I just popped over to the UK on Eurostar yesterday to go to the Autosport Awards. It is a great event and it is funny now to think back to how it was when we first started it back in the 1980s, when I worked at the magazine. We had some fun. One stunt I remember was having a guy standing on the pavement outside the Grosvenor House with a flash gun, shooting it off now and then to draw a crowd, to add to the ambiance.
I did not do a World Champion count but Lewis was there, along with Sebastian Ogier, Anthony Davidson and the irrepressible Petter Sohlberg, who got a special award for winning World Championships in two different disciplines. The only award that I thought was odd was a technical award to Formula E in a year when Formula 1 produced some of the most astonishing engines in the history of the sport. I guess that the Autosport folk didn’t want to give too many things to Mercedes-Benz, as they were the sponsor of the evening as well as winning a bunch of awards. Perhaps when (and if) Formula E becomes a little more impressive and makes some serious progress, so that the cars don’t have to be changed halfway through the race, a technical award might be a good idea…
The only thing about an event such as the Awards is that one spends to whole time having half-conversations with people, as old friends come at you one after another after another. It is great, but it is a little frustrating because you never feel you talked to anyone properly and there were so many people you saw in the distance and never got to speak to. There were some great moments too and the announcement of a new award for the future with Williams planning a Young Engineer Award, the prize for which will be a two-year contract with Williams in F1. It was great too to see lifetime awards for “The King” Richard Petty and the great Gordon Murray.
Jenson seemed rather merry and Lewis turned up wearing purple trousers to get an armful of awards from a chap my notebook says was called “Tiny Temper?”. Yes, I have to admit that I am not up to speed on the British rap scene. No-one on the table where I was sitting had any idea either, but I looked him up when I got back and discovered that I should have written Tinie Tempah, although it seems that his parents were not wayward hippies and his real name is Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu, which is a bit of a mouthful. Anyway, Lewis seemed to be happy to see him and it is always nice to see Lewis happy. The other thing that the audience learned was that the World Champion has “a starter performance engineer”, which probably helps to explain how it is that Mercedes F1 has so many staff members. The audience seemed to be rather keen to see Jenson back in McLaren next year and far too many people suggested that the theft at Red Bull was the work of a gang led by Sebastian Vettel.
Much alcohol was had by all… I suspect there are some sore heads this morning, but being a clean-living chap I feel rather good. Must dash to the Eurostar.