Here's a day in the life of a slightly over-emotional GP2 fan....
*Before the race starts*
Yay! Sam Bird is on the front row! I've followed his career for years (since he kicked Jenson's butt in a timed lap at a charity karting event I was at in '05) and he's steaming towards F1. He's had a fairly torrid season in GP2 this year, he's been mighty quick but it's been coupled with the poorest luck. However, he's still made that work for him in a way, there's a petition to rename a corner in Turkey "Sam Bird Corner" because he overtook there so many times (it's an "impossible to overtake there" corner), he's repeatedly fought his way up the field in a way that will definitely catch a few eyes on the F1 paddock, and he's not done anything hugely stupid. Good to see him back at the sharp end of the grid.
Boo. Pastor (my favourite, as you know) had a bad quali session and ended up 8th, his lowest qualifying this year. This is the penultimate race weekend of the season, and as long as Sergio Perez doesn't take 7 points out of his lead, he could tie up the championship here at Monza, and we won't have to wait NINE WEEKS until Abu Dhabi. Unfortunately, Pastor has been frequently caught out this season when he's been in traffic, so 8th is not a good place to be. It is what we shall refer to from now on as "The Danger Zone". (OK, so we might not actually refer to it as this, it depends how I feel).
Phew! Perez only qualified 7th. Pastor can keep him in his sights.
*The race begins*
Yay! Sam Bird has a blistering start and takes the lead at the first corner.
Phew! Perez has an aggressive start and immediately pulls across the track and pushes Pastor out to his right. But Pastor is brave and holds on, gets 3/4 of a length ahead of Perez, and moves back across the track to take his line, Perez can do nothing but let him take the place. (Remember Perez needs every point he can get, so he's not going to nerf Pastor out the race.)
Uh oh... It's pleasing that Pastor's up to 7th and is now sitting ahead of Perez, but he's still in The Danger Zone (hey look, it's stuck!) - and so there's no time to relax.
*A few laps later*
Yay! Sammy is awesome. He's in the lead, and he's rocking it. This is the position he was born to be in.
What the...? What.....???? NOOOOOOOOOooooooooo....!!! (I think that's the most accurate way of describing it, without using un-family-friendly words) The SexySexySafetyCar had just come in, and I'd watched Pastor go into the first corner calmly ahead of Perez. The camera cuts away, and thens cut back to an onboard shot of car 15 traipsing over the gravel. Pastor. Something's clearly gone wrong. And I mean VERY wrong. This is why we call it The Danger Zone.
As far as I can tell from the replays, Pastor had gone into the corner at a non-ridiculous pace and in a non-stupid way. There were lots of cars around. The car in front of him, Romain Grosjean (who incidently took him out of a previous race, so I'm calling shenanigans) suddenly slowed down and almost came to a complete stop. There was no time for Pastor to react, and nowhere for him to have gone if he had done (there was a car immediately on his right, and although there was no one to his left, he was too far right to have ever got to that gap). Well, there was ONE way to go... and that was up. So up he went. He had a little fly over Grosjean, then had a bounce across the gravel trap. He got back to the pits and changed the front of his car, but it clearly was more fundamentally broken than just needing a new nose. Boo. :(
So now Perez was 8th (he'd dropped a spot in the melee) and Pastor was right at the back and clearly not going to last long. This wasn't what I would call good. 8th is a terrible position for Perez to be in, as it means he'll start tomorrow on pole. Let's just hang on and hope Perez somehow doesn't get any points.
*A lap or two later*
Stop breathing. There's a white car in the wall. There is a white car. In the wall.
Heart stops beating until it's confirmed. It's Perez. The white car in the wall is Perez's white car. He's out of the race.
(At this point you must picture me making some kind of inhuman squeaking sound, jumping to my feet, and bursting into tears. As I said at the start, slightly over-emotional.)
The problem is, and I'm sure I've said this before - I LIKE Perez. I have no reason not to. He is smiley and seems very nice from what little I've seen of him. And he's a very good driver. And so I felt terribly bad for being so pleased that he was out of the race, and he'd had quite a big shunt and was clearly feeling a bit sore as he got out the car, so I really hope he's absolutely OK and I in no way wished him any harm. I didn't want to him to CRASH out of the race. I just wanted him to BE out of it.
