9/7/2012 0 Comments
No one likes to be confused for other people, but it must be particularly galling for a race driver, especially one trying to make a name for himself in the F1 paddock. Fabio Leimer has been one of the more unlucky drivers this year, which doesn't help, but he thought his moment had come when he was walking into the paddock this morning and a TV cameraman saw him, and started to follow the Racing Engineering driver.
He has been wearing a selection of baseball hats with the flat brim this year - everything that the F1 drivers pick up trickles down to us eventually - and he was proud (but remembered to put on his neutral, didn't-notice-the-camera-right-next-to-me, driver's face) as the usual huge crowd camped just outside our paddock saw the camera and opened up for him, helped by the marshals. My big moment has come, he thought to himself as he walked through the barriers, right up until the moment the crowd started chanting "Kimi! Kimi! We love you!" at him...
Alexa has been having her own moments of confusion in the paddock this weekend, too. Rushing around to get all the details for yesterday's new GP3 car launch (Mop the floor: check. Polish the car under the cover in the scorching temperatures: check), and things never go easy when you're running out of time.
"Oh, just call me Bernadette," she blurted at one stage after fumbling something: it's a French saying, apparently. Considering the number of French team members at Racing Engineering they obviously know that, which is why it's funnier that they have said "hello Bernadette" every time they've walked past her this weekend.
The launch went off well: Esteban was there as the first champion, most of the current drivers came for a look, and a huge media contingent was here to see Mark Webber fire up the engine, pleasantly surprising everyone with the huge noise in the confines of our hospitality area.
The only people not thrilled to be there were our catering guys, who were all wanting to play in the GP2 team in the football tournament that Alexa Bernadetted to start at exactly the same time as the launch. Eventually the room thinned out and the boys could run out to the car park and head over to the ground (along with Leon from GP3) where the tournament was well underway.
"We are the Italy of the paddock!" Marco laughed afterwards. "We didn't score a goal in the first two games, but we went through because we lost by less goals than the others!" But the GP2 team was eventually knocked out by Lotus, while the real Italians of the paddock, Trident and Coloni, had possibly the most epic game of the tournament.
Poor Leon drew the short straw and had to referee the game, which saw every touch of an opponent draw howls of protest of the "Sir! Penalty! Please!" variety as they fell over. The game was finally settled in Trident's favour thanks to their goalkeeper scoring not one but two goals from his own penalty area.
It didn't help: they got crushed by Lotus in the final. So just another trophy for their cabinet, then.
The nice thing was that DAMS, who were knocked out in the first round, decided against heading back to the hotel and instead went out to pick up beer and pizzas for everyone for after the final. They were helped in this by their driver Felipe Nasr: "I used to live not far from here, so I always love coming here. And it helps to know my way around!"
And just as I was about to wrap up this blog, Ines from Racing Engineering came over with Nathanael Berthon to say hello, and I mentioned that I was writing this. "How do I get in the blog?" the Frenchman asked, and I told him it was simple: just say something funny or interesting about the day, and I'll get it in there.
"Today? Oh, nothing much has happened today. It's a shame we're not still in Budapest: I have a great story from there..." And he lived up to his word: he proceeded to tell me a brilliant story from his weekend in Hungary. But unfortunately it's now Monza, so I can't include it.
Shame, that. It really is a great story.
"Okay, I promise that if anything interesting happens tomorrow, I will come straight over and tell you. Goodnight, David. Bonne nuit, Bernadette."
And just after he left, we could hear the crowd roaring just outside the paddock: "Fernando! Fernando! We love you!"
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