The off season is a mixed bag for those of us who don't do the Asia series: at the end of the main season you're completely exhausted and looking forward to a break and being away from race tracks for a while, but as time goes by you start to itch. Then the craving just builds and builds as you watch the races and read the reports, and you get the texts and emails from your friends on the other side of the planet to tell you about all the fun they're having in sun while you sit at home in cold,
By the time the first race comes around you're climbing the walls: when I finally got to Barcelona I couldn't wipe the smile off my face as I walked through the paddock, shaking hands and swapping stories with everyone, catching up with all the old faces as we stroll up and down and taking in all the new changes.
But there's almost no time for small talk with the launch to be organised. As always Alexa has done an amazing job putting everything together: she is a blur of frenetic energy as she runs around the hospitality area putting the finishing touches on everything, talking to 5 people at once as she goes. I take my instructions and get out of her way, fast.
One of my jobs is to organise the drivers for the photoshoot: getting 26 drivers into one room at once is like herding cats. “I need you in hospitality at 5.50 ... yes, you too, it's for all the drivers ... no, just drivers ... yes, but in your race suit ... no, not your helmet ... stop being awkward, you've done this how many times now? ... yes, 5.50 ... no, in your race suit ... hey, I saw that ... no, hospitality is the opposite direction ... yes, it is on right now ... no, it won't wait! ...”
Somehow it all works: it always does, and we're never quite sure how we got away with it again, but we're always glad that we do.
Standing at the back of the room when the Asia Series prizes were being handed out I could relax at last, while Chandhok and Zuber picked up their comedy routines from where they left them the last time we were in a room together (if they don't make it to F1, they should seriously consider putting together a double act to take onto the road).
There was no such luck for Lee McKenzie, who was hosting the show up on stage: “...and this year's champion is Kamui Kobayashi, who is a very cosmopolitan champion: a Japanese driver who lives in Paris with a Yorkshire terrier who is for some reason called Alfred! But that's another story: how much does this championship change your life, Kamui?”
“Alfred? Well, I called him that because...”
“No, no Kamui: the championship, not your dog...”
Finally it was time to relax, or at least it was until we realised we hadn't yet put the press conference area together. Which is when we discovered that the truckies had forgotten to bring the sound system.
Another problem to solve, but it can wait until tomorrow. It's good to be back.