The BBC were always going to milk Monte Carlo for all it was worth and, sure enough, the coverage began with a package in which they had put Jake Humphrey in front of a green screen and superimposed him onto some archive footage of great drivers being interviewed. It was a quirky little sequence that made good use of the BBC archive, but in his efforts to make it look realistic, poor old Jake ended up nodding like a dashboard ornament.
We quickly moved onto images of Monte Carlo wealth and opulence juxtaposed with scrabbling fans fighting for a portion of mountainside from which to gawp at the race from a distance. Inadvertent social comment from the BBC – good to see.
There was an all too brief Max Mosley interview where he dropped a very broad hint that the budget cap would be in place by 2011, rather than the original plan of next year. Jake said apologetically that there wasn’t time to cover the potential breakup of the sport, so they cut quickly to a bleating interview with Nigel Mansell.
Brundle was in his element on his grid walk. Because the grid is actually a Monte Carlo street with very little room on either side, the usual engineers and hangers-on were all crushed into a smaller space. Add to that the fact that Monaco brings out the celebrities in their droves, and Brundle doorstepped the most unlikely sequence of people you are ever likely to see in a five minute timespan.
Firstly, he chatted to former driver Jacques Villeneuve, looking as happy as a kid who’d won the lottery; then he grabbed Prince Michael of Kent, a man who has won the lottery of life. Apparently the Prince’s status as patron of the RAC is enough to earn him the chance to strut around the grid – I’ll bet he isn’t camping on the side of a mountain.
From his Highness, Brundle moved onto Michael Johnson, a man who has an air of expertise when talking about anything at all. You get the impression you could ask him about the impact of the Wars of The Roses on Britain’s sixteenth century internationalism, and he would have an opinion, which he would deliver with all the authority of an Emeritus Professor of History. Next was Geri Halliwell, who was predictably chatting to the richest man in the city, Bernie Ecclestone. She seemed to phase even Brundle with her relentless banality.
The race started well for Brawn with Button holding his first position, and Barrichello overtaking Raikkonen going into the first bend. After that, it seemed to be a formality. In a great phrase from Brundle, he was toying with them like a cat with a ball of string. Barrichello lived a little more dangerously, with Raikkonen nibbling at him throughout, but another Brawn one-two was almost inevitable.
This might have been the race where Ferrari rescued their reputation. From Raikkonen’s front row qualification, they showed they were in the race and, aside from the Brawns, Raikkonen and Massa were by far the best on the track.
Another title contender Sebastian Vettel was running well until he went into the barrier in an almost identical slide to Hamilton’s in qualifying. Oddly, it wasn’t quite as funny when he did it.