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Formula One has played host to some pretty dumb ideas over the years, but none will top strapping a $400,000AUD diamond to the nose cone of an F1 car. If you’re unfamiliar with this story read on because it ends exactly how you think it does.
The Monaco Grand Prix will be held this weekend, and with that I was reminded of the single-dumbest idea that F1 has ever borne witness to: the one where they strapped actual diamonds to the noses of two Jaguar race cars.
The year is 2004. Anchorman graced the silver screen, Green Day released American Idiot, James Blunt became someone we had the misfortune of knowing about, and the movie Ocean’s Twelve was ramping up its publicity machine ahead of its release.
The movie, in which George Clooney, Brad Pitt and co plot to steal a Faberge Egg in order to pay-off Andy Garcia who they wronged in the first film, Ocean’s Eleven…look, the plot isn’t that important and if you really want to know, Wikipedia has the synopsis.
Enter the Monaco Grand Prix. It is the Big One. The race you want to be seen at. The one everyone, not even people into motorsport know.
There’s celebrities, the Mediterranean Sea, large boats, history and, of course, an extremely narrow race track that has no run off but does have lots of concrete and crash barriers.
And as a tie-in with the upcoming heist film, a $400,000AUD diamond was placed on the nose of each of the Jaguar Racing F1 cars, to be driven in the grand prix by Australia’s own Mark Webber and Austria’s Christian Klien.
Let’s just take a moment to think about that. You’ve got nearly a million dollarydoos of diamonds glued onto the nosecones of race cars. That’s pretty dumb at the best of times. Then you add a track where there is no chance to recover from a mis-judged moment before you just hit the wall. Hard.
Oh, and the diamonds were on loan and, according to some reports, uninsured.
Yeah. You can see where this is going.
Webber qualified 11th with Klien a few rows further back in 14th.
The race starts and, yup, right on lap 1 into the wall goes Christian Klien. He finds the barriers on the outside of the Lowe’s Hairpin, the tightest corner on the F1 calendar. Nose first.
The car was recovered by the track marshals and when it was returned to the team the diamond was nowhere to be seen. Quelle surprise.
“Surely it must have just come loose and be sitting on the circuit or under the fence somewhere?” the team surely thought.
Unfortunately for them, you’re not allowed onto an active race track to look for a diamond while there’s a race on. So they had to sit by the sidelines for the entire 1 hour 45 minutes of the race before they were allowed onto the circuit to try and recover the expensive jewel.
Unsurprisingly, the diamond was nowhere to be seen. And it’s never been seen since.
By now you’re probably wondering what happened to it. Surely it turned up some time later, returned to its rightful owner while the lucky bystander/track marshal/not-overly-successful Formula 1 driver got their fifteen minutes of fame for being the one who pocketed the loose rock placed in the dumb spot.
At time of writing, I can offer you exactly no new information on the location of the diamond (no, I don’t have it). It is gone forever (or until it is found, whichever comes first).
You have to wonder what they were thinking. On what planet was strapping a very expensive rock to a race car at one of the tightest, twistiest race tracks there is ever going end well?
Surely, this is sits high in the pantheon of F1's Dumbest Ideas.
Oh, here’s a funny aside: Jaguar Racing was put up for sale by Ford later in 2004 and was bought by Red Bull to become their F1 team.
I’m sure the two events are not related.
Here's a YouTube video of Christian Klien not crashing into the walls of Monaco during qualifying...or pre-qualifying...or practice. Either way, he later did crash resulting in the loss of the diamond:
What other expensive things should you not glue to the nose of an F1 car at the Monaco Grand Prix? Give us your best/worst ideas in the comments below.