Saturday, May 29, 2010

F1 drivers banter over World Cup

The 24 Formula 1 drivers face a barrage of serious questions at each grand prix - how to rein in Red Bull, the pros and cons of an f-duct and the art of tyre management - but every now and then the media conferences throw up an entertaining rogue theme.

With two weeks to go until the opening game of the World Cup, football's premier global championship provided such a diversion in Turkey.
Surely the Socceroo's chances in South Africa were preying on the mind of Australian Mark Webber more than his own hopes of a hat-trick of race wins in Istanbul?

Not according to Michael Schumacher, who turned to the Red Bull driver at his side during the official driver interview session and muttered, "Did you even qualify?"
"Australia? We've qualified, yeah," Webber grinned back to the German. "We are there and we're playing you guys in the first match. We hope we can get a draw against the Germans.
"If we finish second and England win their group, we play England and of course we want to kick their butts."
Schumacher, who is a mean midfielder on occasion for Swiss side FC Echichens, accepted the gauntlet laid down by Webber and coolly replied: "Naturally, after some good results in past championships, we still hope to do a little better now and maybe win a final.
"It's very optimistic to say that especially with the sad happening to one of our most important players [the injured Michael Ballack] but nevertheless I'm sure they will keep trying and we cross our fingers.
"I'm sorry for you Mark, but..."
Cue an interjection from the Brazilian at the back.
"Yeah, I'm sorry for both of you," beamed Rubens Barrichello, already tasting the glory of a possible record sixth World Cup win for his home country.
"It's a great time for me and a great time for Brazil."

At least there was no chance of divided football loyalties spilling over into F1 in the McLaren motorhome, where Englishmen Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton are united on the terraces.
"We're going to win," was Button's initial, optimistic assessment on England's chances.
But hang on...
"First of all, I haven't got a clue," revised Button, who admitted he wasn't very good at ball sports in his youth.
Webber and Schumacher wish each other well for the World Cup. Not. Barrichello (centre back) can afford to be smug

"I'm not a massive football fan but when it comes to the World Cup we're all very interested."
Could Hamilton, a close pal of France star Thierry Henry, shed any more light on England's chances in the group games against the USA, Slovenia and Algeria?
"The US - well they're American footballers and not really soccer guys," cheekily began Hamilton, who spends a lot of time in the States with pop star girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger.
"Actually they've got some good footballers but don't forget we've got some incredible players.
"I've no doubt England will be strong but I don't make predictions. I'll put some money on it and hopefully come back to you with a wad of cash."
And with the diversion over it was back to nail-biting over just when anyone would match Red Bull's pace.
The odds might be smaller - and the taste much more sour - but the harsh reality is that, right now, Hamilton is more likely to get a return on his investment by backing Webber to win three in a row (at 12-5) than England lifting the World Cup (at 6-1) on 11 July.

By Sarah Holt - BBC F1

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