A paddock is like a second home. You spend so many hours at the track you want to make sure you are as comfortable as possible and for most of us, it’s all about music. It helps set the mood. In all the garages, teams have their music on and while some go for the hype tunes, one team has made a point to blast some interesting music: “Did you hear that?” told me Will Buxton excitedly. “Carlin are playing ABBA! How cool is that?”
We landed in Bahrain earlier this week. It feels really good to finally see the sun after a few weeks of poor European weather. But far from us to think about lying down next to the pool. No. We’re here to race and you can feel the competition bubbling at the surface. At 15:34 precisely on Thursday, Davide Valsecchi came running through our office for the official sign on, asking if he was late. When we informed him that he had twenty minute to spare before sign on was over, the Italian happily punched the air as though he was standing on the podium already.
"I told Dani he could not be in front of me this weekend", said Stefano Coletti.
“But am I allowed to start next to you?” asked the Spaniard who returns to the field for this round at Addax.
“Only if you are starting slightly behind!” laughed the Monegasque driver as the two friends walked back from the drivers’ briefing, comparing tans because that’s what boys do...
I found a smiling Marcus Ericsson: “I am really looking forward to this weekend. I mean, Malaysia was so bad for us, we have to push even harder. It’s not over! We have to work really hard in qualy because we have a good race pace, but qualy was a disaster last time! I read about what Lucas di Grassi said in Autosport magazine about the tyres and maybe the key is to push harder in qualy to make the tyres work a bit better. I think I have been a bit too cautious during the session.” When I reminded the Swede that no matter what, he will not start from pole position on Saturday following a ten grid place penalty picked up in Kuala Lumpur, he smiled and simply said: “I am just happy to be back to racing. That’s what I love!”
Today was finally all about track action. And it was a good one for the DAMS boys who I found after qualifying working with their engineers, a huge grin plastered on their faces. “See? That’s the lady in charge of GP2 media Davide!” said team owner Jean-Paul Driot pointing at me. When I asked what the fuss was about, the Frenchman explained: “There was this German journalist who came earlier and Davide thought it was you!” I looked at the poleman bewilderedly. That particular journalist has at least ten years on me. “Seriously Davide?! After four years working with me you still don’t know who I am?” The Italian blushed a bit and laughed: “No but she had the same device as you to record what I say and I thought she would give my answers to you!” I was heartbroken but I still managed to regain composure and went on with my own questions and my own “recording device” also called a Dictaphone to get the perfect answers to my perfect questions.
I made my way to Lotus GP garage where Esteban was waiting for me. Fully dressed. “You are wearing pants today?” I asked him. Yes, I have to confess that the last time I went to see him for post sprint race quotes in Sepang, Esteban greeted me trousers-less. I think these drivers are getting a tad too comfortable with me... He laughed at me of course: “No I am very presentable today. I even got a hair cut! I know it was about time... My last haircut ruined my official portrait a bit, but it’s fine.”
The sun has now set above BIC. Carlin are playing “Nothing compares 2 you”. All is well.