I don't know if it's the heat, but things are just a little ... different here. Okay, so obviously a race in South East Asia is going to feel different from a race in Europe, just because, well, everything we do, see and eat is different to back home, but everyone is certainly behaving slightly oddly.
It might just be that it's the end of term, and everyone is thinking about the break to come. Luca Filippi and Davide Valsecchi, for example, were out at the last corner of the circuit for the Monza race winners photoshoot, and Al was asking them both to smile. They both beamed widely - they're Italian, after all - but Luca was whispering something before each shot.
Getting a little closer, it was clear that he was saying 'sex' over and over.
"Well, you want me to smile!" he laughed when asked about it. "One time I was being photographed, and he said to say sex every time, because it makes you smile. And it was true, so now I always do it!"
"Really?" Davide queried. "I will have to try it too!"
And that is how we ended up with two Italian racers whispering sex over and over again until the shoot was finished.
It wasn't much easier in the championship rivals photoshoot, when Davide and Luiz were told to stare fiercely at each other ("you know, moody like Senna and Prost"), but were unable to stop giggling. "Come on guys," Al sighed, "why can't you keep a straight face?"
"We can't help it!" Davide stuttered. "We've got a competition going: whoever is the last one to laugh gets to slap the other one in the face!"
"But you guys are supposed to look at each other like you hate him!"
"But I don't," Davide replied, "I like him."
"And I like him too!" Luiz laughed. Which is why the shoot ended up with the pair of them saying "one, two, three: TAKE THE PHOTO NOW!"
Hopefully it wasn't influenced by a shopping trip the Coloni team made earlier in the day, which ended up in the big Abercrombie and Fitch store in the middle of town, and features an enormous photo of a bare-chested male model wearing a pair of their trousers. It was all a bit much for one of the mechanics.
"I don't know why," Luca continued, "but he looked at the big picture and said 'I am much better looking than him', and he tore his shirt off right there!" Cue much laughter ("he is Italian, so he is very hairy!") as he sucked his stomach in and walked up and down the aisle in front of his teammates (and some suddenly worried shoppers), promising to call his wife to settle the matter as to who was the better looking of the two.
Davide had a much easier time, comparitively: you might think that someone fighting for the championship might have a few things on his mind, but there was only one thing worrying him ahead of today's sessions. "I went for a run, but it is too hot," he started, "and so I had to get a haircut. The only place I could find was a Chinese place next to the hotel: it was cheap too!"
"So I give them the money, a few dollars, and they come with this machine: no washing, no scissors, no combs, just this machine and whoosh! whoosh! around my head a few times, then in with this tube and boom! it sucks all the loose hair out and I am done! Two minutes, maybe, and they push me out the door! Nice, eh?"
Yeah, nice, except that he no longer looks the same as he did in the championship rival photoshoot from yesterday...
They both had an easier time of it than Nathanaêl Berthon, who was really just looking for a nice, relaxing weekend to round out his season. Instead of walking from the hotel to the circuit, he decided it would be easier to get a cab.
"So we get close, the fee is maybe $6, but the driver says no no, we can do better: I think he wanted to give me a tour of the city! He keeps going round and round, I start to complain that I have to race, and eventually he says ok, you get out here: I can't go any closer. Now I am further away, and the bill is $20!"
"I said no way, I'm not paying, this is ridiculous, and he goes to get a cop! We talk, time is running out, I said ok, I'll pay $10, everyone is happy. Except I don't have any cash, and he won't take my card! So he made me go to a machine, it doesn't work, then to a hotel: finally I can get some cash, but now I'm even further away, and I had to run to get here!"
And then it rained. A lot. Luckily it tapered away a bit at the start of the session, but it still had a big impact on some of the guys: Esteban Gutiérrez's engineer Gaytan Jego took a huge fall in the wet pitlane just moments before the start of the session (luckily you didn't fall on the car, I smirked afterwards. No, he smiled ruefully, I spun a bit and saved it by landing on my elbow!), while Paolo Coloni put his shopping trip to good use by buying some fluorescent sneakers ("I thought it would be useful: I can just stick my foot out and the drivers know where our pit is!").
But according to Lotus, the most remarkable thing that happened is that Esteban actually used a tear off, which he hasn't done all year. They were all talking about it when I went to get some quotes from the Mexican, as they watched the guy diligently fit a new strip onto his helmet.
So, like I say, things are just ... a bit different here.