We’re halfway through the 2012 season, but there’s a real beginning-of-term feeling in the Spa-Francorchamps paddock. The last race in Hungary was more than a month ago, since when most people have gone ‘de-mob’ happy.
Team personnel and members of the media have scattered themselves around the world for two weeks and there seems to be a genuine feeling of camaraderie this weekend as people catch up and compare notes. It’s at times like this that the world of F1 seems like one big family.
However, one person hasn’t been keen to elaborate on every aspect of his summer holidays. Jenson Button organised the first Jenson Button Trust Triathlon during the break, but he wasn’t able to complete his own race after an unforeseen problem during the swim.
“Do we have to talk about this?” said Jenson. “The water was quite cold and people were wearing wetsuits. I’d left mine in the hotel, so I decided to try and squeeze into my girlfriend’s. It felt okay until I got into the water, when it tightened up in certain areas and that was the end of my race because I even had a panic attack in the water.”
Sounds painful, Jenson. But the triathlon raised a lot of money for ‘Help For Heroes’, so good on you, JB!
Like most of the world, the London Olympics were a focus of attention for many people in the F1 paddock. McLaren Technical Director Paddy Lowe loved watching the cycling at the Velodrome, and Mark Webber was happy to wax lyrical about his time in the Olympic Stadium on Super Saturday.
“It was an amazing atmosphere,” says Mark. “There were some great achievements out there on-track and I really enjoyed it. There were some genuine sporting heroes out there.”
Down at Williams, there must have been some anxious faces when the team’s travel department drew up its itinerary for Spa-Francorchamps. Four members of the race team got married during the break and there were question marks about whether or not everyone would make it back from honeymoon on time. But the team needn’t have worried; everyone showed up at the track on Thursday morning, albeit much browner than when they left the Hungaroring paddock at the end of July!
But perhaps the most exciting endeavour of all during the break goes to British journalist David Tremayne, who ran his new jet car for the first time at the Cotswold Airport in the UK. The car produces 3,000bhp and David is hoping to break the British land speed record of 301mph with it later in the year. Good luck!