Esteban Gutierrez was the first one to get to our meeting point all packed and ready for our Karting challenge last night. As Alexander Rossi joined us I pointed out that he was P2 already. “Excuse me but my garage is on the other side of the paddock. Technically, I started P26 and arrived P2”. Soon enough, the rest of the team arrived, Sam Bird proudly showing me a pick of his Mercedes GP overall, and we jumped into the shuttles. Next stop: the track.
When we got there, the place was already raging with a dozen of karts running as the media who joined the event were given the opportunity to learn the track before “the professionals” got there. Speed TV’s Will Buxton jumped out of his machine and raced towards Alexander: “We team up yeah?”. Marcus, Antonio, Esteban, Sam, Max and Alexander changed into their overalls. They all looked pretty snazzy bar Esteban who sheepishly told me that he did not know he had to bring his and was offered to wear a plain black one, lent by the track. “You look very handsome. Seriously, it’s like it was tailor-made for you” joked Sam as he watched the poor Esteban walk away with his ankles showing, the overall being too small for the tall Mexican. After a short drivers’ briefing, the six GP2 drivers got ready for a ten minute qualifying session. At the chequered flag, Max came to me laughing: “I qualified 11th. Am I fired?” The lovely Brit explained how the lack of power of his kart’s engine was responsible for the poor result. Of course. Antonio had another problem: “I had no brakes. Like, really, no brakes at all! I tried to get into the pitlane to change the kart but that was impossible!” The young Portuguese did however manage to qualify P3.
It was time for the race. Each GP2 driver was teamed-up with a journalist and they politely let their teammate from the media world do the first stint of ten minutes. As I was guiding Max, Marcus and Alexander to a local journalist for a quick interview, the iSport ace asked the American driver:
“You spent the entire qualy session right behind me. So what did you think of my lines?”
“They were really beautiful man. I have learned so much from you!”
The driver change was a mix of true chaos and beauty as the karts rushed back to the pitlane, with each teammate waving desperately to the other and one jumping out of the machine like a devil from a box. “This is crazy! You need to talk to race control!” said Will Buxton. “We were P2 but they completely messed up and did not show us the board, so the cars behind us stopped for driver change before us. So now, we’ve dropped to P6 and it’s not fair”. You’d think their life depends on it! His teammate Alexander did the job though and managed to finish P2. The team proudly lifted their trophy on the podium. One last quick photo and we were off and ready for the real thing, you know, the 2011 GP2 Final!