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Gobshite of the Year

Maurice Hamilton December 18, 2013
The F1 paddock: Fertile territory for Gobshites © Sutton Images
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Welcome to the 2013 Gobshite Awards, an idea borrowed from the late Hugh Leonard, a renowned Irish playwright with a wicked sense of humour. Leonard used a column in a Dublin newspaper to distribute his annual awards based on the assessment that 'a Gobshite is a jackass, often harmless but always hopeless.' You'll understand, therefore, that F1 provides fertile territory when looking for suitable candidates.

Lewis Hamilton made a commendable early bid. Keen to show just how chilled he was in his new surroundings at Mercedes, Lewis found enough time during the hurly-burly of the Malaysian Grand Prix to make the point by pulling into the McLaren pit box at Sepang just to say hello to his old mates. The tight confines of the W04 cockpit meant he was unable to dig out his Blackberry to show the boys his latest pictures of Roscoe.

Word of Hamilton's Gobshite entry travelled fast along the pit wall. Not to be outdone but clearly acting in haste, Red Bull made a combined effort as Sebastian Vettel moaned in derogatory fashion about his team-mate's pace. In case anyone missed the on-air whinge, Vettel gave a practical demonstration with a move that put both Red Bulls in peril, the cue for Christian Horner to add to the farrago by limply saying "Co'mon Seb, this is silly" - much as you would to a doe-eyed puppy that has happily crapped on your neighbour's front lawn. To finalise the entry in perfect Gobshite fashion, Vettel humbly apologised and then, at the next race, said he couldn't give a stuff.

After much consideration, the judges felt Red Bull's submission ought to be entered in the Team Award, a category with stiff competition from those loyal Gobshite supporters, the FIA.

In a crafty move designed to appeal to the judges, the governing body asked Pirelli to produce tyres that would drop off in performance - but then allowed the manufacturer no opportunity to discover by just how much.

Thus F1, the pinnacle of automotive technology, the flagship of motor racing, engaged the world with memorable one-liners such as "Am I racing him?" when one sophisticated piece of kit costing zillions closed in to do battle with another, and "Going as far as we can is more important that going as fast as we can" when said to the driver of a car designed to go…er, as fast as it can.

We had an interesting entry during the United States Grand Prix weekend when Pastor Maldonado was of the opinion that a performance more mediocre than usual was because the Williams team was ganging up on him. This had no bearing whatsoever on Sir Frank's pin card being rejected at the Venezuela Mutual Trust Bank cash point in downtown Austin.

Respectable though that submission was, McLaren were to play a late Joker of outstanding originality and quality on the same weekend. Having chosen to dismiss the only F1 Mexican driver a few days before the one grand prix likely to attract the highest number of spectators from that country, McLaren went a step further in ensuring a catastrophic decline in Anglo-Mexican relationships.

The offending Mexican flag © Sutton Images
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McLaren outlet centres dotted around the track displayed the Mexican flag alongside the Union Flag to represent their drivers. That was all very well until it was pointed out that the Mexican emblem had a cannabis leaf incorporated within it. The offending flags were instantly torn down, but not before social media had escalated the aberration to an international incident in the time it takes to say "Where's the podium?"

It seemed the Supplier of Flags by Ronald Appointment to McLaren had pulled the Mexican image off the Internet without realising it was a scam. McLaren per se were not at fault, thus ruling them out of this award - which, I know, will be a deep disappointment at Woking after not winning anything else in 2013.

But here's the rub. The owner of the flag supply company is a man known to many in motor sport. Even though he is therefore qualified for the award and wins it by a Mexican mile, we cannot name him.

Which is a shame because, to the best of my knowledge, he is the first World Champion rally co-driver, winning entrant in WRC championships and former F1 team principal now successfully entering Aston Martins at Le Mans to have won the Gobshite of the Year Award. You have to say it's been a real pro drive toward Gobshite glory.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas and drive safely into the New Year.

Maurice Hamilton writes for ESPN F1.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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A veteran journalist in the paddock, Maurice Hamilton has been part of the Formula One scene since 1977 and was the Observer's motor racing correspondent for 20 years. He has written several books as well as commentating on Formula One for BBC Radio 5 Live
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Maurice Hamilton writes for ESPN F1. A veteran journalist in the paddock, Maurice Hamilton has been part of the Formula One scene since 1977 and was the Observer's motor racing correspondent for 20 years. He has written several books as well as commentating on Formula One for BBC Radio 5 Live