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I'm Sorry, I'll Write That Again


I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again. Was an April 1964 commenced BBC radio comedy sketch series which had the unspeakable good fortune to count, Tim Brooke-Taylor, John Cleese, Graeme Garden, David Hatch, Jo Kendall, and Bill Oddie as its prime suspects from inception until 109 episodes later its ending in December 1973.

Read those names again. Masters of the universe one and all. Don't give me a "Friends" reunion when you had this number of legends in the same room sharing a microphone for 109 episodes of greatness!

History was written large on the tablets of clay recording the golden years of British comedy. Damn. I can see that kitten (Twinkle) felling the telecom tower now from the subsequent Goodies series. Fun times.

So! They read, said, and did it again on that show. With varying effects. Some comedic. Some insightful. Some age badly. Some inspire. Some cause reflection. A few outrage.

The big thing being those were the intentional actions of alarmingly intelligent (and to some extent not entirely stable...) humans. Humans aiming to entertain. Which brings us to the Not So Mighty Titans Flying Circus which is Formula One Season 2024.

Dear Lord, script editor, radio show producer! Come ye all and cry at the gates of dawn which signify the start of season 2024.

Here at Pitpass we ask not the talking heads on the televisual device for direction. We heed not the PR friendly on-brand words from the teams. We smile knowingly at drivers attempting to transmit truth while complying with all the PR guiding principles. No. We brew a fresh tea or coffee, or here in the southern Pitpass towers we grab a cold sparkling water, or a smooth red should the sun be over the yard arm... and we ask our cats.

Yes indeed. Obi (a Southern Pitpass cat who passed a year ago this month) was legendary for turning his back on the screen as soon as P1 was settled. Back in the day he could be twirling in circles for the entire race, losing weight and fur due to the manic nature of the lead position. In his final years he'd be butt to the screen around lap ten and would, literally, never look back. Such was his faith in the powers of V. Max.

Obi had no time to waste. It was a simple "He's got it" decision and he was ready for more sleep and ear fuss.

Theo (the remaining Southern Pitpass Cat) tends to wander in and out during the race, with an air of indifference only a cat can project. Put David Attenborough on and it's a different story... he's riveted. Quite what he'd do if he actually came nose to nose with an Orca fascinates me, but I'm not about to journey to Canada with him to find out.

Oh yes, our season preview. Sorry, cats do that to you.

What are the powers within F1 trying to write? The FIA, the powerful teams, and Liberty all seem to be not just failing to be on the same page, but failing to be using the same song book.

Using cats once again as an example, I see the apex predator desire for total control in all these moves. Cats adopt humans, humans do not, ever, own cats.

The FIA and Liberty are at open war. Toto and Susie are miffed at their FIA treatment. Christian is under investigation for "stuff". The 2026 rule changes are up in the air and running late, and not liked by anyone in their draft form. The teams, which have all expanded despite a cost cap (that's another on-going story), are all starting to complain about the on-track testing limits. They want more.

Yet. Yet. Look at the press releases. The hype around yet another "Signature Destination", the howling delight about Las Vegas which totally ignores the irritation of those that actually attended in person, not as a virtual reality avatar. The growing number of amazing street circuits!

Lord! Sorry I'll read that again! Another press release on how simply awesome it all is.

While the rest of us looked on, open-mouthed at the proposed elevated Hot Wheels track in Qiddiya, wondering what on earth they were thinking of, and whether April Fools Day had arrived a month early, Valtteri, Nico and even Fernando were insisting how wonderful it was!

Zak is saying Toto has garlic breath, and so does Christian. I'll read that again.

Sir Lewis to Ferrari. I'll read that again! It actually relates to on-track (remember that concept?) issues. Oh. Sorry. For those coming in from Drive to Survive, "on-track" is the concept whereby a package (aka race car) gets to lap a track with a driver at the wheel trying to do laps of said track as fast as possible... or to be precise, if not as fast as possible, simply faster than everyone else on track that day.

It's not about the entertainment package, the Las Vegas Sphere, Taylor Swift or cross-selling to Baseball fans. No. It's about a race car, driven by a determined pilot, which on the day, in those conditions, got to the finish line ahead of all the others suitably equipped.

It's about mastery, by the designer, by the team, by the driver. It is a supreme team effort by hundreds of people. To ensure that on the day the driver can say: "No need to read that again. I've got it."

That's exceptional. That's not skit comedy. That's sporting mastery. That's masters at work who should be admired for a remarkable display of discipline and focused power within the bounds of their selected arcane discipline.

It's not questioning rules, moaning about non-rules, exploding about budgets, yet our current head of the FIA, Mohammed ben Sulayem, appears to be drawn like a star ship crossing the event horizon into ever larger black holes of doom. Failing to lead the way with firm clear minded leadership and a glowing vision. Rather, like the bizarre scenes from the Walt Disney movie The Black Hole, his captaincy appears determined to steer us all to a major ship wreck in the fiery pits of hell.

