Something missing from your Monte? Thought so. Mine too. Don’t get me wrong, there was no shortage of emotion and very, very good emotion harborside on Sunday. But still… it wasn’t the same without him.
Two years ago I watched then-Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo give his former Lancia colleague Ninni Russo a big hug after winning the Monte Carlo Rally for the first time as a team principal. The respect and history between those two men is incredible and worthy of a long story in itself. The joy was unbridled.
Twelve months on – and twelve months ago – Adamo was building the stories himself again. This time as he castigated himself for taking his foot off the gas over the winter and opening the door to mediocrity. The misery was complete.
His 2020 ecstasy gave way to unease that his rivals could catch up quickly, so he must work harder. His 2021 wretchedness was given real life context. Nobody had died. And tomorrow, he would find a way to work even harder.
But beyond the sentiment and the situation, this one man always had the most pertinent and germane quote ready and waiting.
That’s what I missed on the Monte. And the hug. And the coffee.
The hug and the coffee were put right last Monday morning when Colin Clark and I descended on Turin to find our friend.
There are still questions about why Adamo departed the team he’d led to two world championships in three years. But you only had to look at the difference in him from Monza a couple of months earlier.
He’d been run into the ground.
He’d lived, eaten, breathed and slept Hyundai Motorsport for the last seven years and it took its toll at the end of 2021. He was running on empty.
Talking to people within the team across the weekend, there was a real understanding of what they were missing. It would be very, very harsh to describe the team as rudderless – deputy team director Julien Moncet was doing everything he could – but Hyundai was certainly a team without its captain.
We didn’t spend long on Hyundai’s Monte on Monday, we had much more to talk about. And the one topic I couldn’t resist delving into was the FIA’s ‘help wanted’ poster.
The red hot rumor running around Monaco was centered on Adamo stepping into Yves Matton’s shoes as the governing body’s rally director. Sitting in a roundtable with journalists from around the world to grill the FIA’s recently appointed deputy president sport Robert Reid, there was only one question that came up more than once. More than twice, actually: what about Adamo?
Reid is one of the smartest, sharpest and astute folk around; you’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning to catch him out.
“I don’t know if he’s sent his CV in…” was Reid’s quickfire comeback.
It’s hard to think of anybody in the world with a more relevant CV than Adamo, but it’s also impossible to ignore that his propensity to get the job done could and would put the odd nose out of joint.
Adamo is committed to a sport he’s loved, lived and appreciated his entire life.
He laughed off the suggestion that he could use this column as a soapbox for his views on breathing life back into the regions. Instead, he directed Clark and I firmly in the direction of some of the most exquisite pasta in northern Italy.
And then talked about walking up hills and riding down mountains.
Every now and then, though, he couldn’t help himself and he let slip what could be done.
His vision is matched only by his ability. While his time on the sidelines surely borders on the negligent.
Yes, he can be occasionally mean and a bit moody, but he’s also got a handle on rallying from bottom to top and back down again. His insight and experience are what’s needed now.