Nothing ever quite runs the way you expect it in Monaco: that's both the excitement of the place, and it's curse. Drivers are never where they're supposed to be, things don't happen at the same time or in the same way, and the routines you develop over the years just don't work here like they do everywhere else.
Take photography, for example: Alastair always goes out ahead of any session or race to photograph the drivers and teams, to get some atmospheric shots of the boys that get used in magazines and online alongside articles about them to illustrate the subject.
You may have wondered, like I used to, why the drivers always seem to staring off into the middle distance in photos, seemingly scanning the horizon for something vitally important to their well being. The reason for this is that, generally, they goof around when they first arrive in GP2 until Al shows them a few shots of them smiling, and they then realise that they look much better with the serious, intent pose you see most of the time.
I can't imagine it's a surprise to you that racing drivers tend to be posers...
But I digress. With the teams lined up out the front of our car park paddock, Al went off in search of a few drivers to shoot, expecting them to be sitting at the bottom of the cliff looming over town and waiting to be let into the pitlane, as usual. But when he got to the end of the road there was no one in sight, and he rushed up and down the street trying to find some clues.
It was only when he was heading back to the paddock to ask the teams where their drivers were hiding that he noticed a race suit heading into the building that separates the road from the F1 paddock: following downstairs, he ended up in the famous Stars and Bars restaurant, overlook the paddock, with most of the grid leaning against the bar and watching one of the many televisions around the walls, killing time until their show began.
Giedo was one of the few drivers not to be at the bar: he was relaxing upstairs in the hospitality area with some friends, and when he saw Alexa he called over for a chat. “So am I going to sign your cast today? It's about time.” The pair had discussed it in Barcelona: it's in Addax colours, and Alexa promised to bring in her gold pen for him to sign it in Monaco.
And then the floodgates opened, and we all washed into the pitlane. It's tougher to cover the race here than anywhere else, as the F1 teams have their pitwall upstairs in their pits, so unless you have an invitation to go up you have no access to live timing. I followed free practice from the pits but qualifying is all about timing, and had to be done back in the paddock.
I figured that the feature race should be calmer than the sprint race – there's more to lose, so generally the guys are calmer in the first race, whereas on Sunday they can afford to risk more to get some points – and so I thought it would be better to go to the pitlane today, and stay up in the paddock tomorrow, with our screens.
I know. I should have known better, really.
But the elements were determined to ruin my plans anyway. Standing in the pits, watching the measured calm before the storm from the wall overlooking the exit from the swimming pool, I had my spot lined up and my computer ready to go, when suddenly rain started to fall. Knowing that my computer couldn't last through a storm in the open air, I had no choice but to run all the way back to the paddock before the race got under way.
Only for the rain to stop when I got back. Of course.
But it did give me a chance to hear Karun Chandhok and Will Buxton's commentary for the first time: I know the pair very well, and I've been curious to hear their race call all year. I knew that Will was quite hungover, and it was clear that Karun was laughing at him throughout, but he probably just got away with it.
Karun, however, was clearly firing on all cylinders: along with commentating on what was a quite eventful race, Alexa noticed that he was also tweeting in between comments. She tweeted him back and got him to say a word of her choice, which was couscous.
+30 seconds: “Yes, Davide is making a big effort on his fitness this year: he's exercising a lot, and has replaced pasta with couscous...”
“You are a god!” she wrote back. “I know” came the immediate reply.
And then it was all over, with different drivers having very different feelings about the race. Didier Perrin spotted Romain Grosjean on the way back from the pits, and went over to congratulate him on an amazing drive from last on the grid to fourth at the chequered flag. “Well, that was good!” he smiled as they shook hands: Romain laughed and corrected him “no, that was VERY good!”
