The Ben Evans Columns – Drinking and driving

Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, McLaren launch, 2007Ron Dennis has once again shown his warm and cuddly side by banning his drivers from drinking alcohol.

I’ve heard rumours he is also considering stopping his drivers from watching TV and going to the cinema, lest it detract their minds from racing for even a single second.

I can see the logic of Dennis’s edict, but Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton are highly trained and motivated athletes and I find it hard to believe either knocks back the Special Brews on a regular basis to begin with.

Inflatable DolphinOf course Dennis could well be scarred by memories of frazzled Finns drunk in charge of dolphins. His previous employees openly preferred the ‘life’ side of ‘work/life balance’.

Or perhaps this could be a rule to stop Gary Paffett drowning his sorrows as his once promising career has become (albeit lucratively) mired in McLaren testing hell.

However, despite Dennis’s best efforts alcohol and motorsport has, and will continue to have a close relationship.

James Hunt, McLaren-Ford, 1976The days have passed of Innes Ireland and James Hunt (serious racers both – but, equally, neither would avoid the bar in the aftermath of a race). Bahrain aside, champagne remains the post-race drink of choice and many of the sport’s major sponsors are alcohol companies.

Alcohol too is a favoured fuel among many club racers.

The legend of Gerry Marshall may be something of the past – very few racers maintain Marshall’s ‘only here for the beer’ attitude. But that’s not to say that most racers in this country have not come into contact with alcohol over the course of a race weekend.

There are rumours of those who will retire to the bar for a pre-qualifying ‘sharpener’, and likewise there are several who following a poor practice session will have a pint or two ahead of the race.

Equally, there are many, myself included, who will regularly have a beer the night before a race to settle the nerves – and try to make the Novotel Milton Keynes seem even remotely interesting.

In the UK alcohol at race tracks is increasingly falling in line with the Ron Dennis attitude. However on the continent it’s a different story.

At the Nurburgring in October, beer was on sale trackside from 9am, and better still there was a bar in the prize-giving tent. As a result most drivers had a Bitburger in hand instants after the end of the race.

Fernando Alonso, Renault, Interlagos, 2006, 5We’ll see if the McLaren discipline works once the season gets underway.

And the evidence may come not on the strength of Alonso and Hamilton’s performances, but whether they spray the Champagne into the air, or quietly sit drink every last drop, before begging the FIA to swap the Moet for Diamond White??????

Related links

Tags: / / / /

Advert | Go Ad-free

2 comments on The Ben Evans Columns – Drinking and driving

  1. Uncle Ron is right,he should also read them a bed time story and tuck them in at seven

  2. If I was paid as much as they are I wouldn’t mind a night or two without a beer! I also don’t think any of them have seen the inside of a Novotel for a while…

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.