Istanbul is really, really hot. This may not seem like much of a revelation, but it probably needs to be repeated constantly, as everyone seems to forget it. For example, the iSport mechanics were all out to run the circuit on Friday afternoon despite the still soaring temperatures, and when they returned every one of them had their shirt off and was caked in sweat.
“We started doing it a few races ago, and we've just stuck at it really,” one of the guys panted as he collected his breath at the end of the pitlane. “It's good for us, I guess. Bloody hard work around here, though!”
One person who was notable by his absence was lead driver Davide Valsecchi. The voluble Italian brings his trainer with him to every race and clearly makes a huge effort to stay in shape, but some in the team have been ribbing him about his (not notably large) girth ahead of the race, leaving him somewhat put out about the subject.
Not that it slowed him down this weekend, though. So maybe it had the right effect on him.
Giacomo Ricci has been slipping in the opposite direction to his countryman as the season has gone on: after a strong start to the season he has suffered from a lot of bad luck lately, and racing drivers are nothing if not superstitious, as anyone who has read the teammate interviews will confirm.
Standing around in the back of the team's truck ahead of the race this morning, Giacomo was convinced that he had discovered the reason. “My mechanic is a big Inter fan, so he is really happy about them at the moment,” - for those who don't follow such things, Inter has won a famous treble this year by claiming the Serie A title, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League - “and he decided to show his joy for this by putting their colours, blue and black, on my brakes.
“For me, when I saw it I thought I don't care, let him do it, it makes him happy, it is nice for him. But I noticed yesterday that since he has been doing it, I have had a lot of bad luck! So last night I told him okay, enough is enough, it must come off now. And this morning I come to the circuit and it is still there! So I just told him wait a minute, what is happening, I told you it must come off! And he said no problem, it's okay: it is only there for the outlap, then I will take it off...”
I haven't had a chance to ask him what happened to the covering since the race, and to be honest I'm a little afraid to ask...
Alberto Valerio was a man with no such doubts: during lunch he was happy to tell anyone who would listen how well he was going to do at a circuit he loves so much. “This circuit is great for me! Last year I started here from 12th and finished in fourth, so I overtook 9 guys in the race. Today I will start from ninth, so if I do it again I will win the race!”
Marco wasn't going to leave it at that: “So what happens if it's the other way? If you don't do it, then are you an idiot?” “Sure, it's a deal!” the Brazilian exploded with his famously raucous laugh, “If I don't win you can call me an idiot!” Strangely enough, we didn't see him for dinner after the race.
But we did see a lot of Davide, who topped off a great pole performance yesterday with a strong, battling second place in the feature race, fighting for most of it with Sergio Perez, from in front before the pitstops and then behind afterwards. With Pastor untouchable today, the Italian was happy to have brought home the best result possible on the day: he was so pleased with his job that he was still talking a million miles an hour to his engineers when he was supposed to be in the press conference.
“Just one more thing,” he would wave towards me before turning back to the track map time after time, until finally his lead engineer Gavin pushed him towards the front of the pit, pointing out that he can come back afterwards. “Wait, I need to know something,” Davide stated, this time looking at me instead of the map, “I heard that Perez has been disqualified for being underweight: is this true?”
I'd heard the rumour, which hadn't yet been confirmed, so I simply said that it was being investigated, we didn't have an answer yet, but it was possible. It was as though I'd confirmed the existence of Santa Claus: “You see?” he laughed as he turned to his team, lifting his shirt to expose his flat stomach and patting it happily. “At least we don't have to worry about getting a penalty like that!”
I can only assume that it was the heat: it affects us all, eventually.