Giedo was less enthusiastic, as you might imagine, having been taken out of a certain point scoring opportunity when Jules Bianchi failed to stop at the chicane: when he saw Alexa he quipped “I knew I shouldn't have signed your cast: you brought me bad luck, and gave all your energy to Bianchi, not to me!”
iSport's marketing manager Christo insisted on changing his team's accommodation plans for the rest of the season: after learning that Valsecchi was staying at our hotel (and in the room next to logistics manager Philippe), he stated that his drivers would be staying wherever we stay for the rest of the season.
Well, it can't hurt.
And back in the paddock we were informed about Oliver Turvey's time penalty: the Englishman had failed to come in to serve a drive through penalty for a jump start, and had 30 seconds added to his time to correct the result.
Normally a failure to comply with a penalty within a few laps would bring out the black flags automatically, so he was lucky that it happened in Monaco: given the positioning of the F1 timing and message screens, the stewards had no way of knowing if an electronic message would reach the team, and instead had to print up a note and send a runner out to find the team, with the clock running down in the meantime.
It's another example of how Monaco just doesn't run like anywhere else.
Fashion TV started the weekend off in surreal style by requesting an interview with Romain Grosjean, Sam Bird and Jules Bianchi to discuss the fashion of GP2.
Well, of course.
Jules was unable to make it, having a prior arrangement to spend that time with the stewards instead, but the other two were up for it and turned up on time, as requested. Unfortunately Fashion TV didn't have anyone available to do the interview, which meant Alexa had to step into the breach.
Which wouldn't be too bad, except that they wanted the footage to have a Monaco backdrop, which meant she had to limp up 3 flights of stairs on her crutches to get to the amphitheatre above our paddock, and then wedge herself into the corner to get things started.
“That's a lovely microphone,” Sam laughed as he saw the rhinestone encrusted fuzzy cover, reaching over to touch it and making the heavy object even harder for her to hold in place, before moving on to the topics of the day. “Yes, it's important to make sure your overalls fit well for the podium. And to make sure your hair looks okay after you take off your helmet, even though you put on a hat straight away...”
Unfortunately the Englishman wasn't entirely ready for an interview with Fashion TV (some people, of course, may suggest that no Englishman ever could be...), as he'd forgotten his sunglasses before Barcelona, and had to resort to buying a pair from a petrol station for £15. “You can't mention that!” Alexa admonished. “This is Fashion TV: you've got to say they were £500! What about your clothes now?” “This shirt was free, the shoes were cheap, but the trousers cost £100, I think.” “Okay, let's talk about those...”
If this was an unusual way to start a Monaco weekend, the traffic this morning into the Principality was unfortunately completely normal: we drove less than 5 miles in an hour and a half, as we crawled along with the peak hour traffic. Which put Alexa into a great mood when the security guards in the paddock, located as usual in the car park underneath the Prince's palace, refused to allow her to use the elevator to get up to the hospitality area. “But I've got a broken ankle! What do you want me to do?” “Well, you shouldn't come here with a broken ankle, should you...”
It turns out that French people like to yell at each other. You learn something every day.
And because of her injury, she obviously couldn't come up to the pitlane for free practice: I walked up with my friend Guy, who is here for the weekend and more excited than a bear in a fishmonger's shop, taking photos of everything that moves, and most other things besides.
It's a great opportunity to take in the cars, all lined up and waiting to be released. Walking past Luca Filippi's car I noticed that they'd taken the dot off the rear wing between the numbers: when I asked what had happened, chief engineer Andy Roche came over and sighed: “Yeah, well it didn't work, did it?”
Racing Engineering were much happier, pointing out a massive banner on the cliff overlooking the final turn at Anthony Noghes next to one for Fernando Alonso and cheering on Dani and Alvaro, while featuring their mascot Torrito. Team boss Alfonso de Orleans Borbon was delighted: “The fans bring it every year, and every year it gets a little bigger: next year we might be even bigger than Fernando!”
