The GP2 Blog is temporarily orphan
I can’t believe you are not here in Budapest with us. We all know how dedicated you are to GP2: you always work hard in the most professional way
But when I called you last Wednesday and heard your hoarse flu-affected voice, I immediately understood that I would have to fly solo this weekend. And that made me sad.
Now I know how Batman feels without Robin.
Rest assured though that we are trying hard to make your presence felt in the paddock
This is you not going through the paddock turnstiles
This is you not stealing DAMS’ bike
This is you not sitting with us on the bus
This is you not a the press conference
While I was walking down the paddock, looking as lonely as ever, I came across Marco who, of course, made fun of my misery… and yours.
Marco: “Are you missing David that much that you have to walk around carrying his picture?”
Me: “I’m trying to find something to write for the blog since he abandoned us this weekend”
Marco: “Another of your crazy ideas?”
Me: “Of course”
Marco: “So, the idea is to show all the places where David will not be this weekend? I have a good one!”
I will let you guess where that particular picture was taken from...
Passing by Ocean Racing’s truck, I saw Karun Chandhok.
Karun: “Where’s Cameron this weekend?”
Me: “Home. Sick”
Karun: “Really?” he asked, a huge mischievous smile on his face.
Me: “Yeah. He thinks he has swine flu”
Karun laughed. I believe he was definitely making fun of your misery too
As we were discussing, your best friend Alvaro Parente stopped next to us.
Alvaro: “David is not here? Is he even allowed to not come?”
Me: “Well, you know, it’s almost summer break. I didn’t want him to bring his cuddies and pass them onto us.”
Alvaro: “So, basically, you are telling me that David is… late?! Interesting…"
But as we crossed path with Andi Zuber, he had something else to complain about.
Andi: “What do you mean David is not here?”
Me: “He says he has the flu. But I wasn’t there to check his temperature”
Andi: “Well, I feel sorry for him, but at least we won’t have to put up with the kilt don’t we?”
The most crossed person in the awning was Christian Staurenghi though, our beloved Hospitality manager.
Christian: "You make sure to tell David that I am expecting him in Valencia or else...!"
But we all know that he will never hurt a fly... I really think it was the pain talking above anything else.
Diego Nunes, on his way to having lunch stopped me and asked me what I was carrying.
Me: “Oh, you know. Just this giant poster of David.”
Me: “He’s got the flu" I said for what felt like the hundredth time.
Diego: “Is that a drawing too? The piggy flu. Excellent! Take my picture with it!” he said a little bit too excitedly.
Alfonso de Orléans Borbon overheard our conversation.
Alfonso: “That David! I’m sure he’s not sick. He must be somewhere working on his tan on a beach.”
Later that night, after a crazy hot day that made us all feel quite feverish as well, Robert Kubica, Jarno Trulli, Giancarlo Fisichella and Tonio Luizzi came for their usual dinner at the GP2 Paddock. “Hey Alexa”, said Jarno. “Where’s David? We saved a seat for him!”
Needless to say that they were all highly disappointed that you could not treat them with one of your famous stories… Even this blog is sorely feeling your absence. So we all wish you well and hope to see you in three weeks in Valencia. Without you, the GP2 Paddock just does not feel the same and everyone is going a little bit coo coo!
One of the main purposes of this blog is to give you a look at what happens behind the scenes, and today we thought why not do that through the medium of photos? That should work wonderfully, we figured, or crash the site entirely. Either way, our job will be done for the day.
We started off the day with a signing session: for the German fans we brought along Nico Hülkenberg, Andi Zuber, Giedo van der Garde and Romain Grosjean (who can't speak German, but at least he has ginger hair, so he looks the part Alexa says: ''He can speak German. ...). It was a bit of a success:
On the way back we were taken through the arena next to merchandise area, which was being set up for a fight tonight:
Giedo: “Who is fighting tonight?”
Nico: “I heard about this: it should be a good match. There are two Germans fighting tonight.”
Giedo: “Two Germans fighting? It sounds like any Friday night when the pubs close.”
Nico: * Bop *
Giedo: “You kind of just proved my point...”
And before long it was time to go up to the pitlane for the race, which involves hurrying up the hill so we can stand around for a while in a side alley until the F1 boys can be bothered to stop, before rushing in to the pitlane to set everything up and then sit around for ages until the pitlane opens, and then sprinting onto the grid so ... well, you get the picture.
Here is Alastair and a colleague hard at work. This is the reason why all the remainder of the pictures were taken by me. Well, that and the fact that Alexa always forgets to use her camera, and gives it to me instead.
Roberto Chinchero, journalist extraordinaire, finding out the latest gossip. He will then relay it to Italy, where it will be dissected by others and rebroadcast in a stunningly different way: this is how we end up with so many strange rumours. Apart from the ones that I start, of course.
Nelson with his old team relaxing before the start, after out-qualifying Fernando. Nice one.
