2012 F1 Diary (Part 20): Brazil

F1 diary 2012 (part 20): Brazil
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I The big one began in Sao Paulo Final one day late. After United Airlines held me in Houston one night longer, I didn't get on the route until Thursday afternoon. Fortunately, Miran Alisic from Slovenian television still had a free seat in his Fiat 500 and picked me up. Colleague Michael Schmidt, who usually plays the chauffeur, had already arrived a day earlier.

But Miran couldn't change anything about the brutal traffic. Despite our automotive hand-to-hand combat training on the streets of Ljubljana and the ability to assert ourselves behind the wheel, we simply didn't make any progress. The metropolis with a population of 20 million held us prisoner. When I finally reached the paddock after what felt like days, I was greeted with pity by many colleagues. Word of my odyssey had already got around.

Anniversary celebration with Formula 1 legends

First dinner cheered me up again. The legendary Brazilian churrascarias (steak restaurants) are worth the trip to South America alone. You can get as much meat as you want for a reasonable price. Best quality. Always freshly grilled. Brought to the table on a skewer. Exactly the right thing for me. Don't stop replenishment. Vegetables are not really my thing.

After the warm-up program on Thursday, it went straight to the beef madness on the spit on Saturday. Michael Schmidt and our photographer Daniel Reinhard had invited a small group. The occasion for the celebration was the 500th Grand Prix anniversary of the two paddock legends. I felt pretty poor with my 55 races when the many greats of the sport took their seats next to me at the table.

Bernie Ecclestone came with his wife, race director Charlie Whiting had FIA assistant Herbie Blash in tow . For the complete Brabham reunification in 1979 only the pilots Nelson Piquet and Niki Lauda were missing - they came too, of course. In addition, old friends of the two anniversaries such as Peter Sauber, Mark Surer, Force India sports director Otmar Szafnauer or Sauber team manager Beat Zehnder. Later, Martin Brundle and Ross Brawn also showed up for a small beer.

Of course, a lot was said about the old days. It's a shame that no recording device was allowed to run. The stories are sometimes so crazy that they wouldn'tMan believe. Just one legendary example: Because Ecclestone always cashed in the contracts without giving the driver a copy, Piquet simply signed his Brabham contract with the name 'Ayrton Senna' without the F1 boss having heard of it. It is well known that Bernie does not allow himself to be ripped off that often. He didn't think it was so funny then. Today he can laugh about it himself.

71 exciting rounds at the final

After The small celebration on Saturday was followed by a small Formula 1 race on Sunday. It was Schumi's farewell. As a reminder, I had my paddock pass signed beforehand. In addition, the World Cup had to be decided. Continuous rain for the grand finale had been announced for the whole week, but on the way there was no sign of it on Sunday.

The morning was hectic. I had already prepared everything for a Vettel triumph in Austin the previous week. The world champion portrait with the best pictures of his career and the photos of the exciting third title season now had to be rewritten for the final. The starting positions looked like one thing was clear. I therefore refrained from preparing the same program for Alonso. That almost went wrong though.

Even on the grid, you could feel the first light drops on your skin. There was something in the air. However, there was still no sign of precipitation on the teams' weather radar. 'No rain expected in the next 30 minutes' was written in large letters. Meteo France should be wrong again. Some engineers therefore also call the F1 weather service 'Meteo Chance', which means something like Meteo chance.

Shortly before the traffic lights went out, I said to colleague Schmidt: 'Look out, Vettel is about to crash.' And so it happened. Like millions of viewers on TV, I already thought it was all over. In my mind I was already creating new galleries with Alonso highlights. But then the Red Bull suddenly moved again. In the end, it turned out to be one of the best Formula 1 races I've ever seen. Tension, drama, crashes, rain, surprises - everything was there. And that at the grand finale. It's amazing.

Race winner button becomes a side note

You didn't have to worry about good stories that day. Practically every pilot had a good story to tell after the race. The research in the paddock took place in the pouring rain. Of course we also had to say goodbye to Schumi. Nico H├╝lkenberg, who almost won his first victory with a hussar ride, was also one of the main actors.

Lewis Hamilton became a tragic figure. Race winner Jenson Button was almost just a side note. Just like Timo Glock and his Marussia team, which briefly battled for tenth place in the team standingswas intercepted by Caterham before the end. The big beam man of the day was of course Sebastian Vettel. At the official press conference, the 25-year-old put down pages of monologues.

I could not understand that he was suggesting that Ferrari had played unfairly in the championship fight. In the hour of great triumph you don't have to step on the loser. But that only shows how stressful and emotional the last few months have been for the Heppenheimer.

Will the World Cup be decided on the green table?

Shortly after the race, the first discussions about yellow flags arose. The scenes could not be seen exactly in the TV picture. FIA press spokesman Matteo Bonciani could not or would not help me either. 'The situation was clear,' he explained to me when asked why there had not even been an investigation into the controversial scenes. As it turned out later, it wasn't that clear after all. The story should keep us busy for a few more days.

At 0.30 a.m. the season was over for us. Only three brave Japanese were still in the press center when we left the track. The plane was waiting for home on Monday. There wasn't much time to relax this winter either. 71 days after crossing the finish line in Sao Paulo, the winter tests start again in Jerez.


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