The other day I realised that this edition marks six months since I started working on Motor Finance, and it was a realisation that came with a great deal of happiness as I really do love this job. I get to meet some really interesting people, I get to write and I get paid to do it.
As you can probably tell from the portrait photo by the editor’s letter I am not a man who is in the first flush of youth. Before I worked on this magazine I had done a great deal of jobs that felt unfulfilling and in some cases downright annoying.
The central theme of all of those jobs was that while they may have had their upsides they lacked one key thing, an increasingly important aspect for happiness at work, the freebie.
Freebies were I was told before I got into journalism a fundamental perk of being in the media. Its not often you get invited to premiers, launches of exotic products, free dinners etcetera when you work in banking or a factory.
Over these six months though I have begun to realise that there is a big gap in the sort of event that this magazine gets invited to, a gap that is quite surprising considering the subject we write about. Cars, launches, test drives and all else very rarely features in the diary at MF Towers.
I do realise that we write about the finance side of the business here, and that if hard pushed the fact that we can find a man who can finance the purchase of a Ferrari for a kid just out of college, is hardly of any importance to the press people at Ferrari when they are getting the press pack together for the launch of a car capable of 200 mph (but mainly used for driving 20mph around Kensington).
So I do live in a world of wishes when it comes to being invited to such things.
This month, however, I was invited to just such an event. I got invited to a factory and I nearly jumped for joy!
Now it doesn’t sound much like fun, until you realise it’s a Formula 1 factory. One of the backmarkers on today’s grid, kindly invited reporter Isabella and myself down to a roundtable event and a tour of their facilities. And it was fascinating.
To see an F1 car up close is a marvel to behold, they are at once both bigger and smaller than you first imagine. Let me explain. They are longer and wider than you can believe a single seat car should be and yet the space for the driver is so tiny it’s a wonder anyone fits, or more importantly can turn a steering wheel or move their feet.
And for all its size you realise that the thing full of fuel and driver in place weighs less than half of what a Ford Fiesta weighs without fuel or anyone in it, which is an amazing achievement.
The rest of the tour explained why that was, particularly the visit to the parts bin. The wheels for example, they weigh nothing, I could lift it with one hand held out in front of me, and I’m no Arnie. The thought and ingenuity that goes into those machines is a wonder.
But it isn’t cheap running an F1 team. The annual budget is well in excess of what I believed any sports team could spend, in fact over £200m, and this was a team of fewer than 200 people. Which at a million a person seems excessive. And that’s before paying for stars like Ayrton Senna, who I was reminded died 20 years ago. Which makes me feel as old as my picture at the front of the magazine makes me look.
Once the fascination of being in such an environment wore off, it did remind me that I got into this profession not to enjoy the fine wine and food you so often graciously heap on me, but to be closer to the cars I love so much.
So this diary this week is a plea to all those out there that while I do enjoy your company and the drinks you ply me with, I would really also like to enjoy some of the cars you finance and sell. So if anyone out there has a press launch for something, anything to be honest, then I will be there (I promise). And I will write up your vehicle in a lovely, warm and positive way (well maybe).
I look forwards to hearing from you.