Lewis Hamilton, currently driving for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 Team, confirmed that his Canadian GP crash was down to the aggressive driving techniques he had learned racing down Louis Botha Avenue, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Midway through the race Hamilton slammed into the back of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari when he failed to spot a red light which denied him access back on to the race track from the pit lane.
McLaren’s lead driver confirmed that during the close season the team had enrolled him in a South African minibus taxi “training academy” to bring out his inner steel. As a result he found that during Sunday’s grand prix he had lapsed into the old habit of counting his change while pulling off. This had resulted in him missing the red light and “poesing straight into the back of Raikkonen’s vehicle”.
Hamilton said this was only half the problems he was experiencing since returning from Johannesburg. During one of the pit stops he “klapped” the guy who was cleaning his windscreen and warned him that if he ever comes near the car again he would “donner” (translates as Thursday from the dictionary we used) the crap out of him.
A bemused McLaren team manager said that what he found the most annoying was Lewis’s insistence on putting up an index finger and slowing down every time he drove passed a safety marshall. Hamilton admitted that while this was a problem, it was “nothing compared to the problem of having to soak the ball of my hand in hot water for hours after trying to get the hooter to work”.
When Anthony Hamilton, the driver’s father, was approached for comment, he expressed sympathy at Lewis’ plight having undergone the same course in South Africa, seemingly with more or less the same results as he plowed into a children’s playground while reversing his Porsche.
Apparently the minibus taxi course encourages the use of reverse gear when the rest of the gears have been burned out. Anthony said that the part that he missed the most was the bit where the passengers are praying while you apply this technique. Apparently it’s a very religious experience, best enjoyed in reverse, at around 90 mph through the S’s on Death Bend, just before Orange Grove in Johannesburg. Hamilton Senior takes up the story:
“Amazing! Those minibus passengers must be among the most devout people in the world. While I was sitting there next to the driver during my first trip, I noticed that every time the taxi came to a halt there was a chorus of “Thanks be to God”, which I found extremely uplifting. Yet at the same time, I have never heard so much swearing from a religious crowd of people ever before in my life! Damn it, every four letter word you can think of as we swerved, hooted and overtook every vehicle on the road…..talk about a pair of ducks…”
“No we hit a pair of ducks when the taxi left the road and smashed through someone’s wall!”
We asked Lewis Hamilton whether this minibus taxi course had improved his driving skills :
“I would be lying if I said it hadn’t. You try and stop a 12 seater minibus, with 43 passengers, marie biscuits for tyres, no brakes, gearbox shot to pieces, flying down a steep hill at 90mph …the frigging handbrake in your hand after you’ve tried using it…people crying hysterically, the radio blaring, your instructor telling you to stop to pick up more passengers….”
“Did you stop?”
“Only way I was going to stop that taxi was by either tying a rope to the ankle of the fattest passenger aboard and throwing him out the window…sort of like an anchor or against a huge truck!”
“How did you eventually stop?”
“On an uphill! About 9 miles up!”
“Were you scared?”
“My eyes were bleeding from crying, what do you think?”
We will be printing a schedule of Lewis and Anthony Hamilton’s whereabouts for the next two months in our late edition. You might want to walk or catch a train while they’re in your neighborhood.
Just to play safe.