The Old Team Principals Social Club

The Team Principals For A Return to F1 Meeting, Top Secret Location, Abord Flavio Briatore's Boat

FB: I call to attention the TP-FART-F1M meeting for July 2011. And thankyou, Eddie, for the selection of the ackronym. So, Item 1, how to reverse our bans.
Aguri Suzuki: You're the only person who's been banned.
Paul Stoddart: Yeah, you're talking out of the dunny with that one, mate!
FB: But are we not the cast offs, those who can't ever return, those who have been lied about, those who society has rejected?
PS: Naw, mate, thats just you! And technically they weren't lying!
Mario Thiessen: It is inefficient to stay on Item 1 so long. We must be good at Item 2, better in Item 3 and we aim to succeed by Item 4.
FB: OK, OK. But there is some reason they cast us all aside.
PS: Don't ya mean they cast you aside?
Ron Dennis: You're just attended to offer criticism, didn't you Paul?
PS: National pastime, mate!
Jackie Stewart: Is there any point to all this?
FB: Of course, dear brothers, it is to mark our return to take the jobs of the incompetents who have replaced us. Domenicali, Whitmarsh, Horner, Gerard Lux. Idiots, to a man.
Spokesman for the Toyota delegation: There should not be one leader for a team. Collective responsibility should rule.
MT: I agree, that and strict planning and target setting.
RD: My opinion on Martin is [a large boat passes by, drowning out all speech]
FB: But surely, all of us want to get back to it...
AS: And get screwed by Honda?
Nick Wirth: Or Virgin?
Niki Lauda: Or Ford?
FB: But are your jobs better now?
EJ: Flavio, you've given so much to the sport, and I really admire what you've done for both Benetton and Renault. But this is a nonsense. I don't even have to talk sense and the BBC lap it up.
PS: And you're not good at talking sense, are you?
EJ: No, I am not. But they call me "entertaining" and all I have to worry about is David Coulthard going postal.
RD: I appreciate the situation.
[Quiet voice from the background says Excuse-moi!]
FB: But they have shackled us, stopped us from expressing our true worth.
MT: We've already overrun Item 1 by some distance.
RD: And as I said to Martin [drowned out by security men ejecting Zoran D. Stefanovic]
FB: But the corrupt bastards of the FIA, they've ruined me, they've ended my career. I can't even sit on the board at QPR, officially. Why can't you have the same passion? I can't return, no-one wants me, and I swear, I will have my vengence on the FIA and anyone who enters negotiations with it.
Jean Todt: Excuse-moi! 'Ave you forgotten who can enter this club?
Max Moseley: I daresay he has.
JT: We 'ave you. We know you were guilty!
MM: And we've come to steal your boat.
BE: Nothing to do with me, you hear!
FB: But you can't do this to me. I'm FLAVIO BRIATORE!
MM: And you can't do anything to stop us!
PS: That's meeting adjourned, mate!

  • Max retired on Flav's boat on the Seychelles!
  • Flav is now living in a poor man's penthouse.
  • Paul made off with anything of value.
  • Ron stole the blueprints to Flav's boat and has hired Mike Coughlan to build it.
  • Mario is still waiting for Item 2.
  • Bernie and Jean went head-to-head in the limbo competition final; simply walking under the bar.
  • Eddie is still keeping an eye on David.
  • Sir Jackie and Niki escaped without injury
  • Nick designed a lifeboat and hasn't been seen for weeks.
  • Aguri managed to buy his Nick Fry dartboard at a knockdown price
  • The Toyota delegation is yet to decide how to react
Association of Former Team Principals Summer Meeting 2011, Barbados

