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.