The early start for the feature race in Monaco always catches out a few people, particularly as it's Friday and most people think there is no racing, but you would think that at least our teams and drivers would be aware of the timings. Which was why we were so surprised when iSport's Davide Valsecchi was late into the paddock this morning, with team boss Paul Jackson arriving even later than his driver. The early start for the feature race in Monaco always catches out a few people, particularly as it's Friday and most people think there is no racing, but you would think that at least our teams and drivers would be aware of the timings. Which was why we were so surprised when iSport's Davide Valsecchi was late into the paddock this morning, with team boss Paul Jackson arriving even later than his driver.
When a driver is late there is usually a very simple reason: all they ever want to do is to sleep for as long as is humanly possible. But in this case there was a more surprising reason: Davide's car was towed by the police from outside of his hotel after he parked it in the market area. When the team were asked at breakfast if any of them owned an Audi they all said no, with the Italian walking downstairs just in time to see his car disappear around the corner.
Figuring that it probably made more sense for his driver to be at the circuit on time than himself, Jacko offered to bite the bullet and retrieve the car, with Davide finally calming down enough to be bundled into the car with the rest of the team, who are fairly rapidly becoming experts on a wide variety of Italian hand gestures.
We had a few old friends joining us on the grid, with Karun Chandhok walking around modelling the new line of Karun Chandhok shirts and trying not to look embarrassed – to be fair, it would be pretty weird wandering around with your name and face emblazoned across your chest – while he checked out the first few grid spaces. I guess he just wanted to see what they looked like.
Nico Hülkenberg dropped by too, looking relaxed and wearing another in a long line of sunglasses that are maybe so dorky they are on the cutting edge of fashion, or maybe just so dorky they're dorky. It's impossible to tell with Nico, for two reasons: because he's German, and because he always has a faint smirk on his face which suggests that maybe, just maybe, it's all an elaborate joke which will be revealed in 2015.
“I really miss it here,” he noted when he walked over to say hello. “It's always nice to be on a grid with no pressure!” He wandered over to say hello to the ART boys, but didn't outstay his welcome: he knows as well as anyone that the teams don't really need any distractions on the grid, even though they can't always be avoided.
The race came and went, with the usual Monaco crashes and spills, with some guys getting away with a kiss of the wall and others being less lucky. One of the unluckiest of all was Giacomo Ricci, who looked to be in a strong position until he finally came in for his stop towards the end of the race: we had assumed that he came in before the safety car, and we'd just missed it. “It was so unlucky for us today,” he sighed afterwards, still looking upbeat despite his dramas, “I saw the crash and I said do I come to the box? I said again and again, but they don't answer until I cross the start line - I think there was a radio problem – and they said box, box! But it was too late.”
The luckless Italian ended the race in last place (until Sam Bird picked up a penalty for cutting the chicane too many times, that is) after looking likely to pick up a top 8 finish once again, but still couldn't resist putting a positive spin on things: “Maybe it will be okay: tomorrow I hope it snows, rains, hails, everything all together in the race!”
Back in the paddock there were a lot of fans hanging around looking for autographs and photos, with one guy in particular turning up, just as he does every year, with reams of photos for the drivers to sign, and Jerome d'Ambrosio was the victim when I walked over. He had Christian Vietoris with him, and was obviously showing him the ropes: “Watch out for this one,” he smirked, pointing his elbow at me, “he's the guy who writes the blog, he will write anything you say.”
I've got no idea where he got that idea.
And finally the winner returned: Sergio Perez arrived back in the paddock to a hero’s welcome, with all of the fans crowding around him for their moment with their brief glimpse of the championship leader. But there was only one thing that I wanted to know when he finally made his way up to the hospitality area: why did he have odd coloured gloves on in the car today?
“I lost one of them in Barcelona,” he laughed, “I looked everywhere but I couldn't find it, and finally I had to get a different one and go. And that was good luck for me, so I thought I should wear them again!” So there you have it: you can have all the skill in the world behind the wheel, but the real way to win races is to accidentally end up with mis-matched clothing.
The GP2 Paddock: breaking the big stories wide open.