Mario Thiessen: Our meeting, called by Association President Flavio Briatore, is to devise a plan for the summer holidays. May I invite to the stage Flavio?
Flavio Briatore: My plan is to use-a "squatters rights"
Paul Stoddart: Told ya he was sleeping rough!
FB: No, when the team shuts down, I break into the Principal's Office and then I got his job. Squatter's rights!
PS: Haven't you got something better to be doing?
Niki Lauda: Wouldn't have worked at Jaguar. No-one ever kept that office.
FB: But I must find a way in, it will work, I'm sure. It must wor... [Flav's phone rings] Excuse me!
Jackie Stewart: So, what's everyone doing for summer?
Ron Dennis: I used to go camping with Mike Coughlan when he worked for us.
Alain Prost: Somewhere in the English forests, I presume?
RD: No, in Italy actually. Don't know why, but he called it a "work expense".
Spokesman for the Toyota delegation: We had some good summers when we were in F1. We had a holiday home in Dubai, some lovely gold-plated bathtubs. Jarno would often send us a bottle of wine for when we ran out of champagne.
PS: I'd spend the whole holiday on the phone moaning to Bernie, but shut up because I've got a glass on this wall and I can't hear Flav.
FB: No, I can't... I don't see why they would... I mean, does Lewis want a swap... Yes... Yes... I know Christian can be a pain but... No... No... Well he is fast... Fernando is happy where he is too... OK, see you later.
PS: Here he comes.
FB: Yes, squatter's rights. It must wo... [Flav's phone rings]
PS: Go on, no worries, mate!
FB: Hi, Neil... you want how much?... I know what league we're in... Yes... Yes... No...
PS: I don't even care, its soccer. So Eddie, what did you do over the summers?
EJ: I have to say I spent much of my time with my fashion designer in Ireland.
NL: Was that the guy next to the Guinness factory?
EJ: Not next to the Guinness factory. On the same street, granted.
MT: Sorry, is there any point to this reminising?
PS: Naw, shall we all go?
MT: Meeting adjourned.

Three Hours Later
FB: Hello? Is anyone here?
After QPR's first Premier League game, Flav rang Tony Fernandes to see if he was still interested.

Tony, Tony. Surely you want to buy my football club.
No, it didn't.
No, Tony.
Well, I suppose they're from near Manchester.
Of course it doesn't count.
I did not tell you that.
We won the league last year.
I know its not that league.
Well, we're in the same position as Lotus.
I don't think that's fair.
Yes, it is a three letter initial too...
Well, if you'll sign Jarno Trulli, I see no reason why you wouldn't sign Danny Gabbidon.
I know I employed Jarno. I ditched him though.
No, we didn't expect Kieran to get injured!
Why should we?
So you're not interested?
What do you mean "Not at that price..."

So the short steps to Team Lotus QPR have lengthened...

FB: Has everyone confirmed attendance at the next meeting?
Minion: No, sir.
FB: Who are we waiting for?
Minion: We've heard from everyone but Eddie Jordan.
FB: Right, I'll ring his mobile.

In the Lotus Renault meeting room in Enstone, Eric Boullier is surprised to hear a cupboard, disused for years, ringing. In fact, he thinks, the key to that cupboard is probably still on Flavio's yacht. However, on opening the door, he finds the "leak" that allowed the BBC to break the story that Nick was being sacked.
EJ: Sorry, Jack, I've heard news from the bunker.
JB: News from the bunker, mate?
EJ: It is the opinion of my sources that they have a plan regarding your name returning to F1!
JB: Oh, no. Not him again. By the way, nice shirt!
Mario Theissen: Is this an official meeting, should I be taking the minutes?

That is where our records end, although the sight of an angry, elderly Australian punching a picture of a silver-haired octogenarian billionaire were reported throughout the land.

It is believed that Eddie escaped with all of his remaining cognitive function.
Extraordinary Meeting To Throw Out Various Hangers On. And Zoran D. Stefanovic.

Mario Theissen: It has come to the committee's attention that various amongst our number do not fit into the type of people we want here at the club. Therefore, the committee has, according to its targets, expelled any members that fit the following description:
First, people who are still involved in F1 teams.
EJ: Ron.
MT: No it is not just Ron. There was a "Mr. Fry" allegedly in the organisation fraudulently.
Aguri Suzuki: That he is a "former" team principal is just wishful thinking on the part of Ross Brawn.
MT: Secondly, people involved in the governance of F1.
MM: Does that include me?
PS: Not any more Max.
MM: Oh. Any reason why?
EJ: Bernie keeps eavesdropping.
Nick Wirth: Not hiding in cupboards, Eddie?
EJ: He has minions for that!
MT: Thirdly, Adrian Campos was never a team principal. Nor was Zoran D. Stefanovic.
Alain Prost: Does that include "Pheonix-Hart"?

A hearty laugh erupts as everyone remembers a bunch of year old Prosts, and Gaston Mazzacane.

MT: They were denied admittance.
EJ: Thats everyone, isn't it?
FB: No. We have one other issue.
Niki Lauda: Apparently even Jaguar had less team principals than Toyota.
SftTD: That is ridiculous. We are all team principals.
MT: Define "principal".
SftTD: Highest authority. All of us had the highest authority.
A different Toyota man: I didn't.
SftTD: Yes you did!

Eddie opened the cupboard and sent the minion back to the bunker, saying there was nothing interesting going to happen. Andrea Sassetti walked in. He'd forgot the previous few meetings and turned up late for this one.

