“Hey Andi,” Giorgio called out across the laneway that bisects the paddock in Silverstone, “I took a look at your crash the other day, and I want to tell you what I see.”
Trust me, you’d stand there and eavesdrop, too.
“For sure it was Timo’s fault,” he continued, the Austrian driver focusing intently as he spoke. “You can see that he came onto your line: it’s really clear when you see it.”
“Yeah, for sure! Take a look if you don’t believe me: he comes across, then boom!”
“Okay, I guess I better take another look at it. Thanks.”
Warnings in the media about the increased mud across the whole area, comments about more security having to be brought in to deal with people trying to jump the fence to get in, loud groups you’ve never seen before making a din from the other field, the constant, looming threat of rain hanging immediately over you personally everywhere you walk: it could only be Silverstone. Or Glastonbury of course, but I didn’t get tickets for that, and this is a motorsport website, so…
“Hey Timo,” Giorgio called out across the laneway that bisects the paddock in Silverstone, the hint of a smile ruthlessly suppressed as he did so. “I took a look at your crash the other day, and I want to tell you what I see. For sure it was Andi’s fault…”
It was only a couple of days since we’d all seen each other last, which was pretty weird after the slow start to the season so far. It brought out the impish natures of most of the paddock at some stage, as though having so much access to each other meant it was practical joke open season.
“Alfonso, I think you better take a look at this.” Racing Engineering team manager Thomas Couyotopoulo handed the piece of paper to his boss carefully, as though fragile, and watched as he read it: when his face had blanched, Thomas knew he’d finished it. “They’re telling me I can’t come into the pits dressed like this! But I always wear shorts: why are they complaining now? Come on, we have to go to race control now.”
The pair slunk along the pitlane, looking like overgrown school boys who knew they were in trouble with the head teacher, while a couple of smiles further down the pitlane grew larger the further the pair walked away…
Meanwhile on track Timo Glock was already looking for payback after a tough weekend at the office in Magny Cours by setting the fastest time despite the cold, gloomy conditions, just ahead of Mike Conway, Kazuki Nakajima and Bruno Senna, while further back Filipe Albuquerque was having a torrid time on his debut, filling in as he was for the absent Ernesto Viso: a problem with his downshift in the brand new car put him into a spin at Chapel, and with no way to avoid stalling he was out of the session on his first ever lap in a GP2 car.
Maybe he’d been put off by his team boss yelling from the pitwall.
“You bastards!” Alfonso exclaimed as he walked back down the pitlane to see Marco and Didier Perrin giggling to each other as the sight of the Spaniard. “I can’t believe I fell for it! I got all the way up there and was all ready to defend what I wear, and they just looked at me as though I was crazy for being there during a session!” This prompted howls of laughter before Marco asked: “But wait: didn’t you see the names of the stewards on the form?”
“Well yes,” Alfonso admitted, sheepishly. “But you have to understand that I went to school with Jackie Stewart’s son, and he’s been around racing so long, so that could have happened.”
“Well, my uncle knows him very well, and I know that he’s a lawyer. Plus, he doesn’t have a job at the moment.”
“Okay, sure, but Mickey Mouse?”
“Yeah, I was looking at that one: I just thought how mean some parents can be when they name their kids…”
Over at FMS they weren’t taking anymore chances: The air intake on Adam Carroll’s car was completely stuffed full of garlic to ward off any lingering evil spirits. “I don’t care, and it makes them happy,” he laughed when asked about it. Although I would have been worried about Christian coming over from hospitality and pushing it into the car, looking for roasted garlic…
Giorgio’s mind games had half worked in the morning, but the other half was about to fall in qualifying: Andi Zuber claimed his first pole during a miserable session of strong winds and low temperatures, two tenths ahead of Mike Conway, Lucas di Grassi and Kazuki Nakajima, while Timo slid off into the wall on cold tyres as he tried to get out of Luca Filippi’s way as he exited the pits and was lucky to hold on to fifth at the end of the session.
As the clock ran down to zero, the rain came. Welcome to summer in England.
“I was fighting for this all year,” Andi noted afterwards in the press conference. “I missed it two times from very close, and I’ve finished for the fifth time in the top three, so I’m very happy for the team and for everyone with our team.” When asked if this reapplied the pressure to him, he laughed: “I never think about pressure, because pressure you have always in motorsport and in racing, so I never think about that.
“Okay, so I had some problems with the gears, and then in Magny Cours with the brain failure of both drivers, but we’ll do better this time, for sure!”
“All year we’ve been pushing to get up to the front,” Mike acknowledged, “and for some reason it’s come a little bit easier here in Silverstone, with the knowledge I’ve had from before. We’ve won here in the wet and the dry, so for sure that will help, but all these guys are experienced and they know what to do to drive these cars quick. I think it will help for maybe the first few laps in the race, but then we will have to wait and see.
“I’m happy to be P2 - it’s a front row start, so we just have to make a good start and it should be good.”