Monaco is a special weekend - you don't need me to tell you that - but it's also a very tough place to work, mostly because everyone is squeezed into places they don't quite fit, making everyone feel slightly like overripe fruit. I can't count the number of people who have been impressed that I was coming here this week (Monaco? How glamourous!), all of whom looked slightly nonplussed when I said sure, but I'll be based the whole time in a car park under a cliff.
But Didier did something about this. Didier brought his new car to Monaco. When I say new, I actually mean a 1931 version Model T Ford. And it's a convertible, just to make it better. There are a lot of supercars in Monaco, but I'm pretty sure we get more attention than any of them. Driving around in his car is like carrying a baby in a chest carrier: people can't help but look, and smile.
We even get to park next to the hospitality area, which is drawing attention from all the drivers and teams: Esteban Gutierrez has offered to be our chauffeur for the weekend, although I can't see Didier ever letting anyone else drive his pride and joy. All day we have heard that famous car horn, the one you've heard in so many old movies, as people can't stop themselves from pushing the button.
But back in the modern world, some of the drivers have more current problems. Sitting outside in the sun as we waited for Davide Valsecchi to arrive for the race winner's photograph (some things never change), Giedo van der Garde talked about how he is trying to push up his Twitter followers: the Dutchman has been stalled just under 10,000 for a while, and this morning decided that he going to do something about it. He has started a new competition: when he gets to 10k he will pick a follower at random to give them a prize, the gloves he wore for his win in Barcelona, signed and delivered. So if you fancy a nice piece of GP2 history, you know what to do.
Five drivers finally in situ, we walked around to the giant stairs / sunbathing area on the outside of the harbour, and Al was soon bossing everyone around, putting the drivers (and us) where he wanted them as his fellow snapper Dan held the reflector towards their faces. The sun was really beating down, and some drivers were suffering more than others: James Calado was really struggling to keep his eyes open in the bright light as he stood with Luiz Razia for their joint shot.
"It's not fair," he complained when we asked him to open his eyes wide, "he's Brazilian: he's used to the sun!" Eventually Al took pity on the Englishman, told him to close his eyes, and he would count him in to open his eyes for the shot, leading James to scrunch his face up until the last second as Luiz laughed and opened his eyes even wider.
The sessions were soon rolling round, but we decided we should stay in the paddock so we could have access to the timing screens: we need them to write the live comments / session reports, and with the F1 teams putting their pitwalls upstairs we wouldn't have any access to them in the pitlane. But it meant that we had a different audience for our ... unorthodox commentary.
During the sessions Alexa and I sit next to each other and we say everything we see out loud so the other one can write down anything they missed, but we talk in a shorthand we've developed over the years we've worked together: we know what we mean, but not many others would. So when Fabio Leimer set the fastest laptime in free practice, Alexa blurted out: "Fabio P1. I gave him drugs yesterday, so I guess they worked!" I knew that they both suffer from severe headaches and the drugs were simply pain medication, but a lot of people swivelled round on the spot to see who had said such a thing before whispering conspiratorially to each other. Sorry if you ended up with a random drug test this afternoon Fabio: it's probably our fault.
Then it was time for lunch, and we sat down with Marcus Ericsson just as Luca Filippi arrived in the paddock, and he made a beeline over to eat with us. "I was reading the blog the other day," Marcus started in, "and it was nice, but you said that I was goofy: what does that mean?" There followed a long and complicated explanation about how it means funny but a little bit silly, using our respective family members as examples, and finally ending up referring to the Disney character "you know, the one with Mickey with the big nose and long ears: Goofy", at which Luca turned around from another conversation and said "what does Goofy mean?"
But it was a lovely lunch, despite Marcus insisting that his plate "it's only fruit" even though there was clearly a big spoon of tiramisu right on top of the melon, and the guys made plans to one day team up in a GT car ("wait, you know Kenny Brack: can you bring him too?"). It was only after we tweeted a photo of the pair (mostly as part of our long standing twitter battle with Karun Chandhok, who is jealous of our access to Christian's famous tiramisu) and someone replied that they had been teammates the year before last, which we had both completely forgotten. To be fair, we are trying to concentrate on our current jobs. But okay, duh.
Then it was time for the new qualifying session. Did you enjoy it? We all thought it was pretty exciting, and you can't argue with last lap screamers to top both sessions. Johnny Cecotto was basically floating in mid air when I found him to get some quotes, having done an amazing job to top both sessions, while Max Chilton was equally pleased to put himself on the front row.
The only one who was slightly disappointed was Marcus, who thought he'd done enough only to be pipped for the top spot in the one lap dash after the red flag in the second session. "They told me over the radio when I was coming back, and I thought they were joking with me: I had to ask them five times before it started to sink in..."
Still, as anyone who read the blogs from Barcelona knows, he owes me a podium. "I know," he laughed as we talked in the truck, "and maybe tomorrow is the day..."