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Secret Diary of Adrian Newey Aged 53¾ - Part 6 “Bernie Jr.”
Tuesday 2nd April 2013


Adrian takes a break from being a genius to do his John Travolta walk down the pitlane

Goodness gracious trusty tome. I feel a hefty weight of guilt opening your vellum pages and realising I hadn’t jotted a single word since Monaco 2012. Deary me, how busy I’ve been. In truth, you were hidden beneath an old copy of F1 Racing magazine – the one where David Coulthard says, “this is my year” on the cover, which I always intended to read but never quite got round to. Little did DC know that Ron never intended him to have a year while he was a flag bearer for the Scottish Nationalist party, not to mention the Whitey-tighty trouser party.

Anyway, I digress. The reason I have a substantial hiatus in which to attend to your unmarked pages veritable archive of history is that Christian has called a halt to developing the RB9 until after Bahrain. The jungle drums say that political pressure on Pirelli is growing and that whereas we weren’t going to get a change at all in 2013 now the feeling is there could be progress towards a tyre that doesn’t disintegrate like a four-day-old Krispy Kreme doughnut.

Mark is muchly helping this by saying that the drivers can only drive at eight tenths, while Sebastian’s comment that the tyres degrade whether you look after them or not has also undermined Pirelli’s position. F1 can hardly be the pinnacle of motorsport if the championship is won by the car with the best tyre wear. You know I often sit on the pitwall and wonder about Pirelli - if Paul Hembery grew a beard, how much would he look like Guy Garvey from Elbow…?
Jana, my vituperative Slavic PA, has been surprised at my eclectic taste in music of late. Despite her assumption that I would favour folk music, The Spinners and “anyone with a beard and a cardigan” my choice of Elbow for our shared i-Pod dock has made her re-assess my status as the groovemeister of the Red Bull design department.

As I have oft noted, Jana has long been a supporter of Mark and a detractor of Sebastian. This was made very clear at the Red Bull Christmas Party when – after several sweet sherries – she insisted on holding him tight and dancing the Lambada. How anybody can dance the Lambada to Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ is beyond me, but it was a novel sight. When the head of Personnel took her to one side and told her it was inappropriate she explained that it was not her problem there were “cultural differences”.

The latest nonsense in Sepang has only deepened her dislike for Sebastian and given her the triumphant confirmation that he does need the set of children’s wooden blocks she bought on Ebay for when he comes into my office. Last year she also bought him a play-table and a little chair to sit on. In case there was any doubt she painted a name badge S-E-B-A-S-T-I-A-N and plonked it in the middle. Luckily he didn’t see it, and when she went on holiday in August I had it removed and sent to a local nursery.

After events in Malaysia, I had to lay down the law and sent her a very stiffly worded email. I could imagine Sebastian coming into the office to say sorry to the staff about the team orders business and Jana giving a cynical “Hah!” in response. Luckily the morning he came in she was at the dentist – as I wittily noted to the design team ‘having her teeth sharpened’.

As if the Sepang nuisance wasn’t a big enough distraction, now I have the most bothersome business of an Autosport journalist putting a rumour into print that Christian went off to Maranello last year and offered his (and my) services to the scarlet team. Most irritating. Now I am getting all kinds of banter from the rest of the design department. If I say something looks good, they reply, “No, Adrian, eetsa bella bella!”

Christian has promised me this wasn’t the case at all and simply more disinformation from the Scuderia. He said it had the same element of truth as Sebastian moving to Maranello in 2014, another one of their gems. As I said to him, I’m not a big fan of Italian soups and whereas zuppa di pesci can be a tasty treat on occasion, minestrone reminds me of holidays in cheap guesthouses on the Isle of Wight.

Christian is getting a lot of stick from the rest of the paddock because of his cosy relationship with Bernie Ecclestone – particularly the fact that he was the only F1 team boss invited to his wedding last year. In the past it was always Eddie Jordan who was said to be Bernie’s eyes and ears in the paddock, now the other team bosses suspect that it’s Christian, which has earned him the nickname ‘Bernie Junior’ or ‘Little Bernie’. How you get smaller than Bernie is beyond me – though if stature is a clue to future F1 megalomania, then surely Ant Davidson’s career should be looking up. Most ticklesome.

Secret Diary Part 5