Racing drivers are always late: it's just a fact of life for anyone who has to deal with them on a regular basis. But even by their standards Alvaro Parente is famous for being late: like every other driver Alvaro would rather sleep than do just about anything else, but he struggles more than any of the others to get out of bed and into the track. Which is why, when we need him early for any reason, we tell him to arrive earlier than we actually need him, just so he is there around the right time.
(Alvaro, if you're reading this I am lying now, honestly: please turn up when we ask you to...)
But fresh from his championship win in Asia, it seems that Kamui Kobayashi is determined to take another new title, even if it's one that no one else really wants. We waited and waited for him to arrive in the paddock, with Dams' media liaison Claire calling him frantically to get here in time for the signing session, but when even Alvaro started complaining about how late Kamui was it was clearly time to go.
Finally turning up after running all the way from the carpark to our paddock, to the pitlane, and eventually to the Bridgestone fan area, he set about signing every card on the table in record time, went off for some water, and even had time to come back and take photos for some of the fans with the Spanish driver contingent, all with his usual cheeky smirk across his face. So there's always photography to fall back on if the driving doesn't work out. Although I assume that they have to get out of bed, too...
One guy who wished he hadn't made the effort to get up in the morning was Lucas di Grassi, who had a bit of a torrid time during the race: after pointing out to everyone in yesterday's press conference that preserving the tyres would be the vital component of today's race his team went the wrong way with their set up, and he had shot tyres after six laps or so and a mountain to climb to protect his position.
But how is it possible to get the set up wrong in Barcelona, where the team's have spent so much time testing? “Unfortunately it's pretty easy to go the wrong way on that,” Gavin Bickerton-Jones told me later that night in the paddock, ironically as he was setting up Diego Nunes' car for race two. “We've all been there, so I can sympathise.
“You can top the times in testing and think right, got everything sorted there, and then turn up for the race and be nowhere. The problem is that the data doesn't always relate: testing is in winter and it's much colder than now, and even that makes a bigger difference than you'd think. Everyone has a slightly different approach over the weekend, and sometimes you can go the wrong way and get lost: unfortunately, that's just part of racing.”
Although one look at what was left of Lucas' head rest after the collision with Alvaro told me that a wrong choice on set up being his biggest problem today was probably a blessing...
The final word should probably go to our first race winner of the year, Romain Grosjean. Sitting on the pitwall I had a spectacularly ugly hat sitting next to my computer for the whole race: when I asked Alexa why it was there she was uncustomarily coy, saying only that she was minding it for a friend. And after the race the Frenchman seemed to be in a bigger hurry than usual to get his helmet off.
It was only then that I noticed the hat: suddenly it was on his head, and he was pulling Superman poses.
“Ah, Superman!” he laughed when I asked him about it later. “It was a bet I made over the winter, because I had nothing better to do! Every time I win I will have to wear a special hat: this time it is Superman, next time I don't know. I will look stupid, but I don't mind: I hope I will look stupid more than once!”
I tracked down the French radio journalist who made the bet after the race, and he was delighted to show me the next potential design. I can only say that if Romain does get another win this year, he will certainly live up to his hopes...