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SPY: KING OF THE RING

Hang on a minute… just a sec… there, got it, taken that pesky monkey off my back. Hello everyone, Spy here, sipping from the cup of awesome that is a home grand prix victory. Actually, it was more the juice box of awesome, there really isn’t time for anything else.

Sunday night during packdown one of Spy’s colleagues remarked that we’re winning the wrong races, as it’s much more fun when you can enjoy it on Sunday night, rather than charging around on a forklift like Bob the Builder doing eight hours of back-breaking post-race labour. Spy’s not quite so churlish (win = good) though it’s not inaccurate to assume I need another race this week like I need a second Arsenal.

Next week will be hard – but this week wasn’t a walk in the park either. It was a bit of a mad dash from France to Austria, slightly complicated by the fact that, about five minutes after the chequered flag at Ricard, the rain that had been promised all day finally started to fall. And by fall, Spy means proper thunderbolt and lightning, end-of-days apocalyptic deluge. In a sane and reasonable world, we’d have taken that as nature’s way of encouraging us to drink more tea and play cards but in the full-on, red-meat 24/7/365 world of modern F1, you simply get on with it. It means that when we got to Austria everything was still damp and steaming. Despite everything Spy’s written over the last ten years you still think F1 is glamorous – but trust me, there’s absolutely no glamour in spending the weekend working in a garage that smells like a wet beagle.

But anyway, the race. What was particularly interesting for Spy is the way Max won the race. He did the business on the first lap, with a fairly ballsy move on Kimi. It’s the sort of thing that Max cops a bit of flak for from armchair critics when it doesn’t come off. Here, as in Mexico, it did come off, and it won him the race. The naysayers would argue that he should tuck his elbows in, keep his nose clean and let somebody else win – except they’re curiously silent when he’s standing on the top step of the podium.

Spy’s favourite moment of victory* was seeing Max absolute nail team manager Jonathan Wheatley with the champagne. Max is like Davy Crockett** with a champagne bottle in his hand – but JW totally had it coming. Like DC in the superman cape, the whole lederhosen thing invites it. Champagne does bad things to leather though. If he’s walking around Silverstone as bow-legged as John Wayne after 18 hours in the saddle, you’ll know why.

Spare a thought for Daniel. It wasn’t a very good birthday. It was as if he’d been presented with a beautiful cake and got all excited, only to find that the cake was stale, covered in marzipan*** and dusted with a light coating of mouse droppings. Admittedly, all 29th birthdays are like this, and unlike everyone who gets to wake up the day after with a traffic cone, an unusual bruise and an unplaced but virulent desire to never go near flaming Sambuca ever again, he gets to do it all again next week.

It goes against the grain to say this – but also spare a thought for Merc. They’re getting some hammer for a bad strategy choice – but was it really so bad? You can see the thought process: Lewis is the first car coming up to the pit entry and he’s just lost his tailgunner. Standard strategy dictates, whatever the leader does in that situation, there’s something to be gained from doing the opposite. If they pit him, there’s nothing to stop Ferrari and ourselves doing one-in/one-out and suddenly he’s in the middle of a train with two slower cars on old tyres in front and two fast ones hanging off his gearbox. Perhaps that doesn’t matter if you’ve got a massive car advantage – but that’s the beauty of this season: they don’t. No-one does. Nine races in, they’ve won three, we’ve won three, Ferrari have won three. Anyone who says this isn’t a tremendous F1 season deserves to be made to wear wet lederhosen until they’re really, really sorry.

* apart from the chequered flag. Always the best bit.

** or Sonny Crockett

*** Oh, you like marzipan? What’s wrong with you?