The Toyota men squabbled long into the night, each one claiming primacy over the rest. Everyone else left, but the Toyota guys kept arguing. In the confusion, one of them spent a million dollars on a coffee machine Eddie Jordan was selling, one of them brought some of Riccardo Benetton's stock for triple the market rate, and one of them hired Ralf Schumacher.

Mario Thiessen cried at home. He forgot his targets. He was supposed to evict one group at a time. He'd forgot to strictly adhere to his targets without going a single step further. What did that horrid Stoddart man mean when he'd called the meeting a "success".

Sir Jack had been watching Flavio. Unusually quiet, he was. How could Sir Jack stop the fat Italian's plans?
Paul Stoddart: So what's the next race again?
Mario Thiessen: The one with the lights.
PS: Abu Dhabi?
MT: No, the other one.
PS: Singapore?

Suddenly, a large Italian man leaps from his seat with a large growl and proceeds to smash everything in the room before storming out!

MT: What have we told you about mentioning Singapore?
PS: It just gets funnier every time you do it!
MT: Today's topic is: "Who will win in Japan"? Guys?
JYS: Vettel
AP: Vettel
PS: Vettel
EJ: You know, Jake,..., sorry, club, I've got a funny feeling its going to be Vettel
PS: Hold on, a funny feeling?
EJ: Yes, an odd premonition!
AP: Is not an odd premonition!
FB: No, Eddie, is what we all think, eh? Except-a Toyota who no decide yet!

NL: Hamilton's going to kill someone!
EJ: This allegation is a nonsense. I am a well respected (cue laughter) journalist who does not in any way vocalise the obvious in a way both irritated and irritating, using one hell of a lot of words to attempt to appear wise... (continues)
JB: Vettel!
FB: You do a leetle beet!
EJ: No, not at all.
GL: France, 14-10!
JYS: We're not talking rugby, Guy, but I hope so!
MT: So has everyone picked a winner?
SftTD: Vettel
MT: Yes. So in the winner prediction championship the leaders are - everyone with 9!
AS: I, Andrea Sassetti, have not yet chosen...
GL: Morgan Parra!
AS: I say, Liuzzi! [gasps]
MT: So is that everyone but Sassetti and Ligier picking Vettel.
GL: Allez les Bleus!
JYS: He used to play rugby!
MT: Yes, but I can't now reach my target...

Three hours later, Eddie completed his point. Unfortuanately, the only person there to hear him was Guy Ligier, who's response ("Nicholas Mas") was unsatisfactory.
MT: So no points for anyone this week!
GL: Eh?
MT: What?
GL: Les Bleus 19-12 L'Anglais!
MT: OK, no points for that, its not F1!
PS: Give him a point, then the damn tie is broken...
MT: But, then, its impossible to run this since we don't have a sport we have to stick to...
PS: The rules just changed, Mario. Bit of a 2009 moment for ya!
MT: So, whats everyone going for this week?
PS: The Wallabies!
GL: Les Bleus!
JYS: Dumbarton!

AS: Aironi!

This continues until Mario is forced to make his prediction!

MT: Well, I'm going for Vettel even if you'll all be watching rugby, football, cricket and whatever the heck Eddie is talking about.

Perez-Sala thought the OTPSC had folded in 2011. So he was surprised to get his invitation by post, which is what brought him here to the clubhouse in the middle of nowhere (or possibly Wales) to meet whoever was left. The clubhouse was a depressing sight.

The sign above the door had the English chopped off, leaving only the incomprehensible Welsh slightly faded. As Perez-Sala stepped through the door, it started to look like a motor-racing circuit in a funny sort of way.

A "dry line" of cleanliness appeared in the carpet, leading down to the basement. Perez-Sala followed the line to come to a table and a chair. On the table was some survaillance equipment crudely inscribed "EJ", with a piece of disgusting fabric straight from the 70s as part of what loosely could be described as a design. He picked up the headphones and heard people talking:

"If Lewis doesn't want to do that photoshoot, then I'd be more than happy, as number 1 driver to step in. Just say the word, Niki, just say the word...

Just then, he heard a groan from upstairs. He ran to the top to what he thought was a stuffed walrus in the corner. On closer inspection it was a large Italian gentleman. He looked like he had sat there ever since he sold QPR to Fernandes, and hadn't washed. He opened his mouth...

"Bring-a me the food-uh."