Entertaining flying robots aside, that's not a good look for F1.

Liberty Media are joining Mohammed in taking us deeper and deeper into the black hole of doom. The Max and Bernie show is starting to look like an Oscar winning performance for the ages as we drift deeper and deeper into the chilly California sand. And Liberty Media are going to have their fading Levis bursting apart as more initial dollars roll in, before the sandcastle is washed away by the incoming tide. Which is then swallowed by a Black Hole, just to keep that 1979 Disney madness alive.

Dear Reader! If you are still with me after so many tortured metaphors and extended similes then I salute you! We now have Meat Loaf singing on the collapsing bridge of the star ship Palomino, the autobots running in circles with V.I.N.CENT channelling the dead. John Cleese and Bill Oddie singing rhyming couplets that would make an Irish fiddler blush, Red Bull flogging itself in public like a Da Vinci Code monk and Mohammed ben Sulayem making all the class moves of Commodus, son of Marcus Aurelius, as he destroys an empire.

Like, seriously, two races in, and a 1964 BBC radio sketch show, gently beaten by Nigella Lawson into a smooth blend with Disney's 1979 The Black Hole, has already foretold the future. Nigella can only work with the ingredients she has! Will any of us want to eat it this season?

Yet fear not dear reader. The resultant gluten free cake is not animal farm. It is animal crackers.

Max Noble

Learn more about Max and check out his previous features, here



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1. Posted by Max Noble, 22/03/2024 5:48

"@ToeKnee - great story about a fine event. I’ve never been to either a 12, or 24 hour race, and I’ve got Le Mans on the bucket list. There is something about pushing the people (drivers, and pit crew) and the cars hard for that length of time. Much like ultra-marathons are pushing the limit of the human to keep moving and not die. It is so enlivening to see humanity on the limit!

Last time I saw an F1 package (aka Car) on the limit was on the weigh bridge! (Sorry, cheap shot I know…)

…recommend you read the “Power of Love” article and go find all the lovely things in F1 worthy of our delight and admiration…!

…the Red Bull paint job. The shade of orange on the McLaren. The optimism at Ferrari. The stoic mindset of Lewis. The self-love of Zak. The continuing insane speed of Alonso. Saruman taking the hobbits to Isengard. ;-) "

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2. Posted by ToeKnee, 19/03/2024 20:48

"I went the 12 hours of Sebring and found it wonderfully refreshing. A two day party, where a race broke out. Oh, I found the old school. Hardly any media, no Netflix, people listening to IMSA radio between the roar of the crowded field. No rejecting Cadillac and Andretti (the winning Acura). The track, 3.7 miles of wonderful butt hauling. Now I wake up to F1, the fun draws out of me. Sad state of affairs."

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3. Posted by Pawsche, 18/03/2024 11:27

"You are indeed correct re the feline species... Dogs have owners, cats have staff.

As to F1... It might be due to the ravages of age, but I tend to find myself drifting off to sleep once the first couple of laps are complete. Most of the time there's not even any nice scenery to look at to alleviate the boredom as "The Powers That Be" move more to "street circuits" in the pursuit of bigger fees. Even the most "exotic" locations once under floodlights have as much atmosphere as a rentakart circuit in the local bus-garage."

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4. Posted by Cobra Driver, 16/03/2024 10:11

"Max, another brilliant narrative. They just keep coming. And you have so much to work with, given the likes of Liberty, Qiddiya and Sulayem. The list appears endless."

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5. Posted by Spindoctor, 15/03/2024 12:44

""..Not so much a programme, more a way of life..."
Another fun romp through comedic genius & the absurdities of Formula 1. I think the appeal of the likes of Cleese et al was that they smoothed off the rather uncomfortable sharp edges of Absurdism, as practiced by the likes of Beckett and brought it to the mainstream. The Pythons too, operating with a similar modus brought us lots of "Undergraduate" humour that wasn't afraid to challenge as well as make us laff.

Formula 1, on the other hand, is rushing headlong towards some kind of homogenised "populism" which finds the lowest common denominator & positions itself just a notch or two below it. At the same time as taking itself incredibly seriously it becomes more hilariously absurd FIA & Liberty seem blissfully unaware of the contradictions inherent in a sport dedicated to "excellence" scraping the bottom of the human interest barrel, and making the sporting code largely optional, changing from race to race in pursuit of "eyes & clicks".

The whole Horner\Marko\Verstappen Snr\Newey saga looks like being their version of waiting for Godot:

"Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it's awful!..."

"That passed the time."
"It would have passed in any case."
"Yes, but not so rapidly...""

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