Il Parco di Monza. Is there a more evocative sounding location for such as a Grand Prix race track? This temple of speed, located a few miles to the north east of Milan is surely the most enigmatic of all the F1 circuits.
As one stands amongst the trees at the first of the Lesmo curves listening to Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma crackling through the tannoy it’s easy to imagine Nuvalari, Farina, Ascari, Moss, Fangio and Clark hammering through the forest.
I, along with so many others, love this place and it’s not exaggerating the point to say one can really feel the ghosts of the past, not just in the age old trees but in the art deco grandstands and ancient pits hidden away from view. Just stand on the cobblestones and think of the legends of our sport preparing to tackle the awesome and viciously steep banking and I defy you not to shiver.
Beep barp! The electronic paddock gates’ chime comes as a modern day thunderbolt bringing one straight back to the present day with an unpleasant jolt. Formula One 2007 is consumed, not by the tightest championship fight in years but by political intrigue, industrial espionage and court cases galore. Whatever your view or allegiance, it’s all a crying shame. Throughout the weekend small gatherings of journalists can be seen discussing the various connotations of possible verdicts in Paris this week and how the rest of the season will play out. It’s interesting to hear the wildly differing opinions and patently obvious as to who the best informed are.
Whilst enjoying a healthy breakfast in McLaren’s Brand Centre on race day morning, Matt Bishop and I were witness to an interesting cameo. Through the mirrored glass a kerfuffle of flash guns, lenses and fans could be seen heralding the arrival of the world champion. The door swished open and in he walked. Now wouldn’t you expect, on a weekend when Alonso had dominated totally and was due to start on pole at one of the blue riband races of the year, his team mates to greet their man with at least a nod of the head? On any other occasion so would I. Correctly sensing that his arrival would be ignored Fernando immediately disappeared into his private room. From what I understand the little scene we’d just witnessed say’s far more about the Spaniard’s recent behavior than the team’s.
McLaren right now is a far from happy ship when really Ron and his guys should be enjoying their year of years. Speculation was rife about how the race would unfold and whether any contentious incidents would befall either of the silver cars. Of course nothing but total professionalism prevailed and it’s a credit to them all that the mechanics cheered equally for both Lewis and Fernando as the champagne flowed.
Please take a few minutes to enjoy my pictures from Monza.