Luis ran. Then he rang the Ambulance service. God knew if they could help, but he could see why Theissen and the others left. Except the Toyota spokesmen, who had yet to react.
Perez-Sala had thought for months. Who could it be? Who would send the letter to invite him to the OTPSC? It certainly wasn't Flavio and the Toyota spokesmen would have had an argument about who would use the pen, while one of them signed Ralf Schumacher. He had to dig deeper.

It wasn't an automated message - "Luis Perez-Sala" had been scrawled on in pen. It couldn't have been Thiessen, he'd have had the whole thing printed as Stage One of the three-point plan of sending a letter. Maybe the club were still meeting, simply marooning Flavio in the old clubhouse in the middle of nowhere (or possibly Wales). But who?

That's what brought him to see a team principal he thought he could trust. After all, Giancarlo was his F1 team principal; who better to ask?

He found Minardi in Faenza, where the Italian lived. After a long reminisce about F1 where Luis tried to mention Silverstone 1989 as often as possible, they got down to the nitty-gritty.

"I fell out with the OTPSC, you know. They took a wrong turn. It was quite fun in the 1990s when the Old Team Principals were guys who'd known life at the rear of the grid, but suddenly there were big-shots. Max, Jean, Bernie, Ron etc. No fun was to be had with Ron Dennis in there."
"Hold on, in the 1990s. Wasn't the OTPSC set up by Briatore in response to Singapore?"
"I heard about that. Flav couldn't cope with not being God, so he set up what he called his own club. Stoddart suggested all the guys went in to troll, so Flav got half of them thrown out, I suppose because he could."
"So the old old one is still meeting?"
"Look, Luis, I don't even know what kinds of things they're getting into now. They've wheeled and dealed, that's all I'll say. And of course, Bernie got his cut."
"Right. Where could I find them?"
"You really don't want to!"

Minardi wasn't going to give Luis any contact details, which was frustrating. His curiosity was piqued. What could they possibly be doing...
Something struck Perez-Sala as odd, looking back at his conversation with Minardi. How was he in the OTPSC in the 1990s. Gabrielle Rumi aside, he did pretend to be a team principal. Rumi had died years ago, but the mysterious existence of this lot - well, he had to start somewhere.

He arrived at the Fondmetal factory to meet the chairman. Wheels were being pumped out of machines all around. Would his talk with the chairman be productive.

No. Where could the next lead take him. He needed someone in the know...


Perez-Sala gone, the chairman of Fondmetal turned the wheel machines off. "Continue Mr. Briatore's order", he shouted. Suddenly, Fondmetal were producing hors d'oeuvres. In a wheel factory.

What kind of party could they be for...
"Hey, Luis", said the man.
"Look, I don't give money to beggars...", started Perez-Sala.
"I want to talk to you."
"Why? And how did you know my name"
"I want to talk to you about the Old Team Principals' Social Club."

Perez-Sala was interested, suddenly. They headed back to the HRT factory. It was just round the corner and was deserted.

"Maybe I should introduce myself. You may have heard of a media conglomerate known as Rooters."
"Hmmm... I've heard of them."
"Well, there used to be some journalists there."
"But they are journalists now, surely."
"Oh, sure, they'll go after Ecclestone now, won't they? Yeah, when it's not too controversial..."
"You still haven't introduced myself."
"I'm Ray-Joe Fenderman. I worked at Rooters in the good old days. We were the top motorsport newspaper of the day. I was their F1 paddock correspondent; while my colleagues described the action - Mansell, Senna, Prost, Piquet, Berger, Ghinzani - all of them lot; I was finding out what was going on with Dennis, Williams, Warr and Ecclestone."
"So what happened?"
"Benetton. And their team principal."
"Oh, and why was he a problem?"
"I got a scoop on their traction control. In 1994. And I had it all ready to publish after San Marino. And then San Marino happened. Well, I decided Senna would have wanted me to stamp out his opponents' cheating. We published. And we were damned. I used some choice words about Briatore that, in hindsight, were less than diplomatic. We lost readers all over the place; and I'd kind of overruled the editor. Tellie, who writes for them now, accused me of betraying Rooters. And we made powerful enemies."
"And his mate, Ecclestone. Moseley wasn't too impressed either. I never got another interview. But I spent a lot of time digging in the last 19 years. And our enemies, well, the OTPSC is for them. And I think they're trying to recover from Singapore."
"Oh, yeah. I imagine so."
"Look, go and warn Domenicali. That's what I'll say for now. I've got files and files of this stuff, but really time is of the essence."

Should Luis trust the old man? He was bitter and twisted, and looked to be getting back at Briatore for his own ludicrous lack of timing and the relative fall of his media empire. But he had no further information, and maybe Domenicali might be a useful ally if he was under threat...

