Max Mosley had slipped into the paddock at an early hour and was among the FIA personnel enjoying coffee and croissants in their hospitality unit.
(Yes, everyone of note in this secretive, mind-your-own-business, don’t-tell-any-bugger-nothing world has a place to hide.)
Word soon got out that Mosley had ventured into the F1 daylight for the first time since emerging from his Chelsea basement several weeks ago.
How do you form a crowd in an F1 paddock? Get two or three journalists to stand in one place, saying nothing, staring at their empty notebooks and claiming they’re doing it for the good of their health.
Suspicions mounted and the numbers grew.
Anyone emerging from behind the sliding smoked glass doors claimed they had never heard of Mosley (you can’t blame them for that), never mind having seen their president or recently been asked to pass him the raspberry jam.
But he was in there alright. And it begged an interesting question, rather like the one which puzzles me each time I watch East Enders (only in passing while having my dinner, you understand): How come people who are supposedly on their last couple of quid can afford to go to a cafe every day for either breakfast or a cup of tea when their homes are just across Albert Square?
Monsieur Mosley is a resident of Monte Carlo but presumably he doesn’t have breakfast at home or, in these elevated circles, he does not have a butler to make it for him.
I mean, there’s no way he would go to a greasy spoon, assuming there was one in Casino Square or in a side street off Rue Princess Caroline.
For whatever reason, he was taking bread in the FIA enclave while preparing to run the gauntlet of the gathering posse waiting outside.
Any hope that the imminent start of free practice would lure the media away to attend to more important matters was dashed when the wretched reptiles refused to depart; after all, this was Thursday, the start of a slow news day at Monaco – unless, of course, Lewis Hamilton dumped his McLaren in the barrier, just as he had done last year.
The appearance of Mosley, looking a touch sheepish, triggered a comical scene as journalists, broadcasters and cameramen tripped over each other while extracting three-quarters of five-eighths FIA-all from a man who many feel should not be in office, never mind in Monte Carlo.
As Mosley strode towards the paddock exit without uttering a single word, his spin doctor, Richard Woods, was batting off assailants with comments such as ‘Sorry, not now,’ and ‘Later. Later!’ Once through the gates and onto the track side, Mosley thought he was on safe ground.
Not so. Coming in the opposite direction, having just arrived to begin their day’s work, were Jon McEvoy of the Daily Mail and Kevin Eason of The Times.
So surprised were they to have this chance encounter that an equally startled Mosley had scurried by before either journalist could seize the moment.
Meanwhile, the proper business was under way. Hamilton was fastest and not a mark on his car.
And at the end of the day, that’s what really matters.