This station, the 2010 GP2 championship.Every season we have a launch before the first race to congratulate the winners from the Asia series, and to introduce the new gaggle of drivers competing this year to the world's media and invited guests, and although we work hard on improving the show each year, certain things always seem to happen. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Every season we have a launch before the first race to congratulate the winners from the Asia series, and to introduce the new gaggle of drivers competing this year to the world's media and invited guests, and although we work hard on improving the show each year, certain things always seem to happen.
A few examples, to prove the point. Alexa always seem to rush around in a mad panic, trying to make sure everything is perfect before our guests arrive and seems to forget how to breathe properly. The technicians always seem to not understand what their jobs are, just to annoy her a bit more. The presenter always seems to arrive at the very last minute.
And it always goes off without a hitch.
At least that's what I was told: I didn't actually see any of it because I was running around trying to organise drivers to be in the right place, right time. It's like herding cats. The Addax drivers Sergio Perez and Giedo van der Garde drove to the theatre together, and were therefore seriously late together. Which meant their team boss was standing outside, alternately glaring at his watch or up the street towards the circuit, as the opening music floated out from deep within the building.
The GP3 drivers, astonishingly, did exactly as they were told: new GP3 press officer Amanda and I came into the holding room to find all 30 drivers sitting quietly, in their overalls and in perfect numerical order, waiting for their call on stage. Although they managed to get ludicrously out of order in the 20 metre walk to the stage, of course.
It won't last long, though: I give them 2 races before they're just like the GP2 boys, who had to be almost physically forced through the doors and into the changing room backstage, and as soon as they went in they ignored all the piles of race suits we placed in order to stand around Charles Pic instead and mock him ceaselessly for his hair.
To be fair to him though, he's probably been looking at Romain Grosjean and figured that's what all French race drivers do for a hair style.
With 2 minutes remaining they were all studiously ignoring my constant requests to get into order until I finally walked around and called each of them by name, poked them in the chest, yelled their car number and pointed them towards the stage. And even then, all Max Chilton could do was ask when he was going to be allowed to eat.
But it always works out in the end: it just costs Alexa a few extra nerve endings. And it was great to catch up with a few of our former drivers: Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok came to present their old team boss Paul Jackson with a trophy for winning the Asia series, and Vitaly Petrov also came along to present a prize. He was wandering around afterwards looking like he didn't know what to do with himself: “You're an F1 driver now – you probably don't have to hang around if you don't want to.” “Yeah, but I want a drink! A vodka!” “No problem, you can do whatever you want.” “Actually, in that case I might just go back to the hotel and sleep...”
There were a few changes once when we got to the paddock though: I suppose it was inevitably given that we have an entire new race series next door now that GP3 has arrived. All the extra people meant that we needed a new hospitality area, so walking around the corner into the paddock this morning we were greeted by the massive new complex, already being cleaned to a shine by Christian and his people. “We've got a new office too,” Alexa noted wistfully. “We're not in the bus anymore: we're in that door on the other side...”
Walking through said door we found our huge new space, which includes room for the press conference as well as a couple tables for our photographers Alastair and Drew as well as for Amanda, Alexa and me. And, just on the other side of the canvas wall, stands the new kitchen. It didn't take long for the smell of cooking to infiltrate everything. “This isn't the greatest idea we've ever had,” I noted as we looked at each other, “but on the bright side it means that we can be walking billboards for hospitality in the paddock.”
And I did notice that Max Chilton seemed to be wandering around behind me a lot today. But I'm sure that was just a coincidence.
The guys didn't seem to have any problems when they arrived for the press conference after qualifying, although for the ART duo Sam Bird and Jules Bianchi it was their first time with us, so they probably had other things on their minds. Like my £20, 4 lens plastic camera which they spotted and immediately started taking photos of themselves with, much to the annoyance of Alastair, who always makes fun of my random camera collection and who has thousands of pounds worth of equipment standing under his finger.
Nico Hülkenberg came back for a visit as everyone was sitting down for dinner, asking if he is still allowed to come around to eat with us every so often, and telling us how much he misses the family atmosphere of the old hospitality area. Or at least he was until Alexa suggested his crash today was giving GP2 a bad name and pushed him out the door.
But she's a bit up tight today: it's the first day of the new season, and she's always a bit stressed until we're back into the old routines. Which is why she forced me to come and write this blog now, while the kitchen is still run at full steam. They're cooking fish at the moment, which isn't the most pleasant atmosphere in the world. So if this blog stinks, I can only apologise.