Big thanks to Fenderman for allowing the abuse of a new character from somewhere in his head and for his IP of Rooters in this here post. I hope he doesn't think Ray-Joe reflects too badly on him, considering that I wrote it.
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There was something strange going on. Perez-Sala had never known Minardi to get involved in the world of F1, much less jump in feet first with interviews trying to question the world champion.

But he knew there was a club Minardi was part of, that he himself had been invited to but talked away - was a new ex-team principal what they really wanted? Is that why he hadn't found any evidence of their existance? But who was his friend on the inside.

What really struck him was Minardi's allegations - they were familiar. Too familiar. Ray-Joe Fenderman brought down the Rooters Media Empire on allegations like that; if Briatore was pulling the strings, those allegations would be as likely as saying that Danny Ricciardo deliberately crashed to bring out a Safety Car! It brought up his past too much.

Just then, a letter came through his door:


Luis had a funny feeling that too many people had a hand in a competitive 2014...
Sarah was in charge of the Red Bull victory planning party department. She was a busy girl! She'd already started to plan the end of year bash, on the quiet, but everyone was convinced of their success...

And she'd saved a ton of cash too. That Italian hors d'oeuvres company that said they'd "undercut everyone", well, they were brilliant. She made up a company who could do the whole thing for €5 and the fools had charged only €4! The finance people would be pleased!

So, Newey had designed the dancefloor. The whole venue would be partially-lit from the Kinetic Energy Recovery of their shoes on the actual floor. That'd save money too, although she did wonder why Mark Webber had so many misgivings as to whether it would work!

She hadn't worked out who all the invites were for. She also didn't recognise the man who said that the admin team had dropped one. He had looked a little old for a work experience man, and you don't get many people with that kind of accent on them. And who was Luis Perez-Sala anyway? Spanish name, maybe one of Alonso's entourage? Yeah, they invited all the drivers along. They were quite arrogant like that!

There's a party to get on with. "Must remember not to play charades, this year," thought Sarah. Horner had rather made a mess of it last year...


... and Seb's word didn't have one syllable...
The end of another Austrian anthem, the end of another morning, Luis Perez-Sala thought. Who's that on the podium, though? Eddie Jordan. An old team principal! He looked for clues, an insincere smile, anything. Well, his smile seemed strange, but that was just ... EJ?

His sleuthing hadn't returned much so far. He hadn't found his inside man yet. And he'd met a lot of people, and that was just at Toyota, where several of the representatives were still discussing whether to re-sign Glock. Mario Theissen had reached point 2 of the "Trespasser" plan before Luis just walked off, and apparently broke down in tears when he realised Luis had done one. And he never even talked about it to Jackie Stewart, a three-hour lecture about dangerous HRTs had seen to that...

Anyway, why would any of these people be interested in him? He thought long and hard about it for a long time. Who would want him involved? Who was pulling the anti-strings?


The party had all gone wrong. A tramp! Sarah knew keeping her job could be difficult. I mean, there were few more experienced victory party planners, but apparently McLaren had made their guy redundant. Although, admittedly, she wondered if Mr. Mateschitz was interested in pomegranate juice smoothies.

Anyway, she had to find a dentist. In Tokyo! At 2am on a Monday morning! So it was to her relief that a van was right outside the Energy Station in a Van saying "Emergency Dentist". A stroke of luck no doubt, but, as the team motto went: Take any luck that's coming your way. Sorry about the KERS problem, Mark.

She rushed Mr. Horner into the van.

Ray-Joe returned home, his job done.
Sarah's job just got more difficult. Finance had rejected her request. It wasn't her fault she had no tea trays, they'd all been taken by technical. And to be fair, the tea trays that Adrian had designed for Party Use were really expensive. She didn't understand why she'd have to get some cheap ones, after all her department was exempt from the Resource Restriction Agreement.

Then again, for an all-party fun team, partying was quite low on the list of priorities:



Luis had actually decided to ask Flavio about it. Flavio was stunned.

"Look-a. I do it all-a for my clienti"
"You do what for your clients?"
"All-a the things-a I do"
"Can you expand on what things you do?"
"No, he'd kill-a me. Me no wanna die..."

For his clients? Is that what he called Bernie these days...?
Perez-Sala joined the dots. Who'd hire Briatore? A grudge against Vettel? And something to gain? Suddenly no consequences?

Ray-Joe joined the dots. Horner needed to be protected, but why? Who could it be?

They both knew the door to knock on, and this is why Kolles hired them. He knew there'd be an answer.

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