STU­ART CODLING

“So why wasn’t Kimi at the driver din­ner?”

Motor Sport News - - Gp Extra -

Stop the press! A group of For­mula 1 driv­ers went out to din­ner. And it be­came ‘a thing’.

Thurs­day press con­fer­ences at grands prix have been dull and inane since Tazio Nu­volari was a boy, or at least since the FIA first de­cided it would be a great idea to force driv­ers in front of the world’s me­dia be­fore the ac­tion even starts. But the qual­ity of the ques­tion­ing, such as it is, has be­gun to chart new depths in re­cent years, mostly be­cause of the in­ter­net. So­cial me­dia and lazy jour­nal­ism make for a heinous tag team.

In more in­no­cent times the likes of Sir Jackie Ste­wart and Jim Clark and their re­spec­tive wives would in­deed hang out by the pool, or break bread to­gether of an evening, and no­body would re­mark upon this as an un­usual oc­cur­rence. To­day’s mil­lion­aire driv­ers tend to shun one an­other’s so­ci­ety, so, yes, it was in­ter­est­ing to see sev­eral of them Tweet­ing a group ‘selfie’ from a meal out in Monaco early last week. And, yes, cer­tain driv­ers were con­spic­u­ous by their ab­sence, if you were of a mind to read such things into it.

This, ap­par­ently, cre­ated a ‘big buzz’ on so­cial me­dia, which is to say that a great num­ber of peo­ple who spend too much time on Twit­ter be­came un­duly ex­cited about it. #din­ner­gate was born. What was the real agenda be­hind this soiree? Were they dis­cussing their next move af­ter that bomb­shell of an open let­ter to the sport’s great and good the other week? Why wasn’t Kimi there??

That, you would think, would be that – but then came the mo­ment on Thurs­day when press con­fer­ence MC Justin Hynes ut­tered an in­vi­ta­tion he no doubt came to re­gret: “Ques­tions from the floor?”

The ques­tion­ing that fol­lowed was in­ter­minable. Who had the idea to go out to din­ner? Were you aware of the buzz it cre­ated on so­cial me­dia? Who chose the restau­rant? Who paid the bill? Why wasn’t Kimi there?? It reached a point at which even a dead horse would have leapt from the floor and begged for it to end.

No de­ceased equines be­ing present, it fell to Valt­teri Bot­tas to say po­litely but firmly, “Every­thing was al­ready said – yeah, nice din­ner”.

No one present will win a Pulitzer for this but, as Pro­fes­sor Brian Cox once re­marked, no knowl­edge is wasted. So, if you’re in­ter­ested: Lewis Hamil­ton chose the restau­rant; they split the bill; they’ve been try­ing to ar­range it since their last sim­i­lar get-to­gether in Korea in 2013; Kevin Mag­nussen was at a Re­nault func­tion in a night­club; and Kimi Raikko­nen “had work to do” in Tai­wan.

For the ma­jor­ity of you out there who have bet­ter things to do than wal­low com­pul­sively in Twit­ter’s on­go­ing slow-news day, don’t worry. Walk on. Noth­ing to see here…

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