OK, so not for all the right reasons, but this weekend really has to be all about Williams F1.
As the only Independent team in the paddock (ie not having a huge commercial sponsor backing the majority share, to the extent of having its name in the team title), and possibly the best known and respected team in F1 (the boss has a Knighthood and I’m told they’re considered the more organised bunch on the pitlane), if you’ve ever followed F1, you’ve probably heard of Williams.
Yesterday, the boss turned 70, so the family was here this weekend to celebrate.
On the big day, the team took pole position in qualifying which, whilst courtesy of an unnecessarily harsh penalty on Lewis, was well-deserved as Pastor Maldonardo was on great form.
Pastor drove a solid race, worthy of the team colours: consistent, reliable, not risky, no showboating, just a great performance from pole on the grid to the top of the podium.
(Lewis, of course, also drove a great race; starting from the back of the grid, being the only driver to complete the race on a 2-stop strategy, when everyone else went for a 3-stop, and finishing 8th.)
But the day belonged to Williams… until disaster struck.
Whilst the team was enjoying the (customary) group victory photo and a speech from Sir Frank, one of the Kurs units got a tad hot and, sitting right beside the fuel line, this didn’t bode well. An explosion was heard and the Williams garage filled with toxic black smoke, which poured out of the garage and filled the paddock and pit lane. Luckily, due to the quick reactions and professionalism of the crew around, the fire was quickly brought under control and there were no casualties. A few burns, some smoke inhalation, but nothing deemed ‘serious’ – a very lucky escape and utter respect for all those who prevented it being much worse.
What about my day?
So how was I so close to the action for all this? Well, for most of the race, I copped a squat on the grass bank on the exit of turn 7, with a great view of turn 8 into the straight up into turn 9. Basking in glorious sunshine (and drowning in the best of Boots Soltan),
I was mostly surrounded by Spaniards shouting “Alooooonso, Alooooonso, Alooooonso…” with the exception of a couple of guys in front of me, who were joined by a young chap. Can’t have been older than 3 or 4, but the cute little smally was clad in stash and clearly enjoying ‘a day out with the big boys’ – bless!
Beside them, a couple who obviously had differing allegiances, so wre never going to go home entirely satisfied! But whilst his dreams were shattered by Bruno Senna (taking Schumi out, good lad!), her dreams were realised! As the only Maldonado fan in sight, every time the Williams drove by, her hands were in the air, she was cheering and generally being the best fan in the world. Needless to say, as he won the race, I’d say she had a good day!
As for me, I enjoyed the race, of course, although I managed to blag my way into the paddock afterwards again – that kinda takes the biscuit! I saw Pastor being interviewed, wandered past a few drivers, saw Jake (v tall!), Eddie (limping, badly) and DC (hot!) on BBC Sport, Damon Hill (looking old?!) on Sky Sports, and was right outside the Williams garage when the explosion kicked-off. The smoke smelt horrendous, Mr P suggested if could be toxic as masks were being handed out, so I decided that it was best if I went back to the cheap seats and got well out of the way. Reading the Twitter and media feeds on what happened, I’d say the guys reacted so quickly must have had much to do with why it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could’ve been. The people working in F1 really are good – numpteys as times (I’ve met the odd ‘Boltie’ this week!) but good at what they do. Big respect.
Anyway, I’m now in the bsr, ready for a glass of red…!
Great day 🙂 ttfn /Rxx