Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain.
Day 2 of week 2 (Weds. 8 March 2017)
Arriving outside the track just after 09.00am from the local train station, I emerge from a shared taxi with three others. When it came to paying all of us chipped in with cash and the driver probably ended up getting the best tip of the day! On first entry into the circuit I am immediately presented with an impressive view of the arena like section of the track from turns 10 to turn 16, set against the hazy early morning hills of the Catalán landscape. This is a good place to get an induction into the atmosphere of the event.
Mercedes, Williams and Red Bull are already on track. No media pass for me, so watching and photographing from the sidelines along with the rest of the punters. Access to the paddock and pits would be great but presents no real problem on a day like today as most areas have open access, including the main grandstand and the area between turns 1 and turn 6.
I like the feeling from these motor-racing events. You can come on your own but you are never alone. Everyone’s there with a shared interest. You have to be into it, have some genetic predisposition or conditioning because, to be honest, it would be plain boring otherwise, just a procession of vehicles with no obvious outcome. Ah, but the sound, the colour, the smell, the speed, the location, That’s what makes me stay for 9 hours developing tired feet and aching muscles from walking and lugging heavy camera equipment all day.
What performance impressed? Well, the usual suspects, Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull, in that order. All looked impressive out on track but what clinched it for me was whilst doing some tracking shots from the inside of turn one, Räikkönen’s Ferrari seemed to come in to the corner faster, breaking later, just slightly more than Hamilton’s Mercedes. This makes me feel that when it comes to racing we could be seeing Ferrari clinch races from the start down into turn one. Well, that’s my “top tip”. It remains to be seen!
I wore my JB McLaren Honda cap (2016) for the day, not just because I am partisan, I also like the style. Anyway, it naturally brought sympathetic comments usually along the lines of “what a shame”, “they should be up there with the rest”, “we are being denied racing” and “Alonso’s talents are not realized” and so on, all of which are true. Well, they looked slow on the day and appeared and disappeared regularly.
Other action? Well, in the afternoon Räikkönen went off at turn three; any advantage at the start would be lost by that kind of performance! No more running for Ferrari for the rest of the session. And then, very late in the day, Verstappen’s Red Bull came to a halt at turn 12. This was where I entered the track. Only a few minutes left for the session and my thoughts turn to eating the remnants of my bread and cheese and getting back to the hotel.
I wander outside the track to where I look for a taxi back to the station and, what a coincidence, the same taxi driver from the morning turns up as if on order. We chat during the ride and he waives the extra centimos over the 10€ fare, a pleasant end to a perfect day. Can’t wait for the first race of the season.