Summer break is over in the world of motorsport, but we are rarely welcomed to a track with gloomy faces: it is always an exciting time to be back in a paddock, especially Spa’s. We were even more delighted to realise that our Hospitality unit was back at the heart of the action. Last season, it had been secluded outside the track’s premises, after Blanchimont. It had been quite the challenge for everyone to run up and down the hill. But this year, the paddock gods have been much kinder and the location of our office is perfect. Plus, the sun was shining when we arrived – everything was perfect. Almost. “Be careful”, said Christian Staurenghi when he greeted us. “There are wasps everywhere”. And sure enough we soon noticed the big, menacing bugs flying around us. Looking a bit more closely at the rest of the paddock, we could see hundreds of them buzzing around cars and leaving mechanics and drivers alike engaged in an elaborate tektonik dance, arms flapping around to chase the wasps away. “They are extremely aggressive,” noted GP3 Series press officer Amanda. “Poor Nick Yelloly got bitten under the arm while drinking a soda earlier.”
Earlier yesterday, Romain Grosjean joined us all suited up in his Dams overall for his photoshoot. The Frenchman could be crowned Champion this weekend and it is traditional to take a very special picture of our newest champ to distribute as soon as the deal is done. Romain was chilled and patient as Alastair and Drew worked the lights to give the picture a special glow. “Please tell him thank you for me,” said Alastair. “He’s been so patient with me although I was not really sure how to make the picture work. That was a very nice shoot.”
I hopped to Racing Engineering truck later for a teammate interview between Dani Clos and Christian Vietoris. “Don’t be too long”, said Team manager Thomas Couyotopoulo with a big smile on his face. “We have a foosball tournament tonight!” Oh really? “Yes, we had a barbecue last night and tonight, we do that”, explained Dani. “It’s so good for the team building. There is a great atmosphere here.” And sure enough, the interview between the two teammates reflected just that although the Spaniard did attack the German on his helmet design as you will read in the blog next week.
Today, we thought the track would keep dry – or at least as dry as it can get here. But of course, this being Spa, the heavens opened during the F1 practice, leading to a damp circuit for our own session. The conditions went from bad to worse and the drivers chose to stay in the pits for most of the session. Romain ended the practice on top and we thought that he would run away with it in qualy. However, on a drying track, it was Christian Vietoris’ time to shine. The German was quickly topping the timing sheet and on his very last lap, he improved even more and was untouchable. He was all smiles at the end of the session as Team owner Alfonso de Orléans Borbonchased after him to have his picture taken with a big cigar and the team’s mascot Torrito. I found Luca Filippi on the way back to the paddock. “I did not expect to be P2 today. I have not shaved this morning. I will look bad in the picture no?" After the press conference, the Italian promised to shave for tomorrow, just in case... In GP2, you just never know who might end up on the podium!