Didier and Alexa chatting on the grid. Didier seems not to have noticed that Roldan was about to collide with his neck: luckily a Bridgestone guy saw it and threw himself in the way to save him. We've got a lot of Bridgestone guys, so that's fine.
Vitaly got lost, again.
Alexa likes to keep the media under control, and sometimes she uses her astounding mental powers: when Radio Europe 1 announcer Julien Febreau asked for one interview too many she made him slap himself using nothing but thought control.
We're all a little scared of Alexa.
This guy walks around the grid reporting to his colleague behind me how many tyres each of the drivers have. Some guys have the best jobs.
We tried to lock Alexa in, but obviously her mental powers mean that no cages can contain her. And now our cheeks are sore, too.
Here we are on the Renault pitwall during the race. Luckily we found a moment in the non-stop action today to get the shot.
This button worries us for tomorrow's F1 race: is that how they're going to slow him down? (hint: for anyone wearing an aluminium foil hat, this is a joke...)
Where the magic happens. Alexa is covering the screen with the live comments on it, so we don't spoil the result for you.
Post race scrum in the pitlane. There's a driver in there somewhere: we'll leave it up to you to guess which one.
“I would have beaten Roldan today: I'm going to sit in P2 for the press conference today.”
Nico shows his total belief in everything I say.
Today, the Nurburgring is oh so very cold. It's not as though I wasn't warned – I came out of a meeting yesterday to a voicemail message from Alexa which noted that “it is freaking cold here” at least five times in about 30 seconds – but the cold still caught me by surprise when we walked past the building site outside and into the paddock.
This morning it felt as though the circuit had never hosted a summer.
“Man it's cold here,” Mark Glendenning noted at the coffee machine, showing the sort of insight that he is rightly famous for. “Isn't it supposed to be July now?” Mark is a fellow Australian who works for Autosport magazine: we've been mates since we worked together in another life, more years ago than we care to remember. “Yeah, but what I want to know is how I can get someone to drive me around the Nordschleife. You've done that, haven't you?” “Yeah, it's amazing, especially when it gets up through Karusel: go through there fast enough, and you may need some more underwear.” “I think we need to steal a driver to do a lap.” A quick scan of the room gave me the perfect victim: “Hey Filippi, we need you to drive us around the old circuit.” “Is it still open? I thought they closed it now.” “I think one of the German car companies rents the place for the weekend,” Mark suggested. “Damn, you don't have any links with them, do you?” “No, but I want to do it! Maybe I will just keep going at the end of race two!” “I don't think you want to do that: you'd do huge damage to the underside of your car. When Heidfeld did it in the F1 car last time they had to run it as high as physically possible.” “Ah, in that case maybe I'll just take Villa's car instead!”
The Nurburgring is a circuit the Italian loves, so you can see why he might want to stay on it for a bit longer, although given his luck here you can find an equal reason for wanting to get back to the pits and out of the way: after qualifying well he was nerfed out of the race at turn one last time by Sébastien Buemi, who came over to apologise only to get the talk to the hand treatment and the cutting, but not inaccurate, comment “you should go back to Formula 3”...
He's not the only one with bad luck here: the FMSI team were struggling after both cars were out in free practice, with Andi Zuber spinning at turn one and Luiz Razia having a big impact with the wall out of turn ten. Zuber tried to bluff his way through when I asked him what happened afterwards, but eventually he had to admit the truth.
“I've been doing one of those drifting courses in Germany this week, you know? I love doing that: it was so much fun. So anyway, I enjoyed it so much, and it's been in my head ever since, and when I was out there today I though 'I wonder if it's possible to drift a GP2 car?' So I thought I'll try it at turn one, the perfect place for it.
“It turns out, it's not...”
Razia was less fortunate than his teammate: although he got through the accident unharmed the same couldn't be said for his car, as the whole rear had to be replaced. His mechanics were immediately on the job, and they did an amazing job: working under incredibly tight time constraints and foregoing lunch they pushed hard to get the car rebuilt in time for qualifying, their arms and hands still a blur over the car as the rest of the field made their way out to the pitlane.
Eventually they finished, but as the session had already started they were unable to use the usual method to get on track, a small entrance gate just after the pit exit next to the medical facilities: needless to say race control were unable to allow them to pop out there on safety grounds. But cognisant of the hard work the boys had put in, an alternate route around the back of the F1 paddock was found, and the series organisers asked if it would be okay to allow them to make use of it, as it eventually worms around to the top end of the pitlane.
Happily they were given the okay, and a quick check to make sure the route was clear gave Luiz the chance to blast down the alley and make use of his mechanics handiwork. Andi made up for his previous blushes by pulling in sixth on the grid tomorrow, while Luiz will just be happy to line up on the grid for his first race here.
Meanwhile, Luca managed to blot his copybook on a very hot lap and spun to a halt at the chicane, throwing away a good grid position in the process. If I were the marshals here, I'd make sure there is something a little more than a few cones to block the way onto the old circuit tomorrow: given his grid position, the Italian may have his mind on other things than the race..