Kevin Mirocha came back with eyes like saucers: the German had never driven in Monaco before, and couldn't believe what he had found on track. “Everything they say about here is true!” he laughed after the session. “It's crazy: it's like driving down a tunnel! You can't go 100%, even if there is no traffic, or you will be in the wall, for sure!”
And then qualifying happened.
There's not a lot for me to say about the session at this stage: a lot of drivers are talking to the stewards, and until we hear what will come out of that there's nothing much I can add at this stage. I had to rush around to get quotes from the top three before they went back to the pitlane to see the stewards, and I didn't want to be accused of delaying them.
But it was interesting to see the different moods: Giedo was bubbly, ecstatic at his pole position despite nursing a very sore hand from his accident with Oliver Turvey, Jules was fine, even though he didn't have much to say, as usual, while Sam angrier than I've ever seen him, his face like thunder even though his answers were erudite and informative, as always. And when we finished he apologised for being upset!
Which was fine, even understandable: he'd only just got out of the car, he was having a drink and trying to cool down, so no problem at all. But what is a problem is everyone going nuts on circuit, forcing me to wait in the paddock now to see if there are any penalties to write about, rather than go out with Guy and have a lot of beers for my birthday.
Bloody racing drivers. They never think of anyone but themselves...
Trident hosted a dinner for journalists at El Trabuc, a lovely restaurant near the circuit last night: it's now become a tradition, with the drivers and team spending an entertaining night with writers from Italy and all over, and it is always a highlight of the Barcelona weekend for so many of their guests. So when we were also invited to attend, we didn't need to be asked twice.
When we finally arrived (Alexa takes a lot longer to get anywhere these days, because of the ankle) I walked around until I saw my name card opposite Stefano Coletti, and it didn't take long for him to launch into his questions.
“Where is the teammate interview? I thought you said it was going to be on the website, but I couldn't find it.” “Yeah, Alexa hasn't transcribed all of it, because you were talking so much.” “When is she going to do it? I want to see it.” “Soon. But you're on the blog today: I just wrote about you, and there's a photo of you with your new shirt.” “Really? Cool! [pulls out his phone, takes a look] It says there's no comments: why not?” “I guess you just don't have any fans...”
It was a great night, and topped off with an amazing magician: I realise what that sounds like, but he really was astonishing. Stefano and Rodolfo were raving about him all night before he performed (he'd done another party for the team back home), and were straight up to the front to see if they could work out how he did everything.
It didn't work, and Stefano couldn't stop talking about the tricks afterwards (especially the card trick which ended with a card inside a sealed CD case). “I'd be a bit worried if I were you,” I said to team manager Luca Zerbini just as we were leaving, “I think he's still going to be trying to work this out at the start tomorrow...”
The next morning Kevin Mirocha had a problem of his own. “Did you see the German reports for qualy yesterday?” he asked me when he got to the circuit. When I said no, he continued: “I usually take a look to see what they have to say. They never write about me: I think they forget that I'm German! I wondered if they noticed my different strategy, but no!
“I kept reading, and they said that the top guys did one run but couldn't improve on the second set because of the rain: I had to rub my eyes, I thought I must have read it wrong!” “I guess it's not just you're they're not paying attention to! But be careful when you go to the truck now: it looks very slippery out there, and I wouldn't want you to hurt yourself!” “Okay, I'll try!”
It wasn't long before Pastor Maldonado turned up again: he's been spending a lot of time with us this weekend, getting away from the pressure in the big paddock and of course eating Christian's excellent food. So when the Venezuelan did a great job by getting into Q3 this afternoon we clapped Christian on the back and told him that it was his food which made all the difference, as he beamed proudly.
Pastor wasn't the only visitor we had this weekend: Dani Clos was at the centre of a whirlwind all weekend, first when legendary footballer (and father of his girlfriend) Hristo Stoichkov made an appearance in the Racing Engineering pit. This was compounded by an event by the Spaniard's fan club: after the race about 50 people in bright yellow t-shirts came back to the paddock, all looking for a photo with their hero in the tiny area in front of hospitality just as the press conference was about to start.
