“Finally! It feels so good!” I found a broadly smiling Deborah Lyall at the bottom of the podium today after the race. Arden’s PR continued: “First win since 2010! Can you believe it?” I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and found Gary Horner also smiling: “You have some good stuff to write in your press release today uh?”
The rest of the ecstatic British team was soon joined by DAMS and Carlin’s members, equally happy, especially Trevor Carlin as Max Chilton offered them their first GP2 podium. Thomas Couyotopoulo – Racing Engineering’s Sporting Director – found Trevor in the middle of the crowd and shook his hand: “The race was fun right?” pointing at the on-going battle between Max and Fabio Leimer for P3 earlier. Before Trevor could answer, the speaker announced the day’s heroes and they appeared waving, arms way up in the air.
I love podium ceremonies. Who doesn’t really? It’s all about pure joy and raw emotions. I stood next to one of Carlin’s mechanics and the Brazilian anthem started. I think Sepang International Circuit have downloaded the extremely long version of the Hino Nacional Brasileiro. It felt like it would never stop. Eventually, the final notes resounded and was time for the champagne and for me to run away from the alcoholic shower.
As I made my way back to the paddock, I found a pretty downbeat Marcus Ericsson: “I started P Nowhere and I ended up P Nowhere... It was so tough. I tried really hard but it’s just not my weekend you know? But that’s just the way it is and we just have to keep pushing and hope for better days” he stated as we walked side by side. Suddenly his face brightened: “It feels so good to be back racing though! It’s been so long. I had missed it.”
Lunch break came. I sat next to tomorrow’s reverse poleman James Calado: “Do you know what happened to me today? I had no radio. I had to guess when I should pit and of course I came in early... Oh and on top of that, I had no on-board drink bottle! It was a really tough race if you ask me. In that heat? When I came out of the car, I could not stop drinking. I was nearly dehydrated” he laughed. “Surely things will be better tomorrow. Pole. Just like in Abu Dhabi. Hope I can achieve the same result. It would be nice.”
One person who had no complaints today was Venezuela GP Lazarus’ Team Principal Tancredi Pagiaro: “First race, first point. Tomorrow, second race, two points?!” he laughed. “It’s so great because ever since we got these cars, we’ve been working flat out. We have literally not stopped and for Fabrizio to finish in the points already, it’s a real reward. I have been involved in GP2 before, but this is a new car and these tyres are new for me. We had to work twice as much as the rest of the field. But, I tell you, when we get home, I will sleep...or at least turn off my phone for two hours!”