Such a Perfect Day...
I am not expecting much for today, although the Interlagos circus should reach its climax and all eyes will be on the WDC contenders. I am sure the BBC had already planned the structure of their coverage around the Famous Five but then they hadn’t seen the script in advance had they? Even so I don’t hold out much hope of today being remotely perfect but yesterday was fantastic. Interlagos has a habit of providing Perfect Days for all sorts of reasons and people.
Was yesterday a perfect day for you? For me it came very close. Not quite like the 21st October 2007 when the exceptional Kimi Raikkonen took his World Drivers title but for a number of reasons it was a lovely day for me.
Firstly the sun was shining and the blue sky, scudding clouds and bright crisp falls of leaves should lift anyone’s heart. Apparently 2010 has seen the most amazingly beautiful and extended autumn display of foliage in the UK for many a year.
Just when I decided it wasn’t at all nice to be watching Formula 1 as however hard I have tried I am still seeing a Kimi shaped hole on the grid. It is very tiring when you can’t support any of the main protagonists and I settled down to Interlagos qualy with no special enthusiasm. Then something wonderful happens. How could I guess that the only guy currently on the grid who I had supported through the lower series would turn into a knight in shining armour (or was that in white and navy overalls) and come to the rescue of my waning interest.
He’s tall, blonde and cute and is known by some as the Incredible Hulk, following his exploits in A1GP, Formula 3 and GP2. He doesn’t turn green but he certainly made the rest of the grid green with envy following what was probably the stand out qualy performance of the entire season. In what is certainly NOT the fastest car he didn’t just pip them to the post in a last gasp effort. (Sorry EJ but you got that totally wrong!) He wasn’t on different tyres either.
He literally blew the more experienced guys away. When the four main contenders for the Driver’s title (sorry Lou) were separated in these tricky conditions by less than half a second, Nico Hulkenberg beat them all by over ONE SECOND. The guy was just totally awesome and made me really, really excited by Formula 1 for the first time this year. (Actually for the first time since Spa 2009 where I saw the incomparable Kimi Raikkonen take a win that just should not have been possible).
I don’t care what happens today, Nico has put a smile on this Lady’s face. However there is a small cloud on his horizon. He isn’t yet signed for next year. Now whether this cloud is of Shanghai 2007 proportions (not too much but enough to give a certain Kimi Raikkonen the springboard for his 2007 success) or Interlagos 2003 (rivers across the track with Kimi originally given the result after it was stopped) is not yet totally clear.
But if Williams follow the current trend of taking on a less than talented driver for the bucks I will be very disappointed in Frank and Patrick. Although I do have a small voice telling me that Nico stepping up to the plate in such style at this point could spell the end for the other half of the Williams pairing. I strongly suggest you watch the media closely for some clues on how this may turn out.
Back to Interlagos there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if you are an F1 fan and can only ever go to one race in your life that one should be Interlagos and, before you ask, that has nothing to do with Kimi Raikkonen winning his WDC title there in 2007.
I didn’t go in 2007, and it was actually the only one of Kimi’s Ferrari victories that I wasn’t present for, but I did go in 2008 and although that was, of course, inferior to being there in 2007, it was totally mind blowing. The crowds are amazing. The track isn’t big, it’s almost pocket sized, and nothing could be more different to the Kimster’s favourite track and my second choice, Spa. However it is like Spa in one respect, and that is the surprising topography. It is on the side of a hill and the gradient from the first corner up and over the hill where the grid forms is much steeper than you can see from the TV. Not Eau Rouge in proportion of course but still totally unexpected in the flesh.
The track is cuddled up close to a favela settlement on one side whilst across the road from the main entrance is a rather nice neighbourhood where electronic gates and guard dogs seek to deter the neighbours from the other side of the track(s) from taking liberties. Given the conspicuous consumption of the F1 crowd it is truly where all elements of society meet in total harmony and enthusiasm for the sport. If you think the Monza crowd are great they have nothing on the Brazilians!
I will never forget those last moments in 2008 when I could see from my trusty Kangaroo exactly what was happening but I was swept up in embraces from the Brazilian supporters around me. As they jumped up and down and insisted on kissing and hugging absolutely everyone, the rain clouds, which were already making the track wet and greasy, got darker and darker as the rain started to pour. They threw seat cushions onto the track as they celebrated a Felipe World Championship that never was! As the truth dawned the festival atmosphere seeped away with the heavy rain and they quietly started to vacate the stands and head home.
So just as I will always remember Interlagos 2007 as a perfect day for me and Kimi, and being there in 2008 as truly memorable, I will also remember Interlagos 2010. It has already proved to be the shining beacon in the F1 season for a Lady who misses her Iceman and needs a reason to keep watching a sport she has always seen as exciting and special. Thank you Nico, and whilst I have no expectations for today my heart is with you for the race.
P.S. I am sorry I won’t be watching you next week Mr Incredible Hulk as I’ll be in Wales following the one and only Kimi Raikkonen in the Welsh mud... but I hope you leave your mark in Abu Dhabi and I will be willing you to beat the team who don’t even have the class to spell the name of their last and best World Champion correctly.
P.P.S. And talking of Interlagos don’t forget to look at Leigh’s great piece on Sao Paulo’s other hero (second only to a certain Ayrton Senna) Carlos Pace.
P.P.P.S. Not to forget Lou’s perfect day last year at Interlagos of course!
P.P.P.P.S. In the words of other Sidepodders “Go Nico”