3 February 2011 // 09:17
By GP2 Asia - 5 comments
We all know this space belongs to one David Cameron (no, not that one – the other one) who has treated you with some of the best, funniest pieces of inside look at the GP2 paddock. But sadly David doesn’t come to the Asia races which explains why for over six months each year this blog section is usually left dormant.
But no more: I have decided this time around to leave my complexes at home and bravely try and wake up the blog in David’s absence. Now I do not pretend to be as good as him – to begin with, he’s Australian and I am French so it is not exactly the same sense of humour. Plus, he has got loads more experience than I do. I am not saying that he is much older (he is), but he was a journalist before becoming my oh so valuable sidekick which explains the flawlessness of his articles. Mine will be a bit more rough around the edges. I am Bambi - The early years if you will, learning how to walk on icy waters... Anyhow, all in all, the purpose of this rant is to say: we are back! Not just the blog, but more importantly, the action on track is back!
It wasn’t without difficulties however. Flying to Abu Dhabi has become a bit like flying to Paul Ricard or Barcelona – we’ve come here five times in the past eighteen months. The facilities are great, the track is magnificent and the weather is perfect... usually. Except that this time a sandstorm welcomed us making the teams’ working in the garages feel a bit like they were on the beach, but not in a good way. And while they were struggling to keep the cars from being buried under all that sand, drivers were getting worried that they would not be able to get behind the wheel the following day. Of course.
I found GP3 graduate Stefano Coletti in the paddock, mocking my Jackson Five-esque hairdo courtesy of the wind: “Well so far, this season has been great: yesterday my plane got delayed for four hours in Nice. There was a suspicion that there could be a bomb on-board. They had us get out of the plane and stand in the tarmac while every luggage was being checked by dogs!”
In the pitlane, happily saluting team members and drivers as I walked past, I was very curious to get a close look at our two newcomers Carlin and Team AirAsia. I found them all the way down past Racing Engineering looking all well behaved and neat like kids on their first day of school. Mechanics were already hard at work with teams’ PR Stefanie for Carlin and Lindsay for Team AirAsia carrying their hi-tech cameras and immortalising every single moment before publishing it all on their respective social networks. “It’s good to be back”, said Lindsay who used to work at Super Nova. “It’s such an exciting challenge! We have been working like mad for the past two months to get everything ready for here. I hope it all goes well...”
The following day, it was finally time for the cars to run. The wind had stopped, my hair was back to its normal tame style, but the track was incredibly dirty, and each car followed by a huge artistic sandy trail as they sped off down the pitlane. The morning session was thus very quiet with most of the drivers choosing to stay in their box waiting for after the lunch break when the track cleaners had done their job.
The afternoon session was much more lively with rain joining in on the fun and drivers feeling much more confident with their new joy-toy as the track dried. They pushed harder and harder with every lap as the clock was ticking down. Dams’ team manager Claire who couldn’t join us joked on Skype (don’t you love technology?): “It’s the first day of testing and they’re already pushing as though this was a qualifying session!” Jules Bianchi looked set to become the first fastest man in the GP2/11 car, but his countryman Romain Grosjean decided otherwise just as the session finished.
And so ended the first day of the 2011 GP2 Asia Series season – at least for the track activity because it was sure going to be a long night for the teams. Hope they all stock up on vitamins. It’s just the beginning to another terrific year!