Charles Pic turned up and looked very worried: the charming Frenchman is incredibly shy, and I think he was concerned that they had all turned up to hear him talk until we pointed to Dani at the centre of the storm. He was much happier after that, and laughed when we suggested his new haircut brought him luck: “I think so, yes! Maybe I have a haircut before each race, so I can win them all!” “Yeah, but you'll be a skinhead by the end of the season!” “It would be worth it!”
Luckily he hadn't looked at your twitter feeds: how many puns on his name can there be? Maybe we should host a competition on our feed, to see if you can pick your favourite pun...
One guy who wasn't laughing after the race was Luca Filippi, yet again the innocent party when Luiz Razia spun into him just off the line. The placid Italian somehow hadn't let the accident get to him, even when I asked if he had run over a black cat lately. “You know, I think I have worked it out,” he smiled as he queued for dinner. “My car is number seventeen: this is a really unlucky number in Italy.
“I said this to Andy when I came back, and he has found a solution: he has put a dot in the middle of it on my car, so now I am number 1.7!”
And after dinner Alexa was talking to Thomas Couyotopoulo from Racing Engineering when Alvaro Parente came over and, with his best fake annoyed voice, said: “Come on, stop chatting up the nice lady and drive me home!” Tomas just smirked and replied: “Have you done your debrief paperwork yet?” When the Portuguese driver dropped his shoulders and admitted he hadn't finished, Tomas just laughed and said “well go and do it then: maybe you can take the team car after that.” “What, I can take the GP2 car for a demo run?”
I don't think he was really planning to drive his race car back to the hotel, but you can never be too sure with racing drivers. So if you happen to see a bright red race car driving through Spain, please put a comment below: we do sort of need to keep track of these things.
Every driver has a different routine, a different habit or superstition, ahead of their time on track: some of them admit to it, some of them don't, but if you're given access to the pitlane and you look closely enough, you'll see them go through it, even though many of them are unaware of it.
A day like today, with margins so close at a track they know so well, you need to look below the surface to see what's going on. No one wanted to give away anything to anyone.
Romain Grosjean always walks into the pitlane with his engineer with that upright, almost-but-not-quite ungainly lope as his companion shuffles to keep up, but they don't talk about much: the session is already planned, so there's no point covering old ground. He strolls on, head high as he looks around, at the enormous grandstand, at the Formula One pits, back at the grandstand, until they arrive at their pitwall.
Down at Trident things are happening faster: Stefano Coletti looks up the pitlane, waiting for his car and then, seeing it, head straight across to the spot his mechanics are pointed towards. He lifts his knees fast, violently, one after the other, a quick burst of movement to get himself ready for the session, while teammate Rodolfo Gonzalez, his car rolled to a halt in front of him, kneels down towards it, crossing himself as he stretches up and into the car, a fluid motion with no wasted movement as his mechanics swarm around him.
Everyone looks up in this pitlane at some stage: you can't help it because the grandstand is so huge, looming over us like a football stadium. They might all test here regularly, but you can tell why they enjoy driving here, local knowledge notwithstanding: they're on display here, in front of a crowd more obviously than any other circuit.
Everyone is waiting, waiting, waiting, keen but relaxed about the session. There's no hurrying, no urgency yet, as it's free practice, not qualy. It's important but not vital, so there's just an eagerness to begin the weekend, get things moving again.
But the strategies are starting already: Arden don't go out until the end, a very slow lap for Josef Kral, the team clearly saving tyres ahead of a potential difficult race for tyre wear tomorrow. He's cagey about it afterwards, not wanting to give much away, but shyly acknowledges that they were surprised no one else followed suit, given the data logs for the circuit.
