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