A week in the mountains

I apologise for those who like to read lots of posts each day, but the Internet in my hotel in Madonna di Campiglio might have worked well enough for Princess Sissi, when she used to hang out up there, but it is not really the latest in 21st century technology. Thus, I decided to have a more restful time and not write much, as there was really nothing to say. Luca di Montezemolo had a four-question chat with the UK press which was fine and not very exciting, although he surprised me when he said that the Ferrari chief designer was an Italian, as I have been under the impression for some years that Nick Tombazis was Greek. Still, Luca has many other things to worry about these days and so can be forgiven for not really much about the team. One day soon he may be Prime Minister of Italy and one cannot fault his charm…

The other “news” of the week was not very exciting, with speculation about why the new McLaren may be late, the news that Jean Alesi has joined Lotus (which proves that he still recognises the value of money), confirmation that Williams will have money from PDVSA (which was not really rocket science). There as also a story about some politicking in Korea which has removed Chung Young-Cho as the chief executive of the Korea Auto Valley Operation (KAVO). I have no idea why this happened as I thought that Chung did a very decent job in difficult circumstances. My feeling is that this must be a political move and if that is the case I fear for the event in the longer term because Chung is close to Bernie Ecclestone and some political replacement is not going to get the same kind of hearing as Chung enjoyed. Still, I guess that it is their money and they can do what they want with it. All I can do is hope that they find someone with an understanding of the world beyond Korea.

The Wrooom event ended last night with an entertaining race on the frozen lake (a big pond really) with the various riders and drivers mixing it on karts that sounded like big hoovers (and were slower than the average Dyson), and with Fiat 500s. This was all good fun and Fernando Alonso won both events, which meant very little as it was really just a publicity stunt. I was amused to see that Valentino Rosso was said to have qualified second, which was impossible given that I watched him on every lap and Felipe Massa gradually caught him and eventually passed him so must (logically) have been going quicker at all times. Still, the crowd loved it and that was what was important. Rossi is such a star that even Alonso and Massa were in his shadow all week.

Madonna is a nice little town and the Wrooom event has done wonders for it in the last 21 years, putting it only the international map. Good for them and good for Philip Morris and the other sponsors who are involved in this exceptional event. It really is a smart way to get a load of good publicity for your team at a time of year when the F1 news is thin of the ground. Red Bull has lots of money, but has not done anything similar, which is a shame because while we all know Mark Webber very well, Sebastian Vettel remains a bit of a mystery to most of the F1 media. He’s a thoroughly pleasant individual but he gives little away about his character and this is a shame because with a little more “paint” we could make much more of the success he has achieved. Still, Dietrich Mateschitz is supposed to be a genius at promotion and seems to be doing well enough, so who am I to question the way he goes about things?

Here are a few pictures of the week at Madonna. These include such delights as the special studded tyres used to help former Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer to drive the Ferrari F1 car on ice (which was a tough job, even with the specially-built Pirelli studded tyres), branded “sottozero”.

Hope you enjoy them:

Valentino Rossi and Luca di Montezemolo, two of the most popular men in Italy...

Luca Badoer's career may be on ice, but he was pretty impressive at Madonna...

Studded F1 tyres...

Fireworks after the racing

Felipe and Fernando after a torchlight descent of the mountain

Flame-throwers? An evening spectacle in Madonna.

The Madonna ski race...

A good way to get about

Preparing the lake for an ice race...

Eurosport MotoGP commentator Toby Moody prepares for the slalom...
Eurosport MotoGP commentator Toby Moody prepares for the slalom...

Stefano and a Fiat

Fernando, fizzy and Jules Bianchi

Fernando karting on ice

24 thoughts on “A week in the mountains

  1. Did you mean the Empress Sisi of Bavaria? Would she have actually stayed at a hotel in Madonna? Is there a plaque or something? Rather like “George Washington slept here” in the States? Or were you taking literary license since Geneva is relatively close? Help me–I’m historically- and geographically-challenged and curious. At least I know they didn’t have the internet back then (did they?).

    1. The Empress Sissi was a big fan of Madonna, indeed I believe it was her who made it popular first of all. However, Ferrari put it on the map in far-flung places…

  2. “Jean Alesi has joined Lotus (which proves that he still recognises the value of money).”

    Um… which Lotus are we talking about, here?

  3. Jean Alesi with Team Lotus? From what I can see, it is with Renault. When did you start referring to the Renault team as Lotus, Joe? Just wondering, maybe you know something I don’t. In fact, I am sure you do.

  4. ‘speculation’ as to why McL delayed?

    I thought it was pretty self-explanatory and logical, to test the new Pirelli’s against a ‘known’ platform, whilst having more factory work on the new car?

  5. And the prize for the dodgiest sunglasses goes to – Fernando Alonso!! Maybe I’m getting old but those are some bad sunglasses. Fine if you’re a toddler playing dress-up but for an adult expecting to be taken seriously… not so much!

    Karting on ice in the Italian Alps looks like a lot of fun though.

  6. “All I can do is hope that they find someone with an understanding of the world beyond Korea.”

    “Madonna is a nice little town and the Wrooom event has done wonders for it in the last 21 years, putting it only the international map.”

    Joe, obviosly you hold a very special world map. Anybody with a slight interest in skiing knew about Madonna long after Sissi’s death and long before this tobacco driven Ferrari-Fiat event has been invented.

    How about a glimpse beyond F1 and its stuff, not only beyond Korea?

  7. I can’t imagine Alonso was happy being in Rossi’s shadow at a Ferrari event where he is meant to be top dog.

    I can’t be the only one who can hear Rob Smedley’s voice saying ‘Fernando, Valentino is more popular than you.’

  8. I hope Toby reported any damage to the owners of his vehicle before hot-footing it to the airport!

    Thank goodness someone was reporting on the event in the spirit intended. If it was left to the BBC…

  9. I’m not being critical at all but why do a lot of journalists (i notice James Allen, etc where also there) chose to go to a Ferrari love-in rather than the Autosport show where there have been a lot of interesting and informative interviews with drivers/ex-drivers/team owners… etc…. ?

  10. To expand on Joe’s “Birmingham… The Italian Alps… Birmingham… Some choice…”, I ran an indoor karting race in Birmingham on Autosport weekend in 2008. It was so cold the patio heater froze. At least in the Italian Alps the correct clothing to withstand the temperature does not interfere with the activities pursued (Autosport itself is held in a warm building, so you either have to carry a thick coat with you all day or put up with being cold when looking for your transport home).

  11. Joe, fair enough!
    Out of interest did any of the BBC team get invited to the Ferrari event?
    I didn’t get a chance to go to the Autosport show but the interviews they put on youtube were very informative.

    1. Luke,

      This year, the British F1 contingent at Madonna di Campiglio consisted of the head of BBC Motorsport, three national newspaper reporters: the Times, the Telegraph and the Mail, plus James Allen and me, although JA was only there for a part of the event. Others were probably invited but did not attend. There were none of the F1 commentary team, but last year Jonathan Legard was there. Other Brits present were from the MotoGP world and included Steve Parrish, Toby Moody, Gavin Emmett and Matt Roberts.

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