Anyone getting a sense of déjà vu? Diesen Spruch konnte man in der Formel-Eins-Boxengasse überall hören, als ein heftiger Regenguss den Grand Prix von Malaysia nach acht Runden zum Stillstand brachte. Something similar had happened at Sepang in 2009, but, unlike three years ago, no-one got that wet in 2012.
The reason for the newfound dryness was simple: bivouacs. All of the front-running teams brought makeshift tents to the race to keep their equipment and team personnel dry in the event of a race stoppage due to rain, and that’s exactly what happened. As soon as the race was red flagged Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes got building.
These shelters were enough to keep a majority of the drivers on the grid during the 45-minute lull. The only ones to do leave were McLaren’s Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, who nipped back to their rooms in the team’s paddock hospitality unit. Jenson was halfway through a cup of tea and a bowl of pasta when his race engineer Dave Robson summoned him back to the grid for the re-start!
At least the two-part race gave the celebrities present two chances to witness the excitement of a race build-up. Nicole Scherzinger, one-time Pussycat Doll and now girlfriend of Hamilton, watched both getaways with Lewis’s mum Carmen in the McLaren garage. They then retired to the McLaren hospitality suite, where they were joined by British boxer David “The Haymaker” Haye.
Elsewhere in the pitlane, British comedian Jimmy Carr enjoyed the sights and sounds of F1, as did American actors Owen Wilson of Cars fame and Adrian Brody from The Pianist. Die beiden Letzteren waren die ganze Woche vor dem Rennen in Malaysia und schüttelten viele Hände. On Thursday evening they were introduced to the King of Malaysia and Fernando Alonso, the king of the Malaysian GP.
Fernando’s was a brilliant victory, make no mistake, but one of the reasons why Ferrari loves him is down to his utter commitment to winning the world championship. Sobald das obligatorische Siegerfoto am Sonntagabend im Kasten war, machte sich Fernando mit den Mechanikern und Ingenieuren auf den Weg zum Flughafen. They were going straight to the Ferrari factory in Maranello to congratulate everyone and to encourage them to even greater feats of brilliance.
“We still have a lot of work to do before the next race,” he said. “We have to keep pushing.”
Anyone getting a sense of déjà vu?
You can’t get away from the heat at Sepang. As soon as you venture outside the air conditioning, the humidity tries to suck the life out of you, and nowhere does that apply more than inside the cars.
“It was 68 degrees in the cockpit of my Ferrari today,” says Fernando Alonso. “You have to sit in that heat, in overalls and a helmet, to appreciate what it feels like. It’s very tough.” For the imperialists among you, that’s 155 degrees Fahrenheit; it’s hardly a laughing matter.
“This is the toughest race of the year,” says Jenson Button. “Ironically, it’s toughest when you’re sat motionless in the garage. In those circumstances, it’s so hot that it’s hard to breath.”
It was also very hot down at Lotus-Renault last night when a fire savaged its hospitality unit. Lap-tops, clothing, catering equipment and even one of Kimi Raikkonen’s helmets perished in the blaze. No-one was around at the time, at 3.30am, because the team had already returned to its hotel, but it wasn’t hard to identify the cause of the fire.
It was started by a malfunctioning fridge, which the team had asked a circuit engineer to check earlier in the day after it had repeatedly tripped their fuse box. To add salt to their wounds, the team was charged $900 by the circuit to rent the fridge for the weekend…
It’s at moments like these that the F1 paddock rallies around its victims. Rival teams clubbed together to feed Lotus’s mechanics and engineers today, while the PR and marketing team decamped to the media centre using borrowed lap-tops.
Other teams didn’t get away Scot-free either. MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS, in the adjacent hospitality unit, had to vacate their building this morning due to smoke damage.
Amid all of this chaos came news that British boxer David Haye is attending this weekend’s race. At least Dereck Chisora, whom he wrestled to the ground in a recent post-fight press conference in Munich, isn’t on the invite list…
Where on the job description did it say the words “all-nighter”? Then again, this is Formula One and back-to-back races on different continents require all hands on deck nearly all of the time.
The teams had 48 hours to pack up in Melbourne, fly roughly 40 tonnes of equipment and 80 personnel to Kuala Lumpur, and then set up again at Sepang. That done, it was time to prepare the race-cars ahead of today’s first practice sessions.
This being F1, the logistics worked seamlessly. The freight left Melbourne’s Albert Park at 2am on Monday and it was delivered to the Sepang pitlane at 9am on Tuesday. As a result, team personnel could make the 6,500km journey on Monday, ready to receive their equipment on Tuesday morning.
The majority of the drivers had a more leisurely journey to Malaysia. Jenson Button ruhte sich einige Tage in Melbourne aus und Mark Webber besuchte zum Beispiel Noosa in Queensland. Only the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS drivers had to get their skates on because they were required to report for duty with Petronas, their team’s title sponsor, on Tuesday.
Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg did several interesting media calls for Petronas – and don’t forget to come back to puma.com/motorsport to see if Eric, our intrepid uber-fan, joined them! Allerdings war ein Foto von Schumi neben einem Tyrannosaurus Rex, das die örtlichen Medien in Aufregung versetzte. Will Michael eat the opposition alive this weekend?
After his PR commitments, Michael relaxed with a stroll through KL’s China town. He might have made a bit of money en route to winning seven world titles and 91 races, but Michael clearly still loves a bargain!
While Michael was walking the streets, some of his rivals had an audience with the King of Malaysia at the Grand Prix Ball. Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Heikki Kobalainen, Pastor Maldonado and Timo GLock met (deep breath) Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di Pertuan Agong Tuanku AL-Mutassimu Billahi Muhibbudin Sultan Abdul Halim Al-Muadzam Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah. Luckily, none was required to address him by name; all that was required was a little bow of the head and the greeting ‘tuanku’.
There’s loads going on here at Sepang. Don’t forget to tune in here again tomorrow for another update.