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.