It has been a long day, during which I see that Kamui Kobayashi has found a way back into the Caterham team and McLaren has come up with some financial results. I will probably take a look at these later if I have time. They look pretty decent.
I spent the day driving from Paris to Monza. It will be last marathon drive of the season for me, as from here on in, it’s planes all the way and some daft routings as well, thanks to this year’s stupid calendar, which makes F1 more expensive for everyone. One can only presume it was done deliberately in an effort to convince teams that it would be wiser to have more races, rather than a string of stand-alone races across the globe. Anyway, as regular readers will know, I hate European air travel so much that I drive whenever possible. It may take longer but you are the master of your own destiny and not beholden to airlines that see their customers as cattle to get from A to B, taking as much money as possible at every turn. It is freedom from the office and offers the chance for little side trips if such things take your fancy.
I left Paris before dawn and headed down to Beaune, which was reached while the world was still breakfasting. The sun came out as I passed through Dole and on into the land of Peugeot, where every building seems to be owned by the car company and all the trucks say Gefco, a Peugeot subsidiary. I was tempted to stop at the Musée Peugeot in Sochaux, or to cruise the streets of Valentigney, where the Peugeot family started making machinery in 1810. Instead I pressed on to Mulhouse, where there is another Peugeot factory, not to mention the Musée National de l’Automobile, otherwise known as the Cité de l’Automobile or the Schlumpf Collection, which originally included 500 vehicles, including 120 Bugattis and no fewer than 65 other French marques. It is a place where every car fan should go at least once in their lifetime. North from Mulhouse one heads into Bugatti country but I was going south to Basel and cutting through the middle of Switzerland to end up at the St Gotthard tunnel. Those who might think this a bizarre route should be reminded that the wait to get into the Mont Blanc tunnel can be an hour and a half or more at this time of year, and that a section of road on the Italian side was closed for road works AND that this route forces one to get involved in Milan’s rush hour, which is a waste of time and energy. Going by way of Switzerland is more scenic and easier as one arrives in Monza from the north. The trip goes by way of the picturesque Lucerne and Lugano and the dramatic valley of Bellinzona. There are not many racing places on this route, although I’m sure that countless early motorists endured amazing adventures on the Alpine roads. Racing has been banned in Switzerland for more than half a century so there’s not much to report. Still, at the of the journey was Monza, the most storied race track of them all, although Americans might argue the case for Indianapolis… If there is one thing that puts Monza correctly in its rightful place, it is the closing scene of the movie Grand Prix with the late James Garner standing on the main straight the morning he has win his world title. Gone are the days when titles were decided at Monza in September. Today we must wait for Abu Dhabi in late November….