In between the sessions it's quiet in the hospitality area, as usual for here: most of the drivers choose to stay in their trucks until lunch, apart from Luca Filippi and Marcus Ericsson watching the F1 session, chatting throughout, and Coletti wandering around in a new t-shirt with “I ♥ St. Stefano” emblazoned across it.
Qualifying sees more strategic moves, with all of the grid bar Ocean Racing heading out straight away to take advantage of the F1 rubber on track: Fabio Leimer's problems hold everyone up for a lap, deferring the fast one, but next time by the order shakes out and Jules Bianchi is on top by a tenth.
The Ocean guys head out just as their rivals come back in, hoping that the clear track will offset the less than ideal rubber on track, with most of the guys sitting in the pitlane waiting to see what happens next. Stefano is one of the few to go out halfway through the session, running a tenth over what he did earlier, with Dani Clos and Marcus Ericsson improving enough to prompt a few others to come out.
When Sam and Giedo come out then Jules has to follow suit, just to cover, but none of them see much point in being there. “I could have gone a bit faster, but the changes we made didn't quite work,” Stefano says when he came back to the pits. The top three all disagree in the press conference, claiming there was nothing more to expect, but they were forced into going out just avoid getting pipped by someone finding something extra on the second set.
We've seen F1 qualy strategies change, with Q3 turning into one run and a saved set of tyres: is this the start of a similar move in GP2? It will depend on the circuit, but they're all clearly thinking about new strategies.
The press conference is all about baiting the guys to see what they will say: Sam can't help but have a go at psyching out Jules ahead of the race tomorrow (“I'll wave to him from behind, just before the lights go off, and say 'hello Jules' ... last year he had a little bit of the colly wobbles, didn't you mate?”), but is far more cagey about his own strategy (I ask about running race set up in free practice he won't admit it, stating instead “I think the work that we did this morning was important and good, so we'll have to wait and see tomorrow what it turns out to be...”), while Giedo just laughs at Sam's inability to say the word 'analyse' (“I thought you were English!”).
And then they go back to their trucks once again, to pour over the data again, to see if there is anything they've missed at this most over-analysed of circuits. And there's nothing left for the rest of us to do but try and piece together the clues from today to apply to the race tomorrow.
And there are plenty of clues there, just below the surface of a seemingly quiet day, even if they are doing what they can to hide them from us. Tomorrow is going to be an interesting race in Barcelona, for once.
This morning announced itself with the sun peeking shyly into the room as I awoke, at last: finally some relief from the cold and rain, and even though it wasn't exactly hot when I stood outside the hotel waiting for Didier to bring the car around, at least I wasn't having to do it in a waterproof jacket.
The GP3 teams were certainly happy about it too: they could have a clean, clear qualifying session in the dry, and ended up with almost the entire grid within a second of pole. With the gaps that close I don't really know what you can do differently to improve: I want to say close your eyes for turn eight, but I'm slightly worried that some of them do that anyway...
I told Alexa to stay at the hotel and rest, but obviously she wasn't going to listen to any sensible advice: she turned up just after the session finished, hobbling over as a variety of people held the door open for her before coming to rest in Bruno's office, and not moving again until lunch. She really should have caught an early flight home, but I think she worries that all the boys will get up to mischief if she's not here to keep them all in line.
To be honest, she's probably right about Trident drivers Stefano Coletti and Rodolfo Gonzales. I sat down with the pair to record the first of the new season's Know Your Teammate features, and they clearly can't help but giving each other grief and then laughing out loud at the other's torment.
It should be a great feature though: keep an eye on the blog to find out why Rodolfo is jealous of Stefano's transport, which driver is actually a top line chef in training, and why they can't stop pinching each other.
Unless you happen to be a traffic policeman between Monaco and Milan, in which case you should probably give it a miss...
Then it was time to get a quick bite before F1 qualy and the first race of the season. Everyone is always a little tense before the first race of the season, and today was no exception: we all want a nice quiet lead in, safe with no problems, to ease us into the season. There will always be dramas later in the year – this is GP2 – so a calm start always gets the tension under control.
