6 January 2019

Fascinating F1 Facts: 39

Mercedes Benz has won an astonishing 74 percent of the Formula 1 races since the start of 2014. This is fairly easy to work out given that there have been 100 races and so no calculation is involved, if one understands percentages. Despite this astonishing performance, the German firm is still a long way behind Ferrari's total of 235 victories (although some dispute whether Giancarlo Baghetti's victory in the 1961 French GP was a factory car). Given that the team has made 970 Formula 1 starts that is still a pretty impressive achievement, despite the fact that Mercedes's percentage of wins per race is almost twice that of Ferrari and not far short of Brawn Grand Prix's 47.1 percent. That is a record that will probably fall to Mercedes in the course of 2019.

Ferrari missed the first race of the World Championship in 1950, but made its first appearance a week later in Monaco and has been the only permanent presence in F1 from then until now.

Enzo Ferrari received a huge number of tributes in the course of his long and very successful life. He died in the summer of 1988 at the age of 90 and so did not survive to see what is probably the strangest of the tributes, published in a book called Manifold Destiny, in the course of 1989, by Villard Books, a division of the Random House empire. It was written by Chris Maynard and Bill Scheller, one a writer and the other a photographer, both of them based in New England. The book is idiosyncratic, to say the least, and was promoted as being the one and only guide to cooking, using the engine in your own car… It became an international bestseller and secondhand copies of the book were as rare as nuggets of gold.

The story began when the pair were visiting Montreal in the summer of 1984 and stopped to buy lunch at Schwartz's, a small deli on the Boulevard Saint-Laurent. They bought some of the shop's famous smoked meat, aiming to have a picnic on the drive back to Boston, but they knew that by then the meat would be cold and the taste would not be as good.

And then it struck them: Why not try using the engine to keep it warm? They stopped in Burlington, Vermont, to buy a roll of aluminium foil and spied a spot under the air filter of the Volkswagen Rabbit and put the package there to endure it stayed hot. An hour later they stopped and enjoyed a splendid picnic, with steamingly hot meat.

This was the start of a series of experiments that would last five years as they figured out how to cook different things and where to put their packages on the engines in their cars. They then used their new-found skills during the 1988 Cannonball One Lap of America Rally, an 8,000-mile rally around the United States, during which they were well fed for the whole seven days, while their competitors struggled to get meals.

The publication is essentially a recipe book which tells you all you need to know about cooking with a car engine, rather than staying home and using more conventional machinery, including where to place the dish on the engine and how far to drive in order for the food to be perfectly cooked.

The book includes such culinary gems as Hyundai Halibut with Fennel and the absolutely splendid dish named Upper Class Roadkill, a recipe designed for those who live in Connecticut, as it designed for a particular road, known as the Merritt Parkway, which runs from the New York state line near Mill Pond, to the Housatonic River, near Milford, Connecticut. This includes the spectacular instruction: "Take your brave vehicle out on to the Merritt Parkway and kill a deer, one that is anxious but not too afraid to cross the road…"

It is not all easy, of course, because a dish such as Cruise Control Pork Tenderloin requires 250 miles of driving.

The dish called Enzo's Veal is a little easier, as it requires only 75 miles. One takes slices of veal, layered with sun-dried tomatoes, onions and garlic, covered with a couple of strips of prosciutto, sprinkled with some rosemary, salt and pepper and one places in buttered tin foil.

"Start this in Manhattan," the book says, "and lunch will be ready in New Haven. Turn once, in Stamford."

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