A friend and I were talking about Haruki Murakami the other day, as you do, and he asked me if I had read his non-fiction book What I'm Talking About When I Talk About Running: I'm a huge fan, like most people, but I've mostly concentrated on his fiction. You should read it, he suggested, as it probably applies to you: he runs ultra-marathons, and a large part of the reason is because he believes authors need the stamina and endurance of marathoners to write a novel. It's an interesting point of view, and I've been carrying it in the back of my head every since.
So today I thought I only need to write a blog: I should go and run a lap of the circuit.
It often works, strangely enough: I put on some tunes and start running, and ideas tend to run alongside me. It didn't take long to reflect back on a chat with Jimmy Eriksson yesterday, the bulk of which will appear in an upcoming Insider: I often joke with him about cheering up, because like a lot of people he's reasonably shy, but unfortunately for him it means he looks a bit grumpy in a public situation, whereas in person he's actually a charming and quietly funny guy.
I won't repeat the whole conversation here, but one of the questions related to the most important advice he'd ever received: bizarrely it was a few years ago when he was having trouble putting a start together, and his engineer told him a secret which he's carried with him ever since. When you are sitting on the line, he said, you need to just think of one thing: boobies. He went on to draw them on a nearby whiteboard, and on the paper in front of him, and for a week or so every time he saw Jimmy he would simply say boobies.
And it worked: from that time on, whenever Jimmy needed to get started, he would think of boobies and the rest came naturally. If only writing worked like that.
He probably didn't have anything of the sort on his mind this morning when he was chatting with his mechanics in the paddock as everyone waited to go out for free practice: we wait for F1 to finish and then the teams get moving with their trailers and trolleys up the hill and onto the track at Turn 13, while the drivers get a start and roll out at Turn 2, on the other side of the track.
There was a bit of rain overnight, so around the paddock was a bit damp, but the track was dry and the sun soon burned away the last remaining clouds: the track temperature was just over 40C at the start of practice, but scorched up to 48C by the end of the session. Pierre Gasly didn't seem to mind, setting the pace once again: Sergey Sirotkin was the only other man to sit on the top of the timesheets with a real laptime, and even that only lasted for 10 seconds until the Frenchman crossed the line once again behind him.
Afterwards it was back to the paddock to work and grab a bite to eat, and it didn't take long before it was time to get ready for the pitlane once again. Waiting to go I realised we were in a good position to watch the F1 cars on track, and it's always a great thing to do: you forget how much the cars move around, that the drivers take different lines in and out of corners, all the little things that you miss in the pitlane or watching on the monitors, because the cameras seem to oddly flatten everything out, make everything look the same.
Running the circuit this afternoon reminded me that it's not flat at all, not by a long stretch.
I watched them for a while in Turn 13, then back down at Turn 2: the latter is a spot that has always been popular for the teams and younger drivers to watch and learn about the track and what it will tolerate, what it will reward or punish them for. It's a shame that it doesn't seem to be as popular as it used to be, probably because the teams all have air-conditioning and TVs in their trucks, so why stand outside in the blazing sun?
But you really do see a lot more, watching from behind the barriers. I wish I got to watch the GP2 guys on track, but I have to write the reports and I have to know what is happening during the session, so it's not really possible.
Pierre continued to blow everyone away in qualifying: waiting until everyone else was coming in before going out was a masterstroke, to get the track to himself and teammate Antonio Giovinazzi. In the press conference he looked like the cat who got the cream, while Sergey admitted that there wasn't anything he could do to get on terms with his rival: Yeah, he needs to tell me where to improve! Everything was alright, everything felt good, but to be honest I don't know where we can find time to close the gap, really!
You've got to admire his honesty, really, although there was a bit of headscratching going on at ART as I went out for my run. They'll still be okay - ART always do well in the races - but the gap back from Gasly to everyone else was pretty big. DAMS tried to get the free track advantage too, sending their drivers out on fresh rubber early, but both of their drivers ran wide and any advantage they could have made was over as their rivals re-emerged before they could start another lap.
Coming back to the paddock I walked past their pit, where they were playing Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins at great volume. I can only hope they were being ironic. And as I walked in, Jimmy walked out and started up the hill: I was going to go and have a chat, but if I've learnt anything this weekend it's not to try to stop Jimmy once he gets started.
That, and also that if I want the blog to be any longer, I should run two laps.