Sometimes the best laid schemes of mice and men often amount to naught, or so the saying goes. Anyone who has tried to organise a group of racing drivers, or anyone else involved in racing, can vouch for that from bitter personal experience. And yet, the basis of racing is plan and so on we tilt, every race, trying to defy nature and arrange activities for them.
If you're reading this, you've probably heard of Run That Track, an organisation which raises money for good causes via sponsorship from UBS, who donate $100 to Make A Wish Foundation per lap for everyone registered who runs the circuit. To be fair, the clue is in the name.
For some reason, Alexa thought she would arrange for all the drivers, as well as their teams and media, to do a group run on Thursday evening in Barcelona, possibly thinking that they've done so many laps here that there is no way they could get lost: it would probably be bad to lose a driver before the weekend starts, although I assume it would give our website a hell of a bump in traffic.
So she thought that organising a mass run for everyone in the paddock would be a. a good idea and b. actually possible, and has been ringing and emailing everyone involved over the last few weeks to make it happen. And on the day, everything naturally ran as smooth as silk.
Of course I jest: this is GP2, we don't do easy.
Rounding up that many people is like herding cats. For example: Tio Ellinas arrived at the circuit for the start of his first weekend in GP2, proud as punch and smiling at everyone, until Alexa walked over to MP to round up their squad. "Tio, are you coming over to the pitlane to join us?" she asked innocently, and he just laughed and pointed at his shirt, which proclaimed RUNNING SUCKS.
That'll be a no, then.
But 100 or so brave souls trudged over to the pitlane, looking for all the world as though they were heading over to the headmaster for punishment, only to find that the pitlane and the circuit were blocked at both ends by some temporary fencing: the circuit opens the pitlane to fans on Thursday night, but unfortunately they block off either to end to stop them walking too far.
"Guess we can head back then," someone giggled, earning himself a stern look from Alexa before she pulled out her phone to yell at someone while everyone milled around, with some of them even making an effort to get ready for a run.
Mitch Evans and Stoffel Vandoorne were two of the latter, and both looked keen to go despite their efforts last Sunday: Wings for Life hosted a simultaneous run for charity in 35 countries (making us so very, very glad that we didn't have to organise that...), with Mitch as a Red Bull backed driver planning for it well in advance and putting in 30km, while Stoffel got a call on Sunday morning, grabbed his shoes and put in a quick 20km before getting on with his day.
Pirelli racing manager Mario Isola was one of those who would probably have been happy to see the run called off: he had previously noted that he was going to do a run on Sunday to see the circuit ahead of the F1 race, before noting that his legs could probably take it and said he'd join his team on Thursday. After a call to the circuit manager someone was dispatched to open the gates, and Alexa asked Mario if he was going to stretch ahead of the run: "it won't make a difference," he sighed, "it will probably take me an hour and a half anyway, stretch or no stretch..."
As soon as the gates started to open, Alexa saw her chance: "There's a gap! Go!" Racing drivers can't resist, and the horde was off.
There were 2 different approaches at work: Mitch declared ahead of the event that he wanted to win, and he did: a spectacular time of 15 minutes and fifty seconds assured that. And then there was a different view: the ART GP3 drivers used it as an opportunity to catch up on their gossip, bimbling around together and chatting happily before coming home 37 minutes later, declaring it to have been a lovely bonding time for them.
Unfortunately for Alexandra Schieren, the Pirelil head of communications and one of the few women to run, she fell over midway through the lap and hurt her knee, but battled on bravely and still managed to finish, amusingly ahead of her boss, prompting Mario to ask if her lap time still counted.
At least Jolyon Palmer turned up to the run on time: he was late for the race winners photoshoot, and this after saying in Bahrain that he doesn't really enjoy them because he worries that he looks a bit daft in them. I'm sure there are other drivers who would tolerate that for the comfort of having won the last race, but I digress.
With Alexa worrying that he wasn't going to turn up at all, the likeable Englishman finally turned up, and was all apologies for putting everyone out. "What have you got for us this time?" he smirked, and was happy with the concept: a relay race with Stoffel and a steering wheel as the baton.
He smiled when he saw the results, much to the delight of Alexa, who asked what he wanted to do if he was in the shot in Monaco: "I think we should sit around and blow bubbles," he smirked. "Anything with minimal effort from me would be fine..."
Happily he was early for the press conference today, with teammate Stéphane Richelmi and Stefano Coletti right behind. Stéphane was on pole, obviously, but was mock outraged at Alexa because she had initially mentioned Stefano in the top spot on Twitter. "I know!" she sighed. "All your fans have been bombarding me! It wasn't deliberate, it was just the autofill put his user name instead of yours!"
"It's okay," he laughed, "I know he's your favourite..."
Everyone managed to sit in the right seats, and the press conference went off without a hitch. But if you notice bubbles in the photos for tomorrow's press conference, you'll know why: sometimes, plans just don't go the way you plan.