Press conferences are strange things: people get very stressed ahead of races, and if they succeed that stress drops off in as many different ways as there are racing drivers at a circuit.
Before a race you don't want to get in the way of a driver until you know him well enough to have an idea how he'll react: Marcus Ericsson will smile and say something slightly goofy if he sees you, Giedo van der Garde will say hi and shake hands on the way through, but I don't know James Calado so well, so when I saw him striding back and forth from the pitlane to the holding pen before the race I just stayed out of his way, in case nervous pacing is his thing.
Besides, it was nice standing next to Enzo Coloni and listening to him singing Fernando to himself. When he realised he wasn't alone he blushed a little and said "sorry, but I like Abba", but I'm pretty sure it was actually a subconscious reaction to seeing Alonso on the big screen out of the corner of his eye.
In the pitlane and on the grid, you pretty much just stay out of the way. You can return a thumbs up from Max Chilton in his car, though. That is just being polite.
Our press conferences come at a slightly strange time: in F1 they get out of the car, upstairs to put on a hat and shake a bottle of champagne, and then straight in front of the cameras and then the journalists, but here they race, have the podium, then back to the paddock to hang out for a while. In the meantime I write the GP2 race report, try to watch as much of the GP3 race as possible, then do the GP2 press conference and change the back drop, and then GP3 press conference.
I like asking a driver a question just out of the car, because you get a very honest answer, especially if he was involved in an incident with another driver, but with our press conferences all the emotions are gone after an hour, and they're a lot more chilled out and funny. Mostly at the expense of the others.
James was late to the press conference today. It happens, and sometimes we can wait, sometimes we work around it. We waited for a while, but in the end we had to start without him: it's not the first time, it won't be the last. So I started the usual spiel, introduced Giedo, and he then turned around to the empty chair next to him and loudly stated: "Hello James, how are you!" Stefano then piped up. "I can do both driver's quotes, if you want!" Sure, I smirked, but only if you talk like him: can you do the accent? "Okay, no I can't..." First question in and Giedo starts answering, only for James to sheepishly slink in. "Hey!" Giedo laughed. "How are you doing? Are you alright? Have you been up to much? It's been a while!"
In many ways the GP3 drivers are much better trained than the GP2 guys: maybe they're younger and more eager to do the right thing, or maybe after a while they're just trying to annoy us. For example, Alexa wants the guys to wear their hats in the press conference, but only James bothered to bring one with him (GP3 trained), so she had to track one down, and threw it over for Giedo to wear. Obviously Stefano took this as an invitation to steal it, before splurting: "wow, you've really got a small head!" The Monegasque driver was in great form: when a journalist asked about the drive through penalty for Fabio Leimer, the others sensibly replied along the lines of it being a bit harsh but that's the rules, while Stefano couldn't help saying: "it's a shame for him, of course, but it's good for the rest of us though!"
Technical boss Didier Perrin had been waiting for an opportunity to take a shot at Giedo, and finally he saw his chance: "at the end of last year you said the GP2 car is like a rally car - do you still think this after your win today, and are you considering a new career in rallying?" Giedo struggled manfully to give a serious answer, spluttering about how last year it was quite hard and everyone was struggling but this year it is quite nice to drive and it is a lot better, while all around him everyone laughed out loud at his obvious embarrassment.
So Giedo stole the hat back from Stefano to distract us, and burst out "Wow, you've got a big head man!" I had to ask: "Is it ask Giedo embarrassing questions day? In that case, do you still wear those stupid colourful boxer shorts?" He laughed out loud and replied "No man, today I'm black!" before pulling his shirt up to give us a better look. "You know what black underwear means, on women? Stefano, you know what it means, come on! It means, you know, they like a bit of jiggy-jiggy boom-boom. Come on Alexa, you know - let's see!"
But luckily by that stage, I had switched off the recorder. So our press conference secrets will stay that way for a bit longer yet.