I woke up this morning to learn that the twitterverse was ablaze with desire for a battle blog (cheers Callum). Or something. "Yes!" cheered Alexa, far too excitedly for the time of morning. "It is on! Bring it!" So I fetched her a coffee before realising that wasn't what she meant, before asking what she was talking about (have I mentioned that I don't really do twitter before?). Afterwards my enthusiasm went through the roof, and I looked in vain for a croissant.
So here we go. Wait, so this means I have to share my blog?
Come on David. You have three kids now and you know the first thing you have to teach them is “learn how to share”. Be a good daddy and set an example. Thank you.
Now that that’s clarified, I have to say that I’m proud to be setting a precedent in blog history (although, admittedly, I have not googled “blog battle” to check whether we were making blog history per sey). But that’s the thing with staying for long hours at a race track: the strangest ideas pop in your head and you just run along with them. So whilst David was looking for his croissant, I sat behind his computer and typed these few lines and kaboom! Blog shared!
My kids are great at sharing: at least that's what I say when they try to steal my glasses ten times a day...
But, unlikely as it may seem, there's a chance that people are reading this to find out about the stuff that happens in the paddock. We got off to a great start with the GP3 press conference, when the back drop kept peeling off and falling to the floor, narrowly missing the drivers as they went. When we changed back to the GP2 backdrop, Alexa made me use some tape to hold them in place: personally I think it's a shame, as press conferences would be more entertaining with an element of jeopardy.
"So Sam, you were lucky to avoid the crash at the start, but how did you feel when the backdrop just fell on your head now?"
Well that would be if and only if Sam actually ended up in todays’ press conference (oh, he did…), but I don’t want you to think that I’m moaning… Speaking of which, Marcus Ericsson was in a foul mood when we met him to go to the F1 Game Zone at lunch time. Faithful readers of the blog know that we have been taking a selection of drivers each Saturday to the vending zone to meet with the public. Marcus arrived five minutes ahead of time and complained that we were late. “Should I teach you how to tell time?” I joked, but the Swede just shrugged and kept on sulking until Vittorio Ghirelli, Julian Leal, Stefano Coletti and Nat Berthon joined us.
When we got at the venue, Marcus’ spirits were barely lifted after he saw a group of bear-chested fans cheering for him only. The drivers jumped on the stage and the host began interviewing them, starting with local hero Vittorio who of course answered in Italian. When Stefano’s turn came, he was all too happy to remind the crowd that he’s also fluent in Italian. Then Julian who lives close to Monza also spoke in Italian to the crowd. The host turned to Nat and asked him a question in French. The Trident driver looked at me “Do I answer in French?” A small group of French fans eagerly encouraged him to do so and so came Marcus’ turn to answer a couple of questions…to which he started to answer in Swedish to his fans’ utmost pleasure. “What?” he laughed. “The other ones were allowed to answer in their mother tongue!”
You forgot to mention how much they were moaning.
Marcus: "Do we have to walk there?"
Julian: "Yeah, come on, it’s really hot!"
DC: "Sure, and you have to walk thru the fans. What a nightmare."
Marcus: "Yeah, that's right!"
DC: "Don't worry Marcus, Julian is here, and he's way more famous than you."
DC: "The guy standing next to you..."
Julian wasn't the only guy a driver didn't recognise today: Al and I went over to Trident as a huge crowd formed around their garage, because they had a big star turning up. Nathanael was dragged in next to me by Sabina, their PR representative.
"Who is this guy we're seeing?" he asked.
"Jovanotti. He's a huge musician in Italy. I used to listen to him all the time when I lived here."
"I've never heard of him."
"Dude, his name is on your car!"
Drivers were not the only stars at the F1 Game Zone though: I walked past a petite redhead who asked for an autograph. Eager to help her, I asked her whose she wanted. “Yours” she said. I had to make her repeat. Twice.
“But why me? I’m nobody!”
“I just love your blog. You’re so funny!”
My mom will be so proud….
I waved at David and told him to come and meet Renata just so he could also enjoy a moment of glory. After all, as this blog post proves, this is a team effort! Then our (only?) fan asked me to call Al to get his autograph too. That’s twice this weekend. The man is getting a serious fanbase!
“You signed an autograph?” Stefano asked David on the way back to the paddock. “Is it because she is a smurf fan?” he laughed. David turned to me looking bewildered and that’s when I saw that the top of his face was indeed blue. He had bought a hat the day before at the track: “Look”, he said. “It was only five euros. That’s so cheap!” he proudly added.
I guess quality comes at a price…
Which must be why I get paid the big bucks to write the blog!(You wish!)
You all saw the race, so you don't need me to tell you how exciting it was: the tension in the pitlane was palpable, particularly on the Racing Engineering and Russian Time pitwalls, so when Fabio finally crossed the line the men in red exploded with joy while the guys in blue shook hands and thought about what could have been. We all hung off the barriers at the end of the pitlane to congratulate the guys, but for some reason they send the top three around the corner here, and eventually we realised they weren't coming over so we drifted back to stand under the podium.
It's such a great podium here: I don't know why the other circuits don't build something similar. It's just amazing for everyone to have them standing overhead, leaning over the circuit they just dominated.
Alfonso had his customary cigar out and was ready to go, and leaned in laughing while we waited for the guys to come out. "Fabio's engineer has to run the circuit in Singapore now!" he chuckled, pointing to the robust chap in front of us. "He made a bet with Fabio that, if he won here, he'd would run the whole track in Singapore. And he hasn't run more than 50m in years!"
Unfortunately I won't be there to witness it - I have to miss Singapore, although I'll be back for the big finale in Abu Dhabi - but I'm sure Alexa will run the circuit too, just to document it for your entertainment. We're all about going the extra mile (or 3.148 miles, in fact) here at the GP2 Paddock Blog...
Then it was back to the hospitality area, more work and a bit of dinner, while the press conference backdrop packed itself away for us. Marcus was moping around at the coffee machine when I went to grab one, bemoaning what could have been ("a stone got inside the rim, and tore the tyre apart from the inside. You don't mind these things when you're nowhere, but when you're on for a certain podium... it stings") before drifting off to a fan club dinner.
Outside right now, in the dark, the teams are pumping terrible music and setting up the cars for tomorrow morning. There's five races left in the season, and they all want to score in them. While inside it's 9.15, a little lighter, and we're finished the blog way ahead of usual.
And if that's not worth a cheeky beer, I don't know what is. So excuse us while we head out.