Time after time

Ready? Set? Go! The rush of GP2

Some days, nothing works the way it’s supposed to. Now take for instance the popular Live Timing. Between you, and me although I am so very glad that we finally have it, you just cannot imagine the amount of pressure it is for me... It is a fickle little thing you see. It doesn’t matter how stable our technical platform is (and it is) we depend mainly on the data flow coming from the track. So before each session starts, you can find me nervously biting on my nails, praying for everything to go as planned. As you know it was not available for yesterday’s practice session which left me spending quite some time on the phone trying to understand what had happened and how to fix it. Then almost everything ran smoothly for the qualifying session (hurray!) and we had just one tiny glitch for the race. Baby steps towards a mega awesome result!

Stress is keyword during a race weekend for everyone in the paddock. We are all on a deadline to get the cars ready to be on the grid, to start a race, to send out the race reports, to publish results on line... Tick Toc, Tick Toc, the watch repeatedly sings (my new Swatch ticking awfully loudly on my wrist). We all want to be first: first ones in practice, first ones in quali, first ones to cross the finish line, first ones to send out the information. In our world, our main priority is to be on time. So when I asked thirteen drivers to meet at 2:15pm in the paddock today for a signing session, sure enough all of them were at the meeting point, ready to go. But the shuttle to take them to the signing session was late. “Alexa, what are we waiting for?” asked Romain Grosjean. “The shuttle.” “Where is it?” I waved powerlessly, already dialing on my phone. Mikhail Aleshin who had been the first one to arrive at the meeting point was sitting on the stairs looking already bored. Stefano Coletti, sitting beside him stopped me on my tracks: “So did you decide to select all the French for the signing session?” I turned around to look in the same direction and I saw Romain, Jules, Charles and Nathanael regrouped a few feet away. “I did not chose you by nationality, but by car numbers. It’s all the odd number cars today and even number cars tomorrow.” “But I am 18...” Oh... Right. I must have messed up somewhere. “Jules, what car number are you?” asked Stefano. “5”. “I am 11” said Michael Herck. “What car are you?” Stefano asked Mikhail. “24” “See Alexa, you messed up!” I frantically tried to understand what I had done wrong then the light bulb turned on in my brains: “There is no car 13, so of course, half of you are odd numbers and the other half are even” I said quite proudly.

The minutes ticked away and still no sign of the shuttle. Josef Kral, for some unknown reason, had been selected as a Talking Time Machine (It’s been five minutes. It’s been seven minutes. It’s been ten minutes) and I was becoming even more stressed until I simply decided to cancel the whole session. See, we have extremely nice and well-behaved drivers in our paddock, but on race days, their patience can wear a bit thin, understandably. I let everyone go back to their garage, Mikhail speeding past everyone, and I walked back to my office. Yeah, that did not go as planned.

Finally the race was upon us – the first one of the year, which is always very special. You could literally feel the excitement in the pitlane and on the grid. But the joy was cut short a few seconds after the start after Luiz Razia crashed heavily into a stalled Dani Clos, and with Pal Varhaug also a casualty of the accident. I rushed back to the pitlane during the red flag to check if everyone was alright. Dani was sat on the pitwall, fine but dejected. Luiz was also fine, but shocked. Pal was already at the Medical Centre for a quick check up. I found him walking back to the pitlane a while later, helmet in hand. “Are you okay?” I asked him. “ Yes, yes I’m fine, but it all happened so fast. I saw the car flying on top of me. There was nothing I could do.” “Welcome to GP2!”

The race resumed, Jules finally pocketed a well-earned first win and all the cars were back at the parc ferme in the GP2 Paddock. A shuttle had to pick up the three top drivers and bring them back to the main pitlane where I patiently waited to escort them to the podium. So I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. With the race being red flagged and running a bit long, there was some confusion as the V8 cars had to get ready for their own event. Eventually, Jules, Romain and Davide arrived and I quickly took them upstairs for the podium ceremony. “They are not very on it with shuttles aren’t they?” Jules joked (funny how a first GP2 win can make a driver very cheecky). From the podium, as the three heroes received their shiny trophies, we had the perfect view onto the grid where the V8 cars were ready to roar. And sure enough, as the national French anthem was played, they started their race... Rose water was sprayed, podium pictures were taken, it was time for the press conference, then time for the race report and then time to get ready for tomorrow.


on Wednesday 16 Mar 2011 - 16:22 by Terrie

Thank you.Another great article.:)

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