Arrivederci Europa If you're the sort to entertain romantic notions of Grand Prix racing, despite its inevitable commercialisation, then Monza in early Autumn is the place to do it. On Sunday morning, as the mist rises slowly over the Royal...
If you're the sort to entertain romantic notions of Grand Prix racing, despite its inevitable commercialisation, then Monza in early Autumn is the place to do it. On Sunday morning, as the mist rises slowly over the Royal Monza Park, it's a time to reflect that we're leaving the charms of the Old Continent behind for another year, before heading off to the Orient and South America...
While those far flung destinations have their good points, and for some of you media they are actually home, the European press corps will be pining for what we leave behind. Like chewing gum, for example, which is illegal in Singapore (except on medical grounds), whereas in many European countries it is considered the perfect accessory to leave on your seat on the train or the sole of your shoe. And speaking of trains, how dull is it to go to Japan, where you can set your watch by the fact they run on time, that you actually get a seat of your own and there's very little chance of tripping over a beggar or getting stabbed? Where's the fun and frisson of danger in that?
In China, you will be praying for a nice safe train as you watch your taxi driver bury his right foot on the accelerator as he heads for the back of a stationary queue of traffic, completely unaware that the pretty red lights mean the brakes are on.
We'll miss the fact that in Europe you can watch people take their dogs for walks in the park, unlike the next few races where you might see people put their dogs in the wok with some pork. It's the same with fish, because over here, if it's swimming happily around it belongs in a tank with a miniature treasure chest and anchor, not flapping its fins on your plate. Come the end of the year, having overdosed on raw fish, your cholesterol levels will be nice and low, until you get to Brazil where being a vegetarian carries the death sentence and eating three pounds of beef a day is a legal requirement.
Coming from politically correct and health conscious Europe, the lack of smoke-free zones can be disconcerting and remember, you won't be allowed through Japanese Customs unless you're carrying at least 400 Duty Free Larks cigarettes.
While it's nice to have thousands of crazy Japanese fans confused by the desire to mob you, while also keeping a discrete distance, it doesn't convey the same sense of deep- seated affection that you get from being showered with broken glass by adoring tifosi at Monza. At least in China they don't even try to hide the fact that you could be eating lethally dangerous seafood, while the restaurateurs of Monaco go to a great deal of trouble pretending the refrigerator hasn't really been broken since Tuesday. As for Singapore, all that chrome and steel in Changi airport is just so devoid of any emotional content. Surely we all prefer the dark, distressed and homely charms of Heathrow Terminal 3. And how can Mt Fuji hope to compete with our Milton Keynes factory?
And a final word of warning about Brazil: When you hear a gun shot in Europe it's usually on the television, not in the street outside your room.
-credit: red bull