• Singapore Grand Prix

No money, no drive

Adam Hay-Nicholls September 30, 2010
Sakon Yamamoto walks the Marina Bay circuit with his engineers ... before his mystery illness © Getty Images

The clocks don't half mess with you on Singapore Grand Prix weekend. Waking up at 3pm, it's difficult not to feel guilty. One skulks into the paddock, the sun already on the descent, and takes one's desk thinking everyone is eyeing you accusingly, that you're a lazy runt … only to discover you're the first one there.

Singapore's mix of late nights and lie-ins does fit in with my natural rhythm. Mind you, my first morning there was a bit of a rude awakening - literally. I was staying at a friend's place and, unknown to me before I arrived, Friday coincided with her packing up and moving to Germany. So at 10am - four hours after I'd gone to bed - I awoke to find three removal men in my bedroom asking if I could get out of bed because they needed to put it in a lorry.

When I came back from the bathroom they'd already packed my alarm clock. In the panic, and zombielike state I was in, I scrambled to gather my other belongings but forgot my computer charger, which isn't ideal when I need it to write this very column and I'd already spent all the power on The (sickest film I have ever seen) Human Centipede on the flight over.

That's not the only thing that was 'sick' this weekend, and I think it deserves the quotation marks. Sakon Yamamoto was suffering from food poisoning, we were told by Hispania, and as such reserve driver Christian Klien would take his seat. I had my suspicions. The only 'ill' that applies to Sakon is the 80s street slang term, as in 'ill behaviour'.

"Should I be concerned about your health old chum?" I asked him. Sakon howled with laughter: "Good one!" I'm told that when Colin Kolles saw Sakon was in the paddock - and not in bed, or wherever he was meant to be - the team principal went a little bit spaz.

Sakon is, we're told, paying around US$450,000 per race and the money didn't turn up in Hispania's account this week, hence Klien's promotion. I heard differing stories about the reasons for this. One was that Mrs Yamamoto got the decimal point in the wrong place and sent $45 instead. Another story is that the money ended up in a different account entirely.

Christian's performance - over a second quicker than Bruno Senna in qualifying - was very impressive, particularly given he hasn't raced since Monza 2006. Can it be right? Again, I have my suspicions. I cannot believe Bruno was that far off the pace in an identical car.

Karun Chandhok, who also has his issues with Hispania, is hustling for a new berth next year and, if I were a betting man I'd say it will be with Team Lotus. At least that's his best option, and he is most definitely on their shopping list. I have been reliably informed that Jarno Trulli will not be retained next year and alongside Heikki Kovalainen, looking down the list of contenders, I see three possibilities:

1) Chandhok - if he brings money; 2) Petrov - if he brings money; 3) Glock - if the team wants the fastest driver available more than money. 2) If Timo leaves Virgin, that would be a blow for them. But Kovalainen/Glock would be a fairly formidable mid-field package.