As the circus moves to Spain, there was much talk of Alonso mania in Barcelona, and we were duly shown pictures of autograph hunters and flag-waving supporters. I’m not sure how big an influence this really is on a Formula One driver. Nigel Mansell always used to say the crowd at the British Grand Prix gave him an extra second per lap, but it’s hardly the same as the Gallowgate End when you are in a deafening car and your ears are securely plugged.
A realistic Fernando Alonso wasn’t playing the game. “Will you give your fans something to cheer today?”
“Well, we’ll do our best, but it’s going to be very difficult.”
Some of the Spanish fans were too busy poking fun once more at Lewis Hamilton. This is an interesting cultural difference between Spain and Britain. There are very few black people in Spain, so they still see it as a bit of wacky knockabout fun to black up and pretend to be Lewis Hamilton, whereas in Britain, we prefer our racism to be a little more subtle.
Following up on the Ferrari team’s travails, the BBC had a filmed interview with Kimi Raikonnen which had been recorded earlier in the week. Raikonnen is never overflowing with charisma, but I thought he was about to lapse into a coma during one answer. He seems to have applied the same level of enthusiasm to yesterday’s qualifying, finishing in sixteenth place.
Eddie Jordan was incandescent, advocating his immediate suspension. Michael Schumacher should take his place, apparently.
Martin Brundle, sick of being blanked by the top drivers on his pit walk, decided to go to the back of the grid where he presumed the also-rans would be delighted with the publicity. So who did he interview? Lewis Hamilton’s girlfriend.
He moved on to Sebastian Bourdais and led with, “anything you can do from back here?” He might as well say, “You’re a bit crap really aren’t you?” Incidentally, whenever I hear Sebastian’s surname, I start singing “On a Ragga Tip” by SL2. That’s a pretty obscure reference unless you are almost precisely the same age as me.
He then interviewed the two Force India drivers who had qualified in the last two positions on the grid and actually led into Adrian Sutil with this question: “How do you cope with waking up in the morning, brushing your teeth, and knowing you don’t have a prayer?” I’m surprised he didn’t get a punch in the teeth.
The start of the race was one of those belters that I enjoy where there is complete mayhem as Jarno Trulli’s Toyota went off the road, then speared back across the field, taking out both Torro Rosso cars and Adrian Sutil. Looks like Brundle was right about his chances.
The race was again dominated by Brawn with Button eventually coming out ahead of Barrichello, but their lead over the rest of the field is now huge – they have 68 points in the constructors’ championship, with Red Bull trailing in second on 38.5
Felipe Massa was having a good race in fourth place with five laps to go but rather farcically ran out of fuel, and had to allow Vettel and Alonso past him so he could coast home. Coupled with the fact that Raikonnen failed to finish once again, Ferrari are becoming a laughing stock. Eddie Jordan is probably hiring hitmen as we speak.