German Summer

At least the action is hot on track!

I like the Nurburgring, but it's never the easiest place to work. We had possibly the best race I've ever seen here (the sprint race in 2005 when, after Gimmi Bruni's engine was “eaten by a crocodile” as Paolo Coloni famously put it, a five way battle saw a lead change at every corner: it was amazing, until I realised I had to write the race report), then the next time we came here there was snow on the edge of the roads, and the time after that it was blazing hot.

So obviously it's cold this weekend. At least it hasn't rained yet, he said hoping desperately that he hasn't just jinxed it.

A few of the drivers were put to work early as taxi drivers: the AirAsia duo of Davide Valsecchi and Luiz Razia had a pair of Caterhams provided to promote their link up with the fabled marque, and the pair were soon squabbling over which one would get to drive the one painted in their new green and gold colours and which one would have to make do in the plain blue car, before settling down to the real task at hand, namely scaring the hell out of a bunch of lucky contest winners.

And Jules Bianchi was soon out on track too, driving round in a Ferrari road car as part of his junior driver role for the F1 team. He did lap after lap before rewarding photographer Lorenzo Bellanca, the colleague of Alastair and Drew who take the brilliant photos in our gallery, with the last lap of the day.

“Loz” as he is nicknamed took a couple of snaps before sitting back to enjoy the ride: with the tyres struggling after so much work the car was sliding around a lot, much to Jules pleasure, spurring the Frenchman on to see how much he could scare the photographer in the one remaining lap.

Unfortunately the weather was no better today, with the few brave souls to risk leaving their truck for long were tucked up inside a bibendum of team jackets and fleeces each. The hospitality area was a bit of a ghost town, even during the F1 free practice sessions that usually draw everyone like a moth to the flame.

Free practice came and went in a blur, with most of the pitlane casting a rueful eye skywards in fear before getting on with their tasks for the session. Romain Grosjean kept up the pressure with a lap time well ahead of his rivals, but to be fair most of the teams were concentrating on a variety of race set ups (tomorrow's weather is the great unknown of the weekend, and everyone needed to test as many different set ups as possible) rather than looking for overall speed.

Luca Filippi was looking quick at his old new team of Coloni: the ever cheerful Italian had moved over from Super Nova after a deal between the teams ahead of the race, and he slotted in as though he'd never been away by claiming P4 in practice despite losing a lot of time in traffic.

He was hardly the only man to suffer from it, of course: pretty much everyone lost time somewhere over the practice and qualifying sessions, and it was probably always going to be that way given the twisting, technical nature of the circuit that folds around itself like a snake around its dinner. And it meant there was no end to the drivers complaining about traffic, despite them all being part of the problem as well.

(And it meant that there was a lot of talk about what could be done to avoid the problem in qualifying in the paddock, with one guy suggesting a mini F1-style session with half the field getting cut halfway through, and another recommending 2 periods with half the grid each. If you've got any thoughts, feel free to leave them below)

Filippi didn't seem to mind about the traffic too much though: he was on pole after timing his runs differently to his rivals and taking advantage of an almost clear track as everyone else pitted for fresh rubber, and it held until a couple of minutes from the end when Charles Pic stole the points from him.

The Italian jumped out of his car at the end of the session to greet his delighted countrymen on the Coloni pitwall, but also snuck back over afterwards to see his old Super Nova team (who he stills races with in another series) to let them know that he thought it would have gone exactly the same thing if he was still with them, too.

And then in the press conference he said he doesn't actually like the circuit that much, as it doesn't suit his driving style. Despite being on the front row for tomorrow's race. I can't wait to see what he's got for us in Monza.

After that it was time to slink back to hospitality and write everything up for us, huddled together at one table for warmth, and out the back to the paddock for the teams to set up their cars for tomorrow's race. Although it sounded as though the teams were firing up the cars a lot, far more than is usual, in fact: I'm sure that there must have been some valid excuse for it, even though it seemed excessive.

Because after all, they wouldn't just fire up the cars to keep warm, would they?


on Monday 25 Jul 2011 - 23:09 by guy hornsby

Well done for braving the cold DC..... race was amazing on all counts. I wish Id' been there. Good writing as always.

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