But the drivers never listen, obviously.
Out of the first corner Fabio Leimer went flying over the rear wheel of Max Chilton before going into a barrel roll, breaking both cars and putting them out on the spot: everyone held their breath until the pair got out and waved to the fans, and the safety car rolled around to keep everyone in check while the marshals cleaned the corner furiously to get the race back up and running.
In the press release I mistakenly wrote that the Kevin Mirocha and Esteban Gutierrez's coming together bunched the field up into the corner, until the quiet German shyly came over and politely pointed out that he had been at the back, and therefore couldn't have done that: he was absolutely right, I'd been caught out by changing camera angles, and I changed it immediately.
It was galling really, because I sat on the Ocean Racing pitwall to watch the race, and afterwards had said to team manager Tom Davis how impressive his race had been: Kevin had to make an unscheduled stop because of the impact but fought back hard, putting himself into a strong position before making his regular stop late in the race, fighting all the way up to P8 before a problem with his tyre forced him into retirement with a lap to go.
When he came back to the pits to see the guys his mechanic got down on his knees and started bowing majestically, and the worship was not misplaced: he deserved all that and more, and hopefully he'll have some points as a more appropriate reward for his efforts in Barcelona.
But there were battles up and down the field, with Luca Filippi putting in a top drawer drive too: he was pushed wide at the first corner but fought his way back up to P3, and was looking for more until he was denied by a spinning Johnny Cecotto. Of course, this being Luca, he couldn't stop with just that amount of bad luck: a fraction of a second before the impact he struck some debris that had left in the middle of the track too, breaking his front wing, so he was the innocent party of two impacts.
Stefano Coletti had a great drive too, holding off the vastly more experienced Luiz Razia for the second half of the race for a strong fifth place, but there were great fights all through the field. After the race a Spanish journalist came down for the press conference and found Alexa hobbling around: he couldn't help but tell her that he watched the race in the McLaren hospitality area where Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were engrossed in the race.
Halfway through, in the height of yet another battle, Lewis turned to Jenson and said: “I miss GP2.” He always likes a good scrap, that one.
Will Buxton came down fresh from commentating on the race with Karun Chandhok, a grin spread wide across his face: I couldn't help but say “ how about that one, huh? It's like a proper old school GP2 race, from back in the day.” “Totally: this car, these tyres, and it's like we're back with the 05 car...”
After the press conference I headed up to the Dams pits to catch Pal Varhaug for a new feature we're calling A Day In The Life: we are planning to talk to different people up and down the paddock, drivers, engineers, everyone, to see what they do on race day.
I think it should be an interesting feature for you all, and bring you a little closer to life in GP2: we hope to get it up after the weekend, so there's something else to keep an eye out for. And hopefully you will enjoy it a bit more than Alastair, who had to come over and grab some photos for it: as we were walking out of hospitality a ... well, let's just say sizeable journalist here for the weekend pushed his chair out and then sat down, landing square on Al's foot.
The poor guy was clearly in agony, but he managed to limp up the paddock to get the shot before sitting down to check his foot. I certainly felt sorry for him, but looking back now I can't help but wonder if he had been watching Alexa and wanted to get a bit of personal service for himself too.
Time will tell, but if he claps his hands tomorrow and demands a coffee, I think we'll have the answer.
I'm sorry, I really am trying to write a blog to bring you all up to date with the start of the new season, but it is so cold in the paddock right now that I'm struggling to bend my fingers enough to type. Which is bad enough, but made far, far worse by the fact that Alexa is back in her toasty warm hotel room, ordering room service and probably watching TV while the rest of us shiver uncontrollably at the back of the hospitality area.
I should probably go back a bit to explain. Excuse me while I blow on my hands to warm them up enough to continue.
