Paddock Diary: 2023 Spanish Grand Prix

The Spanish Grand Prix was not as blisteringly scorching as final 12 months and served up a greater race – although issues didn’t go fully easily behind the scenes.


After spending a couple of days in Good to recharge my batteries after a manic Monaco Grand Prix, I used to be pleasantly stunned by the quick journey throughout to Spain on Wednesday morning with no journey hassle. Stepping off the aircraft to blue skies, I collected my rent automobile and drove the 35 minutes to the lodge in Mataró which is round 20 minutes from the circuit.

Final 12 months scorching warmth made for an uncomfortable Spanish Grand Prix, particularly for the followers, which wasn’t helped by poor visitors administration. But I used to be inspired by the primary morning drive in, regardless of struggling to seek out any official indicators on the roads to inform us the place media, or certainly anybody, had been imagined to go.

The paddock was comparatively quiet as we walked in prepared for a chat with Valtteri Bottas in Alfa Romeo’s surprisingly heat hospitality unit. “The aircon is damaged,” Bottas remarked earlier than the primary media session of the weekend started. Even probably the most glamorous sport on the planet isn’t proof against mundane issues.

Thursday handed within the traditional blur of media calls together with loads of chatter across the modifications to the final sector. However the ultimate session of the day stood out.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023Haas staff principal Guenther Steiner greeted us as politely as all the time and the dialog shortly turned to Nico Hulkenberg’s penalty in Monaco. Steiner defined why he couldn’t perceive his driver’s a penalty, and referred to as on the FIA to enhance the usual of stewarding within the sport.

He later acquired himself in scorching water with the stewards for a few of feedback he made. I felt his feedback had been meant with respect, and he was extra involved in fixing an issue within the sport, fairly than pointing the finger on the stewards or the FIA.

One constructive of the day was Spain had upped their catering from final 12 months’s providing of bowls of crisps and peanuts to lunch luggage subsequent to the media centre: The vegetarian choice was faux hen items with rocket and a handful of stale corn tacos.


Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023

Inspired as soon as once more by the benefit of the visitors on an attractive Catalunya morning, we had a comparatively chilled journey into the monitor. Followers carrying Aston Martin and Ferrari gear milled round to cheer on Spain’s two drivers, Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz Jnr.

Follow went a lot as anticipated, and earlier than we knew it was time for the press convention. I sat down in entrance of the 4 staff principals in a small room subsequent to the media centre.

When the press convention was accomplished I ran into Mike Krack and was reminded of my Monaco promise to put on a pair of Aston Martin socks over the Barcelona race weekend. “Come now! I remembered them, they’re on my desk!” It turned out Mike wanted to go to the TV pen so I assured him I might come and seize the socks at a later time that suited Aston.

As second observe acquired underway my cellphone pinged. The top of communications had texted me “supply for CC” with an image of some inexperienced socks. I laughed, and made my method right down to Aston to retrieve them…


Following the constructive expertise with the visitors preparations the day earlier than, we left the monitor round 10am and trusted the sat-nav to get us to the media automobile park.

Round seven minutes away from the monitor we encountered a little bit of visitors, which didn’t concern us as we had been so near the monitor, and we lined up ready for the queue to maneuver. Some three hours later, following numerous arguments with stewards who had blocked the best way in for us, we lastly parked up.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023By now the skies had darkened, illuminated periodically by flashes of forked lightning. Livid with the pointless maintain up I rushed into the media centre with a colleague to start out getting on with work as ultimate observe started.

From what I may see on social media we weren’t the one ones to have been caught out by visitors administration issues, and lots of followers had been nonetheless caught in lengthy queues. After over 30 years of internet hosting the race this isn’t acceptable, and the promoters have plenty of work to do when the contract comes up for renewal in a couple of years’ time.

Attempting to cheer myself up, I headed right down to Aston Martin to showcase my new outfit. Inexperienced socks and a white shirt gown was actually a glance, however a guess was a guess and I used to be holding up my finish of the settlement. “Excellent,” Krack laughed as he noticed my toes, including he anticipated to see the identical tomorrow as he headed to the engineering room to speak to the staff forward of qualifying.

The staff didn’t seem to learn a lot from my help: Each drivers went off and Alonso took his worst beginning place of the 12 months at dwelling. However Sainz introduced smiles for native followers, claiming a spot on the entrance run alongside inevitable pole-winner Max Verstappen.


Stung by Saturday’s expertise we headed in far too early, six hours earlier than the race to be actual, I used to be excited to see Jo Ramirez, Ayrton Senna’s engineer from his McLaren days, heading in to the monitor too. Sporting a fetching shirt with vehicles on it, he wandered previous followers who appeared to not clock who he was.

I spent the morning performing some work earlier than heading on to the grid for race day. As I used to be strolling in direction of the walkway to the pit lane I noticed Andreas Seidl, the previous McLaren boss and now CEO at Sauber, laying the groundwork for the arrival of Audi in 2026. Whistling as he all the time is he waved as he walked previous, briefly exchanging a good day.

Strolling on to the extraordinarily busy grid I noticed Toto Wolff and stopped to say good day. We briefly chatted in regards to the weird incident which occured between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, who tangled on the pit straight not removed from the place we had been standing.

An unlucky incident, Wolff defined as I nodded in settlement. We turned our consideration to the climate. “Would you like rain?” I requested. “I don’t care!” got here the reply as large smile unfold throughout his face. Clearly he had some confidence within the race day efficiency of their overhauled W14 however we had been interrupted by the pre-race nationwide anthem efficiency so we mentioned our goodbyes.

With no retirements I acquired to look at the whole race from the press room earlier than talking to the drivers on the media pen. Lando Norris was significantly disheartened after beginning third on the grid however ruining his race in a flip two conflict with Hamilton, and provided a couple of phrases to even clarify his disappointment.

Charles Leclerc rivalled him for many downcast driver of the day, having gone out in Q1 yesterday and laboured all afternoon to come back away with no factors. He leant on the fence separating him from us and although his physique language was open it appeared very very similar to a “for those who don’t snicker, you’ll cry” weekend for the Ferrari driver.

Disappointingly, we didn’t get to listen to from a few staff principals who cancelled their media availability on the final minute. With much less occurring than anticipated on the finish of the day, and because the vegetarian choice within the media centre gave the impression to be a bowl of rocket leaves and little else, I headed out to seek out some dinner.

Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023

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