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F1 Diary Spain 2013: Mercedes thinks out-of-the-box

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F1 diary Spain 2013
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D the 5th Grand Prix weekend of the year began in Spain completely relaxed. On the flight from Munich to Barcelona, ​​Lufthansa sat me in an emergency exit area with extra legroom. The rental company was also kind to us. Our compact box of Spanish design had unwound a full 26 kilometers so far. Apparently, the Hertz gold card from colleague Michael Schmidt includes a new car smell.

Home Grand Prix in Barcelona

The race in Barcelona is like a second home Grand Prix for me. I can't count how many days I've spent on the Circuit de Catalunya. Probably twice as many as on any other route. After the two weeks of testing in February, I was there for the third time in 2013. For some, it may get boring at some point. But somehow I look forward to Barcelona every time.

But that's not because of our hostel. Hotel 'Iris' in Granoller. 3 well-intentioned stars. Small rooms, uncomfortable beds, street views and zero atmosphere. But cheap and only 10 minutes away from the route. At the reception, colleague Schmidt moaned about his bed for so long that he is now always in a larger room with a double mattress. But I will have to come more often before this upgrade.

Fortunately, there are fantastic restaurants all around with delicious and inexpensive Spanish cuisine. The press center is located in the pit building - with a direct view of the Ferrari pit stops. And the internet is fast and stable. Barcelona thus fulfills all the criteria that are important for journalists: short journeys, good and cheap restaurants, press center with a view of the route and reliable internet - we don't need more.

Clean dinner in the Paddock Club

Spain now marks the start of the European season almost traditionally. That means extra work for the team's truckers. The workers have to wake the motorhomes from hibernation and rebuild them for the first time in the season.

For us, the tour of the paddock with the camera is always the first task of the weekend. Formula 1 fans are obviously always particularly interested in what happens at the team temples over the winterdid. Not much had changed this year. The Mercedes container got a new coat of paint - with a big star. In addition, the entrance area was architecturally redesigned.

Sauber had invited to the traditional media dinner on Friday. As usual, the event should take place in the motorhome. But a race truck, in which the engineers' offices were set up, was involved in a rear-end collision on the journey from Hinwil to Barcelona. The staff therefore occupied the upper floor of the motor home.

The dinner was simply moved to the exclusive Paddock Club. I was amazed that the event wasn't completely canceled. Our information about the financial problems at the Swiss racing team became more and more specific. Although the 4-course menu was excellent, I lost my appetite with veal fillet and truffled gnocchi.

Alonso becomes a photographer's victim

There were also mixed feelings about the sight by Maria de Villota. The Marussia test pilot appeared in public in the Barcelona paddock for the first time after her serious accident. It's really impressive how the power woman mastered the situation. With a red eye patch and a new hairstyle, she paced confidently up and down between the motorhomes. The news of her death almost exactly 5 months later was a big shock for the entire Formula 1 community.

Another big story for the tabloids was the alleged attack by Fernando Alonso on a Spanish photographer . It later emerged that the photographer had apparently planned a confrontation with the Ferrari driver. First he sued Alonso. Then he offered to give interviews about the incident - for 600 euros in advance.

There was also excitement about another Ferrari employee. On Saturday evening, rumors suddenly circulated that the chief technology officer, Pat Fry , had been transported to the hospital in an emergency. At first nobody knew what was going on. The first suspicion of kidney stones was not confirmed. Upon examination, it was found that the appendix was causing the pain. On Sunday his seat at the command post was empty.

There were fewer problems for Ferrari on the track than off the track. Fernando Alonso drove a sovereign race from starting position 5. After 66 laps, the fans carried him across the finish line with frenetic cheers. Alonso enjoyed the moment of victory to the full. At that time he didn't know that it would be the last success of the season.

Mercedes is secretly staying for the tire test

The competition didn't know that either. And so Red Bull and Mercedes then diligently made politics against the tires. Alonso had won the race with 4 pit stops. That sort of thing has nothing to do with Formula 1, said Red Bull Capo Dietrich Mateschitz.Strangely, there were no complaints from Red Bull when Vettel was also successful with 4 stops two years earlier.

While Vettel still finished 4th this year, the two stayed from the front row started Silver Arrows only a 6th place by Nico Rosberg. After the race, Mercedes race director Toto Wolff tried to excuse the renewed tire problems in the motorhome, but found no explanation. His demand: 'Our team now has to think about out-of-the-box solutions.'

What Wolff meant by that was not exactly clear to anyone among the journalists. 2 weeks later we knew then. Directly after the Spanish GP, Mercedes had completed 2 more tire test days for Pirelli with the current car, which led to great discussions. I was wondering why Mercedes didn't dismantle its motorhome the evening after the race like the other teams. Alarm bells did not ring, however. I'm still annoyed about that today.

In our gallery we have collected a few impressions of what happened behind the scenes at the F1 race in Barcelona.

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