Qualifying may have finished at around 3.00pm yesterday, but for Ferrari star Fernando Alonso and HRT team leader Pedro de la Rosa, the adrenalin was flowing late into the night as they watched Spain take on France in the quarterfinals of the European football championship. Much to their delight, Spain won the game 2-0 and they can now look forward to a semi-final against archrivals, and near neighbours, Portugal.
The next two teams to face-off in the football are Italy and England this evening. Alonso’s seen his country progress to the semis, but will his football-crazy Ferrari mechanics see their nation do the same?
As some of the fittest athletes on the planet, F1 drivers aren’t really allowed any vices. Drinking and smoking are (for the most part) a definite no-no, but Lewis Hamilton has a secret shame: an addiction to sweets. In the past the McLaren star would regularly scoff gummy bears and jellybeans between sessions, but he admitted yesterday that he hasn’t eaten a single sweet for a month. His dentist must be doing cartwheels!
A familiar face was welcomed back to the paddock today for the first time this season. Former Sauber star Nick Heidfeld – the man who holds the record for the most podium finishes without winning an F1 race – has flown into Spain to work as a expert pundit for Sky television. He took over the microphone from former Le Mans winner and Toyota F1 driver Allan McNish, who had to fly back to the UK for some sponsorship commitments. Nice to have you back Nick.
It’s not uncommon for drivers to surround themselves with a large entourage at grand prix weekends. Having their managers around can be useful and friends keep them entertained, but sometimes there’s nothing like having mum and dad around and one driver who appreciates that more than most is Daniel Ricciardo.
The Aussie’s parents are living with their son in glamorous Milton Keynes over the summer, as well as attending every grand prix. This weekend they’ve been fixtures in the Red Bull Energy Station and, according to the Toro Rosso star, they’ve already proved indispensable: “When you’ve qualified like I have this weekend, it’s good to have your mum around for a hug!”
When Paddock Cat left you yesterday, chairs were hastily being arranged in front of TV screens in the AMG MERCEDES PETRONAS motorhome so that the team’s footy-mad drivers, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, could watch their national side take on Greece in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012. Nico confidently predicted a German thrashing and, as the broad smile on his face this morning would attest, he was right: 4-2 was the final score as the Germans head into yet another semi-final.
The next man to suffer from pre-match nerves is local favourite Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard is desperate to put on a good show for the locals this weekend and he’s hoping his footballing countrymen can make them doubly happy when they take on France in Ukraine tonight. But Fernando (and HRT’s Pedro de la Rosa) are probably the only drivers hoping for a Spanish win; if the home fans get the result they want, you can expect the parties to run into the early hours. Let’s see how many drivers are complaining of sleepless nights tomorrow morning…
Whilst most of the F1 paddock has been busily keeping an eye on the football, BBC presenter Jake Humphrey has been catching up on F1. Humphrey missed the Canadian Grand Prix two weeks ago, having been out in Poland and Ukraine covering the adventures of the England football team. But after the team enjoyed a surprisingly good run of form, Match of the Day anchor Gary Lineker was flown out to take over presenting duties, allowing Humphrey to return to F1. From one world class sporting event to another – it’s a hard life for sports presenters isn’t it?
One man who doesn’t see what all the football fuss is about is affable Aussie racer Daniel Ricciardo. The Toro Rosso driver isn’t interested in footy unless it’s played with an egg-shaped ball (Aussie Rules), so he spent the weekend before Valencia at Silverstone, watching the latest round of the MotoGP world championship. But this was no champagne-swigging VIP day out; Ricciardo was stood on the banking with the rest of the fans and loving every minute. We reckon he won’t be so under the radar when he returns to the circuit in two weeks time…
Silverstone has, of course, long been the home of the British GP, but according to news that broke in the Valencia paddock yesterday, there could be another British F1 track in the offing. An ambitious plan has been hatched by a company called Intelligent Transport Solutions Ltd to run a race in London using the new Olympic stadium as an integral part of the venue. It may sound bizarre but remember that F1 raced in a car park in Las Vegas in the early ’80s. Watch this space…
Northern Europe may have been battered by the elements in recent weeks, but when the teams arrived in Valencia on Monday they were welcomed by balmy blue skies and scorching temperatures. Like Monaco, the Valencia Street Circuit winds its way around a busy harbour and it’s just a stone’s throw from the local beach – rather handy for sun-worshipers, if not the drivers.
The European Grand Prix represents the second home race of the season for local favourite Fernando Alonso. After a few years living in Switzerland, the Ferrari star is back living in Spain these days, a country in which he has God-like status. Let’s hope Ferrari have bought plenty of pens with them to Valencia because Fernando’s going to be signing a boat-load of autographs this weekend…
Racing drivers are used to horsepower, but Jenson Button arrived in town fresh from experiencing a distinctly different kind to what he’s used to. In the UK it’s Royal Ascot week and the McLaren driver and his model girlfriend, Jessica Michibata, spent a day having a flutter at the world famous horse races. Ascot is notorious for its strict dress code but, far from being put off, Jenson revelled in getting dressed up in full top hat and tails. Let’s hope he had better luck on the horses than he’s had on the racetrack of late.
F1 may be the hottest ticket in town, but there’s no doubt that football fever is in full swing in Valencia. Spain play France in the quarter finals of Euro 2012 on Saturday night, but for the German speakers in the paddock, such as MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, the big game of the weekend is tonight, when Germany play Greece.
As we write, Mercedes are busy transforming the top floor of their motorhome into the perfect venue for watching the game. Games at this stage of the tournament are usually tense affairs, although not everyone is expecting a tight match. In the paddock today Nico confidently predicted a 3-0 German victory. Let’s see if he’s still smiling tomorrow morning!