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Spy: Wham, Bam, Thank You Dan!

Hello everyone, Spy here. Well, that was different, wasn’t it?

It’s amazing how much more comfortable the aeroplane feels when you’re travelling with the big pot in checked luggage rather than a pair of big, fat DNFs. Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix was… amazing. If you’ve ever read this column before (hello Mum) you have possibly noted a tone of cynicism occasionally creeping in. Today I got nothing. If I were any happier, I’d be twins. 

Spy was in China for our first victory, back in 2009, and has been at every other victory since. They’re all wonderful* but some are wonderfuller. Yesterday is on a pedestal.

There’s two ways of knowing Daniel is very, very happy. The first is that he spouts absolute gibberish for about an hour after the race because the mouth is moving but the brain is in a different postcode. We have an expert in the filmographies of Jim Carrey and Will Ferrell on hand to translate the nonsense he squeaks into a comprehensible language. The rest of the world is not so lucky. Right now, there’s a bunch of confused Chinese journalists trying to figure out if “Holy Testicle Tuesday!” is a strategy code or an epigram for their grand prix – and if the latter, whether it’s good or bad.

The second way one shall know that The Daniel is happy is by the thimbleful of red wine he allowed himself in the airport lounge. Those of us whose body is not a temple** are less abstinent. Standards must be maintained.

But, of course, he was happy. Christmas came early for Daniel. All his Christmases. And a couple of birthdays too. Daniel loves a good overtake. If it’s a good overtake with a podium at stake, even better. If it’s a good overtake with a podium at stake, a load of World Champions to get by, well, hallelujah! It doesn’t get any better than that. On a day when everyone else wanted to turn the pinnacle of motorsport into pinnacle of demolition derby, Daniel’s passes were all as clean as a whistle. Dramatic licence demands they be called cool and clinical – sadly everyone heard him on the radio shouting ‘Wooooooooo’ every time he made one stick.

The weekend hadn’t started terrifically well. The team arrived in China still fuming after the double-DNF in Bahrain, and Daniel had managed to bite his own lip, which had obligingly swelled up to the size of something the likes of which are usually confined to the more graphic documentaries about the Black Death. He therefore spent most of the weekend canting his head to one side in an attempt to stop it being photographed or filmed, which given the number of cameras in the F1 paddock was a forlorn hope but nevertheless made him look like he’d pulled a muscle. You wouldn’t think someone with helmet hair like an electrocuted cockapoo would have vanity issues, but there you go. 

It’s reasonable to assume things got worse when his engine brewed up in FP3. A few words unsuitable for publication were exchanged – but it turns out this was just part of the scripting for our Hollywood comeback. This weekend was not all about the driver. I mean, it rarely is, unless it’s properly sheeting it down, but this weekend was the best sort of team effort, in the all-hands-to-the-pump, keeping-a-lid-on-it-because-we-don’t-have-time-to-panic sense of team effort.

Daniel’s crew (with a bit of help from Max’s crew) changed his power unit and radiators and got him out of the garage with about 30 seconds grace before the cutoff in FP1. Dan did the rest and qualified up at the front end. We’ll gloss over how he was so pumped at that point he nearly stacked it straight in the pitwall opposite the garage.

It was a nice touch that Chris Gent, his no.1 mechanic, was sent up to collect the Constructors’ Trophy. Chris probably had to be carried up to the podium though. Despite having prepared more winning cars than anyone can remember, like the mushroom, Genty has absolutely no desire to be in the spotlight. He’s never done the podium before, and right now he’s probably discovering all manner of new and interesting chafing that come as the consequence of running around post-race in overalls sodden with champagne, as Daniel poured the best part of a magnum into his.

What a wonderful problem to have.

*Except one.  You know of which I speak. That was just bloody uncomfortable.

** except a temple that’s been thoroughly pillaged, abandoned as a ruin and taken over by ferrets.