If you write something and put it on the internet, you should be prepared for it to be read. And not always by someone you'd expect. As someone who has been writing for GP2 since its inception, I've become quite used to being surprised (mostly in a good way) by who reads my work, but most other people seem to forget that everyone has access to the internet these days, and they use it.
"You have to stop getting so many penalties this week!" Alexa said to Felipe Nasr as they chatted yesterday afternoon, while the teams set up their weekend homes around them. "I know! If you look at all the forums, there are loads of people saying you're trying to find ways to penalise me and hold me back because of where I came from," he replied laughing "But you know we're not!" Alexa protested. "I know, of course! You're even giving me the onboard camera this weekend, so everyone can see me!" "Actually, no," she laughed back, "that is just so we can watch you more carefully, to catch you for your next penalty!" "
Barcelona always means a return, one way or another: in past years it's been the opening race, this year it's the start of the European season (and my return to the series), but given the number of miles the teams have put in here, it's a sort of homecoming either way. The first ones to make themselves feel at home were Trident, who asked if it was possible for them to have a cake for a surprise birthday party for Julian Leal. I'm not sure it will be much of a surprise, I smirked, as I'm pretty sure he knows it's his birthday, but the surprise was actually on us: after arranging for Al to come over and take some shots they forgot to call us, and we were surprised to hear the team applauding the shy driver next door, instead of in our side of hospitality. We rushed around just in time to see Julian become the first driver in history to have a cake presented to him in the paddock and then not push it into someone's face. Al looked particularly gutted, as he wouldn't have any exciting cake-on-face photos to share.
Free practice came and went in a blur - no one expected any surprises, and none were presented - but there was a frisson about qualifying for once, as the single set of soft tyres (which the teams hadn't used before) meant no one really knew what was going to happen. "Free practice will be pretty quiet, because everyone knows what to do with the primes here" as one of the engineers said to me while we waited to get into the pitlane, "but qualifying should be ... entertaining." And so it proved.
Esteban Gutierrez smiled and said hello as he walked over to his team in the pits, the small espresso in his hand a new part of his preparation, while Fabio Leimer leaned against the wall in the shade drinking from his bottle and preparing for the lap to come. Well, I say it was his bottle, but it had a giant number 6 covering one side of it. When we pointed out that his car number is actually number 5 he blurted "I know! But we were rushing to get ready, picked up the bottle and poured the powder in without looking, and I only realised when I shook it!" Racing Engineering Team Boss Ines was only saying the other day that she's never had two drivers who are as close as Fabio and Nathanael, but this is probably closer than even they meant to be...
The iSport pair were also walking up to the pits together, and Marcus was obviously a bit concerned about his qualifying: when I suggested it hadn't been particularly wonderful, he sighed "I know" before promising to be in the top three, so we could talk about it in the press conference, and give his fans something to write about on the forums. Jolyon, meanwhile, had other things on his mind: as soon as he saw Alexa he said "I was in the top ten this morning: how come I wasn't in the results?"
"Really?" she asked, mortified, before continuing "Well, everyone keeps asking me for your Twitter account - even someone who went to school with you has asked me! So there's a new rule: No Twitter, no mention in the press release!"
"I know," he laughed, "but I just don't know what to write on it, so I haven't got around to it...But I will soon, I promise!" "Just do what I did," I added, "start an account and then ignore it. Because if you don't, she'll have to airbrush you out of any podium photos..." She then checked as soon as we sat down, and his name was right there after all, and she was delighted to tell him so back in the paddock.
I won't be drawn on who is right: I will simply point to the fact that Alexa signs off my expenses and leave you all to realise on your own that she is obviously correct. Feel free to add your comments on who you think was right below, but just remember that you might be surprised at who reads what you write there.
Speaking of which, you now owe me a podium and a press conference Marcus, if you're reading this. And let's face it: we all know that you are.