Now I’ve been to a circuit when there isn’t a race on, does that make me hardcore? Looking around me at Circuit de Catalunya yesterday, I think maybe it does – either that or I should buy a motorbike and go to a Van Halen concert (then not wear the T-shirt for at least 10 years, so it looks old school).
What did surprise me yesterday, was the number of couples there. Some fell into the category above, but others were about my age (or maybe younger – I’m being optimistic here). On race days you see plenty of couples – she’s bought him an F1 ticket as a gift (many guys’ dream pressy I guess?) or he’s bought ‘them’ a pressy (clearly she was hoping for LeBoutins and is there out of duress) or, like me, one or both just love the atmosphere of a live event. But on test days, when the majority of the day is spent waiting for the odd car to buzz past, without any expectation of overtaking, pit stop strategies, merchandise paraphernalia or EJ in one of ‘those’ shirts… you have to wonder what makes them come?
Hang on, what’s made me come to see this? To be honest, I not really sure! It’s a long way to come for a day of sitting in the freezing (yes it’s flipping cold!) grandstand or wandering around the track, without the usual entertainment I love of people watching. But then Pastor Maldonado flies past in the shiny new FW35 with that familiar roar of a V8 and my question is answered, as a smile appears across my face and I hear myself going ‘neeeeoww’ under my breath (and anyone who claims they stopped doing this as a child is blatantly lying).
A couple of moments later, Jenson nips past too – I catch a photo of him in the silver McLaren and email it to Donna back in the office, knowing she’ll be snowed under with print quotes, watching a countdown timer on her desktop, telling her how many hours until the first race in Melbourne, and the number of weeks until she’s here in Catalunya to experience her first ever pitwalk… Her reply is almost immediate; “Aaaaah so excited!”
Adrian Sutil comes round turn 7, as his back end steps out a little, and he’s followed by Nico Rosberg (Lewis isn’t driving today – he’s apparently busy in his new motorhome cooking me dinner…)
I wander down to the start/finish straight to get a beer, and suddenly there’s noise up the grandstand, the doors in a certain red garage are coming back, and there he is – the small crowd of faithfuls cheer, as Fernando Alonso appears in the F138 and sprints off up the pitlane!
Season starts next month folks – lights out in Albert Park in 3weeks 2days…!