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The Tenner Bet

The cursory research had been completed.

I had established quickly that the US Grand Prix had never been won by Dick Van Dyke in a car that looked remarkably like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, despite Wikipedia's best efforts to convince me otherwise, but there was something definitive.

I shall return to that later, though, because I want to talk about Wiki. Ever since I read the infamous line about an England footballer only being married to a member of Girls Aloud to disguise the fact that one's a homosexual and the other's a racist, I've tended to take most of its "historical context" with a pinch of salt.

As a melting pot of stews go, it provides sagacity without the sage, a commentary on time without the thyme. Mercifully, this is not a food blog; I'll leave that to the new wave of cryptohippy journos who seem to think writing about something you know nothing about is a way out of writing about something you do (mental note: remember to tread more carefully with proclamations that could hold you up to ridicule).

Some facts are immutable, though. Such as the one that says anything other than a Ferrari can forget about winning the United States Grand Prix. As I pondered this, while ruminating over whether to brown the meat in the spaghetti bolognese I am about to prepare after finishing this column or just chuck it in with the tinned tomatoes, I alighted on this tweet: "9 – The number of US Grand Prix won by Ferrari. Forza."

Was it a sign? And, if so, am I to brown the meat or not? Maybe it really was an indicator as to which way tomorrow's race might finish.

the race

Well, first up, it's been five years since the last US Grand Prix, when Lewis Hamilton was victorious; before you all go reading too much into that little nugget it should be noted that the McLaren driver won at Indianapolis and that this year's race takes place in Austin, Texas.

It means zero which, as anyone at Ferrari will tell you, is Italian for zero. Nevertheless, we learned from Abu Dhabi that is unwise to take anything for granted in F1. Not least when Bernie Ecclestone is in charge. What once looked as if it was going to be a procession to the drivers' title for Sebastian Vettel suddenly became less clear when he was ordered to start the race from what might as well have been the car park of his hotel.

The arbitrary manner and severity of his punishment led many to question whether it fitted the crime. While the German started at the back of the grid, it made little tangible difference to the race for the drivers' championship, since Vettel's third place meant Fernando Alonso only gained three points on his rival by finishing second.

If that result had seemed unimaginable as the green light was signalled, it could be ascribed as much to two stoppages as Vettel's driving, with the champion- elect benefiting by 12 seconds as he chased down the leaders.

THE BET

The race in Abu Dhabi should have been won by Hamilton, though, not Kimi Raikkonen, who took advantage when the McLaren suffered fuel-pump failure. At that point, the modifications to his car looked to have earned him a first win since Italy and, with the course suiting him this weekend and another week for the McLaren mechanics to iron out any defects, he is a solid 31/10 to follow up his victory of five years ago.

SEASON'S TOTAL

Another near miss last weekend when the Scotland rugby team turned a decent first-half showing into a second-half seat-of-the-pants exercise which ended with said underwear around their ankles.

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