The Ben Evans Column: Excuses, excuses

Ralf Schumacher, Silverstone, testing, 2007At Indianapolis two weeks ago Ralf Schumacher turned left when he should have turned right and took out David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello.

His verdict? “A racing accident.” But he’s not the only driver to cook up a fabulous excuse for a shunt.

Even hardened race fans like myself must have impressed with Valentino Rossi’s excuse for finishing only fourth in the British Moto GP. He blamed hot dog grease from the Download Metal festival at Donington Park two weeks ago. This is possibly the greatest excuse of all time, ever.

Racers as we all know are prone to the odd excuse. Only last Saturday was I involved in a 4-car pile up, which most observers may have blamed me for.

But do bear in mind the other guy did turn in rather late, and that kerb was a bit high and bounced my car??????

As a racer myself I love reading other drivers’ excuses – particularly those in publications that my team manager may not read. Some are better at their excuses than others.

The undoubted king of the inexplicable explanation was ‘Our Nige’ who, even when he had a dominant victory, would have an implausible explanation for why his victory was harder than it looked.

His ‘I only had fifth gear’ line following the 1991 British GP was later demonstrated by Williams to be on the implausible side of unlikely.

In Formula 1 it has always been good fun to read between the lines for the truth behind the excuse. Many a conspiracy theorist has believed that Juan Pablo Montoya’s 2005 ‘tennis’ accident was in fact the result of a motocross bike accident.

The fact that Montoya was as likely to play tennis as I am to play croquet added credence to the gossip.

In some respects the innuendo surrounding F1 gossip can get a bit boring. In Moto GP, for every ‘It was Marilyn Manson’s burger grease’, there is a straight talker. In this case Rossi’s team mate Colin Edwards, placed blame rather more directly: ‘Two words – Casey Stoner’.

In F1 you can count the number of straight talkers on the fingers of a Saudi Arabian shoplifter. In Moto GP everyone is prepared to tell it as they see it.

Over in the USA they take a slightly more robust approach to the paddock porky – i.e. if the other guy took you out – give him a smack. Over in Champ Car and IRL this is de rigeur. Danica Patrick and Paul Tracy are both known for offering their crashees a close view of their fists – just ask Dan Wheldon or Alex Tagliani.

Back at home it is clear that Formula BMW and Formula 3 is the perfect training ground for the F1 drivers of tomorrow, if only for the rubbish the drivers come out with in a press conference.

Nothing beats a press release from some 18 year old proclaiming them the star of the future based on a 16th place finish in an FBMW race at Croft. But this doesn’t help the humble fan, who may actually believe something Ralf Schumacher says, so here’s a quick guide:

‘It was a racing accident’ – I took him out, and my goodness was it obvious

‘We were fighting over the same piece of track’ – I tried to overtake the guy in front by driving over him

‘I’m confident of coming through the field’ – 15th on the grid, but may get 14th if things go my way (Copyright 2007 Jenson Button)

‘Hmmph’ – I qualified sixth in the best car in the field and I will screw up the race (Copyright 2007 Kimi ‘Mr Charisma’ Raikkonen)

‘He’s an idiot’ – Danica Patrick when she fails to navigate an oval (clue: turn left)

‘It was my fault’ – Never been said, never will, unless the Clerk of the Course is threatening a ban

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4 comments on The Ben Evans Column: Excuses, excuses

  1. “I was caught out by the wind” – I made (another) unforced error when it mattered most. (c) J. Button

  2. Even Anthony Davidson said that after qualifying in the Spanish GP.

  3. true, but he’s driving button’s old car. maybe there’s a pattern?

    how about this:

    “I was caught out by the wind” – My car has the aerodynamic footprint of a London bus (c) J. Button

  4. Journeyer said on 28th June 2007, 8:16

    Haha! It was Button who said that in Spanish GP quali 2004, not Anthony. :)

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