“The farce is finished, I go to seek a vast perhaps” – Francois Rabelais
In honour of Ted Kravitz: Truly a maestro of the rhetorical art of understatement and irony
For a while in Sochi before the commencement of the inaugural Russian GP, Bernie Ecclestone sported those puppy dog eyes, moist and downcast – like those of a jilted lover.
He had emailed the teams on Friday and ordered them that to a man there would be “absolute silence” during the playing of the Russian National Anthem (The Telegraph).
Actual merchandise on sale in Sochi
Further, additional treats were prepared for Bernie’s new love – Vlad – as the drivers thinking they were lining up for a minutes silence for Jules Bianchi were duped by the F1 Supremo. They dutifully ‘fell in’ to look like some ragged line of Ivans – attentive and ready to pay homage to the Sickle and Hammer as the State Anthem of the Russian Federation played out.
Yet one figure of defiance stood alone. Unbowed by convention, the leader the F1’s drivers’ championship showed his subjugated competitors how it should be done. Cap fully donned, earphones in, Lewis Hamilton was oblivious to the shuffling around him as drivers removed their headgear and nudged others to remind them of the agreed protocol.
One could be forgiven for believing Lewis was ‘sticking it’ up to the imperialistic ambitions of Putin’s recent revisionist cold war homeland, had not one well known TV presenter commented how Lewis Hamilton appeared to have been recruited by the “Russian Tourist Board” – following his nigh on hourly pronouncements “all weekend” on how exceedingly excellent a place the Russian playground of the rich – Sochi – really is.
Though if we consider Lewis’ comments from earlier this year which sought to remind us that his formative years were in Stevenage, this may explain explain his predilection to the cubic hectares of concrete, which he described as “beautiful”.
In case Lewis had not made clear his message that Russia was a place of love and peace to the watching world – skeptical of Russia’s recent empire building intentions; Lewis reassured us on the podium that this was indeed a safe place, a place of hope and joy, a place to which he would return again and again – because he lived “nearby”.
The 2586 km as the crow flies fro Monaco to Sochi can indeed be covered toute suite in a chauffeur piloted Su-34 (the Ferrari of aeroplanes… then again…..no actually…. yes), which covers the ground at an amazing 340 m/s – making the direct journey in just over 2 hours at Mach 1.8.
However, Lewis may not be aware that this direct route is not an option for his new buddy’s personal aircraft due to there being a number of ‘unfriendly’ sovereign democratic states along the flight path.
No matter and we digress.
We must return to the tale unfolding of the ‘Grand Orchestrator’ of this magnificent occasion.
Bernie’s attention to detail in preparation for the arrival of Vlad could not be faulted. The house had been cleaned, gallons of Oust had been sprayed to remove any unpleasant odour, every nook and cranny had been adorned with fresh exotic in an attempt to brighten the place – and a beautiful meal had been cooked to perfection.
Yet despite this, prior to the commencement of his grand Autumn Russian ball, the apple of Bernie’s eye was nowhere to be seen. The cloud of great blue flies buzzed and was audible to all.
The party began, and lap after lap, Bernie looked around like the lonesome groom at the altar, wondering where his love may indeed be?
Crazed thoughts swarmed through Bernie’s mind – like a deadly plague of locusts sweeping across the plains of Africa.
‘Surely Vlad wasn’t again messing around with Buk missiles or indulging in his other favourite past-time of marching 10,000 men up to the top of the hill and then straight back down again?’
Yet Bernie should not have feared.
As always, true to his word, Vlad eventually arrived – though perhaps a little late. Bernie hurried down behind the grandstand, where in private, a warm (rather too warm for some) embrace was exchanged, and all angst immediately relieved.
With 12 of the 53 laps to go, Vlad and Bernie were seated comfortably together in a private box high above the Bolshevik masses. In close attendance was his Royal, so very much, the Highness the King of Bahrain – Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa – who reclined at a respectful distance as he dutifully performed the role of chaperone with discreet attention.
A small garden gnome appeared to have been placed on a seat near the loving couple as a small boy prank.
Bernie was uneasy, this relationship was breaking new ground for him, as his usual penchant is to leave these kind of social events with 10 laps to go, but of course today, that would send out the wrong kind of signals – and be just plain rude.
The guests in attendance were treated to a number of opportunities for a close up picture as the rather dull party meandered its way to the final bell for last orders at the bar.
Vlad heartily congratulated the players on their performance, though one or two felt rather violated as the larger than life Moscovitch rampaged, uninvited and unannounced, around their private quarters as they were dressing for the final act. Though one was secretly beside himself with excitement at the presence of his Lordship – the master of the Universe.
Formula 1 and the FIA’s abdication of their responsibilities to Bernie Ecclestone have allowed themselves to be open to ethical considerations on the question of sport and politics on more than one occasion; each time resorting to the line “We are a sport and politics is not of our concern”.
The claim that F1 can exist between these two perceptions of reality with impunity was today outed as utterly risible, particularly given that the small matter of $50m of government backing lurked behind the scenes.
Even the most innocent or naïve of political observers could be in no doubt, that the Sochi ‘show’ was singularly for the benefit of one man – and one man alone.
Righteous indignation would be wasted as a commentary on today’s proceedings; instead the complete farce of the ‘Grand Spectacular’, should be glorified and exalted as comedic beyond the finest crafted script. And in the words of John Ratzenberger…
“A farce…. or slapstick humour… does universally well”.