The heat affects everyone in different ways, here in Valencia: you just have to realise that you won't necessarily get the response you expect, depending on who you're talking to. The race winners photoshoot is a perfect example: Giedo van der Garde and Luiz Razia were standing together in a park, waiting for Al to direct his photoshoot, and they were getting ... a little bored.
"So, how do you want us?" Giedo asked. "Do you want us standing up, sitting down, or lying down like a porn star?" Luiz couldn't resist:
"Well you better go first: you Dutch sure know a lot about what porn stars do..."
"Yeah we do!" Giedo laughed back. "And I don't care! I can lie right here." He threw himself down on the grass immediately, before sitting back up in a hurry. "Wait, you don't think that a dog has been here to pee, do you?"
Jolyon Palmer was enjoying the scene too, waiting for fellow Monaco winner Johnny Cecotto and talking to Alexa about Twitter: she has recently nagged the Englishman into starting an account after fighting her off for ages. Unfortunately, he's got all the fervour of any new convert: "Yeah, I really like it: I'm on there all the time. You should make everyone else join too: no twitter account, no mention in the press releases!"
Alexa was happy to comply - she has even started a new campaign on twitter to see who fans think should be the next person she nags, I mean convinces, to join up. But the results have been a little surprising: the main votes have been for Madonna and Michael Schumacher. To be fair, the German has tested for us in the past, but I'm not sure that even Alexa has that type of power.
"Yeah, I'll vote for them too!" Jolyon laughed. "Make it happen! In the meantime, make Cecotto turn up: he's late! He should definitely get a 3 place grid penalty for this!" Which, after qualifying, actually happened. So any of the other drivers reading this should remember: be careful not to get on the wrong side of Jolyon, as he has clearly has some sort of weird power...
At least the heat bled away a little before the guys took to the track, and no one was happier about this than the cooks in hospitality, especially the guys on the grill: "At least we can just do our jobs normally today. Yesterday was so much worse: we didn't even need to grill the food, we could just put it outside and it cooked itself!"
It was still hot enough, as was obvious in the shuttle bus back to the paddock after qualifying. We were sitting there with Max Chilton and his dad when Giedo and Josef Kral bounded in: unfortunately Giedo was left standing, and decided to sit on my lap instead. "How's that?" he laughed as he sweated like a river, "is it nice and wet?" Well, not yet sweetheart, I smirked.
We started talking about what everyone else had done in the session - it's amazing how much they watch the big screens around the track, and didn't need me to fill in many gaps - and someone asked about what Rodolfo Gonzalez had done in the session, which prompted Max and Josef to start laughing out loud.
"We were talking to Marcus yesterday when he came over to say hello," the Briton smirked, "and Marcus told us how he had gone fishing last week, back home. Rodolfo turned around and asked if there was a lot of snow, and how thick was the ice! When we all started laughing he didn't know why, and Marcus said 'you know it's summer, right?'
Rodolfo just giggled and said 'oh, I thought Sweden was always covered in snow!"
I just laughed and replied that I didn't know where he had finished but at least he'd stayed off the wall, unlike this morning. Giedo started to giggle, to which I smirked and said "I don't know what you're laughing about: in the blog I'm going to make you say that" as he looked horrified and yelled "No! You can't do that! I'll get in trouble!"
Next time, pick your seat a bit more carefully, porn star.
We were all set for the press conference, but unfortunately the only driver ready for it was Felipe Nasr, as the Lotus drivers had been called up to see the stewards: in their absense I brought the press conference to Felipe, who was sitting in hospitality with his uncle.
We might as well come to you, I told him as I explained what had happened: the air conditioning is better here, apart from anything else.
His uncle thought it was hilarious, and laughed all the way through: I don't think he had ever sat next to his nephew during a press conference before, and he made the most of it.
And with a bit of time to kill until everyone came back to the pits I went for a run: everyone's doing the track run these days, but it's always a lottery here because you never know if the bridge will be open or not, but I was lucky. I've never interviewed anyone sweating as much as that, though.
Esteban didn't seem to mind: he was sitting by himself in the back of the truck, and when I explained I had literally just finished a run he smiled and said great, before proceeding to explain what he has been up to in the last month or so.
Drivers are under a lot of pressure - sponsors, the team, family, friends, supporters, all want to see the results that justify their belief - and they all deal with it differently. Esteban is no different in that respect, and he is smart enough to know that, but sometimes even the smartest guys struggle to switch that pressure off and just deal with what they do on track.
Between races he had returned to Mexico, and clearly it was important for him to do so: the pressure has been piling on, as his results aren't what anyone expected this year, and he knew it. Usually in a situation like this, everything gets on top of a driver - we've seen it a lot of time in the past - but Esteban has taken a different approach.
"I have to hit the button, I have to reset everything, to go back to how it was in the beginning.2 This is generally a platitude, but with Esteban it's clear that he is actually doing that. Ignore the results, he said, and focus on what counts: make it fun for the mechanics, for the engineers, for me. Find the enjoyment that I had when I started racing, and maybe then the results come back too.
I sat down with his engineer Gaytan later in the night, and he confirmed the different approach they were taking : don't think, just feel. And P3 in such a tight qualy suggests that it's working, not that Esteban is even mentioning it: even a 3 place penalty didn't seem to phase him. Everyone is under pressure, he said, no matter what you do: in business, in school, in day to day life. I'm under pressure too, because I'm racing driver. That's what I do, but it doesn't mean that I can't enjoy it too.
I came out of his truck inspired, wanting to do more of everything, to run the circuit again, to find the joy. It was precisely then that Davide Valsecchi came over, swearing and confused, unable to understand how a 3 place penalty turned P4 into P6, even though his team had already explained that the penalties are applied in the order that they happen chronologically. We gave him the same answer as his team: "Okay, I will take it. For sure six is better than seven!"