Created with IMS Web Dwarf from Virtual Mechanics Inc.
Issue 39
June 2003
Allowing just one qualifying lap, every month
TVR's plucky Le Mans entry has suffered a serious set-back this week after both T400R racers broke down again, forcing the team to continue testing with a pair of Vauxhall Corsa dealer courtesy cars.
'This is a bit of a bugger,' mumbled a TVR source. 'But we couldn't really carry on testing when both the cars were on fire a bit. Whilst they're back at the dealers we're also getting them to investigate that funny smell, and that stuff that leaks onto your legs in left hand bends. Maybe by the time the race starts we'll also be able to use the wipers without first opening the passenger door, flashing the lights and hooting the horn four times.'
However, concern is growing that the cars won't be repaired in time for the race. 'If these were customer cars it'd take months to get them sorted,' said one TVR mechanic. 'But in this case we're really rushing them through. I reckon they should be done within about seven weeks.'
'If worst comes to worst we could always do the race in the courtesy cars,' burbled TVR's spokesman optimistically. 'One of them is a 1.2 GLS. It's got electric windows,' he continued. 'I've never seen those working before.'

TVR's courtesy Corsa at Le Mans practise, yesterday
There was surprise in F1 circles this week as Michael Schumacher remained unconcerned about the fact he is still on fire. Many commentators were impressed with the German driver's complete calm following a flash refuelling blaze at the Austrian Grand Prix several weeks ago but even they have been stunned by the reigning world champion's relaxed attitude towards the flames that have licked from much of his upper body since May 11.
'Schumacher knows that in modern F1 a fire is not the physical threat it once was,' noted Maurice Ital of
Every Other Sunday magazine. 'But I'm amazed that he's not just a little bit fazed to note that his head has been on fire for over a month now. You'd think it'd be quite uncomfortable.'
Ferrari sources were quick to play down the seriousness of Schumacher's incendiary affliction, insisting that their driver's peak physical fitness and focussed attitude made it easy for him to keep his cool, even if his shoulders are a bit hot.
'Michael will not let smoke pouring off most of his hair distract him from his goal to win another championship,' claimed on factory insider. 'Although we are getting through a lot of baseball caps.'

Schumacher, still on fire yesterday
Monaco isn't just as glamorous as a pearl necklace, it's also home to many of the leading drivers and a great chance to catch up with them as they prepare for the race.

David Coulthard was in fine form when I had breakfast with him before Friday's warm up. 'How the hell did you get in here?' he shouted, with a steely determination that marks his 2003 season. Coulthard knows he needs to be on top of his game this year, and he certainly seemed focussed as he called McLaren-Mercedes security and had me thrown out of his motorhome.

Meanwhile, David's team mate,
Kimi Raikkonen, is often accused of being dull and humourless. But that's far from the case, as I discovered when I spent time with him in the McLaren-Mercedes pit garage. 'Why don't you leave me alone,' the young Finn quipped. 'You tedious weak-voiced shite.' Priceless!

Jacques Villeneuve is one of many F1 drivers who has an apartment in Monaco and it was here that I visited him before qualifying. I asked him how he felt his season was going so far. 'Jesus, how did you get my new address?' he replied, with the characteristic laid back drawl that marks out this former world champion. 'Fuck off my property and never come back, you irritating asshole,' he continued, before pushing me down some stairs.

Michael Schumacher was in sparkling form this weekend, none more so than when I joined him for dinner on the eve of the race. 'You were not invited,' the reigning champ explained. 'You are never invited. No one likes you. Get away from me you freak.' It's always a pleasure to spend time with the maestro, and to be hit in the face by him.
Due to an error this piece is in no way connected with F1 commentator James Allen

� 2003. Sniff Petrol every month. Next issue 4 July
Written by Richard Porter. With thanks to Athlete, Thai chicken soup and Poo