26 OCTOBER 2018
MEXICAN GP – FRIDAY PRACTICE
First Practice Session: 1:16.656 Position:1, Laps: 19
Second Practice Session: 1:16.720 Position: 1, Laps: 21
“Today has been really good, better than expected. Not just for me but for Daniel also, it’s nice to have us both at the top. We have a very good car at this circuit, good downforce and good mechanical grip. This was already clear from Monaco earlier in the year and you can see again it is working really well here. If you have good grip you can make quite a big gap quickly because the surface is quite slippery out there. As always there are areas to improve but for now it’s looking good. I said in Japan that it was one of my worst Friday’s in F1, this has been one of the best. The car was quick here last year but after today I think we are more competitive than 2017. We think I had a small issue with hydraulics at the end but we haven’t been able to check the car yet. We are not too concerned ahead of tomorrow, the guys will investigate this evening but hopefully it is a quick fix.”
First Practice Session: 1:17.139 Position: 2, Laps: 19
Second Practice Session: 1:16.873 Position: 2, Laps: 32
“Our car worked really well on low fuel runs in both sessions today which should put us in a good position for qualifying, but I don’t want to be naïve as I’m sure Mercedes and Ferrari will turn it up and give us a push tomorrow. If it stays like this it could be a close six-way fight for pole which would be pretty exciting for everyone. Tomorrow I want to work more on our race pace and the high fuel runs as we weren’t quite as competitive on those. It seems with the altitude here everyone’s power levels are closer, we will see tomorrow once everyone goes into qualifying mode but today on paper we look good. The key in qualifying will be to get a clean lap as it’s still quite slippery around here and it’s easy to make small mistakes. The Hypersoft is graining a lot, which is actually quite nice, as most of the races this season have been easy on a one-stop so maybe we will actually get a two-stop this weekend.”
As you wander through the paddock this weekend you might notice the Perspex cases housing fantastical creatures embodying the characters of the drivers in the shape of a fusion of animal attributes. For example, Daniel is represented by a beast that’s a mix of Red Kangaroo and Honey Badger. The wonderful creations are called Alebrijes and are a Mexican folk art first developed around a century ago by Mexico City artist Pedro Linares López.
Right, that’s enough exposition and culture. The sight of these marvellous critters got us thinking about what other F1 roles might benefit from having an Alebrije created for it and what might be the creatures associated with the job….
1. Race Engineer – They don’t like to brag about it but really they are smarter than any other beast in the paddock, yet for anything up to 120 minutes on a Sunday they have to spend all their time jumping through hoops and balancing a metaphoric beach ball on their nose for an over-excited puppy. Ignored when it all goes right, hunted down and consigned to the doghouse when it gets a bit messy, Race Engineers are therefore half super-intelligent Dolphin, and half long-suffering, lugubrious Basset hound.
2. Team Manager – For this demanding role we are creating perhaps the weirdest hybrid of all – Sheepdog/Gorilla – for this is an 800lb behemoth that you really don’t want to get on the wrong side of, yet in its own mind it is a hard-pressed Collie dog that spends all of its time rounding a bunch of animals who seem determined to end up upside down in a ditch or stranded half way up a rock face.
3. Garage Technician – Octopus/Goat: It’s always being asked to do eight things at once, yet it is always blamed when the slightest thing goes wrong. Oh yes, it’s because octopi frequently leave behind an oily black mess. They’re also regularly battered.
4. Driver – Now, what animals can we possibly give to the team member at the tip of the racing spear, the one who receives all of the praise, all of the adulation… and all of the money. We’re going to go for a peacock/domestic cat – a creature that swaggers into a room, tells you how great it is, checks out what you’ve done for it and then promptly falls asleep… in your space.
5. Team Principal – It’s not easy having to stand up in front of the world’s media and straight-facedly laud an outstanding march from P19 on the grid to P18 at the flag [chiefly achieved because the car in front blew up like a Roman candle on lap 67 of 71]. Also, it’s not easy having to jump from outright condemnation of a regulation to thrilled approval of the same rule once it starts to reap some competitive rewards. Therefore, in a world of shifting sands, in an environment inhabited by vicious fellow predators, we reckon Team Principals are one third colour changing Chameleon, one third arch-mimic the Lyre Bird and one third flesh-eating Piranha.