When I first saw this press release I was so hoping to read about a Wild West-style standoff, where one motoring ace turns to face the other, spits out a stalk of straw, lifts his Stetson and fires. But, unfortunately, settling grudges seems to have moved with the times, and Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso are now apparently ‘cool’, thanks to paintball.
Team rivalry can be a tricky obstacle to hurdle (we see it all the time here at Bedlam, and just look at the Gallaghers for a cautionary tale), but when Hamilton overtook the safety car to claim second place in the European Grand Prix, Alonso was publicly fuming…probably because he came in eighth.
But lurking behind oil drums and fallen tree trunks, the pair pulled off a spectacular solution to their falling-out, and the media frenzy that ensued. Let’s go paintballing – us in one team, loads of journalists in the other? Superb! Guilt-free fun guaranteed. It sounds like Hamilton and Alonso then picked a selection of F1 reporters to take with them for a day’s paintballing, with Hamilton warning, “I’m a ninja in battle…I’ll be the first to shoot you”. Alonso missed out on the fun however, but Hamilton’s team-mate Jenson Button was there on the day to lend a hand.
In what sounds like the kind of fantasies celebrities must have all the time, the journalists amazingly agreed, giving the drivers the chance to flex their adrenalin muscles a little before one of the busiest weeks of the year. Unfortunately though Hamilton broke a golden rule and made a glory dash, only for a Daily Mirror correspondent to get a backside shot. A real stinger.
So, it turns out paintball really can settle international sporting disputes. We should phone FIFA right now.