It was while we were having our regular daily coffee at Pirelli that the idea came to us: “We should do another photo blog: they’re always popular.”
“True, but we should do something a little different, just to keep it interesting.”
“Definitely. I know, why don’t we do a photobombing blog? We’ve never done that.”
“Good idea. But will it work?”
“Let’s have a practice now, and see.”
“Excellent! We can do some over at the fanzone when the guys are doing the competition: it’s time to go anyway.” After herding cats we got the drivers together and into the minibuses, and they were soon standing in front of the fans, being interviewed before getting embarrassed by the teenage kid whose job it is to regularly beat racing drivers on the racing sims.
On the way back it occurred to me that the guys might be wondering what we’re doing: “Just in case you see Alexa and I taking some weird photos, you should know that we’re doing a series of fake accidental photobombs for the blog today, so don’t worry.”
“Fake accidental photobombs?” Johnny Cecotto asked quizzically. “Well, that’s certainly different…”
“When are you going to start?” Jolyon queried.
“We already have: look at this.” I pulled out my camera to show off our handiwork so far.
“Heh, I didn’t even notice her!” he laughed.
“Well, it’s that incredible focus you guys put into driving, at least until you and Lello crashed and the game kicked you out with terminal damage, anyway…”
Having seen the raw material, the guys agreed that we were onto a winner, at least until we got back to the paddock and Alexa was lying in wait at the gates.
“Whoa!” gasped Mitch in surprise as she emerged. “Hashtag creep!” he exclaimed as he slunk off to his truck as she giggled in his wake. And it was now time for lunch, a perfect opportunity for more ‘bombs.
The tricky ‘bombs were always going to be on the grid, especially since we actually have to do some work there. But given that they are fake accidental photobombs, it turned out to be easier than we thought to work and take shots at the same time. Because to do this job, you’ve got to be able to multitask, as a minimum requirement.
But back on the pitwall with 30 seconds to spare, we suddenly wondered: what happens if it doesn’t work? We might actually have to write a real blog!
We needn’t have worried: it turns out that photobombs are just another form of communication, and we have a track record of being the best communications team in motorsport: if you have any doubts, we’d be happy to run up a press release to that effect, complete with quotes from ourselves.
It left us with the blog largely done, but we still needed the cherry on the top, the final shot to round it all out. But what would it be? In retrospect, there was only ever going to be one option:
I was in a meeting in the office when the text message came: “Guess who missed his flight and has to drive across again?!” It left me scrabbling to make up an excuse for giggling, because the truth was just going to take too long to explain.
But missing his flight to Silverstone is a tradition for Didier, and Silverstone is nothing if not a traditional circuit. You could argue that none of the traditions actually improve the experience of coming here, or even make much sense, but there is no argument that they cling to their traditions here like a drowning man to the last piece of flotsam in the sea.
So we made the traditional early start to get ahead of the traditional traffic, with me traditionally nervous about sitting in the back as a French woman drives on the wrong side of the road, and the traditional lack of signs leading to the traditional long route to the circuit, and the traditional whinging by the European contingent.
“Why? Every year we come here, and they have to do things differently to every other circuit. It’s infuriating!”
“Maybe it’s because they think they are the traditional heart of motorsport, so they do things their own way.”
“But it’s the only race that does this!”
“It’s probably just that they feel that everybody else is doing it wrong…”
At least Stefano Coletti can be relied on to make us laugh, to feel that we’re home again. During an interview for the Insider Alexa asked him about his hobbies, and he prevaricated before she reminded him he likes to read: “Yeah that’s right, but I like novels, I don’t like reading magazines about cars.”
“I remember you told me you read 50 Shades last year: was it any good?”
“Yeah, it was … pretty interesting actually.”
“Can I quote that in The Insider?”
A quick think about the audience potentially including F1 types: “No!”
“What about in the blog?”
“Oh yeah, that’s okay…"
So there you have it. The GP2 Paddock blog: breaking all the big stories.
Alexa was contacted by a fan at the track whose friend was about to have her birthday, and is a massive fan of Mitch Evans. “Is there any way I could get a signed photo of Mitch for her? Dedicated to Maddie?” A quick scamper across the paddock to the RT RUSSIAN TIME truck earned a suitably signed card, only to be greeted on her return by an urgent email declaring “I’m so sorry, I meant Chloe! I am with my friend Maddie now, and I was looking at her when I wrote the email, and got mixed up…”
So if anyone out there is a Mitch fan and also called Maddie, drop us a line on the Twitter or Facebook feeds, and we’ll pop it in the post…
Sitting down for lunch, Felipe Nasr was feeling pretty confident: he’s spent a lot of time at the circuit, and figured his experience would be useful when it counts. But he was almost more interested in the World Cup match against Colombia tonight. I had to ask: “Julian is Colombian: it must be pretty tense in the Carlin truck this week?”
“I hung Brazilian flags everywhere to try and wind him up: the truck is full of them!”
“Did it work?”
“No, you know how laid back he is! And when I was out, he just stuck Colombian flags in the middle of them all! But we’re going to watch the game together, so we’ll see how he is then.”
“You should put a bet on the result: maybe the loser has to carry the other’s flag on their car tomorrow.”
“That’s a good idea, but I think I’m just going to stick a Brazilian flag on his car anyway, and see what happens!”
The France v Germany game was always going to get a bit of needle in the paddock, considering the number of people from either country here, and Daniel Abt got his thoughts in early: after Alexa tweeted the Hilmer driver to ask if he was looking forward to it, he replied “I hope you still like me after the game! Already feeling sorry for my mates at ART!”
He plonked himself down in the centre of the hospitality area as the national anthems were being exchanged, with a number of French team members sitting around the edge of the area trying to maintain a view of the screen and avoid his eye, although to his credit Nathanaël Berthon at least went over to sit right next to his rival. For the first half, anyway. It wasn’t a great match, but the Germans did enough to get through, much to Daniel’s evident delight as everyone else made their excuses and slunk away into the paddock as the long-threatened rain started to fall.
So a ruthless, efficient Germany denying a flair opponent for a win that doesn’t delight anyone, but which equally they can’t find an argument to deny the win was earned. Luckily there’s no tradition of that sort in motorsport…