Wikipedia's dictionary definition of 'Doing a Rip van Winkle' is 'to awake suddenly to profound changes in one's surroundings. This may be due to physical absence or to absence of mind.'
One day, after drinking a strange liquid with a bunch of strangers, Rip van Winkle went into a slumber, waking up two decades years later to an entirely different regulatory, political and social landscape, one which bore virtually no resemblance to the one he knew prior to nodding off. Yes, the geography remained largely unchanged, albeit with updated landmarks, but, for the rest, all was new for him.
John Wickham © sutton-images.com
In John Wickham, Formula 1 too has a Rip van Winkle, for Renault's recently-appointed team manager departed the sport in 1991 to pursue other (motorsport) interests, returning to grand prix racing at the start of this season after an absence of 20 years.
On January 3, his first day with the team, the man who co-founded the Spirit F1 outfit in the early eighties after gaining international F2 experience with March, was led into the machine shop of the team's Enstone base on account of it being early morning, with the main entrance still locked.
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South African-born Dieter trained as industrial engineer before holding down a variety of senior motor industry marketing and manufacturing positions. At the age of 40 he decided to follow his passion, and became the first and only South African journalist to cover Formula 1 regularly. Dieter joined AtlasF1 at the beginning of 2004 – a year prior to its merger with Autosport – and his regular column offers an intriguing analysis of F1’s politicking and commercial chicanery. Although now also proudly Belgian, he gives his domicile as "Wherever F1 duplicity lurks".@RacingLines More features by Dieter Rencken