Glee/Disappointment So at this point, we (the commentators, me, the Rapax team) reckon the championship is Pastor's now. And whilst this is what I've been waiting years for, it was bitter-sweet, because that really wasn't the way I wanted him to win the title - he pitted twice after his accident (interestingly at the second pitstop, one of the pitcrew was clearly signalling that he shouldn't be let out yet, that something needed sorting first, but he was still let out - luckily it wasn't anything too dangerous, as nothing fell off the car or plunged him off the track). But then the car clearly wasn't working, so they brought him in and retired him. Not really the finish of a champion. But big hugs all round for the Rapax team as Pastor got out the car.
Wheeeeeeeeeeee! And Sammy won, by a good 8 seconds or so. BRILLIANT. I am ever so, ever so pleased for him.
Confusion hits But actually.... Pastor's championship title isn't definite yet. After much online searching (it's a reeaally bad day for the GP2 website to die!) and discussion and tweetifying, we all figure out that actually, if Perez wins all 3 remaining races, with a clean sweep of fastest laps and pole position across the board - he will win the Championship. Because for some slightly inexplicable reason, sprint race wins are deemed equal in championship terms as feature race wins. For the feature race, the winner probably qualifies somewhere up front, they manage the pitstop window to perfection, and they race a long race to the win. In the sprint race, the winner finished in a mediocre spot the day before (8th place gets the pole), and they just put their foot down and zoom to the end. In fact, sometimes Perez could be deemed as having fought slightly less hard at the end of a feature race, in order to secure a better starting position for the feature race. So should a sprint win REALLY count the same as a feature race, when it comes to "most winningest"?? Hmmmm.
I know that winning a sprint race is still a good thing, I'm not saying it's easy or should be worthless, but... If it comes down to deciding a championship on who's the "most winningest" (I swear that's not a word...!) then shouldn't features count slightly differently to sprints? Feel free to join the debate.
Anyway, so now the Championship rolls on to tomorrow. The odds of Perez winning and getting fastest lap are slim (as he'll be starting towards the back). But it's possible. So I'll be marshalling at Silverstone, but I'll have my fingers hugely crossed for Pastor still.
And not only fingers crossed for Perez not getting all the points on the board. But fingers crossed for Pastor having a decent race. There's this whole "Maldonado can't drive in traffic" thing, which I'd like him to be able to lay to rest at least a little bit by the end of the season. As it is actually a load of codswallop.
I've just, as I type this, investigated all his sprint race results this year. And it proves my point well. In 8 sprint races, he's had two accidents. One where he made contact with Grosjean and it was deemed by commentators at the time as 50/50 (so he wasn't driving wildly, it was just unfortunate) and the other was that whole black flag nonsense that I've talked about at length before, after he and Perez made contact (so apparently Perez can't drive in traffic either?... oh no wait, he's the Sprint King). Otherwise his only non-finish was due to a mechanical gremlin at the start of the sprint race at Spa. His sprint results have otherwise been: (start position/finish position) 3rd/3rd, 7th/11th, 8th/6th, 8th/4th and 8th/4th. So he's hardly a liability. Two incidents in sprint races, and he's branded by some as incapable of driving in traffic without causing an accident. This isn't 2008 anymore. He's changed. But the naysayers had even tricked me into thinking he couldn't really do sprint races. He CAN do sprint races. *cough*just not the last three*cough*.
I hope he kicks butt tomorrow. The pressure is pretty much off now. He can just DRIVE.
He'll be way down the order though, surrounded by people who drive like he used to sometimes drive. This position on the grid isn't just in The Danger Zone... this is, um, I dunno, The Grid Position of Doom ?? Or 'potentially-but-hopefully-not doom' anyway. But that's less catchy.
Is this blog long enough yet? Oh yes, I think so. Maybe I should start planning these out, rather than just typing as the words fall out of my head and ending up with the longest bits of nonsense ever. Oh well, sorry! x