June 14, 2007

F1 Live!

That's what SPEED called their three hour meet & greet session with every driver in the F1 paddock today, and y'know what? It was a better event than I thought we'd get. Almost everybody looked like they were happy to be up there, though the Ferrari boys looked a little dour.

And something came out of today's activities that I didn't expect at all: most of the drivers are funny! I now feel much more comfortable with making light of them during F1 UPDATE!, because it sounded like they do the same thing.

An example... Giancarlo Fisichella and Heiki Kovenlianineneninnie were up there being interviewed, and of course the matter of Montreal came up. To refresh your memories, Fisi was blackflagged for running the pit redlight, and Heiki blew an engine, ruined his chassis, and tore his rear wing off.

When asked about the red light event, Fisi gave a lame answer ("I didn't see the light because I was following Massa."), then quipped, "Hey, I'm from Rome, and we're used to ignoring red lights."

Crowd goes wild.

Heiki later said regarding destroying his rear wing: "Well, I'm from Finland..." (cue audience laughter) "...and in Finland, we're used to 'leaning' on the snowbanks. I tried that in Montreal, and the wall, it's a lot harder than a snowbank."

Crowd goes wild.

But far and away, the biggest cheers went to...


Yep, SuperSato and Ant were the darlings of the assembled masses. It's NOT just me! Sato showed off his engaging personality, and when asked by an audience member (in jest) "What lap and turn are you going to pass the World Champion?", he responded with a long explanation of the aerodynamic and grip factors involved with the USGP track, and finished up with "...and I'll pass him at the end of a long straight, going into a tight turn." Crowd pandemonium.

Ant got involved, too, explaining in detail how he didn't see what is now known to have been a groundhog, but the papers back in England are calling it a 'beaver', "...which is a lot funnier to us over the pond, so they (the papers)'ll keep calling it that. It really ruined my race, but it seems to have been entertaining enough." It's odd, but Ant almost looks like the prototypical lower-class Brit, and his accent reinforces that (one almost expected him to have a scuff of dirt on his cheek and say "God Bless Us, Everyone."), but he's got quite the wit.

Fun stuff to start off the USGP weekend... but the real work begins Friday morning!

UPDATE: Almost forgot the funniest part of all! The Spyker guys were represented by Christijan Albers and Marcus Winklehock (their test driver). During part of the interview, it was brought up that the Spykers are, basically, the slowest car on the grid, and that Indy has the longest stretch at flat-out in F1 at 22 seconds, and what are you going to do about that? Albers, on the receiving end of this question, then mimed leaning back in a La-Z-Boy and said "wait for someone to pass me so I can get a tow." (cue crowd laughter)

It takes guts for a driver who's in danger of losing his job to do something like that. It's a shame, too, because Albers really is a good driver... his career in DTM (the German Touring Championship) speaks to that, and considering his history of taking nearly undriveable cars (Minardi, Monza, 2005, and his wild excursion during practice leaps to mind) and keeping them in one piece, I suspect that if he was ever dropped into a halfway decent ride, he'd be fine.

Finally, I've been asked by some people to post the video of Ralf Schumacher's close encounter of the Marmot kind in Montreal. I've finally found it on GoogleVideo, so click HERE and take a look... enjoy!

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