For the last few days everyone I knew was completely jealous that I was about to head out to Istanbul: this lasted right up until the moment I checked the weather forecast online and found out that it was going to be cold and wet here, upon which they proceeded to laugh and point out that London was due for mid twenties temperature and lots of sun.
I honestly didn't think it would be too bad, even though I had to beg Marco to give me a fleece here a couple of years ago. I never seem to learn.
At least it wasn't raining when I arrived yesterday afternoon, but the drive across town in the middle of peak hour (which usually lasts from 4.30 to 23.00) for the long crawl to the launch venue more than made up for it. The taxi driver apologised throughout the trip, but at least I only have to deal with it once a year, rather than as a profession.
This year's launch was held at the Billionaire Istanbul, one of a string of venues owned by Flavio Briatore across Europe and located under a very exclusive hotel in Beshiktas, on the European side of the Bosphorous. Walking down to the bottom floor I finally found Alexa, her feet up on a cushion as she almost lay down on the sofa in front of the stage: she waved to me, but made no effort to get up and say hello.
To be fair, I should probably point out that she broke her ankle in a car accident a few of weeks ago: someone ploughed into her car as her husband Yvan couldn't get away and avoid the impact, and she's been in pretty much constant pain since then. She finally got out of the regular cast and into a lightweight travel one just before flying here, but it's an awfully long way from ideal.
I'm not completely sure which bit has upset her more: the pain, or the fact that she can't chase down a driver to give them a telling off when they need it. Luckily, the club was full of tall attractive Italian girls, who all work there: the drivers were all on their best behaviour as they tried to impress.
Well, those who made it were, anyway: Sam Bird didn't even get to the venue, and gave a pretty week excuse for his non-attendance. “I was supposed to follow the bus, but he was driving all over the place, on the hard shoulder and everything!” “You're a racing driver, and you couldn't keep up with a guy in a bus?” “He was mad, though! But I was with him until we got to the toll gate: he went through the bit on the side without paying, I had to scramble around for some money, and he was long gone by the time we got through...”
He wasn't alone: Fairuz Fauzy got stuck in traffic too, and arrived just as the show finished: I pointed this out and he just sighed and turned back around, looking to head back out again.
Luca Filippi was delighted to be there though: the next morning he noted "I really, really loved the party last night. It's too bad we had to work today, otherwise I would have stayed much longer!" The climate can't have helped with that, either: we arrived in the paddock with rain falling, and little we could do to stop the freezing wind blowing through the hospitality area, which was built for a summer racing series...
Everyone had heard about Alexa's injuries though, and went out of their way to make her feel a little better. ART were the first off the block, bringing a large blanket down and draping it over her gently so as to keep her warm (without bringing one for me, obviously), and even Karun Chandhok came down from the F1 paddock after his free practice to say hello.
“Where's the patient?” he smirked as he walked across the paddock. “Everyone has heard about the accident: I thought I'd come and see how she's doing.” He sat with her for a while getting up to fetch her a coffee and swapping gossip for a while.
Our free practice came and went, the conditions catching out the ART pair at turn nine as everyone worried about their wet weather tyre quota, but at least the rain stopped for qualifying, even if the temperatures struggled to get into double digits.
It was about this time that Alexa told me she had to go back to the hotel: she was clearly struggling with the pain, and Marco gave her a lift back as we carried on, and she was soon emailing me with details she needed reports for. Which is why I was trying to find out details of Davide Valsecchi's penalty.
I wanted to know why the Italian had stopped on track before rolling back down the hill, and I saw Gavin and Richard from iSport waiting in the queue for dinner. “So I didn't see what happened: did he stall, did he spin, or was it something else?” “I don't know: you'd have to ask AirAsia, he doesn't drive for us anymore.” “Oh, yeah...”
At least I got through the press conference without saying the wrong team names...
Which led me up to now, typing away furiously and trying to keep my fingers from seizing up. So what do you think, Alexa: is this enough? Can I please come back to the hotel now? I promise to fetch you coffee tomorrow...