, move along everyone.
Of course if there’s one journalistic ploy the tabloids enjoy more than exaggerating minor stories, it’s slating British sporting interests. The Mirror again: “LOSER: Jenson Button trailed home fifth… Button goes backwards.”
Let’s be straight on this one – Button’s BAR is no way a match for the Renaults or McLarens. In fact, he did a damn good job to beat both Ferraris. Regardless of how badly our countrymen in lesser sports may be faring, Button and David Coulthard both deserve praise for doing solid jobs in difficult circumstances this year.
Nor is The Sun getting off lightly this week. On the British Grand Prix weekend with an English driver on the front row, what is the lead sports story? An interview with (Chelsea football club manager) Jose Mourinho – when the football is in the off-season. This from a paper that likes to call itself “No.1 for F1” from time to time. Not even close.
This week I had the pleasure of being trackside myself and so caught up on ITV’s coverage later. The pre-race build up was suitably thorough for the Silverstone race (although fewer celebrity interviews would be appreciated) and Martin Brundle’s gridwalk was, as ever, a major highlight.
The bum note for ITV was the rather dodgy race camera feed, which often strayed from key action and neglected crucial replays – unforgivable in a race short on track action in the first place.
For those of you wondering who will be dominating F1 in 2030, check out The Times’ achingly cute shot of Juan Pablo cradling little Sebastian Montoya on page 67.
Finally, The Guardian ran an interesting piece on golf (wait! Bear with me…) where a contemporary… er… golf-playing person embarked on a course with 1985-spec equipment. Now, while I can’t quite see Schumacher entering into the spirit of a jaunt in Michele Alboerto’s 1985 turbo Ferrari (“Why was he number 27? Was he not very good?”), the thought of Mark Webber qualifying in Keke Rosberg’s Williams-Honda, or Montoya hammering into Becketts in Alain Prost’s McLaren-TAG is making my scalp tingle…