There’s one sure-fire way to get Formula One splashed across the back pages of the nation’s newspapers: a good old-fashioned first corner shunt. Christian Klien obliged this time out, and the latest twist in the championship gave more cause for thought.
Anyone looking to raise the international profile of Formula One could be forgiven for advocating a compulsory shunt at each race. For, even when the racing has been frantic and the championship finely poised, nothing generates media interest like a few million quid’s worth of F1 car cartwheeling through the air.
It seems everyone from the Daily Mirror (“On me head, son!”) to The Times (“Flipping hell – if only he had wings”) were loving Klien’s barrel roll. Only the ever-austere Guardian steered well clear of such frivolity – they did have a tasty picture of Raikkonen’s curvacious MP4-20, though.
Perhaps more light should have been shed on the bigger story in Budapest, that Raikkonen has once again followed up a ten-point loss to Alonso in the previous race with a ten-point retaliation of his own, just like after his Nurburgring crash.
McLaren may have drawn blood in the race but Renault won the PR battle afterwards. Flavio Briatore’s defiant quotes were everywhere while Ron Dennis, not a man known for his eloquence, barely got a look in. Briatore declared: “It is hardly a funeral… Fernando still has a 26 point lead.”
The Times bolstered their quality coverage of th race with an interesting and well-researched piece on the effect of the EU tobacco ban on Formula One. “The sport has been dragged kicking, screaming and lobbying furiously to this point by the EU… arguments and attempts to find loopholes will not cease.” There’s a fascinating mentality at work here – F1 people are not the types used to being told ‘no.’
At the opposite end is the Daily Star, whose correspondent cannot even be bothered to get the basic facts of the race correct. “[Raikkonen] stopped one lap after Schumacher had pitted, but it was not enoughto get him into first place…that lead to McLaren changing their tactics for the second round of stops.” Raikkonen, of course, stopped four laps before Schumacher at the first set of stops.
The Daily Telegraph splashed Klien’s crash all over the front of their sports section and everyone’s favourite nudist Bob MacKenzie, writing in the Daily Express, charitably described Jenson Button’s tyre decision as being for the “slower” rubber, rather than the, ‘wrong’ one. I thought the Express were anti-political correctness?
If the newspaper coverage was positive on the whole, ITV did not do a great job. Hampered from the start by the absence of Martin Brundle (who, for a second year running, coincided his holiday with the Hungarian Grand Prix), substitute Mark Blundell was a pale shadow of his former team mate.
Post-race the press conference was cut short after one question for some tedious poll to do with Jenson Button’s contract, and they were off air within about 15 minutes of the chequer. Dismal.