F1 Asian Tour – The Red Apocalypse, Paolo the Ferrarista on Sepang and Suzuka


Meet our latest blogger, Paolo the Ferrarista. Having listed Stefan Johansson and Michele Alboreto as his personal heroes, Paolo’s seen it all, been there, done that. An ambitious baby-boomer turned full-time F1 journo, he brings his unique insight to iberianmph dot com. Please enjoy his words of wisdom!

Petronian Law – Sepang (with a bang)

After the misfortunes of Singapore, everyone was ready for a Ferrari revenge in Malaysia. At least I was.

My bumpy flight to Kuala Lumpur made me feel like a koala lumping his manly lumps, if you know what I mean. I spilled a glass of fine overpriced cognac on my new blue jeans, my good jeans, and I wasn’t a happy camper. A few team members on the same flight made fun of me, sick bastards.

Anyway, I’ve great memories of Sepang, in 1999, when Ferrari’s Eddie Irvine was fighting for the championship (and the Schum got back from his leg injury and just destroyed ’em all), I was there to ask Eddie a few questions and I guess he didn’t like it at all because he told me where to go. I loved it. It’s my best memory of F1 so far. V10 engines never sounded so powerful and tempting, luring me deeper and deeper into the magical depths of the sport.

This year’s edition of the Malaysia GP (why not #MalaysianGP aye? Plus good old Twitter felt confused about the official hashtag, duh) would also mark its last. The grandstands never seemed to be full during all these years, unfortunately. The circuit put MotoGP on the map in Malaysia, but failed to do so for F1.

The Itallyn Stallyns’ Malaysian weekend started off with a bang: the domination all Ferraristi were hoping for. We were in for an easy win, many a French journo in the media centre said. Not so fast, kiddo. I dunno why French journos would be so keen to see the Red Team win this year. I mean, Renault is still 2 light years away from taking the titles, they’re doing a decent job though, as you’d expect from Enstone.

Then disaster struck in qualifying: the bloody hybrid vacuum cleaner had its dusty muffin full of dust and gremlins and the Super Seb didn’t get too far. P Last once again! Muthaf*ck@! I never felt so mad since the days of Jean Alesi retiring in each and every race, cazzo. Kimi stormed to P2 on the grid and managed to alleviate the Ferraristi pain – the Iceman would freeze Hamilton’s progress, we all thought to ourselves. Enzo would watch and bless Kimi’s attack on the #44 Mercedes from above.

Alas, poor Kimi! He didn’t even start the race: the effing hybrid let us down once again! Madonna porca! I’ll stop eating frittole for one year!

Honestly people, what are we doing here? Drop the complicated stuff, let’s go back to proper racing, shall we?

With Kimi gone/out of the picture, it seemed nothing would stop the #blessed one, I secretly felt the Mad Max could do it. In the end, Mercedes de-rates sealed the fate of the race; the Dutch Vrooom Kid overtook #teamLH and offered us a Jean Alesi déjà vu by winning a Grand Prix in Malaysia; winning like that, especially in Malaysia, on your birthday, is the best ever gift a former teenager can dream of, no?

But hold onto your hats, ragazzi! The strolling Lance Stroll had yet another surprise in store for us: after finishing P4, the Seb was cruising, collecting Pirelli’s Turkish delight rubber, when suddenly the billion stars’ boy crashed into our superhero! What a garganelli!!! Reminiscent of Schum’s Spa 1998 3-wheeler, the German ace parked his wounded stallion in turn God-knows-what and limped back to the pits (aboard Pascal Wehrlein’s slow mini-Ferrari Sauber) with his secret data kept safely inside that wonder steering wheel. Is it a Lexar SD card they use? I dunno. A good question for Scarbs F1.

Seb’s P4 was damage limitation in the end; we’ll take it though.

Eat My Sushi – Suzuka

Fearing the worst (i.e. gearbox change), we all arrived in Japan. The flight was less bumpy, however I still spilled some fine champagne on my second pair of new blue jeans, my second best good jeans! During the flight, a whole bunch of rival team mechanics laughed at me. They weren’t Ferrari mechanics, I can assure you.

When in Japan, I always sleep in capsule hotels or my personal favourite, Henn na Hotel, with its Italian-speaking robot receptionist who happens to be a heartless dinosaur. Sushi marathon in Tokyo, followed by a sake marathon in Yokkaichi is something I immensely look forward to all year! My stomach is loving it!

So does my fancy Japanese toilet, these beasts are more sophisticated than modern F1 cars, I’m telling ya! I often choose Beethoven’s glorious 9th to accompany my private activities and prefer to smell roses while I’m dropping the kids off at the pool, it did take a bit longer than expected this time around, I ran a slightly longer sushi marathon, you see.

In fact, so strong was my conviction that we would win anyway, that I spend the entire FP1 enjoying Ludwing Ivan’s work in the comfort of my hotel room’s facilities. And the great Seb didn’t let me down: P1 baby!

From then on, things went downhill, as Damon Hill would put it.

Kimi did have a little crush on Suzuka’s crash barriers and crashed his Red Dragon in FP3, which is turn put him on the back foot for the qualifying. What a mess.

Seb fared slightly better and posted the 3rd fastest time, good enough, yet not perfect.

Clouds seemed to gather on the Scuderia’s red horizon in the land of the rising sun. Would a miracle spark reignite the SF70H’s MGU-H or MG B D? Well, we would soon find out.

And find out we did!

A stupid effing spark plug, butt plug, ruined Seb’s race: with the complicated architecture of the powerless unit, it proved impossible to change that little piece of sterco on the grid. In the old days, it would take Senna to halt Ferrari’s title challenge at Suzuka. Now it’s a bloody spark plug and a hybrid engine. Madonna, I can’t take this any more. I’ll go and have some marsala. 3 bottles please.

Kimi’s P5 didn’t make a huge impact on the championship standings, as one would imagine. The wealthy Finn had an mighty off on the first lap while fighting with for a position with a Renault. C’est la sake, if you pardon my French.

Elsewhere, Jo Palmer is joining the FIA WEC for a new chapter in his career, thus leaving the door open for Carlito Sainz to race in black and yellow starting in Austin (Allegro). It’ll be entertaining to watch. Allez les bleus, as they say in Rome on a cappuccino break!

I’m positive the Scuderia will strike back in style and we’ll fly the Maranello flag high, just like I am flying now over Siberia with a glass of DOM PÉRIGNON in my hand, while my other hand is typing this report for you.

See you in Austin, Ferraristi. We’ll win the double!

Avanti, avanti!

PS Editor’s note: we don’t always agree with Paolo’s vision of Formula 1, you gotta excuse his wild passion for Ferrari, we just felt it would be an entertaining read for all of you F1 muchachos and muchachas out there.

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